- Although not everyone has the ability or desire to work remotely, those who have the option should certainly consider doing so periodically.
- The CDC has stated that pairing a mask with social distancing practices cuts down dramatically on the airborne spread of COVID-19.
- Mobile printing apps make it possible to handle a variety of tasks, including printing, scanning, copying, and accessing cloud services—all without ever touching the device’s control panel.
By Christine Dunne
Now that the United States has entered Phase 3 of its re-opening plan, many print service providers (PSPs) have returned to their physical work locations. Now that you’re back in the office, you might be wondering about the best ways to keep yourself safe. This article highlights guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to explore ways that PSPs can limit the spread of COVID-19 while printing.
Tips for Staying Safe and Healthy
The CDC offers a number of helpful tips for staying healthy and safe at work during normal times, but of course today’s challenging times have added a whole new layer of complexity. Here are some ways that PSPs can minimize their risk as they return to work during the pandemic.
Limit Your Time in the Office
Try to minimize the amount of time you do spend in your office. Although not everyone has the ability or desire to work remotely, those who have the option should certainly consider doing so periodically. For example, if you only visit the office two or three days a week and spend the rest of your time working from home, you can minimize your chances of contracting—or unknowingly spreading—COVID-19. This advice holds true for any industry—not just PSPs. Limiting your time in the office will also make it easier for those who do come in to remain sufficiently distanced.
Keep Your Distance!
The CDC recommends maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others to lessen the risk of infection. If you’re retrieving a job from the printer or making a scan, remain socially distant from any colleagues or visitors. Some employers will facilitate this process by placing tape or decals on the floor so people know how far apart to stand while waiting for their turn at a device.
A personal printer on your desktop—or even a printer that is shared by only few colleagues with staggered shifts—can also help you maintain social distancing at the office. It might be worth petitioning for a personal device so you don’t have to touch surfaces that are touched by many others. To help make your case to the office decision-makers, ask them to consider business inkjet technology—in addition to having a lower outright cost, these devices can have dramatically lower running costs as well as less required maintenance. If you’re lucky enough to have a personal printer, maintaining your distance will be easier…just be sure to keep that distance when you’re visiting the supply room for extra paper or toner!
Wear a Mask
In these pandemic times, wearing a mask is always a good idea. This is particularly true if you’re working in an office with shared devices in common areas. The CDC has stated that pairing a mask with social distancing practices cuts down dramatically on the airborne spread of COVID-19. Be sure that your mask is breathable for comfort, bearing in mind that some masks are more comfortable than others. Find a mask that works for you, and make sure that it covers your mouth and nose. Also, try not to touch your face when wearing the mask because this will defeat much of its purpose.
After months of quarantine, you might find yourself craving some human interaction as you return to the office. Just be sure to take precautions (e.g., wearing a mask, social distancing) so you can safely get your fix of office chitchat.
Clean, Clean, Clean!
Hopefully, someone within or outside your office has been tasked with regularly cleaning and disinfecting the surfaces of shared print devices—including the printer touchscreen, keypad, and output tray. Of course, the importance of these cleaning/sanitizing procedures cannot be overstated if there are any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in your workspace. Also make use of the materials provided at your office, including disposable wipes or gloves. When using the printer (or pretty much any shared device in the office), it’s a good idea to wipe it down first and then wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer afterward. Finally, use common sense…if you don’t feel well, stay home!
Use Your Mobile Device
Now may be the perfect time for you to try out mobile printing. For those that prefer to release their job at the printer for security reasons, there are mobile apps that can help you do this. Just ask your IT department about their app of choice. These apps can often be used for other tasks too, including scanning, copying, and accessing cloud services—all without ever touching the printer control panel. One of the best things about a mobile device is that it’s personal—something used by only yourself (and maybe your kids). Of course, it’s important that your IT department ensures that these devices and their apps are properly secured.
Do All Your Printing at Once
You can limit the time that you spend moving around the office by handling all of your required printing, scanning, copying, and faxing at the same time each day. It might even be possible to reserve these tasks for a specific time once a week—just make sure to pick a day or time when there won’t be a long line of people behind you! The same holds true for those that perform routine maintenance on shared devices.
Try Out New Workflows
Now might also be a good time to explore new approaches to working. For example, instead of printing out reports and editing them on paper, use a word processing program to mark them up. Rather than sending printed forms to clients, ask them to complete the information in an online portal. Finding ways to minimize physical contact with others while also improving workflows kills two birds with one stone. Of course, you must first make sure that any changes you’re considering are okay with your clients and/or colleagues.
The Bottom Line
These are just a few ideas for how office workers can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 when printing and performing related tasks. Many of this same advice also applies to other shared appliances like coffee pots, water coolers, drinking fountains, doorknobs, handrails, and bulk snacks… but don’t spray any disinfectant on food! We’ll emerge from this pandemic and today’s unprecedented way of working at some point, but for now, we all need to do our part to keep ourselves and others safe.
Christine Dunne is a Consultant for Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends’ Office Technology & Services Group. Her responsibilities include responding to client inquiries, conducting market research and analysis, and providing coverage of industry events. Prior to joining InfoTrends, Ms. Dunne wrote extensively about search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.