Coworking Space Amenities

Why offer printing in your coworking space?

“Hey, can I print this?”

That’s not something you expect to hear in this highly digital world. But people still need hard copies, and more so small business owners and entrepreneurs. 

Printing is a great amenity to offer your members. In fact, in a recent survey, printing services were a top amenity offered by indie coworking spaces. But it’s one thing to have a giant commercial printer on your network that anyone can use. It’s another to integrate that printer through a larger provider.

Taking on printing responsibilities comes with many considerations around logistics, costs and maintenance. This guide takes an honest look at key aspects to weigh as you make decisions around offering a more formal, integrated printing perk for your members.

Member needs vs operational realities  

When envisioning the ideal coworking experience, you likely picture members seamlessly printing whatever they need, whenever they need it. Unfortunately, the real world gets in the way through printer costs, clutter and complications. 

Before deciding on printing logistics, honestly assess what is feasible for you to manage based on your time, space and operational budget. Be realistic about what you can handle as one person or a small team juggling many responsibilities already. If purchasing and maintaining several printers yourself is not practical, that is understandable. There are creative solutions out there for you beyond just saying “no printing allowed.”

Output options: size, scope & style

Member printing needs likely range from documents to presentations, spreadsheets, photos, posters and even large format design layouts. 

  • Carefully evaluate the types of files your members typically need to print both in terms of paper size and ink requirements. 
  • Simple black and white document printing has a much lower cost than large, colorful graphic printing. 
  • Be prepared for requests beyond standard 8.5x11 paper. Also consider specialty paper needs such as letterhead, envelopes, labels and more. 

Having clear policies on paper and ink orders can help manage complicated supply logistics. 

Accessibility: location, convenience, and speed  

Even the most robust printers are useless if members cannot access them easily. Evaluate your existing layout and foot traffic patterns to determine optimal printer locations for member convenience. Plus, they can be loud and even act like water coolers, where members feel comfortable to hangout and chat as the printer works. Be careful about placement near phone booths and other more sensitive working areas.

Multi-function printers placed in copy rooms allow for document scanning to email as well which increases utility. For security, printers should be placed in visible common areas rather than tucked away in unused corners. Speed is also paramount for productivity. Research manufacturer promises for pages per minute to ensure adequate performance for your membership. Nothing kills creative flow faster than a printer lag! Having enough equipment to prevent long queues is ideal.

Connectivity: networks, mobile access, and clarity  

With more devices going wireless, your members will likely expect printing accessibility from anywhere within your facility — including virtual members working remotely. Evaluate strengths and security precautions within your existing wifi networks and bandwidth abilities. 

Enabling mobile printing takes some tech know-how, but allows users ultimate flexibility. Provide very clear protocols around network access and printer connections to minimize confusion. A help desk ticketing system to troubleshoot individual issues takes workload off your hands. Plus clear instructions and FAQs in your member app. Simple tips like labeling printers clearly and creating how-to reference sheets increase self-serve success as well.   

Cost considerations: pricing plans & budget balance

Perhaps the most critical factor in printing decisions comes down to cost and budget balance. Professional printing equipment, supplies and maintenance are quite pricey especially with frequent use. 

You want to offer a valued service to members without negative profit impact. For a DIY approach, you could consider cheaper second-hand printers first before investing in cutting edge equipment with expensive proprietary ink. But research cost per page for supplies and factor in replacement needs for worn printer parts too. 

To offset operational expenses, explore pay-per-print plans that charge users small fees. This helps fund supply replenishment while discouraging overuse. Transparent pricing plans also allow members to make mindful printing choices. Provide suggestions for curbing excessive jobs as well such as proofreading thoroughly before hitting print.

Ongoing oversight: maintenance and compliance

With printing systems in place for members, your work is not done. Without a printing partner, you will need to schedule regular maintenance checks to keep printers in working order through cleaning, calibration and parts replacement. Nothing is more frustrating for users than a printer mysteriously not working when needed. 

Tech support contracts can allow access to service experts for tricky repair issues without waiting for warranty approvals. You must also keep careful logs of toner orders and usage metrics to track costs. Review these regularly to ensure pricing plans cover actual supply consumption. Additionally, some locations have recyclable cartridge requirements and workplace hazard rules around toner dust and ozone gases. Make sure to comply with all environmental regulations for printers as well.

While integrating printing comes with its own set of logistics, carefully weighing the considerations above allows you to take better care of your members. Collaborating to find the sweet spot between convenience and practicality means a print amenity that truly adds value. 

Staying tuned into needs while balancing operational realities is the wise way forward. With some creativity and compassion, smooth printing can help your amazing members thrive. 

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