Tired of sharing, searching, waiting (Editorial)

Photocopiers can be a personal productivity issue if you're not an Irish monk

Some workplaces keep them behind a closed door. But many firms still have them out in the open. At least that way you can see who’s using more than their share.

It’s not that there’s a big concern about personal use, rather some departments and employees monopolize them so much they should get their own. After all, photocopiers can be a personal productivity issue.

Indeed, some days getting a single reproduction can turn into a 30-minute chore. Or longer.

It starts with the need to get one sheet, just one, copied. It’s usually an important sheet your boss wants, or they’re waiting for it in a meeting or maybe a client just agreed to that big contract and you need a copy to finish the paper work. It may seem like just one sheet and a one-minute walk down the hall, but everything else you’re working on seems to stop until this copying mission is accomplished.

The one-minute walk down the hall finds you confronted with that co-worker who always seems to have a large bundle under her arms anytime she’s near the photocopy machine. She’s usually collating — and you know that’s a bad sign.

“Do you want in?” she asks. But it’s more of a challenge than an offer. You’d have to wait while she figures out where she is in the copying sequence, and then change all the settings from doubled-sided, hole-punched, 66-per-cent reduction, special letterhead paper, collated to your simplistic and inconvenient need for a single plain copy.

You decide to come back. So it’s sit at your desk and bide your time for 15 minutes or try another floor. At the next floor’s copier station you find out how helpful technology can be.

Seems you don’t need to stand at the copier and reveal yourself as the firm’s top paper-user and tree-killer anymore. Now you can initiate a print job over the computer network, and get the machine to hum out your demands while you wait at your desk. This is often a well-guarded IT secret that gets techies to the front of the queue, while you’re busy trying to remember how to defrag your workstation (whatever that means).

So you give up on getting in front of the phantom copier who’s reprinting an entire technical manual — in both official languages.

On the next floor you find the copy room empty of both people and network-enabled copy hogs. There’s just the machine — with one door askew and a slew of LED messages indicating the various places paper is jammed, twisted and otherwise wedged into wheels, rollers and sharp-edged crannies. And it needs toner.

Maybe things have cleared up at copy station one by now. Maybe you don’t really need a copy after all. Anyways, the morning’s about done and a hearty lunch would aid in continuing the project.

Or maybe you can ask around and find out if those Irish monks are still copying manuscripts.

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