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10 Years in the Cloud

Managed Print

Cloud Use Rises: Secure Your Data Now

In today’s digitized world, businesses increasingly rely on the cloud for data storage. Statista reports that more than 50% of global enterprises were utilizing cloud services by the end of last year. However, this digital reliance also exposes businesses to potential cyber threats.

Cybersecurity breaches can be disastrous for businesses. The US National Cyber Security Alliance states that 60% of small and medium-sized enterprises that suffer a cybersecurity attack fail within six months. Thus, the protection of your business data becomes a crucial concern.

Transitioning to the Cloud

As we delve deeper into the digital era, cloud computing rapidly becomes the cornerstone of business operations. The unprecedented efficiency, scalability, and speed that cloud computing brings to the table are undeniable. Astonishingly, data from Flexera suggests that 94% of enterprises have experienced the advantages of cloud-based services.

However, making the shift to the cloud is not without its own set of challenges. Among these, the most prominent is the heightened need for effective cybersecurity. It’s a common mistake to treat traditional network security and cloud security in the same way. This misconception often leaves businesses exposed to severe digital threats.

Essentially, precautions and measures for cloud security differ significantly from those put in place for network security. Slight errors in understanding these variances can lead to irrevocable vulnerabilities in a company’s cybersecurity infrastructure. It’s imperative that businesses ascertain and adapt to these differences, ensuring maximum data protection.

Cybersecurity Measures in the Cloud

To effectively secure your business data, developing an agile security posture must be a top priority. Most cloud-related breaches, 73% to be precise, according to a report by Cloud Security Alliance, come from a lack of secure cloud storage and misconfigurations. Optimizing the configuration and management of access to your cloud resources is of pivotal importance.

In the realm of cybersecurity, it’s also crucial to establish and enforce in-depth, hands-on security practices. Such practices should include comprehensive audits, exhaustive penetration testing, and intensive training for all employees. Adding to the urgency, an alarming statistic from an IBM report states that 70% of cybersecurity breaches are attributable to insiders.

So, instilling a strongly rooted cybersecurity culture across the entirety of your organization is essential. This includes more than just setting up technological safeguards. Employees at all levels and in all departments should have a clear understanding of cybersecurity protocols and take an active role in implementing them.

Data Encryption and Backups

Undeniably, data encryption plays a vital role when it comes to securing sensitive business information in the cloud. Almost all cloud service providers offer encryption capabilities, but adding an extra layer of encryption can elevate the security of your data to a much higher standard.

On another front, data backups tend to be a commonly overlooked aspect of cybersecurity. Given their crucial role in ensuring business continuity in the face of unexpected cyber threats, they should be given more emphasis. Think of backups as a safety net for your data that can be activated when the worst happens.

Lastly, it’s worth noting a significant statistic from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency. They claim that 75% of ransomware attack victims who had regular data backups in place were able to minimize their losses significantly. In essence, maintaining regular data backups can be a relatively simple yet high-reward practice for protecting your business data.

Reliable Cloud Service Provider

The choice of your cloud service provider plays a significant role in securing your business data. When selecting a vendor, assessing their security regulations, their historical performance, and the control they provide over your data is crucial. Trusted service providers, like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, are known for strict adherence to privacy laws and offering robust protective measures.

Moreover, analyzing a provider’s breach notification policy deserves your careful consideration. How quick would they be to notify you in case of a cybersecurity breach? Quick detection and appropriate response can substantially reduce the damage a cyberattack can inflict.

To wrap up this section, it’s essential to understand that your cloud service provider is not just a vendor, but a partner. Such a partnership demands trust and transparency. Therefore, choosing a reliable cloud service provider is not just about comparing features and pricing. It’s about ensuring the best protection for your business data in a collaborative and mutual manner.

Final Thoughts on Cybersecurity

As we summarize our discussion on cybersecurity, it’s clear that shifting to the cloud is laden with both advantages and challenges. Cybersecurity undoubtedly stands at the forefront of these challenges. Therefore, vigilance to the evolving threat landscape and understanding the unique security needs of cloud services are critical.

In the selection of your cloud service provider, look for a reliable partner that aligns with your business’s cybersecurity needs. This goes a long way in enhancing the security of your business data.

Finally, let’s remember one crucial fact: In our digital era, data is king. Its protection should consequently be a top-tier priority for every business. Every effort invested in strengthening cybersecurity should be seen as safeguarding the lifeblood of your business.

The Answer To The Financial Print Dilemma – Managed Print Services

Data has always been essential to running a business, especially when it comes to the financial side of a company. Tracking materials usage and time spent on projects or tasks has always been a struggle for accounting departments. However, Big Data has made it much easier to set up programs and systems to assist in tracking items essential to fully developed financials.

The beginning of this type of tracking was embedded in the use of firewalls and servers. IT used these tools to block access to websites and services that were deemed unsafe or distracting. It also helped keep tabs on what and how employees were using their time and equipment.

Now, however, with an ever-growing remote-work environment, companies are moving beyond the standard in-house tracking. Instead, they are beginning to implement project management software like Monday. More intensive clock-in and clock-out tracking systems like Toggl are also a common alternative. However, businesses with significant security concerns and stringent compliance or regulatory requirements have begun to migrate to all-in-one screenshots, website usage, and time-tracking systems—programs like Time Doctor or Clockify. But, no matter the software or methods being used, businesses can now fully monitor and track the work and time of each of their internal and remote workers.

For finance departments, the introduction of these systems means easier tracking and categorizing of employee time. It helps them tabulate hours spent on individual projects and apply costs to specific areas throughout the business. However, despite more advanced tracking capabilities in the realm of the employee, there are back-office and overhead expenses that are still tough to trace, such as printing.

The Printing Expense Dilemma

Many may argue that printing costs are very easy to tabulate. But printing industry experts such as Managed Print Services providers know the actual costs of printing go far beyond the equipment and supplies. How much a company pays to purchase or lease a printer or spends on paper and toner are only the surface expenditures.

The cost of managing office printing

The truth is that, for every $1 spent on office printing, another $9 is paid to manage it. This expense is created by IT management, infrastructure, and support. While the Information Technology (IT) group may lump print in with the rest of their general office assistance and structure, analysis proves it takes up far more time and energy than anyone would like to believe. Most businesses report 40% of their help desk calls and tickets are print-related when thoroughly evaluated. And these ongoing print problems can require anything from basic assistance such as supply replenishment or jam assistance to a repair call.

But IT is not the only department affected by office print management. Equipment, toner, ink, and paper supplies all fall on the administrative and procurement departments. Ensuring these items are appropriately sourced in a timely manager often requires inventory regulation. Larger offices may even require regular reports on print dispense and ink levels. In some cases, this information may involve direct contact and inspection of the print equipment’s stored data.

Add to all of this the need to provision and upkeep on-site (and now remote and at-home) printing facilities; it does not seem unreasonable for print management to encompass such a staggering hidden cost. Yet nearly half (40%) of North American businesses cannot accurately track print and print management expenses. As a result, most companies spend a great deal more than they should to provide these services to their employees. A typical business spends up to 3% of its annual revenues on office print services.

Managed Print Services – Solution To Print Costs

Seeing such a cost analysis, finance departments might immediately attempt to steer their company toward a paperless environment. Indeed, many organizations have been working hard toward the vision of a completely digital office. But studies have shown paper is still an essential feature for employees and security. Fortunately, there are ways for businesses to provide finance with the data attributions they desire while significantly lowering the overall costs of business office print.

Managed print service (MPS) providers consolidate administration, printer helpdesk, and maintenance into one package. As a business that is wholly focused on providing printer services, equipment, and supplies, they can leverage their industry knowledge, experience, and volumes to help reduce wait times, resolve issues, and lower supply costs. Overall, MPS services can reduce overall printing costs by up to 30%. The cost-savings to print-related helpdesk tickets and calls alone range from 7-14%.

MPS providers using business process automation systems like PowerMPS offer even more data and cost savings. These platforms provide MPS customers with easily accessible data on print volumes by printer, location, and current supply levels. This information can be accessed from the comfort and safety of the home office – for even remote office and connected desktop printers.

MPS using PowerMPS systems can provide an in-depth look at supply usage for those finance departments demanding even more convenience and cost savings. And there are ample time savings with predictive supply ordering technology and online maintenance management.

Finance departments in businesses across North America might be at a disadvantage for tracking and understanding their actual office printing spend. But, just like there is a growing service and software space for proper employee time management and attribution, there are solutions for the enterprising finance team. When it comes to tracking and management for print, these companies should take a hard look at partnering with a reputable MPS provider – especially one galvanized by an authoritative tool such as PowerMPS.

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Redefining Workspaces: The Role of Wellness Zones

Redefining Workspaces: The Role of Wellness Zones

Creating a positive and healthy work environment is essential for employee well-being and productivity. In recent years, especially since the pandemic, businesses have recognized the importance of incorporating wellness spaces into the workplace. These dedicated areas provide employees with opportunities to relax, recharge, and prioritize their physical and mental health.

In today’s brisk work environment, employees’ mental health should be the top priority of organizations. After all, a happy employee is a productive employee. As businesses strive to create a positive and productive work culture, incorporating wellness spaces into the office has become a prevalent trend.

The Rise of Wellness Spaces

In the late 1980s, companies focused on psychological well-being as part of their workplace wellness initiatives. In pop culture, these efforts were fueled by the popularity of an exercise video series released by Jane Fonda at the start of the decade.

Workforce wellness grew in popularity at that time due to diminished employee loyalty, resulting from tumultuous economic issues and distrust in corporations. Employees started protecting their own needs in comparison to the wants of their employer. In 1986, OSH began to encourage implementing stress-related mental health programs in the workplace.

By the new millennium, workplace wellness programs were fairly established domestically. A 2008 Employer Health Benefits Survey reported 70% of large companies in America had workplace wellness programs. It also helps that global businesses are experiencing drastic innovation due to technological advances.

The Current Landscape

As we continue the second decade of the 21st century, the workplace wellness journey has gone full steam ahead, increasing awareness and prevention services. Today’s workplace wellness programs are designed primarily as preventative care for innumerable health conditions.

Screenings and health risk assessments accurately detect acute and chronic conditions. Mental and emotional health services have been emphasized with increased absenteeism due to the global pandemic. Teams of clinical and non-clinical practitioners include mental, behavioral, and integrative health working in partnership with health, wellness, and professional recovery coaches. Because of the isolation of 2020, the need for mental and behavioral health services has never been more prevalent. So has an increased want of wellness spaces in the workplace.

The Impact of Wellness Spaces on Employee Health

wellness space impact

Research shows that incorporating wellness spaces into the office can significantly impact employee health. According to a study by the World Green Building Council, employees with access to natural elements and spaces designed for relaxation and rejuvenation experience a 15% increase in well-being and are 6% more productive. Furthermore, according to Gallup, engaged employees are 21% more productive than their disengaged counterparts.

Understanding the connection between employee happiness and overall organizational health is vital. By providing areas for physical activity, quiet reflection, or even a quick power nap, employers can help reduce stress, boost mental clarity, and improve overall employee health.

Designing Relaxation Zones

Creating dedicated relaxation zones within the office environment can offer employees a retreat from the demands of their workday. These spaces can be designed with comfortable seating, soothing lighting, and calming elements such as plants or water features.

For example, Google has incorporated nap pods in their offices, providing employees with a quiet space to recharge. Additionally, Salesforce has installed meditation rooms in their offices, recognizing the importance of mental well-being in achieving optimal performance. Employees can take short breaks to relax and return to their tasks feeling refreshed and rejuvenated by designating specific areas for relaxation.

Incorporate natural elements like plants and natural light to create a calming environment. Provide ergonomic furniture and adjustable workstations to promote good posture and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal issues.

Prioritizing Physical Activity

Encouraging physical activity at work is vital for maintaining employee well-being. Many forward-thinking companies have implemented on-site fitness facilities or designated exercise areas within their office spaces. These spaces are equipped with exercise equipment, such as dumbbells, treadmills, or yoga mats.

For instance, Zappos and USAA offer an on-site gym and organize employee group exercise classes. Regular physical activity improves physical health, increases energy levels, reduces stress, and enhances cognitive function. Fitbit reports that employees who engage in physical activity during the workday have 53.8% lower healthcare costs.

Embracing Nature & Biophilic Design

Biophilic design, which incorporates elements of nature into the workplace, has gained popularity for its positive impact on employee well-being. Natural light, indoor plants, and views of green spaces have been shown to reduce stress, enhance mood, and improve productivity. Amazon’s Spheres, a collection of glass domes filled with plants, exemplifies this approach. By integrating nature-inspired elements, employers can connect with the outdoors and promote a sense of calm and serenity in the workplace.

Supporting Mental Health

As mentioned earlier, promoting mental health is the most important aspect of improving employee well-being. Organizations can foster a positive work environment by destigmatizing mental health and offering support. Companies must foster a supportive culture outside of wellness spaces that encourage employees to utilize these amenities. Managers should all lead by example, emphasizing the importance of work-life balance and wellness practices. Offering flexible work arrangements, promoting regular breaks, and providing access to mental health resources can further this initiative.

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Online Shopping Security Matters: What You Need to Know

Online Shopping Security Matters: What You Need to Know

While physical retail might be making a comeback, it will be hard for retail storefronts to compete with the convenience, variety, and availability of the worldwide web. Unfortunately, online office supply sales are no exception to the rule. While overall sales have continued to increase as companies begin to return to normal operations, online purchases have continued to outpace those in physical retail establishments.

But the continued and growing reliance on digital purchases has opened up a bigger problem for companies; online security and the risk of company data falling into the wrong hands.

Online shopping has been available for years. But the rapid growth and significant boost seen since the end of 2020 has also made businesses offering online sales options even more of a target than before. With more traffic, fraudsters see more opportunities to attack unsuspecting businesses and their customers. In some cases, legitimate businesses are even willing to resort to underhanded tactics to take down the competition.

When Online Stores Crash

How many DDos attacks were there last year

There have been multiple instances in the news where online retailers are flooded with so much website traffic that it causes long wait times or even completely crashes the site. If a company or page has been featured in a popular show or showcased heavily, this might be real business reaching levels overwhelming the host server. But for print management, services, and supplies that serve the needs of corporations and business offices, attracting that much website traffic is highly unlikely. The more likely scenario is a Distributed Denial of Service Attack or DDoS.

A DDoS attack employs utilizes bots to significantly raise traffic on an eCommerce site to the point where it crashes or stops performing normally. For businesses looking to take out the competition, the disruption in regular service can degrade client confidence in the company’s ability to meet convenience and supply expectations. In 2021, there were a record-breaking 9.84 million DDoS attacks in the USA.

For cybercriminals, the tactic can be used as a diversion to mask other, more nefarious activities such as planting malware or backend hacking to steal data. The fallout for small eCommerce from a DDoS attack can reach as high as $50,000 per incident.

Other Types of Online Fraud

While DDoS is one of the most common tactics used against online stores, there are several other ways criminals attempt to take advantage of businesses and their customers.

  • Interception fraud is an order placed as usual with a matching shipping address and stolen credit card information. However, the actual purchaser intercepts the order by calling the shipping company or customer care representative to change the final delivery address once the order is accepted.
  • Account takeover fraud occurs when criminals log into a customer’s account. They have usually gained access to the account by purchasing passwords from the dark web or through phishing schemes. Once logged into the account, criminals will make orders or change customer details.
  • Triangulation fraud is performed by setting up a storefront with pricing that will attract customers. They then use stolen credit card numbers to purchase goods from other eCommerce sites to fulfill their orders. As a result, their customers receive their goods, but the original store and the owners of the stolen credit cards are victims of fraud.
  • Friendly fraud is based on standard customer care practices for legitimate grievances. For example, criminals will order a product and then cite a problem with the product or delivery to either request their money back from the business or initiate a chargeback directly with their payment processor.

Identifying Commercial Fraud

Many online store platforms have the technology to help guard against the most common forms of fraud. However, office printer industry businesses should be aware of the critical signs of criminal eCommerce behavior to add an extra layer of protection for the company and its customers. Some things to look out for include:

  • Inconsistent order details are a big signal of potential fraud. For example, if the zip code and city don’t match or the IP address of the shopper and their email address don’t match, it is most likely a sign of attempted fraudulent activity.
  • When a client suddenly places a larger than average order, it is a giant red flag. It might be good to contact the customer to confirm the quantity and other details before processing the transaction.
  • Customers usually order using a specific IP address. Therefore, anytime a customer logs in from a new IP, it is advisable to require additional login steps and follow up with the customer for an order confirmation.
  • If a customer was not initially set up with multiple shipping addresses and is suddenly expanding the number of delivery locations, it could be a sign of criminal activity.
  • The timeframe is another item to watch closely. Criminals usually utilize bots and will trigger a series of activities in a short timeframe, such as multiple orders, multiple credit cards, or initiating several declined transactions in a row.

With the rapid increase in online shopping platforms and the ongoing move of consumers to digital channels, fraudsters are thriving on attacking businesses and their customers. Those who are new to the eCommerce space are especially vulnerable. Therefore, companies planning to operate or already use an online store should make sure they are training staff and taking steps to secure themselves and their customers.

Printing Industry 4.0 – Changes For Managed Print Businesses

The first industrial revolution was mechanization through water and steam power. The second was the development of mass production through assembly lines and division of labor. The third was spawned by the introduction of computers, electronics, and automation.

Now, experts say, we are in the fourth revolution, or “Industry 4.0.” Welcome to the age of Big Data, Machine Learning, and the Internet of Things. In this transformation, worldwide commerce is being significantly reshaped by the proliferation of the internet throughout our society. To many businesses, it means more intelligent manufacturing or better networking. For others, this revolution means a whole new way of doing business.

Some companies have taken advantage of these significant changes and incorporated 4.0 as an advantage that sets them apart. Others, facing an industry that has worked quickly to embrace what the worldwide web offers, face a stark picture should they continue to follow the business practices they have known for decades. For those, the message is brutal but straightforward – “Evolve or Die.”

But even companies faced with dire choices can take heart. This is not Kodak or CPI Photo facing the influx of the digital camera. This is not the phone booth business melting in the face of a suddenly booming mobile phone market. This is evolution, not extinction – as long as you embrace the revolution before it is too late.

What Customers Want

40% of online shoppers won’t wait more than 3 seconds for an internet page to load

Industry 4.0 has spoiled the customer on nearly all fronts. Amazon provides curated item picks and fast delivery. Grocery stores will shop for you and drop the goods at your doorstep. The majority of customers who reach out to businesses on social media (75%) expect a response within 24 hours. Over a quarter (35%) expect some sort of answer in an hour or less.

We are so incredibly spoiled that 40% of online shoppers won’t wait more than 3 seconds for an internet page to load. Goldfish would wait longer.

But it’s more than an expectation for fast response times, predictive metrics, and quick delivery. The demand for self-service has risen significantly. Even for business-to-business channels, companies are far less likely to visit a location, pick up a phone, or even send an email for a quote. As of 2019, more than half of companies (61-65%)preferred self-service for research, evaluation, ordering, and reordering.

So, today’s business customer is searching for intuitive technology with a simple user experience on the front-end and lightning-fast, friendly, and helpful response on the back-end. Where did they get this expectation? From other industries that have already upgraded to a 4.0 model.

Industry 4.0 For The Printing World

4.0 technology is giving the Managed Print business even more of an advantage

Business and office printing is a unique industry that relies heavily on printing supplies, equipment, software, and maintenance. While some companies cobble together their own mish-mash of vendor suppliers, a growing number of businesses have realized the real efficiencies and costs savings are found partnering with Managed Print Services (MPS) providers. And 4.0 technology is giving the Managed Print business even more of an advantage.

Most MPS companies already pride themselves on high quality, fast delivery, and low pricing. But office printers have become so ubiquitous to the business space that equipment manufactures were forced to divorce them from anything resembling the small consumer printers found standard in big box stores. Office printers are designed to connect to networks. Initially, this was to allow for fast inter-office printing. Now, however, it will enable these machines to be securely connected to cloud-based services that can assist with better overall management.

MPS using services such as PowerMPS, for instance, can use their cloud-based customer connection to provide more in-depth services for their clients and generate a better self-service experience online. Things like predictive supply ordering, usage reports, and online service requests are just a few of the ways a 4.0 empowered MPS provider’s customers can benefit.

But it’s more than a convenience; MPS 4.0 also offers a significant return for MPS businesses. Updating the business to provide in-person and online interactions caters to both companies who thrive on face-to-face sales and those who prefer a fast, always available, online alternative.

In A Post-Covid Print World

In a post-COVID-19 world, an online strategy is even more critical as it can help cater to those business partners still subject to more stringent safety measures. It also creates a way for the MPS business to continue operations even if they are forced to temporarily close their physical doors. And, while in-person service and maintenance areas may be limited, cloud-based connections can expand remote maintenance and sales opportunities. The result is a larger, more digital space to grow.

Fortunately, implementing a 4.0 strategy doesn’t have to be an IT and labor-intensive project. Services like PowerMPS offer comprehensive and easily implemented software that allows MPS businesses to create customized storefronts, customer profiles, and connections that will get them online quickly and efficiently. While the print industry’s call to embrace the 4.0 revolution may not be a blaring alarm yet, savvy MPS providers are taking advantage of everything the Internet of Things has to offer…before it becomes a “due or die.”

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Remote vs. In-Office: Should Employees Return to the Office?

Remote vs. In-Office: Should Employees Return to the Office?

In the wake of the global pandemic, remote work became necessary for many companies, revolutionizing how we work. However, as the world recovers, a debate has emerged about whether employees should return to the office or continue working remotely. On the one hand, employees have been enjoying the freedom of working out of the office. On the other, managers miss the supervision and collaboration of in-person work.

Here are some of the biggest arguments for having employees return to the office, and the biggest reasons against having the workforce return to the office and instead favor a remote or hybrid work environment:

For: Boosting Collaboration & Innovation

Disney CEO Bob Iger recently sent out a mandate for all workers to return to the office. His reason: “In a creative business like ours, nothing can replace the ability to connect, observe, and create with peers that come from being physically together, nor the opportunity to grow professionally by learning from leaders and mentors.” Disney joined the likes of Tesla, Amazon, and JP Morgan as companies demanding an in-office workspace.

Research has shown that face-to-face interactions foster creativity and knowledge exchange. Employees working side by side can engage in spontaneous conversations, brainstorming sessions, and impromptu problem-solving discussions, leading to fresh ideas and innovative solutions.

Research from MIT revealed that face-to-face communication is 34 times more effective than email exchanges in driving collective intelligence within teams. Moreover, in an office setting, employees can leverage shared spaces such as meeting rooms, whiteboards, and brainstorming areas, facilitating group discussions and fostering camaraderie. These physical spaces serve as catalysts for collaboration, enabling teams to bounce ideas off each other and build on collective knowledge more effectively than virtual platforms allow.

Against: Unleashes Productivity & Flexibility

Eliminating commuting time allows employees to dedicate more time to work-related tasks, resulting in higher productivity. Remote work eliminates commuting costs, including transportation expenses, and parking fees. It also reduces expenses related to professional attire and dining out during lunch breaks. These savings contribute to employees’ financial well-being and serve as an additional perk of remote work.

Remote work also enables flexibility in managing personal and professional responsibilities. Employees can tailor their work schedules to suit their peak productivity hours and accommodate personal commitments.

For: Nurturing Company Culture & Social Connections

In the view of some, office environments provide a sense of community and belonging that is challenging to replicate remotely. Regular face-to-face interactions foster stronger relationships, trust, and a deeper understanding of colleagues’ strengths and working styles. These connections play a vital role in building cohesive teams and driving employee engagement. It’s also proven that employees with a best friend are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs.

Furthermore, the office acts as a hub for shared experiences, fostering a sense of identity and purpose within the organization. Celebrating successes, recognizing achievements, and engaging in team-building activities are more impactful when conducted in person. This strengthens the bond between employees, aligns them with company values, and bolsters employee loyalty.

Against: Enhances Work-Life Balance

Working from home allows individuals to spend more time with their families, engage in hobbies, and take care of personal responsibilities. This balance reduces stress and burnout, resulting in happier and healthier employees.

A study published in the Harvard Business Review revealed that remote workers report lower stress levels and higher job satisfaction compared to their office-based counterparts. Remote work fosters autonomy and empowers employees to structure their work environments according to their preferences, leading to increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover rates.

According to a survey by FlexJobs, 65% of respondents reported that they are more productive working from home, citing fewer interruptions from colleagues and fewer office politics.

By eliminating the need for long commutes and allowing for flexible scheduling, remote work offers more time for personal pursuits, family obligations, and self-care.

For: Overcoming Productivity Challenges

Working remotely is not an all-size fits all approach; some love it, while others consider it their worst nightmare. Distractions at home, isolation, and difficulty separating work from personal life can all hinder productivity. A survey by Buffer reported that 20% of remote workers struggle with loneliness, leading to decreased motivation and engagement.

case for working from an office

Returning to the office can provide a structured environment that promotes focus and concentration. Separating work and personal space allows employees to establish clear boundaries, improving work-life balance. Additionally, in-person supervision and access to real-time support from managers and colleagues can help overcome obstacles more efficiently.

Studies have consistently shown that a physical office presence positively impacts productivity. According to research conducted by Stanford University, companies experienced a 13% increase in performance when they transitioned employees from remote work to an office environment. The study also revealed that remote employees are more likely to experience difficulties staying motivated and achieving work-related goals.

Against: Unlocking Global Talent

When location is no longer a barrier, companies can recruit top talent regardless of their geographical location, leading to a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Remote work allows companies to tap into specialized skills and expertise that may not be available locally, leading to increased innovation and problem-solving capabilities. According to a survey by Owl Labs, 58% of companies believe that remote work options can enhance diversity and inclusion within their organizations.

Additionally, remote work promotes a more level playing field, particularly for underrepresented groups. By eliminating the need to relocate or face discriminatory practices in certain regions, remote work provides equal opportunities for career advancement and fair compensation.

Which do you think is the future? Remote or in-office work environments? Let us know with a comment below.

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Print Solutions For The Hybrid Office Of The Future

Remote printing has always posed issues for businesses with multiple locations and satellite offices. Whether it is enforcing company-wide print standards or managing information security, the print aspect of expanding companies has always been a point of contention. Then 2020 changed the entire office landscape.

Facing widespread closures, most corporations scrambled to temporarily convert their operations to a remote-worker tolerant atmosphere. Many businesses were forced to put the issue of print management on the back burner. The idea was that closures would be short and temporary, minimizing any potential security risks as the world dealt with a global pandemic. Once everyone was back in the office, things would go back to business as usual.

The New Normal For Remote Printing

But now, after a year of working from home, many office workers are reluctant to come back to a central office. And businesses are beginning to realize the potential benefits of a hybrid structure with more work-from-home flexibility. These benefits include fewer real estate worries, happier employees, and higher productivity rates. But the positive outcomes of a hybrid workforce won’t keep IT and Finance from thinking about the vulnerabilities and costs of all of those remote offices still needing access to print services.

Concerns Over Remote Printing

Everyone knows the IT department has an iron hold on your computer. Most are learning they also control or have access to anything you do on the mobile device you use for business. This is, of course, all in the name of security. Data breaches of big names such as Experian and Target highlight the problem hackers have become. But well-known companies are not the only ones vulnerable or even targeted. Approximately 41% of small businesses have said they were hit by a data breach that cost them $50,000 or more to recover.

What you may not know is that 11% of security incidents are print-related. Over half (59%) of businesses have reported at least one print-related breach in the past year. As print industry professionals are aware, printers have become far more than simple dot-matrix ink dispensers. Laser and ink printers nowadays have small hard drives that store the documents they print.

When employees “send” something to the printer, the complete document is forwarded to the machine. Those documents are typically stored for an extended period of time, providing a lengthy history of every item that has been printed and complete access to the information contained.

Security Concerns

But an unsecured hard drive connected to the company’s network provides more than potential access to printed items. It can also create a backdoor entry into the business mainframe, which criminals can leverage to bypass firewalls and gain access to sensitive company information. With these risks so prevalent, is it any wonder that IT departments balk at an exponential number of new home offices potentially using unsecured consumer printers?

But IT isn’t the only one complaining about an influx of home office printing. Finance is likely to begin asking questions about in-office print requirements and the increase in home-office printer purchases. But perhaps the most crucial item is printer supply management. There will be concerns about company printers being used even more extensively for personal use, leading to increased paper, ink, or toner supply costs. And what about the delivery of supplies? Shipping costs on office supplies can add up quickly in a hybrid work environment.

Options For Better Hybrid Printing

IT will be the first to offer up a VPN network option for managing remote printing security. Most companies are already using VPN to allow remote work in general. Adding printers into the already existing mix seems like a no-brainer. But VPN connections for printers are often clunky to set up, and Windows printing still requires several ports to be open within the firewall. Then there is the common issue of missing print drivers on individual devices. IT will have to look forward to managing ongoing printing problems from remote employees that require them to remote in for driver updates and other configurations. And a VPN hardly resolves any issues Finance may have regarding supply, delivery, and print monitoring.

Is An MPS Partner The Right Option?

Managing the hybrid workforce printer problem

Partnering with a managed print service provider is a far better option to control both the financial and security concerns around hybrid workforce printing. Printer services can provide secure printer models with software and services configured to the needs of the business – including the home office, remote offices, and work-from-home locations.

Print service providers using managed print services platforms like PowerMPS can make corporate print management even more straightforward. These powerful tools help business partners manage their print document output and supply usage with advanced analytics that help monitor supply levels, pages printed, and more. The system also allows printer supplies to be ordered and shipped on an as-needed or subscription basis leveraging the discounts and low freight pricing managed print service suppliers enjoy.

Managing The Hybrid Workforce Print Reality

So, as the hybrid workforce comes to fast fruition, hackers are sure to pivot further toward exploiting remote workforce printer vulnerabilities. But smart businesses will be prepared by implementing secure and affordable printing solutions for their business by partnering with reputable and innovative managed print service providers.

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Battling Amazon: Lessons For Ink And Toner Dealers

While eCommerce sales have slowly been rising for more than a decade, online sales saw a significant boost in 2020. Consumers and even businesses spent 44% more online than they did in 2019. And, despite widespread office closures, office supplies such as ink, toner, storage, and mailing and shipping materials suffered much less than projected, but it’s not what you might think!

Office Supplies Sales Last Year in the USA

Overall, office supplies recorded $12.6 billion in sales last year, down only 0.3% from 2019. However, the drop was recorded mainly for in-person office supply retailers as regulations closed down stores, and buyers were encouraged to avoid unnecessary excursions outside the home. The result was an influx of eCommerce sales for office supplies to help support not only a few individuals still frequenting the principal place of business but the additional home offices now required for companies to continue operation.

But it wasn’t just home and remote offices boosting online sales. A nation pushed into pseudo-homeschooling produced an unprecedented increase in demand for art, coloring, craft, and, of course, ink and toner supplies. The need for workplace materials was so great it was often referred to as one of the “new essentials” alongside toiletries and lumber. Office supply eCommerce saw gains of up to 35% year-over-year.

But the revenues were by no means doled out equally, so ink and toner dealers who have not invested in an online strategy have been impacted greatly.

“The Big Box” Competition

When Walmart first entered the retail market in 1962, Sam Walton’s dream was to change retail. The following decades saw the “big box” giant overtake communities throughout the United States. Their dominating strategy? Win on price. Cutting costs on goods by even a few cents across the board pulled customers away from local grocers and Mom-and-Pop that lacked the negotiating power of the more significant retailer. Building on this initiative, the company set the stage for providing a wide range of products from pharmacy, home, toys, and tires to even grocery.

But, while Walmart was a pioneer in the brick-and-mortar space, Amazon is the force majeure of online sales. From the humble beginnings of a standard suburban garage to a worldwide name, Jeff Bezos has built Amazon into the eCommerce equivalent of a “big box” retail store, except he did it online.

The Amazon Of Today

In 2021, Amazon has ranked as number one on the top 10 retail eCommerce companies yet again. Over the past year, they have amassed over 40% of total eCommerce sales, sitting at a whopping $367.19 billion. Despite its continued efforts to disrupt Amazon’s lead, even the brick-and-mortar giant Walmart trails far behind in the number two slot with a mere 7.1% of the eCommerce pie.

Perhaps not too surprising, given the website’s initial purpose as a purveyor of books and other media, Amazon still receives most of its sales through books, music, and video. However, the company’s strategy has been to gradually introduce new categories to its marketplace as it sees the opportunity. In addition to holding over 80% of all US eCommerce in their primary category, Amazon also accounts for over 50% of the US’s computer and consumer electronics online market.

Other recent additions to Amazon’s usual disruption strategy include the “prime wardrobe,” which allows consumers to “try before you buy,” and Amazon Pharmacy. But these recent forays should not overshadow continued efforts by the corporation to expand its hold in other areas. This effort is most notable for toys and hobbies, of which they currently hold 46% of total US sales and office supplies (45.6%).

How Ink And Toner Dealers Can Win In eCommerce

Brick-and-mortar stores had to learn how to compete and survive against Walmart for survival. To do so, they had to understand that competing on price alone would put them out of business. Instead, they had to differentiate themselves and help their customers understand what made them a better choice than the “big box” retailer – and worth the price. Ink and toner dealers have been dealing with this impact for some time.

Today restaurants, grocery, clothing, and home goods stores find what they have that Walmart lacks and flaunt it to gain success. Many stores have found success by cultivating a political or religious ideology. Others focus on customer service, guarantees, or dedication to the environment. Where is the niche for Ink and toner dealers in this realm?

Walmart and Amazon Killing Price Play for Dealers

Amazon might dominate the eCommerce space, but there is still plenty of pie to go around. This is especially true for office supplies, where global demand is expected to rise by $38.6 billion over the next six years. Computer, copier, and printer supplies alone are projected to capture a market share of 29.9% in the US. The trick to grabbing a slice of that printer and ink space is the same as when retail was fighting brick-and-mortar behemoths – find a way to take advantage of their weaknesses.

For ink and toner dealers it has to be going outside of supplies alone and offering value-based services and combining it with business and e-commerce automation, resulting in deeper solutions for your customers.

Solutions Are Available

Using an all-in-one mps platform that combines eCommerce, managed print services tools, and business automation like those included in PowerMPS, can help you leverage those benefits when it matters most – while eCommerce is still beginning to take hold of the copier, printer, and ink office supply space. While Amazon works hard to expand categories and gouge prices, eCommerce solutions like PowerMPS that combine everything needed to offer deep value, helps print and ink specialists create customized interactive tools for current and future clients. With this system, customers can monitor their ink levels; receive tailored notifications; easily create and modify subscriptions; and request service, maintenance, or troubleshooting for printer and IT needs, and incorporate automation solutions that make it more effective.

The Office Supply Marketing Outlook

Market outlook for the US and global office supply market space has not only survived a pandemic; the market is set to grow significantly as companies continue to re-invent the central/remote/home office dynamic. But this new take on office functionality will likely only speed up the move toward greater eCommerce reliance. Astute ink, toner, and print companies aren’t looking to join the race to the bottom bid. Instead, they are making plans to take advantage of tools that will help them differentiate their business, provide more convenience, and allow them to grow beyond the walls of their physical location and spread their wings wide into the eCommerce space.

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