Brother: Big MFP/Copiers are Now the Water Cooler for Employees to Gather ‘Round and Waste Time

copier jam

As part of its new “Don’t Superize. Optimize” Campaign, Brother International U.S. is releasing the results of a new survey that essentially says the floor-standing, centralized copier/MFP down the hall has become the modern-day water cooler – a place where employees can congregate and waste time – in turn wasting companies thousands of work hours a year.

According to the survey, compared with offices that have a greater number of shared printers, employees at offices with centralized copier/printers spend, on average, an additional three minutes each day on printing. Over the course of a year, this means an extra 13 hours spent at the printer. For a company of 500 employees, this could translate into 6,500 wasted hours.

Brother’s survey was conducted by independent research company Clarus Research Group from September 5 to 11, 2014. The sample size was 1,000 employees, age 18 to 64, working full-time in an office, with more than 10 people in the office, using shared printers.

Centralized Copier/Printers Lead to Distractions

Waiting in the printing queue, walking a long distance to a printer, and being distracted by other people while walking to or waiting for the printer can all lead to distracted employees and lowered productivity in the workplace, says Brother. In fact, 61 percent of employees surveyed stated that they have conversations at the copier/printer and that they are four times more likely to always engage in conversations compared with just 31 percent who have conversations at the water cooler.

According to the Brother survey, employees who engage in non-work conversations at the printer are 98 percent more likely to stop by other colleagues’ desks to chat about personal things, but only 28 percent more likely to chat about work. And, they are 42 percent more likely to get intercepted by those wanting to chat as well.

Using centralized printers has an impact on printing behaviors as well, according to the survey, which revealed that those that use centralized copier/printers are more likely to minimize printing because walking the distance to pick up their jobs is inconvenient. They are also more likely than those not using a centralized printer to forget to pick up documents after sending them, and attempt to attend meetings without hard copies of documents.

“As print volumes change, we know that many small- to medium-sized businesses may be under-using their copier/printers and have placed them ineffectively leading to cost and productivity implications,” says Dan Waldinger, director of services and solutions marketing at Brother. “Our survey findings further demonstrate how ineffective placement can promote behaviors that may ultimately lead to significant productivity loss. This strengthens the Brother balanced deployment solution, which helps SMBs optimize their printing environments for better productivity and cost savings.”

Brother’s Solution for SMBs: “Don’t Supersize. Optimize.”

According to the Brother survey, employees with printers located within their own departments were far less likely to lose productivity, and they were 36 percent more likely to engage in mostly work-related conversations while waiting for a print job to finish compared to those who also have printers outside their department.

More than half of all employees surveyed want their company to replace centralized copier/printers with “more efficient devices for more user-friendly printing.” And at 48.5 percent, nearly half of those with centralized printing would prefer a shorter distance between their desk and the copier/printer/scanner.

The survey also revealed that workers with more shared printers are more digitally engaged. More of them say that their companies encourage the use of digital documents, use multiple screens, find reading on-screen easier, use more mobile devices than they used to, and are more environmentally conscious. Those that have centralized printers are more than two times more likely to say that their company printers do not work well and that they take too long to finish printing jobs.

Brother advises SMBs to help boost productivity by placing printers closer to workgroups through an approach called balanced deployment. SMBs can also help reduce costs and eliminate potential distractions by identifying the right printer to fit their departmental print requirements. Brother’s “Don’t Supersize. Optimize.” initiative encourages SMBs to evaluate their printing environment, using an online self-assessment tool found at

Our Take

For the last 20 years, the big copier companies have spent much time and effort seeking to convince customers that big, high-volume network-connected copier/MFPs that print and scan on up to 11″x17″ are much more efficient, easier to manage, and more cost-effective than many smaller desktop network-connected printers. Brother, which markets desktop laser printers and All-in-Ones, most of which print and scan on up to 8.5″x14″ media, is naturally taking the opposite tack. While 11″x17″ MFPs generally have lower cost per page than 8.5″x14″ desktop printers and All-in-Ones, Brother does raise an interesting question – when does remote MFP deployment negate high-volume 11″x17″ MFP benefits? Lengthlyy trips to an MFP, lost or missing printouts at the MFP, and employee distractions on their way to and from the MFP can conceivably translate into much lost productivity. Whether customers will think the same remains to be seen, but this is certainly an interesting campaign from Brother.

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