Bridging the Print Staffing Gap: Using Automation to Do More with Less

Since early 2020, companies have had to further reimagine the way they operate. Lockdowns forced organizations to furlough or lay off staff. Employees near the end of their careers took the pandemic as a sign to retire early, taking with them their intellectual capital. Even as businesses reopen, staff shortages persist.

Workforce reductions are spurring businesses to do more with less, often turning to technology to close operational gaps and boost efficiency. When workflow automation software is implemented, the nature of work and staffing in the print business changes. Let’s examine how: 

Traditional on-site roles are becoming a thing of the past

When the pandemic forced many workers out of their traditional on-site roles or out of their roles entirely, it catapulted workflow automation to the forefront of business operations to address the gaps.

As labor shortages continue, it’s clear organizations can no longer view automation as an extra boost in select parts of their workflow. They need to think about how to implement essential end-to-end automated systems to streamline production and remain competitive and profitable, even without a full team.

Automation shifts resource allocation

As automation reduces manual touchpoints, roles within the operation change. For example, more print shops are switching to web-based portals, where customers input job orders online so fewer customer service representatives (CSRs) are needed on the front line. This enables the company to process more jobs automatically while shifting CSR resources to revenue-generating jobs and clients requiring more expertise and support. This automation also helps short-staffed shops overwhelmed by traditional job submission streams such as email.

This shift to close the gap in front office needs has in turn changed the way customers want to interact with businesses. With self-help options like order entry through a W2P portal, customers have more control and ownership over their order process. As a result, many businesses are starting to think about externalizing high-level job data to give customers more visibility into the status of their orders in progress. Since the customer now drives order entry, print process job errors are reduced, which increases efficiency as well as customer satisfaction.

Recruitment opportunities are expanding.

Pandemic lockdowns forced remote work and proved that many jobs could be done offsite. Workflow automation enables certain roles, like customer support or account management, to remain remote without sacrificing business performance. As a result, businesses no longer need as many people to physically manage production and don’t have to be limited to local candidates when hiring. If an organization is struggling to find workers locally, having fewer manual touchpoints with the help of automation enables them to look to other regions for qualified applicants.  

Automation streamlines the employee onboarding processes

As organizations make new hires and implement automation solutions, they also need a more streamlined and efficient staff onboarding process. Businesses need new hires to be effective, contributing team members as soon as possible. Automation software that is quick to set up, easy to learn and offers a user-friendly interface is essential. It also makes such technology investments sustainable, as print businesses do not need to maintain large IT departments to manage new technology solutions.

The future of work in the print industry

While the pandemic challenged businesses in innumerable ways, it prompted and accelerated new ways of working that are helping businesses be more efficient and competitive. Adopting automation and adapting your workforce to meet today’s business environment are key to staying competitive. Consider where and how workflow automation can fit into and improve your business operations.

Unsure where to start or what technology to adopt? Ricoh experts are here to help guide your digital transformation.

Contact us to understand how you can build short-term support into your long-term plans.

Meet the Author

Linnea is Ricoh’s Director of Global Marketing, Alliances & Operations. She is responsible for growing the worldwide awareness of and demand for the production workflow software and solutions portfolio. Linnea is a brand specialist with more than 25 years of experience, having previously held key leadership positions at Hunter Douglas, Qwest, and PepsiCo. Linnea holds an MBA from Hoffstra University and Bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and International Affairs from the University of New Hampshire. Linnea manages global strategic partnerships and marketing operations for Ricoh, giving her a comprehensive view of the business, customers, and markets. An accredited global marketing leader, Linnea is passionate about small businesses, even volunteering her marketing communications, social media, and digital marketing expertise to small businesses and associations. Her goal is always to help other businesses thrive. She authors many Ricoh blog posts to this end.

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