Legalex blog post image 1

Employee printing and the use of traditional filing methods to store documents can cost a small business as much as £14,616 each year, according to research by software developers Reckon.* 

The average UK office worker prints out 6,000 sides of A4 each year; that’s a whopping 500 sheets – or one ream each – per month. Furthermore, there are also the costs of running and maintaining a printer, which average at around £148 per employee for a medium sized business. 

Coupling the price of paper and printing with the cost of maintaining filing cabinets, which can be as high as £690**per cabinet in central London, shows just how much businesses are spending in order to manage and safely store documentation. 

Reckon, developers of Virtual Cabinet and Reckon One, found that the space taken by a standard sized filing cabinet is typically £360 per year, although this cost is significantly higher in major cities and of course the capital. 

A typical filing cabinet takes up more than five square feet of commercial space including the space needed to open and operate the drawers, a significant cost when the average commercial rent of £115 per square foot in London and £60 per square foot in the wider UK is taken into account. Pairing this expense with the price of printing and of course the paper itself, demonstrates just how costly using traditional business processes can be. 

Commercial rates are expected to continue to rise at a steady rate, meaning a rent increase of 25% could leave a business in the City of London spending as much as £863 in rent annually for each filing cabinet within the next five years. ONS research shows that office-based employment has grown each year since 2008 and will continue to do so, meaning the need for office space and storage will become greater and that making efficient use of a premises will become all the more important. 

Mark Woolley, commercial director at Reckon, said: “The figures we’ve compiled highlight the high cost of printing and storing documents, especially for those in the accounting, legal, insolvency and property sectors. While these figures make for expensive reading, they don’t even begin to include other documentation expenses, such as postage, retrieval of documents onsite and/or off site at storage facilities along with the cost of time taken to manage filing cabinets. 

“When every square foot matters in terms of cost and efficiency, it’s important to make the best possible use of an office space. Document storage can take up room which forces business owners to maintain a larger than necessary space and can stop a business from using its floor-space for more productive uses, such as meeting space or even a workstation for a new team member. Likewise a printer and its associated products can be a bulky addition to a tight office space. 

“As we continue to move towards more digital ways of working, it’s surprising to see how many businesses still rely on paper documents. The savings made by digitalisation mean that much needed new colleagues can be hired or that the business can even downsize to more appropriate premises that will save serious money on rent.” 

Reckon complied the cost of £14,616 using the following stats, which were applied to a business of 50 employees using ten standard size filing cabinets:

• A cost for the rent of the space occupied by the cabinet of £360 per cabinet. This figure takes into account the space used by the cabinet itself, as well as the space needed to open and use the cabinet

• Each employee printing 6,000 sheets of A4 paper each year

• A cost of £148 per employee to use and maintain the printer itself

• The paper used being A4 printer paper at a cost of £1 per ream

For more information about Reckon and Virtual Cabinet, please visit:  



*Reckon based this figure on a business of 50 employees, printing 6,000 sheets each during one year. Paper was charged at £1 per ream and this figure includes the rental costs for 10 filing cabinets in a rental space outside of London. The average cost of maintaining and running a printer was set at £148 per employee. 

**Reckon based its research on the average London rent of £115 per square foot per annum in the City of London and £60 per square foot per annum in UK cities outside of the capital. These figures were released in the Activating the Workplace report by office agency Lambert Smith Hampton. The average size of an office space within this report was set at 10,000 square feet. Additional figures were taken from ONS research.