Many businesses were living in the cloud before the hybrid working era. Organizations are accustomed to leveraging software as a service (SaaS) products for their workflows. In today’s hybrid working environment, printing is often overlooked. With employees working remotely or from coworking spaces, printing, and tracking costs can be a challenging task for IT departments.
That’s where cloud-based print management comes in. Let’s take a look at the three most common hybrid working environments and how built-for-cloud print management software fits in.
3 hybrid workplaces born for cloud print management
Real estate agents are always on the move, meeting with clients, and showing houses. The one place you’re least likely to find them is their office. Here’s the challenge. The real estate industry is synonymous with paperwork. Seriously. There’s so much paperwork. Of course, digital signature software has come a long way and it does bear the burden of a lot of lease and rental agreements. But hardcopy versions of official documents are still required for legal purposes.
Picture this scenario: A real estate agent has just finished an inspection. They receive a contract from their head office that needs a physical signature from the property owner. They need to race back and get the signature. They don’t want to keep their client waiting when they arrive. They want to press print on their mobile. Then the second they reach the office they want to march straight to the printer and collect their document. Get the signature. File it away. Then jump back in their car for their next inspection.
This is all made possible with off-network remote printing functionality offered by cloud-based print management software. Users can press print from their mobile device and then retrieve their documents via secure print release once they’re back onsite. Alternatively, they can delegate to a trusted third party like the office manager or secretary to collect the documents.
Efficient, streamlined, convenient, and secure cloud printing.
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Coworking spaces have become the lifeblood of the hybrid working era. Employees have embraced their newfound flexibility and their office for each day is a choose-your-own-adventure. Not to mention freelancers and start-ups who rent offices at coworking spaces. One of the expectations and advantages of a coworking space is access to a fully-powered copier or printer. Fewer and fewer workers have printers at home. So apart from a fancy aesthetic and access to a coffee machine, printing is an expected part of the coworking service.
The obstacle here for coworking space business owners is managing these transient users. They need to onboard printing, deploying drivers and print queues to regular and casual patrons of their facilities. As an infrequent visitor to the space, you don’t want to have to relearn how to print each time. You want a consistent and familiar printing experience, and you don’t want to have to connect your device each time. It should be just as simple and convenient as using Google Docs or Microsoft 365. You should press print and not even have to worry about how it works.
The additional requirement here for coworking space managers is recovering the costs of ink, toner, and paper. Software needs billing statement generation to calculate each member’s printing costs and cover those operational expenses as part of their membership billing.
When the work-from-home worker needs to print something, they’ll most likely be using their own desktop printer for all their hardcopy output. If that printer is supplied by their organization, their IT admin will want to track the jobs printed. To ensure consumables are being used for business purposes… and not pictures of meerkats. If using their own printer, workers then have a record of their printing. So they can simply file expense claims for reimbursement of their print-related purchases like paper, ink, and toner.
For both scenarios, print tracking software is needed. Again, this is where the advantage of the cloud comes in. Cloud-based print management software can provide the functionality to monitor local and remote print queues
However, a remote worker is more than a work-from-home worker. Their house is their headquarters, but true to the name, they could be stationed anywhere. When they leave their base they might be working from a library, a cafe, a waiting room, or wherever they may find some space to set up their laptop. They could be frequenting a coworking space.
Or if they’re not fully remote, and their office is a commutable distance away, they might plan their trips to the office around their printing needs. For all of the above cloud printing (remote off-network printing) unlocks that BYOD flexibility of pressing print from anywhere and collecting their job at their nominated printer. Whether that printer is at home or in the office.
Why PaperCut Hive is the perfect fit for hybrid printing
Okay, we’ve reached the shameless product plug portion of this piece (that was a lot of alliteration). Our built-for-cloud solution PaperCut Hive was designed from line one of code to deliver the best of on-premises and cloud infrastructure. Then the pandemic happened while we were engineering so we baked in a lot of the hybrid working functionality mentioned above because our engineers themselves were hybrid working during the development of this cloud product. So it’s not just built-for-cloud, you could say it’s built-for-hybrid-work.
How does it work? It replaces the local print server by forming an Edge Mesh. What does that mean? Your organization’s network-connected laptops and computers use their shared computing power to perform the role of a print server. Like a hive mind if you will. Hence the product name. Aren’t we clever?
But that’s just context for how PaperCut Hive is the perfect fit for hybrid workplace printing. Here’s a breakdown of the features that solve the primary problems for the 3 hybrid working environments mentioned above.
The Cloud Node
I talked above about the best part of on-premises and cloud infrastructure. The trick to managing print with cloud-based software is the software needs to live somewhere locally: either on a dedicated computer/laptop, on the printer itself, or on a dedicated device. The problem with all these options is there’s a single point of failure. Turn any of these off, and your printing can’t happen. That’s why the Edge Mesh shares the load across the nodes (that rhyme though) in your network. That’s the best of the on-premises covered. What about the cloud?
Well, there’s a Cloud Node. That is, you can send jobs to the cloud to await printing. This sounds like it would be a hassle if the printer is right next to you. Because jobs going to and from the cloud can take time. But where this is advantageous is for cloud printing aka remote printing as we discussed above. The real estate agent or hybrid worker mentioned above can print from anywhere and collect their document from their allocated printer with PaperCut Hive thanks to the Cloud Node. It’s our cloud printing tech as part of the overall cloud print management suite that PaperCut Hive delivers for hybrid working.
Direct Print Tracking
This feature is for the remote worker’s requirement for tracking. PaperCut Hive can monitor users’ home printers so that workers and organizations can be on top of consumable expenses. With this feature, administrators can register home printers as part of their Edge Mesh and therefore monitor and track those devices.
The new normal of cloud printing
It doesn’t matter if you are in the office, out in the field, or at home. It doesn’t matter where the heck you are in the world. It’s the same print process and it is the same simple print process. You don’t have to think about: Where am I? How am I going to send this print job?
Nothing changes. With PaperCut Hive, printing is the same in all scenarios. There are no invisible consumables either. You have full visibility of print whether you’re working at home or in the office.
PaperCut Hive is a built-for-cloud printing solution designed by hybrid working for hybrid working. With the Cloud Node and Direct Print Tracking, remote printing and tracking costs are made easy for IT departments, while employees can print from anywhere, anytime. Whether it’s real estate agents, coworking spaces, or remote workers, PaperCut Hive provides a simple and efficient solution for printing in the hybrid workplace.