Printers are quite-often an important element of business. They also tend to have a huge impact on costs, with some organizations spending thousands every day on print. With printer paper, toner, and electric use also contributing to C02 output, organizations with a high print volume will struggle to lower their footprint.

While there are many tactics to reduce printer usage, including integrating managed print services and centralizing printers across the organization, employee training is one of the best options. Here, you introduce employees to printer policy, implement print-saving mechanisms, and ensure everyone understands why they are making these changes. This will reduce total print volume and how employees use printers, which will cut costs.

Making It Relevant

Printers are often easily accessible, free to use, and not typically blocked in any way. An employee who wants to print off 1,000 pages of presentation notes to hand out to colleagues can do just that. The ready availability of printers and their ease of access means most people simply don’t think about using them and they don’t understand why it might be harmful or bad. After all, printing is cheap.

Introducing employee training ensures individuals understand why printer usage should be reduced. You can utilize a combination of tactics, highlighting personal cost to the organization, total cost to the industry, and economic impact (estimated personal as well as estimated total), and then share some ways this could be cut down and by how much. Here, it’s a good idea to attach reasonable and achievable goals to printer use reduction, so individuals have something to strive for rather than just a general “reduce printer usage.”

A training program should be structured to introduce the problem (We spend $755 or 3% of total net revenue on print costs), the goal (we intend to reduce print usage by 10% over the next 90 days and by 30% before the end of the year), and solutions or tools to reach that goal (we have integrated digital file-sharing, printer queues, and supplied meeting areas with digital screens to better-share information), as well as how to use any new solutions or tools. If you’re unsure of your costs, Printing Industries of America offers a free cost calculator.

Introducing New Policies

A print usage or printer policy is important for print usage reduction. However, many organizations implement print policies and never use them. Employee training gives you an ideal place to introduce new policies and to show employees how they work.

  • Digital documentation and scanning rather than print and scan
  • Printer servers and mandatory printer limits
  • Maximum limits on color printing
  • Double-sided printing
  • Using margins and text-size and shrink-to-fit appropriately
  • Using digitization to save files and web pages rather than printing
  • Tracking individual paper footprint
  • Using ink-saving fonts

In any instance where print policies include implementing new technologies, it’s important to train individuals in how those technologies work. For example, everyone should be able to demonstrate the ability to use a printer server, set print margins, set double-sided print, change print color, and to use features like coded printer queues.

You can also integrate elements such as empty-tray policies, where individuals are asked to keep printer trays empty at all times. This reduces instances of individuals printing and then re-printing files because they forgot they had already printed them, which will reduce total demand on printers as well.

Here, using printer queues with logons will force users to see what they’ve queued before printing, because they won’t be able to actually print until they go to the office printer. This training should also be implemented as part of onboarding, so that new employees are aware of policies, how to use printer technology effectively, and how to reduce their own print usage.

Implementing Follow-Up

No training program is adequate without implementing follow-up. Doing so means setting targets for training, monitoring employees, and monitoring print usage. The easiest way to do so is to implement a user access management system, where each user is assigned a login for their printer queue. Any printed files can then be traced to an individual user. You can then very easily follow up after 2-4 weeks to offer additional training to individuals who aren’t making changes.

You can also choose to follow-up with office-wide training or sessions to ensure everyone still remembers policies and procedures, to ensure everyone is correctly utilizing new technology, or to otherwise reinforce new policies and ideas.

Before You Train Employees

Training employees to reduce print usage and waste is important, especially considering statistics that say 10-30% of people using printers will print the same file twice, will print files for personal use, and more than 75% of all printed files will be thrown away by the end of the day. With studies showing that 20-60% of printer waste is actually thrown away before being used, this is important. However, you have to offer alternatives, better tools, and more efficient solutions before you can ask employees to reduce waste.

This means implementing digitization, implementing file and queue management tools, offering stronger security for printers to reduce ease of use, and integrating user access management. It may also include offering paper alternatives such as digital displays for meeting rooms, recommending apps to save files and web pages for later, distributing digital devices such as tablets or laptops for easier access to email or information, and otherwise giving individuals alternatives to printing.

In most cases, you can reduce total print usage by 10-30%, simply by educating individuals about print usage, why it’s important, and how much it impacts the company and the environment. When paired with either mandatory or easy-access solutions to reduce waste printing, these measures will significantly reduce total print usage.