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The new workplace will work if you manage it. But don’t overlook the details or your people will suffer.

There is a Compelling ROI

Our recent series of Blogs dealt with the why’s and how’s of printing and scanning in the Cloud. Interestingly, once you have a Cloud Print/Scan infrastructure in place, the next steps tend to start getting simpler and more obvious.

What is your next step? How about using functionality built into the solution that uses Zero-Trust security and secure IoT communication to turn it into an “Anything/Anywhere” solution? You can provide your users with print and scan functionality that matches your modern hybrid workforce. The previous articles didn’t spend a lot of time discussing return on investment. Why would they... the authors are all engineers.

I’m not going to spend much time on it here either. With the exception of this: if you allow us, LRS can help you find a financial justification that is so compelling that no reasonable person would question it or want to wait. The savings really are that big. You may be asking yourself “Why isn’t this potential savings a priority for my organization already?” Probably because your organization doesn’t see it yet. That’s because most of the existing document-related expense is absorbed in areas that are traditionally not measured, or at least not analyzed for these costs. For many years, LRS experts have honed their skills at proving the business case. In most cases, we can quicky find incontrovertible evidence of hard cost savings totaling millions of Dollars or Euro.

There is a more important reason than reducing cost, however. Do it for your people.

You Need to Change. But Are You Afraid to Change?

Hybrid work has become a widespread norm, especially in the wake of the recent pandemic. You need to provide for a productive workplace supporting the hybrid standard, but you are going to have to justify that. How will you justify a change that most know they need to make happen, but may also fear?

On a deeper level, why are some in opposition to hybrid work and others in favor? Some must imagine a workforce of unkempt recalcitrant slackers. Anarchy reigning. Others might see an effortlessly implemented utopia where empowered, dynamic employees with stellar job satisfaction produce brilliant deliverables.

There may be a more nuanced yet more accurate way to look at this. During the Covid pandemic work environment, we had to react very quickly. Some were ready for it. I can say that the LRS transition during Covid was nearly seamless. We did, however, see some organizations struggle. Sometimes it was because they were too far behind in technology. Other times, frankly, it was a matter of employees who were already unhappy or unproductive in the office. Why would they be different outside of the office?

This is Not a New Idea

People have been trying to improve the workplace for decades; sometimes in ways that remarkably like what we see today.

In the book “Office of Good Intentions Human(s) Work,” there is an essay about an ad agency in California called TBWA\Chiat\Day whose leadership envisioned a utopia for digital nomads. In the early 90’s! Their thought was that if you had a laptop and a cell phone, then why would you need to be in the office? Why would you need to work standard hours? Work from the beach! (They were located in southern California.) Work from bed. Work on your own best schedule.

It didn’t work perfectly... particularly when they exported the philosophy to their New York office (surprise, surprise). There, the concepts, although virtuous and visionary, ran into the reality of getting work done and collaborating with teammates. That is what struck me about their story. They had a great idea. It was meant to make the work pleasant and inspire creativity. But they didn’t seem to have the technology matched closely enough to individuals’ needs to make it work. Employees started resisting this new initiative, and the grand launch of “work anywhere, anytime” needed to be put on hold.

One point made in the essay was that they tried to eliminate paper and certain collaboration spaces. People still needed a way to collaborate and still needed output in some form. Employees still needed some paper documents, and some started ad hoc “filing cabinets” in the trunks of their cars. The takeaway for me is this: your team needs more. They need the right tools and resources to do their job and they need their leadership to help them overcome obstacles in their way. In addressing their needs, details matter.

The architecture of the office was beautiful, but one of the reasons that they couldn’t get their work done was because of… print!?

It Is Still a Good Idea

A relevant article in The Economist magazine titled “The Fuzzy Corporation” references the economist Ronald Coase, who wrote a paper about this in 1937. He addressed the fundamental reasons why it is more efficient to create a company with its own employees versus contracting everything out. A small organization can miss out on the efficiencies of scale. But we are all aware of the organizations, both public and private that have grown so large that any efficiencies gained by size are subsequently erased by the labyrinth of complexities created by that size. As an organization gets larger and more complex, the organization starts to lose efficiency in other ways.

Theoretically, it should always be cheaper to contract out than to hire. But we know it isn’t because of all the complexities that come with business. A larger organization should find that some things are cheaper if done internally. Legal, compliance, research, and other knowledge-oriented tasks and services have been resistant to simply outsourcing in the past. This starts to get interesting when you realize that in the current business environment, outsourcing of knowledge work is escalating and is usually not regionally focused.

How do you maintain the efficiency of scale in your organization while simultaneously outsourcing your knowledge work? These workers will need to be transparently part of your organization, but at the same time, their interactions within the organization need to be secure. The way to address this is not a new concept. Organizations have historically used new and better technology to be able to maintain the efficiency of continually larger and more dispersed groups. Many years ago, organizations adopted telephones, email, air travel, and many other technologies that are now understood to be standard business tools.

Do The Right Thing

Managing people doesn’t mean restricting their ability to get work done. And it certainly doesn’t mean providing them with inferior tools. On the contrary, managing people involves giving them a goal, giving them the tools to accomplish that goal, and removing obstacles that get in their way of that goal. Consider our case: we want to print and scan, implement Zero Trust security, and provide the ability to do all those things at all times and places with all devices in a secure manner. In the new world of hybrid work, digital presentation, and outsourced knowledge workers, I would propose that it is a detail that you should not overlook. One truth is that nobody needs print or scan until they do. Then that need becomes an obstacle to a business goal if the right tool for the job is not available.

Should you try to control, or should you equip and enable? Do you have the time and resources to get this done? An answer of “No” is not unexpected, but it could mean that you are headed down the unwieldy and inefficient path. “We don’t have the time or people” is one of the most common phrases that we hear. Our recent “Fresh Perspectives” series of articles should help you understand this but let me condense it here. Your existing workplace printing environment is likely suboptimal, but that is actually a common problem that we know how to solve for you.

Moving to the Cloud is not simply de rigueur, it really can open new opportunities for your business, provide new tools, and clear out old obstacles. As the previous articles articulated, we can help you with that too. What might appear to you to be a daunting task is our bread and butter. Whatever your current environment looks like, we’ve likely seen others like it. Ready to make the leap into the Cloud? Contact us today!

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