A man sitting at his desk in a home office set up in a bright room with two plants. A small printer is on the desk.

Why businesses are moving away from A3 printing

The mobile phone went from large and heavy to compact and efficient. The television transformed from tiny and heavy to larger, lighter and better quality. But what about the printer? Printers have also seen huge transformation, going from weighty machinery to very efficient and adaptable little devices.

And this is the time for efficiency. The world is in the middle of an economic crisis, threatened by environmental and social risks, by an uncertain geopolitical landscape and, of course, by the unstoppable digital transformation that affects everyone in all sectors. Companies that have previously looked for low-cost efficient equipment must now also consider sustainability, the well-being of their workers and the new and changing landscape they face, to ensure what they implement stands the test of time and to ensure their businesses continues to be productive and profitable. 

Offices, as we know them, are also changing, leading to a rationalization of the spaces and the various technological equipment used in them. They are no longer the central workspaces that all employees congregate in 5 days a week. Instead, a more decentralised approach is taking hold. Workers now expect flexible or even completely remote working, which means staff are working from their own homes, reducing the need for physical positions at company headquarters and also for the technological equipment available at them. This has led to employees using laptops instead of desktop PCs, mobile phones instead of fixed lines, and smaller printers to serve wherever the worker is, tailored to the new needs.

And since the way we work is changing too – we now do it in smaller, geographically distributed groups - the printing or scanning needs must be optimized to provide optimal service in terms of both location and quality.

Laser and multifunction, small can be more efficient

As we noted above, larger doesn't mean better, so why do businesses continue to use centralised equipment designed for many users when offices are emptier, and workers spread across multiple locations? The traditional ‘printer room’ (or a room per floor in large corporations) where one or several large printers are quickly becoming a thing of the past, setups like this should be also rationalised.

Large, centralised devices work well when print volumes are higher and offices are full of professionals. The TCO (total cost of ownership) was then favourable, but now that print volumes are declining in most organisations, it is more cost-effective to invest in compact A4 machines – the most common for both printing and scanning – even if the cost per page is not as low. These smaller, more efficient machines can be much closer to every employee, wherever they are, and can help you meet all your daily printing or scanning needs with quality, energy efficiency and in a small, affordable size. 

Printers of the future

Of the three main areas companies plan to invest in in the coming years, according to a Savanta study, two of them would be technology-related: Software and hardware, respectively. And within this, printer spending is expected to be one of the most affected in the new budget organisation.

In the offices, although printing needs may be declining, there is a need for a sufficient set of printers. Perhaps not so much for high-volume printing as a few years ago, but also for enhanced features such as scanning and the digitizing of critical documents. This not only helps to streamline processes, but also supports with security measures as more and more employees work independently away from the office. 

It is also important to mention cybersecurity and keep in mind that this needs to be flexible and secure wherever it is being used. The printer is still an IoT (internet of Things) device, which is connected to a home line or WiFi and is not always secure, so a relatively simple entry point for a seasoned hacker. Confidential information is often passed through printers and they can also be the subject of theft or security breaches. So with multiple printing points within described delocalised office (and away from the office), comes increased risk that businesses should be aware of.

As such, printers should be treated in the same way as laptops and be controlled by a company’s IT network so they can be monitored and supported accordingly. This will not only keep them safe, but ensure that IT teams can monitor usage, control costs, and also offer support when needed. IT teams should also ensure that employees are well equipped to work wherever they are. And with the shift towards hybrid working, it is clear that the multifunctional A4 machines are the best solution. Sales also indicate this. With the pandemic, sales of A3 devices fell rapidly, but according to Gfk, sales of printing equipment have continued to grow steadily since the outbreak, which is precisely because of this need for adaptation. 

Companies are aware that they must provide their workers with the right tools, and they must do so in a flexible, cost-adjusted and secure manner. It is indeed time for efficiency.

If you are wondering whether you still need A3 print devices in your businesses, contact an expert today.


1 Source: Savanta, Business Tracker – Wave 1 (October 2020) – 1,001 UK businesses

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