What your colour printing says about you

You may not have realised it, but your office is being over-run by parrots, cheetahs, pandas and stags...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Your office printer has probably caused you a few primeval urges in its time – we fully admit that incessant paper jams or disobedient toner cartridges have occasionally given us an almost irresistible desire to smash said device into very small pieces. But it turns out that the humble colour printer may be able to tell us a lot more than that about our animal instincts. According to behavioural psychologist Donna Dawson, it can actually form the basis of an animal-themed classification of your entire office…

Dawson, who was commissioned by Canon to study the dynamics of the workplace, reckons that office printer users constitute a Desmond Morris-esque ‘Human Zoo’. Senior managers, for example, are usually parrots – they are ‘beautifully presented and they understand the importance of colour’, so they use the highest quality printing for their latest reports. Sales people, on the other hand, are cheetahs – they’re ‘fast, impulsive animals and magnificent to look at’ (she clearly hasn’t met MT’s sales team – only joking folks), and they demand fast access to high-quality colour printing, ‘in the same way that a cheetah needs to reach its prey quickly and produce a killer-blow’. An almost exact parallel, we’re sure you’ll agree.

In fact, all of the different departments can be equated to a different animal by virtue of their printing habits: the finance team are pandas, because they tend to opt for black-and white prints (on cost grounds); marketing are chimps, because they’re the ‘most resourceful users of colour in the organisation’; IT are polar bears, because they hardly use any colour at all; and HR are birds of paradise, because they tend to use colour to show off. Indeed most of us apparently share this tendency to use colour competitively (if we tell you that she thinks this makes us act like rutting stags, we hope you won’t be too offended…)

Now at this point you may be wondering if Donna has been over-doing it with the high-quality hallucinogens. But there is actually a serious business point to all this. Colour printing doesn’t come cheap, and some companies waste a fortune on it. By identifying how different people use the colour printer, you should be able to work out different strategies for different teams – and ultimately cut down your bills.

So which animal is king of the office printing  jungle? Well, apparently in an ideal world we’d all be more like the chimpanzee, whose large and resourceful brain allows it to balance the creative use of colour against cost considerations. But no swinging from the light fittings, please.

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