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7th November 2016.

How we learned to stop worrying and love print again.

Joel Sapiro, Major Accounts Director at Ethos, give his take on how technology, and printing, has changed over the last few years. 

Remember the bad old days? The days before Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) became an item on the agenda of every board meeting?

Saving the whales, I seem to remember, was our main environmental worry. Most businesses didn't give printing a second thought as the dot matrix printer in the corner of the office spewed reams of perforated paper onto the floor 24/7. Filo-faxes meant we carried a breeze block of paper everywhere we went. Meeting tables and desks groaned with the weight of print outs. Printers were frequently ‘lost’ under a mountain of uncollected jobs and yes, as the internet began to emerge, people really did print out and file their emails.

Like chip wrapper, print in the office was low quality, disposable and taken entirely for granted.

How times have changed. The digital revolution coupled with increased environmental consciousness has fundamentally changed our relationship to print. While goatee-sporting trend forecasters in the late 90’s and early 00’s gleefully predicted the coming of the ‘paperless office’, print (and fashion) proved them wrong and remains at the heart of even the most cutting-edge company.

Great technology, it’s often said, never dies. And while the old days saw print associated with wastefulness and misuse, attitudes and technologies have changed.

Make no mistake: print has become premium. It’s an analogue medium that holds readers' attention in an ephemeral and transitory digital world. Print carries a weight - both literal and figurative - that is proven to make a longer lasting impression than simply scrolling down a screen. 

Satvangen University in Norway gave 50 readers the exact same short story to read. Half the test group read the story on Kindle; the other half were given a printed copy to read. The Kindle readers had significant problems on the ‘plot reconstruction measure’ (i.e. placing certain events in the correct order) and the study concluded that

the tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does.

Many studies have drawn similar conclusions - that people read slower, with less accurately and poorer retention when reading on screens. Any marketing team is looking to get their message across should take note.

But why? One explanation is that reading is a ‘topographic’ act. When we read, we map the words - a process tied to the physical object. According to Ferris Jabr of Scientific American, when we hold a book or piece of paper we get a sense of ‘textual topography’ - physical markers that help us to ‘anchor’ meaning. Not only do we remember events that happen in the text, we remember the rough physical space in the book where they occur. These sensations help us understand and - crucially - retain meaning. We create a mental map based on the very physicality of the text. Take that away and we can still deduce meaning but retention suffers, as we lack the physical touchpoint that keeps it in place.

So while as businesses we’re printing less these days, when we print we know we’re securing the reader’s attention in ways digital cannot. 

And of course, we’re printing smarter too – always looking for ways to reduce cost and environmental impact. Digital Asset Management allows businesses to manage and streamline internal documents without having to physically print them out.

Secure Release solutions have eliminated the pile of uncollected jobs by the side of most printers – employees must actually get off their proverbials, go to the printer and key in a passcode or swipe a card to start a print job. This gives budget controllers oversight on usage, and employees a little much-needed exercise.

Software solutions such as Equitrac and PaperCut, meanwhile, enable employers to keep a real-time overview of print usage across a business, increasing efficiency, helping reduce costs and their carbon footprint. Even print technology itself is becoming cleaner, with Konica Minolta and Xerox developing greener solutions and innovative recycling schemes.

At Ethos, we’ve championed this new culture of quality, accountability and environmental consciousness that symbolises prints’ coming of age. We’re proud to help businesses balance their print requirements with their budgets and their CSR commitments.

One of the most exciting developments in the space has been the move towards higher quality output – with businesses embracing new devices that allow them to produce stunning literature and brochures in house without the need for external suppliers. It empowers businesses to create “keepsake” documents on demand, eliminating waste while impressing customers. Which is where print really comes into its own: as a powerful brand touchpoint, memorable, environmentally sustainable and created to last.

RNIB (The Royal National Institute of Blind People) offers help and support for everyone affected by sight loss. Whether blind or partially sighted, their practical and emotional support can help people face the future with confidence.

During a recent relocation into office space in Midgate House, situated at the heart of Peterborough City centre, the charity continued their 9-year partnership with Walters Office Interiors, part of the Ethos Group of companies, following successful collaboration on other RNIB office refits nationwide.

Darren Wainwright, Group Head of Property for RNIB said,

Walters has been a trusted business partner for our organisation and, during the last year alone, has installed furniture in our offices across the whole of the UK. They were the ideal choice for this prestigious office space and, as always, delivered on budget, on time and with the minimum of fuss.

The brief for this project was for a modern, practical environment incorporating collaborative workspaces, open-plan offices and individual breakout meeting rooms. Integral to the project was the incorporation of numerous design features to assist members of the team with sight deficiencies. Additional definition was provided across the whole workspace by including contrasting wood finishes, cabinet doors in bright, highly visible colours, together with colour-coded meeting pods, some of which were adapted to allow wheelchair access.

Commenting on the delivery of this project, Walters’ Sales Director Peter Billinghay said,

Our vast experience in designing, planning and installing complete office refits including LED lighting, enables us to work with large organisations to minimise disruption to their daily operations. Even recycling old furniture where it’s no longer required. 

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