You’ve probably done it yourself: printed personal documents at work. Millions of workers do this, and while it seems harmless on the surface, it has costs and could pose risks to your business.
How common is it?
You may be surprised to learn that printing personal documents at the workplace is quite common. According to a 2019 survey performed in the NY, NJ and PA area, over three-quarters of metro area workers routinely print personal documents while at work. Here are some of the results:
- 18% of respondents said they use their work printer for personal printing at least once per month.
- 13% of respondents stated they do this multiple times per week.
- Only 6% of workers in the survey reported printing personal documents at work less than once a year.
Why do people do it?
There are several reasons why people print personal documents in the workplace. Here are the most common:
- No one’s stopped them. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the survey respondents said that their company does not have any policy governing printing personal documents at work, while 20% admitted to not knowing if their company has a policy like this in place. Additionally, only 16% of workers said their company charges employees to print personal documents while at the office.
- Poor work/home balance. It’s been known for years that many workers are finding it more and more difficult to maintain a good balance or separation between work life and home life. This can lead people to print personal documents at work because it’s quick and easy. It lets them avoid doing one more thing at home where they may feel stressed or rushed due to their work and other commitments.
- Fewer printers in homes. In the past ten years, much of our communication and documentation has gone digital and paperless. Think about bank statements, bills, airline tickets, and more. This means fewer people are buying printers for their homes, so they don’t think much about printing a page here or there at work.
What are the costs?
For business, the most obvious risk of personal documents being printed in the workplace is the cost.
According to the study, an average of 13 pages of personal documents are printed per person, per month.
This means that, with about 22.5 million office-based workers, there are approximately 43 million personal printouts per month and about 465 million per year.
This translates into the equivalent of $50M lost to printing personal documents at work every year. In the US, this amount is increasing, and higher still when considering the global number of office workers.
Are there additional risks
In addition to the high dollar value lost to workers printing personal documents at the office, there are other risks to a business:
- Exposure of private information. Private, confidential information from personal printing could be seen by others. This could be anything from financial statements to HIPAA-protected medical or health information to simply private, personal correspondence.
- Compromised business security. Personal documents that are printed at work can originate from many sources, any of which could have compromised security. A downloaded file could expose a virus, trojan horse, or another cyber-attack to your company’s network when someone tries to print it. Attempting to print corrupted files could lead to software or hardware issues, leading to downtime and requiring repairs and troubleshooting.
Docutrend can help
Docutrend has expertise in office and enterprise print management solutions. We can assess your current printing environment and advise you on ways to help manage and control unwanted personal printing, such as printing policies and Managed Print Services that can help reduce costs and maintain security.