The COVID-19 pandemic has changed work situations for many people across the country. Back in March, when the rapid change to work from home setups took place, businesses and employees were uncertain about how long this would last. Would it be weeks, or months, or even longer? Now that working from home has become more normalized, many businesses are now considering the prospect of permanent work from home solutions.
Of course, working from home presents its own unique challenges and opportunities. Perhaps the greatest challenge of all has been ensuring employees have the tools and resources to complete their work effectively and efficiently. With no office to go to, a lot of office equipment people have come to take for granted is no longer available. The office printer may be the most glaring example of this.
Digital solutions have replaced the need for a printer in many cases but there are still some processes that require a physical sheet of paper. Some documents may not be accepted when digitally signed, there could still be a need to mail invoices, packing slips, or other documents, and some people may simply prefer to do some of their work on paper.
So, what home office printers are right for the job? Here are some things to consider when making a purchase decision.
Connectivity: Networked or Not?
How someone connects to a printer can be especially important in a home office. The days of having a large multifunction printer with its own dedicated space in the office are gone for many. Now, printer real estate is a very real concern. A networked printer offers more flexibility with setup while a wired printer requires being connected to the computer directly but provides simple plug and play setup.
There is no clearly right or wrong answer here and the decision ultimately comes down to each unique situation. Some people may have exhausted all of the available space in their home office. Between a desk, computer, monitors, and other devices; there may be limited space to add a wired printer nearby. In this case, a networked printer allows someone to set up their printer in a convenient location, even elsewhere in the home.
It's also not uncommon to find work from home situations where multiple roommates or spouses are working from home. If both are working in separate areas of the home and in need of a printer, a networked device may offer the most convenience.
However, security and setup may also be a consideration. People using corporate-issued laptops or devices may be unable to install the required networked printer software themselves without IT help. This is a small hurdle to overcome and shouldn’t pose a major issue but it is something to consider if getting this kind of IT support may prove to be a challenge.
Finally, it’s important to consider the types of devices being used when looking at connectivity options. Someone who does a lot of work from a mobile device or tablet may benefit from having cloud printing available through an app on their device. In this case, a networked printer would be the obvious choice.
Speed and Resolution
The print speed of a printer is calculated as pages per minute, or PPM. When looking at traditional commercial printers, PPM is a huge consideration as multiple people within an office are likely sharing a printer and a speed bottleneck can severely cramp efficiency in the office. This is less of a consideration when looking at consumer printers for a home office setup where one person will have their own printer.
With that said, the ultimate decision about print speed will come down to the volume of printing being done. An accounts receivable employee working from home who has to print a number of invoices and letters throughout the day will have a greater need for print speed than someone who only prints the occasional document.
As for resolution, this also depends on each individual job. Someone simply printing text documents doesn’t require the highest resolution consumer printer on the market. However, someone who is printing presentations, flyers, and other documents that require detailed images should invest the additional money to ensure their documents look professional.
Laser or Inkjet?
Like every other factor when shopping for a home office printer, this decision boils down to how the printer is being used. Cost will be an important factor here as inkjet printers tend to be more common among consumer printers and more affordable up front although there are some affordable laser printers on the market as well. However, the type of job being done should be the ultimate factor over price.
Laser printers are best suited for frequent, high-volume printing of text-based documents whereas inkjet printers tend to have better color production for images. The ink in inkjet printers can also dry out if they go unused for long periods of time. In this case, although potentially more expensive up front, a laser printer may be best suited for intermittent or irregular printing so as to avoid any complications.
Other Features to Consider
Beyond basic printing needs, there are a few other things to consider before making the final purchase decision. Home office printers can also include additional features like scanning, which may come in handy especially if documents have to be printed, signed by pen, and then scanned back to a digital format. This is a common scenario on some legal or financial documents where digital signing is not accepted.
Some printers may also include faxing capabilities. For many, faxing may not be essential and there could be an online fax service that fills the gap but there are businesses and industries where fax is still a commonly used form of communication.
Completing a Work from Home Setup
There are a lot of different home office printers with any number of features, use cases, and price points available on the market. Finding the right one can certainly feel like a daunting task. For help on selecting the right printer for your home office, contact the experts at Doing Better Business today.