The New Normal Is in Reach

The impact of home and office print on the document industry

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03/10/2022

Deborah Hawkins

 

As COVID incidences drop, levels of vaccination continue to rise and (so far, so good) no new waves have come to light. The “new normal” is in sight. To support this, Keypoint Intelligence’s fifth iteration of the Impact of COVID on Print Volumes has recently been published, predicting a swift return to the office and a new normal by September 2022.

 

What Is the New Normal?

Some things have changed forever. The Great Resignation is a phenomenon that has resulted from the pandemic and caused a dramatic shift in the labor market. The rate at which knowledge workers are making career moves at this time tells us a lot about change and how it is being embraced. Likewise, one of the most dramatic changes for the document industry is the number of knowledge workers that will spend considerable time working away from the office in future. Three days at home and two days in the office is the most common employee wish—if the company mandate allows it. We expect a similar phenomenon with the purpose of the office space that will result in huge shifts of printing equipment in the coming months and years as companies look to increase creativity and collaboration amongst team clusters and optimize productivity.

 

 

The New Baseline for Office Print

Compared to pre-pandemic levels, we believe that the industry will have lost at least 20% of office print that will never be regained. Through the course of the pandemic, the lowest point was in 2021 when office print was down, on average, 52% compared to the baseline.

 

Our analysis looks at several factors, including actual machine data, expert opinion by vertical, and mobility data to name a few. The latest update of the print volume forecast looks specifically at the speed of recovery in the February 2022 to September 2022 period by vertical, and some of the nuances are unique. K-12 Education has returned to the pre-pandemic level of onsite schooling and the institution including all associated with it. Teachers have gone back to copying as much as they ever did for assignment hand-outs. Higher education, on the other hand, has swiftly adopted digital teaching formats and forms—resulting in heightened acceleration of digital processes. And that is just one vertical. Our forecast looks in-depth at 16 different verticals and the pandemic’s impact on print volume by company size.

 

Embracing the New Normal

Change abounds for all, including providers of digital equipment. If you previously thought your target market is not the home consumer, you are wrong. To facilitate hybrid working forms, the remote worker is the major investor today. Their needs are only just solidifying, but we already know that digitization and collaboration are high up on the list. To facilitate the new hybrid working forms in office locations, a blend of consultative skills will be required to nudge companies to plan their next steps to bring a portion of workers back and retain them with smart tech.

 

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