One of the main fronts where there is a struggle to cut costs is paper consumption. In this battle, printers play the leading role and concentrate most of the efficiency and cost-saving measures that are designed. The most innovative one is called “secure printing”. Employees must validate their identity with a card or code, and be physically in front of the printer to pick up their document. In this way, they can cancel requests that have been sent by mistake, avoid leaving documents behind in collective printers, choose the printer they want to use and, more importantly, keep the confidential nature of the printed document, since this system guarantees it doesn’t fall into the wrong (or curious) hands mistakenly. Moreover, as an additional security measure, these printers can be configured so that those requests that have not been printed be automatically deleted after a certain period of time. Additionally, ink or toner consumption can be reduced through software.
Although less innovative, there are other essential initiatives whereby local printers are replaced with network ones. As a result of withdrawing traditional individual printers and sharing equipment across work teams, employees have to leave their workstations and lose some privacy, which forces them to consider the real need for printing. It is also worth mentioning some other initiatives like using high-performance ink cartridges that avoid unnecessary waste, and returning empty cartridges to manufacturers so that they can recycle them.
It is crystal clear that companies can do a lot to be more efficient and save costs, but they are not the only stakeholders in this process. Employees should take responsibility and follow a battery of simple measures to save paper. The most obvious one consists of printing on both sides. However, don’t let obviousness prevent us from seeing the great impact of this initiative. If an office worker uses 10,000 sheets on average, with double-sided printing they would save 20%. It is also possible to print several pages on the same sheet, avoid printing documents for internal use or print them in draft mode (thus saving toner), use recycled paper, reuse those sheets with just a few lines printed on them or misprinted, avoid printing e-mails or drafts, file copies electronically, etc.
Nevertheless, here comes on stage workers’ discretion and their ability to determine what should be printed or not. Many companies that are truly committed to reducing paper consumption and being more efficient prefer not to leave certain decisions in the employees’ hands, but do not want to supervise their daily work with restrictive measures like printing quotas. For this reason, they have gone one step beyond and decided to use document management software solutions. These applications virtually eliminate the use of paper from the document’s life cycle and entail considerable cost savings in this sphere.
Technology allows us to be more efficient and greener in our offices. That is why it is worth investing in new programs and equipment. The upfront investment may seem to be high, but the return is guaranteed. It is essential to install top-notch equipment that, for instance, allows activating the energy-saving mode so that it shuts down after some time inactive. No wonder, according to Gartner, 35% of energy consumption in a company corresponds to IT equipment and, in some cases, exceeds lighting consumption.
As far as lighting-related costs are concerned, high-impact measures can be undertaken, for instance, automatic switch-on and -off of lights through motion sensors. In this way, the electricity bill experiences a considerable reduction.
In smart offices, intelligent air-conditioning systems don’t allow turning room temperature up or down more than three degrees in order to keep temperature constant and cut down on the energy expenses caused by readjustments. All types of waste can also be recycled, from plastic to paper to IT equipment, e.g. toners and hardware. And there is no shortage of paper containers, which are distributed across the office. The companies specialized in this business collect them and recycle their content, after signing the relevant confidentiality agreement.
There is nothing new in talking about energy efficiency, cost saving and respect for the environment, but we cannot cease in our efforts to strongly support these values. Major international companies are already reaping the rewards of their efforts and contributing to the planet’s sustainability. We hope this is the beginning of a long journey.