This Week in Imaging: Can Work-at-Home Workers Save Printers, MFPs?

Photo credit: Kathy Wirth

We came upon an interesting bit of news this week that, along with a new desktop A4 MFP and printer from Ricoh this week, got us thinking.

According to Quartz Media, Automattic, the company that owns WordPress.com, the popular blogging-platform site, is closing the doors of its beautiful San Francisco office. No, Automattic isn’t going out of business. Instead, apparently, so many employees are working at home now, that there’s no need to have an office.

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg explained on a podcast:

“We got an office there about six or seven years ago, pretty good lease, but nobody goes in it. Five people go in it and it’s 15,000 square feet. They get like 3,000 square feet each. … There are as many gaming tables as there are people.”

Automattic isn’t alone with employees working at home. According to a Gallup Organization survey reported via The New York Times in a February 2017 article: “Last year, 43 percent of employed Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely, according to the survey of more than 15,000 adults.”

According to the Gallup survey, some 31 percent reported that they worked remotely from four to five days a week, up from 24 percent as previously reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So, at this point, we have up to one-third of workers working remotely (presumably at home).

Many of those workers will still require print, copy, fax, and scan, but will of course tend to have much more limited space – with floor-standing A3 systems out-of-the-question – instead requiring compact desktop devices such as the new A4 desktop models just introduced by Ricoh.

As the percentage of work-at-home remotely workers seems to be rising, there’s likely to be a need for MFPs and printers that feature:

  • Easy set-up or very easy set-up by providers, as in-house IT likely won’t be available.
  • Easy replacement of consumables and easy troubleshooting, as again, IT likely won’t be available.
  • Compact size.
  • Easy ordering of supplies such as toner and ink, including devices that monitor toner and ink supply status, and automatically send replacements.

We can’t of course be absolutely sure that the work-at-home trend will continue. While the owners of WordPress are closing their office doors, many employers are still “iffy” about it. For instance, last month, IBM told many of its work-at-home employees to come back to the office (CNN). In 2007, IBM had reported that a whopping 40 percent of its employees worked at home.

On the other hand, last year, Dell requested that many employees switch to working at home. At that time, Dell said about 25 percent of its employees worked at home, but it was aiming to raise that to 50 percent.

According to Dell, it’s been able to save some $12 million a year in real-estate costs with more employees working at home, and perhaps only coming in for a day or two, at which time they don’t need a permanent desk (“hot desking”). Working at home more often is also an eco-friendly choice, as not only is heating and cooling office spaces reduced, but so are employees driving back-and-forth to work.

So, while there’s probably still a lot of old-school thinking in place – the idea that employees will waste time at home (although they can waste just as much at the office at the old water-cooler – or on the Internet), we tend to think that with substantial cost savings as a lure – real estate being one of the most expensive office costs – this is likely to change. In the future, we’ll probably see work-at-home becoming more and more accepted – and an essential part of the satellite home office will be print, copy, scan, and fax.

Executive-Management News

Lexmark CEO Reeder Resigns Citing ‘Personal Reasons’ – Read more here.

Fuji Xerox Chairman Yamamoto Resigns in Wake of New Zealand Accounting Scandal – Read more here.

3D-Printing News

HP Brings 3D-Printing Solutions to Asia-Pacific Region, Adds Over 12 New Reseller Partners – Read more here.

Office-Imaging News

Ricoh Said to be Selling Subsidiaries, Laying-Off Workers in North America – Read more here.

Toshiba America Shipping Eco-Friendly Copier/MFP with Erasable Paper – Read more here.

New EFI Fiery Print Server for Sharp MX-7580N/6580N Color Document Systems – Read more here.

New Entry-Level Desktop Color MFP, Printer from Ricoh for Home and Satellite Offices – Read more here.​

Xerox Adds Two New Dealers as Part of $100 Million Channel Expansion – Read more here.

Market-Research News

Global Printer and MFP Shipments See Modest Uptick in First Quarter – Read more here.

Other News

Toshiba Being Sued for $339 Million for Accounting Irregularities – Read more here.

Western Digital Seeks to Block Toshiba’s Sale of Memory-Chip Business – Read more here.

Static Control Introduces Cartridge World-Branded Printer Supplies – Read more here.

Legal Briefs

German Court Grants Canon Injunction in Printer-Supplies Patent-Infringement Dispute – Read more here.

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May 2017

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