Office Paper Market Study 2021 - woman printing

Office Paper Market Study 2021: a new way of working – a new way of printing (and thinking)?

The pandemic sure has shaken things around and put everyday behavior in a different light. What has been taken for granted for a long time, such as going to an office with endless printing possibilities, suddenly no longer has been possible. How has this affected people’s way of printing – and people’s way of thinking about printing?

Stora Enso and Multicopy present some new surprising (and some less surprising) insights on changed consumer habits and attitudes related to working location, printing, and paper purchases since Covid-19 entered the world, bringing new perspectives into people’s lives.

Respondents

  • 3400 respondents, randomly sampled by the market research tool Pollfish
  • Markets: Sweden (400), UK (800), France (800), Netherlands (400), Germany (800)
  • All participants work or have worked from home during the pandemic
  • All participants are employed for wages (89 %) or self-employed (11 %)
 Focal points
  • Working location – from home or the office?
  • Printing habits – what changes if/when people return to their offices?
  • Buying habits – where do people purchase their office paper?
  • Paper attributes – what do people value most when purchasing office paper?

 Key findings


1. Five days at an office belongs to the past


In an earlier study conducted by Stora Enso in the end of 2020, 83 % of the respondents thought they would return to their offices within six months. More than six months later, the new 2021 results show that only 35 % of the respondents have returned to an office environment. 51 % still expect to return – while 14 % don’t expect to return at all.

There are some geographical differences regarding the pace of returning to the office, with France showing the largest number of returned employers (46 %) and the Netherlands the lowest (24 %).

One thing that is for sure is that working five days a week from an office seems to be on the decline. The preferred mix (33 %) seems to be working three days at the office and two days from home. These results align with the 2020 results, which also showed that the majority would prefer working three days per week from the office.
Office Paper Market Study 2021 - 33% prefer to work

2. Back to office – back to printing


With changed working behavior comes changed printing behavior. Increased home working seems to have decreased printing (and has naturally led to a dip in office paper demand). Even though 65 % of our respondents have a printer at home, they answered they print less while working from home compared to at the office, with increased usage of digital tools and costs not being covered by the employers as the main reasons.

Regarding the 35 % of our respondents that have returned to an office environment, going back to the office seems to imply going back to printing: the respondents print 32 % more at the office compared to printing at the home office.
Office Paper Market Study 2021 - 65% have a printer

3. Increased productivity with a printer!


Some bright insights in the world of printing – 79 % of the respondents who already had or bought a printer during the pandemic believe a printer makes them more productive. The most popular things to print are invoices, reports, contracts, spreadsheets, and letters.

Sweden is the market with the least home printers – 47 % of the Swedish respondents answered they have no printer at home ¬– compared to France where only 31 % don’t have a printer at home. France also showed the highest number of printers installed during the pandemic (42,5 %), and Sweden the least (18 %).
79% Believe they are mote productive with a printer at home

4. Positive attitudes towards sustainability certified products


Among eight different sustainability certifications, some seem to stand out more than others in terms of recognition among the respondents, with some geographical differences.

The label with the highest average awareness split on all markets is the C02 Neutral label, with about 30-50 %. The Nordic Swan-label showed a 70 % awareness level in Sweden, and among the German respondents, 62 % recognized the Blue Angel-label.

Overall, the respondents feel positive about green labeled products, such as our Multicopy products labeled with the biogas icon. On average, 61% are willing to pay more for a product with the biogas icon on it.
Office Paper Market Study 2021 - biogas icon

5. Towards a more conscious way of printing


Besides price and ease of purchase, which have always been strongly valued attributes among office paper consumers, there are two other features that seem to matter more and more when choosing which office paper to buy: quality and sustainability. “While cost and convenience were still number one, workplace consumers are now even more concerned about print quality and sustainability than they were a year ago,” explains Jonathan Bakewell, VP, Head of Segment Office and Book Papers at Stora Enso.

This uprising, more conscious printing approach, that Bakewell names the “print better” approach, with higher demands on print quality and sustainability (and more specifically carbon neutrality), is something that consumers are even ready to pay more for. Among the 2021 respondents, 72 % are willing to pay more for a higher quality paper, and 70 % are willing to pay more for a paper with better sustainability performance.

Could the higher demands for a quality paper with a sustainable standard be a result of the larger number of printers being installed in people’s homes with the increased hybrid way of working? It’s possible that spending more time at home, both privately and professionally, puts our everyday choices into a different spotlight – making the choice of a better office paper more important.
Office Paper Market Study 2021 70% are willing to pay more

Conclusions

 

Remote working can no longer be seen as a temporary trend – it’s becoming the new (and preferred) normal. While working from home in many cases means printing less, having a printer around seems to make people feel more productive.

Positive consumer attitudes towards high quality and sustainable standards appear to be leading the way towards a more conscious printing and paper purchase behavior. We dare to say that higher consumer demands and a more sustainable printing culture are also here to stay – something that we welcome at Multicopy.

We’re ready to continue our mission towards a fossil free future with our premium quality and competitive products, not least our carbon offset paper Mulicopy Zero. We’re still sure of it – it’s the only office paper you need, whether it is at home or at the office.

Looking forward, Bakewell says he'd like to survey how people feel about working for companies that procure sustainable products: “If people see their employer making immediate visible changes, like selecting a paper with a higher sustainability performance, this can become a physical manifestation of that promise.”

Read more about the survey and take part of Bakewell’s full comments here.


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