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New research by Canon Europe1 highlights one of the surprising aspects of the modern workplace, the enduring appeal of paper. In an international survey of 1,000 business people, 57% of office workers said they print more documents today than they did three years ago and more than three quarters (78%) of decision-makers described document printing as essential or very important to their business
That people still choose to print in an era of digitisation, mobility and anytime, anywhere access to documents is testament to the enduring appeal of paper. It also raises some important questions about the function of paper in the modern workplace.
Print management consultants NewField IT says it is important to make a distinction between good and bad paper2. The first category features activities where paper has an advantage over digital, such as for reading, annotating and sharing. The second includes ones where paper creates waste, additional expense, delays and inaccuracies, such as using it for information storage, billing/invoicing or signatures.
It is also important to recognise that 'good' paper can turn 'bad' if it is not managed properly, if print-outs are allowed to accumulate on people's desks or if paper-based information can't easily be accessed and shared with others. To prevent this from happening, NewField IT advises organisations to manage paper use in offices through the implementation of clear desk policies and scanning and paper recycling once the paper is no longer needed.
Such measures are good for controlling paper produced by third parties (i.e. employees, customers, suppliers). But what about documents produced for third parties, such as letters, bills, statements, proposals, brochures etc.? Even businesses committed to paper-less working may still need to produce printed documents, because certain customers prefer to receive paper documents or because printed material is effective at generating business (e.g. direct mail). How can you prevent this 'good' paper from clogging up and delaying your business processes and compromising a digitisation strategy?
The short answer is to speed up the time between printing and despatch, with a high level of automation so that offices don't become clogged up with paper and employees don't have to waste time collating mailings and filling envelopes. Output management software, high speed printers, intelligent franking machines will all help in this regard.
So, too, will folder inserters which automate envelope filling. There are many good reasons to invest in a folder inserter, including reduced mailing costs, improved accuracy, a more professional appearance, personalised communications and more impactful, effective mailings. For businesses attempting to eliminate the inefficiencies of working with paper, a folder inserter also frees staff from having to waste time collating documents and filling envelopes by hand.
The slowest folder inserter can process mailings more than 13 times faster than by hand, with the quickest operating at speeds of up to 12,000 envelopes per hour. Some models can be linked with franking machines in a fully automated process, from insertion to postbag.
It is safe to assume that folder inserters are rarely considered as part of a digitisation strategy. However, as long as paper continues to be produced by businesses to communicate with customers, suppliers and prospects they have an important role to play in negating the complications and inefficiencies associated with paper handling/processing. By automating and streamlining the production of mailings within organisations, folder inserters minimise the amount of time printed communications are kept on site and can help prevent 'good' paper from turning 'bad'.
1 Canon Europe Office Insights 2016, www.canon-europe.com
2 Good Paper: Bad Paper, NewField IT 2014, www.newfieldit.com/good-paper-bad-paper/
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