Water Cooler Myth Busted! Printers Are The #1 Place To Chat In The Office

We have a refrigerator-sized printer in our office and I can’t say we’ve developed the best relationship. I got the lucky desk right next to it. It’s inches away from my face, blowing air and making deafening sounds as my colleagues enlist its services on an hourly basis. But if this study by Clarus Research is any indication, my employers are the most affected by this contemporary R2D2, not me.

Commissioned by Brother International Corporation, the survey reveals that centralized printing can be a time waster that can potentially translate into a multimillion dollar loss for many businesses every year. It may sound far-fetched, but the data is quite convincing.

Queuing up to get your hard copy

Compared to establishments with shared printers, offices with a single centralized printer that everyone uses waste considerably more time. Annually, an average of 13 hours are wasted by individual employees making trips to and from this legacy device that we somehow can’t do without. This includes chatting with colleagues that themselves have queued up to get a hard copy of a report or whatever. Even distractions by other people while walking to or from the printer were included in the survey.

For SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses), that wasted time actually balloons to 6,500 wasted hours, according to an estimate shared by Entrepreneur. According to the magazine (albeit, probably exaggerating), that’s a potential annual productivity loss of $336 million.

Back to our study, almost half of those using centralized printers feel that their employers don’t understand their needs, and they say they want a shorter distance between their desk and the printer. I’m certainly not in this boat, but I’m definitely in the next one: more than half of the surveyed employees say they want their company to replace bulky centralized printers/copiers with more efficient printers/copiers in the office.

Another interesting finding reported by Brother is that 61% said they had conversations at the scanner, as opposed to just 31% who chat at the water cooler. That’s not a huge difference, and considering that some offices don’t even have printers (except for the HR department or the higher management), these figures may not be tremendously reliable. But if the claim does hold water (pun intended), the myth about wasting office time at the water cooler is officially busted.

There’s at least one good reason to hold on to that bulky printer

In a meeting this week, our COO took a minute to share a heartbreaking story about a good friend of hers passing away at the hand of cancer. The gist of it was that you never know when you’re on the receiving end of a malignant tumor, and doctors say that sitting around doing nothing is one of the leading causes of developing a malignant neoplasm. For those who spend most of their work hours in front of the computer, that centralized printer is beginning to sound like a really good friend.

See the full results from the study in the infographic below. And don’t forget to get up and stretch every once in a while. Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who have their own printer on their desk.


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