Study Identifies Print Habits and Attitudes in the Office

January 25, 2010 2 Comments

While browsing through possible topics for a new blog post, I chanced upon a post detailing a study on printer habits and attitudes in the workplace. What made the study entertaining was its way of analyzing the printer habits of employees by comparing them with to the attributes of animals.

The study was commissioned by Canon and was conducted by Donna Dawson, a leading behavioral psychologist and broadcaster. According to her, printing habits in the workplace are the best metrics to evaluate the dynamics in modern offices. The behavior and preferences of employees may be paralleled to those of zoo animals. Hence, Dawson coined the term “The Human Zoo” to refer to the workplace. The study actually has several interesting revelations on the print habits of people when they are in the office.

Here are the various classifications of employees in terms of their print habits:

1. Parrots – Parrots are known for their vibrant colors but in the office, Dawson classifies most of the senior managers as parrots. This is because they prefer documents or presentations in full color. Although they want to maximize their ROIs, senior managers can set aside all cares on expenses when it comes to printing the latest reports.

2. Cheetahs – Cheetahs are known for their speed and impulse. According to Dawson, sales people are the “cheetahs” in the workplace. For one, they are impulsive and they are used to moving fast. They are also into heavy color prints and designs even if these are not needed in the document.

3. Dragons – Well, dragons are not zoo animals but Dawson included it anyway in reference to middle managers. This is because middle managers are working for the main purpose of pleasing their co-employees and the senior managers. They exhibit the tendency to use color printing a lot in order to catch everyone’s attention and to please the other people in the workplace.

4. Pandas – A panda is the first animal you will think of at the mere mention of black and white. The study likens people from the financial and accounting departments to pandas because these people prefer to have their documents in black and white. Aside from the clarity, finance personnel may have also considered the costs of black-and-white printing and color printing.

5. Chimpanzees – Chimpanzees are the most resourceful animals in the zoo (or probably in the whole animal kingdom). Dawson likens the people from Marketing and PR departments to chimpanzees because they know exactly what they want or what to do. For instance, people from Marketing and PR teams know when they need to go for color printing or prints with best quality.

6. Polar Bears – Aside from being resourceful like the chimpanzees, polar bears are known for making the little that they have go a long way. Translating this quality to employees, IT personnel are the most similar to polar bears because they do not use color printing often. They only use it when extremely needed and when they do, it is done in the most cost effective manner.

7. Birds of Paradise – Birds of Paradise are known for proudly parading their colors and designs to beholders. Oftentimes, they display themselves in scarlet and green (with all their glory). Dawson likens trainees and new hires to these creatures because these people tend to use high-quality and color printing frequently. They also make use of specialized paper in the hope of attracting the attention of their immediate superiors.

8. Stags – Stags are known for their proneness to antler baiting and egoistic show-off of skills and physical attributes. Dawson sees some similarities between stags and people in the general or administration offices. These are the people who tend to show off by using colors excessively even if these are not needed.

The study actually has some serious implications: using color printing has to be done efficiently. With the workplace demonstrating the same attributes as the zoo, it is inevitable for shareholders to lose a lot. They may not be able to maximize their profits because of the huge costs incurred from printing.

In order to combat burgeoning printing costs, companies have to understand how the different departments in the workplace have different needs. In this way, the company would know which department requires more supply of color ink cartridges than the other departments.

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