The printer has long been an integral part of the office workflow, but it’s now expected to do a lot more than simply print. The best multifunction printers (MFPs) – also known as smart workplace assistants – connect to cloud storage, work with smartphones and tablets, allow custom user interfaces and software, and much more.

As companies continue to digitise, those features have gone from enviable luxuries to absolute necessities.

It’s no longer enough to print a document from a desktop PC – employees need to be able to print directly from their personal phones or tablets, or scan documents and have them automatically moved to the same cloud storage as the rest of their files – and even scan those documents using their own phone cameras.

Thoughtful use of features like these can help a company of any size avoid some of the biggest pain points that emerge from taking old, paper-based processes and trying to transpose them to the digital, cloud-based world.

Manual processes such as entering data from one media – such as a physical document or an email – to another – e.g. the internal ordering system – can lead to errors and delays or leave businesses with duplicate documents causing further confusion. With a workplace assistant these incoming documents can be automatically stored in the cloud, making them easy to access and work with from another device.

By making it easy to print documents from any device, a multifunction printer not only reduces the steps to printing, drastically improving workplace productivity and streamlining workflows, but also allows companies to save money by supporting bring-your-own-device policies. If employees can use their personal phones, tablets and laptops as part of their normal workflow they’re then free to print documents or send files from meetings without the need to wait until they’re back at their desk.