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Mark Davis

Hybrid Working and Office Device Changes

How work has changed and where it’s going

Jun 5, 2023 9:31:40 AM


It’s hard to believe that the working world was a completely different space only three years ago. Attitudes toward how a business should operate were based on a traditional model that has been unchanged for generations. As we learn to live with COVID rather than prevent it, the mantra of “work is what you do and not where you go” applies more than ever. According to Keypoint Intelligence’s 2022 Future of Work survey, hybrid working is in place across all company sizes. About 71% of respondents who work for a medium-large organization stated that they follow a hybrid work model, with 39% of respondents from micro companies working from home completely.


Hybrid working has impacted office printing, altering the traditional model and heralding greater flexibility from a hardware and software perspective. For job roles where print is a persistent aspect, maintaining quality and consistency in an office and home setting is critical. In this article, we will briefly explore the then, now, and beyond of hybrid working and (more importantly) assess how hybrid working trends are affecting office printing.



Hybrid Working and Its Effect on Office Printing

The nature of the pandemic meant that workers had to rely on a home set-up while working remotely all the time. Workers often utilized their existing home A4 printers for work-related printing. Without an existing A4 device, workers purchased their own devices and consumables; in some cases, workers could expense these costs back to their employer. Remote collaboration software, conferencing software, and cloud-based collaboration services (such as Office 365 and Google Drive) enabled workers to collaborate remotely during the pandemic. Hybrid working extended the need for remote collaboration software and, as a result, affected office printing presenting challenges for critical aspects such as quality, consistency, connectivity, and security.


According to our 2022 Future of Work survey, over a quarter of respondents claimed that remote collaboration tools have reduced their print output across home and office locations. However, high volume and cost are the main reasons workers use office printers rather than their home devices: 52% of respondents claim these are why they use office printers. Generally, small business hybrid workers tend to print in the office to save their supplies (32%), but not that many keep their print jobs solely for printing in the office (32%).


Achieving the same printing consistency and quality levels is paramount for hybrid workers. With printing now split between A3 and A4 devices, utilizing a page description language (PDL) that helps workers maintain a consistent output is critical. Adobe’s PDF is the industry standard PDL that maintains a document’s appearance and integrity regardless of the computing platform or device used to view and print the document. PDF helps to bridge the gap between office and home cloud printing because printers with native PDF support help ensure “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) printing. PDFs, in collaboration with cloud technologies and standards such as Apple AirPrint and Mopria, provide consistent quality regardless of the device. PDFs also enable workers to collaborate and consume content in their preferred manner without compromising quality. Graphic designers, for example, can send PDF documents of projects to their clients with the knowledge that the viewing and printing experience will be consistent.


Security has always been a big concern for office hardware and software. Centralizing devices in one location on the same network makes life easier for IT administrators, but how can they manage devices spread over several locations and on private networks? Compared to the start of the pandemic, many more organizations are supplying workers with A4 devices for their home offices that the organization manages. Security updates can be sent to the remote device via the cloud, making managing the fleet across various remote locations easier. Even if the remote worker is still using their own A4 device, the cloud enables them to access security updates from their organization regardless of where they are based and the type of device they use.


What We Expect to See in the Future

As offices adapt to better support hybrid workers' needs, office printing changes are also expected. Existing fleets of hardware are being replaced with more suitable devices for hybrid working, software solutions are evolving, and workers are finding ways to streamline their persistent printing requirements. PDF stands out as an ISO standard in this changing landscape, providing a future-proof PDL. Its continuous development and support ensure that new print-related capabilities can be leveraged seamlessly. Recognizing the increased expectations for quality and consistency in the A4 segment, it is recommended that future printer devices support PDF as a PDL.


Keypoint Intelligence Opinion

Hybrid working has had a lasting impact on office printing and its relevance. Over the past three years, hybrid work has transformed how office printing functions while maintaining its significance. The ability to print from multiple locations has emphasized the importance of consistency and quality in printed outputs, and cloud printing tools have proven invaluable in achieving these goals for hybrid workers. The widespread use of remote collaboration tools, PDF's flexibility, as well as security and device management advancements have made it easier to split print volumes between the office and home environments.


Adobe plays a crucial role in enabling printer manufacturers with its industry-leading PDF interpretation technology, including the Adobe Embedded Print Engine (AEPE). Adobe continues to innovate and anticipate future requirements to ensure that PDF printing technologies remain at the forefront. As we embrace the evolving print behavior catering to higher expectations, PDF emerges as a reliable solution for the future of office printing.