Do you really need to print that?


“”Is there a better way? Can you avoid printing that page?”

Photograph by Annie Sprat, Unsplash

Many project teams use tablets and television screens to project information during meetings for meeting participants to consider and discuss. And while we have cloud storage and the ability to access and edit or markup files from multiple devices, it appears that printing has not yet lost its appeal for some. If you are not yet ready to consider a working day without a printer, here are some ways to be more sustainable with the way you work on a day-to-day basis.

Removing Waste: Recycling

Have you considered what the end-of-life would be for that page you just printed and may be ready to throw into the trash bin soon? Why not set up a special bin for just collecting paper to be recycled? In some locations, secure bins are available which ensures that sensitive papers are securely stored until they are collected by the supplier and recycled.

Refills

Are you making use of a printer cartridge refill scheme? Instead of throwing used cartridges away, there may be suppliers in your area where you can get refills for your used cartridges.

And talking about printing cartridges – can you use only one colour – black? Having multiple colours may generate additional waste and perhaps you can save the colourful displays for virtual online documents?

Materials used

The paper you use for printing, is it made from environmentally-friendly recycled processes? Why not ask your local suppliers to advise you about recycled paper options available to you?

Habits

If you print on both sides of a page, you could be saving on paper usage and you could be lowering the weight of printed documents being shipped to recipients of your printed materials!

Fewer printers

Do you really need so many printers in your office? Or could you lower the ongoing electric power needs of printers and also encourage more physical movement of people during the day. Asking them to walk a little further in order to retrieve printed pages may be a great way to ensure they move out of a sedentary posture and increase blood circulation. Regular breaks and physical movement are great ways to improve physical and mental well–being at work.

Lower energy usage

Ensure that printers are turned off completely at the end of the working day and over weekends and periods of office closures. This ensures that no power is used in standby mode.

Consider digital solutions

Looking at the processes you use in your office – are you printing notifications or informational posters and is there a way to instead share it with colleagues, suppliers or customers digitally? For example – could suppliers download an electronic file from your website showing how you would like invoices prepared?

Understand your data and set improvement targets

Do you know who prints the most pages in the office? Is there an opportunity to engage with someone on printing more sustainably? Not everyone has been exposed to ways they could lower energy usage or how to avoid creating waste.. It could be great to have a discussion with someone about this.. Improving awareness is often the first step towards more sustainable practices at the office.

Getting together to set targets in your office like “We track our number of printed pages, and we strive to lower it by 10% this month compared to the previous month!” can be great ways to keep everyone focused on lowering your environmental footprint as an office..

In most cases, becoming more aware and conscious of ways that we can become less wasteful and generate less waste can be the first step toward being more innovative and finding new ways to positively impact the world and those around us. What will you do today to lower the waste you generate?

Office Safety Booklet


I often come across HR Managers in smaller to mid-sized companies who have a few areas of responsibility outside of HR like for example Office Safety and Facilities. They are often expected to maintain a high level of compliance with constantly changing laws and this can become an unnerving task for some. The free resource that I am sharing today is a general Office Safety booklet. It covers several topics relating to the office environment to create more awareness among employees of the do’s and don’ts around staying safe in the office environment.

You can either print it double-sided from the pdf document and make it available to employees as a booklet or you can send them the electronic document to review if they have just joined the company. It is quite easy to turn the booklet into an orientation and discussion session if you want to use it in that way.

This booklet is not based on any certified course so it is not a replacement for anyone who needs to undergo a formal exam to be certified in some aspect of safety. It simply helps you, as the HR Manager who has to cover Office Safety, to communicate some basic safety aspects to employees and other visitors to your office who may be working there for a period of time.

This booklet could also form the basis for an annual office safety check. Depending on expectations from management or compliance requirements you may need to perform an office safety check once per year. Using this booklet you can easily create a list of items to check based on the various categories of topics covered. For example, you can check how many times an accident or incident happened or almost happened per year based on history. Or you can check how people are working or storing items in the working area – are you seeing tripping or falling hazards?

Let me know if you are getting stuck with the creation of a safety checklist from the booklet!

If your company has an office environment next to a manufacturing or production facility this booklet would not cover several topics that a facility like that would require. There are many more rules around production or manufacturing environments, which are not necessarily covered in this booklet. Examples include how to handle dangerous materials and wearing safety equipment for certain activities. I recommend that you contact an expert in safety for your industry to help you create the right training and awareness materials for an industrial application.

I believe this booklet offers a good start in getting safety principles communicated to office employees and I also recommend that you look for more ways to strengthen your office safety program.

Other considerations:

  • Make sure you can tell employees where to assemble outside during a fire drill and how they would recognize the alarm to trigger an evacuation. Also, make sure they know which routes to follow for an evacuation.
  • Ensure you have a First Aid box that is well-stocked to take care of small incidents and cuts. Check it on a regular basis to make sure you are not running out of anything and also that nothing in there is over the use-by date.
  • Is there someone in your office building where your office is located who offers safety assistance – for example, if an employee had a heart attack or a bad fall? If there is not, should someone from your office get that training?
  • Apart from reading a booklet on safety, how can you make sure that employees think safety first in every activity they consider? This would be even more important if your company has safety or employee well-being as a value or a priority.

Small and mid-sized companies often do not have large budgets for creating office safety awareness and it is my hope that this free resource helps you cover ground that would otherwise have been a tough additional action on your HR Manager to-do-list!