Work anywhere, print anywhere? Cloud printing in the hybrid age

It’s official. The traditional ways of working have been thrown out the window. The “office” is quickly becoming an antiquated term, as people work from anywhere at any time on just about any device. As beloved author Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) wrote, “Oh! The places you’ll go!”

Maybe you’re sitting down to work in Bora Bora, Topeka, or Kathmandu. Perhaps you’re logging on from your kitchen, a local coffee shop, or a hotel business centre. Employees have a lot more freedom when it comes to choosing a work location these days, but there are also a host of new issues that come with a distributed workforce. For instance, it’s difficult to ensure print reliability and security as workers hop around from one location, device and network to another.

What does this mean for traditional print management processes? Well, you can throw them out the window too and replace them with cloud-based print management. A cloud model enables organisations to follow remote and hybrid workers wherever they go, keeping documents, data, and your network secure.

The Cat in the Hat balancing act of print security

Hybrid work isn’t going anywhere — and neither is print. In fact, 64% of organisations said printing will remain critical or very important in the next 12 months, according to the Quocirca Print Security Landscape, 2022 report. But the basic task of printing becomes more difficult to execute and manage among a distributed workforce.

First, there’s the issue of locating the correct printer driver. Perhaps you’re working from your in-law’s den or the local library. How will you get your document to the printer? Ironing out these types of kinks disrupts the workday, impacting productivity and employee satisfaction.

But the security risks that come along with printing in a “work anywhere” world are even more overwhelming. More than half (53%) of organisations said the shift to remote working has made it considerably or somewhat harder to keep up with print security challenges.

Remote and hybrid workers are using more devices and networks that aren’t set up or purchased by the organisation, increasing the attack surface and making it harder for IT to manage. It’s no surprise 67% of respondents to the Quocirca survey said they’re concerned about the security risks of home printing.

Confidential documents are at greater risk of exposure when printed on a public or home printer. In the past 12 months, more than two-thirds (68%) of organisations have experienced data losses due to unsecure printing practices. Vulnerabilities around home printers was cited as one of the top causes of data losses in the survey, which can result in financial penalties, business disruption, and loss of customers.

There’s also the risk of exposing your company’s IP to competitors. An attacker can even get into your entire corporate network through an unsecure printer, which can have serious consequences for the business.

In many regulated industries, it’s important to know who’s printing what, as well as where and when they’re printing it. How can you provide an accurate audit trail of documents as your employees move about from device to device and network to network?

All of these issues were easier to juggle and manage in a traditional office setting where IT has more control over device and network security. But now, IT departments down the hall must feel like the Cat in the Hat on top of a ball, balancing a goldfish, cakes, and even a rake!

Despite the mountain of challenges, the same print and security compliance policies must be adhered to across remote and hybrid workforces.

Fortunately, there’s a solution: “up” in the cloud.

It’s a great day for up with cloud-based print management

Cloud-based print management makes it easy to balance all of the challenges that come with print management across a hybrid workforce. Organisations believe in the power of the cloud, with over 44% of organisations already using a cloud-based print service and an additional 43% planning to do so, as discovered in the Quocirca survey.

More than half of organisations believe a cloud print service is more secure than managing print on-premises, so adoption is set to increase. Specifically, 21% of organisations expect to be fully in the cloud in two years’ time.

Just like we’re no longer tethered to the boundaries of a traditional workspace, the cloud frees organisations from traditional print management with a solid foundation built on four key advantages. Cloud-based print management helps eliminate the disruptions that come with printing while working remotely, improving productivity and employee satisfaction. It also reduces the burden on IT departments, improves security, and reduces costs.

Here’s a closer look at how the four benefits of cloud-based print management help hold your remote and hybrid workers up:

  1. Improved productivity and efficiency:
  • Automatic discovery of print networks with intelligent print driver selection and automatic print queue installation lets employees focus on their job rather than wasting time figuring out how to print.
  • Secure release and print later technology enables workers to get the documents they need while ensuring that confidential information isn’t left unattended in a print tray.
  • The ability to print from anywhere on the corporate network or home printers, with security and tracking, balances ease of use with security.
  • A seamless unified experience for print and capture across all devices maximises convenience for remote and hybrid workers.
  1. Central administration and management:
  • The ability to deploy printers from any location at any time eases the burden on IT.
  • Automatic updates to software and drivers provide peace of mind that everything is up to date.
  • The ability to update drivers from a central management location makes it easier for IT to maximise printer security without increasing the burden on staff.
  1. Enhanced document security and compliance:
  • An audit trail provides visibility into who printed what, where, and when for a detailed information chain of custody.
  • Encrypted communication between clients and service, endpoint authenticity validation, protection of data at rest, and data communication encryption create a secure framework.
  • A secure multi-tenant cloud platform can even extend zero-trust security to remote workers.
  1. Cost savings:
  • A cloud-based solution lowers on-premises infrastructure costs.
  • The cloud also lowers the costs related to services, support, and maintenance fees.
  • Predictive analytics provides a visual display of print and capture workflows, making it easier to manage costs and make well-informed decisions.

Traditional printer fleets are a fleeting notion. A cloud solution keeps your hybrid workforce agile and connected. Your documents and data are locked down, but your remote and hybrid workers aren’t. With cloud-based print management, things are certainly looking up!