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The pandemic has changed how we conduct our day-to-day work, as well as how companies communicate, how projects are completed, and how clients and customers view products and services. With this change has come increasing demand for portable computers. Laptops, notebooks and tablet devices have been around for quite some time, but what has changed is the demand for power and features in an affordable and portable form factor.
Computing needs have been increasing for some time, especially in the creative space, where people were working from desks, desktop units, or with peripherals plugged in at all times. Now, these same employees are working from home, or a coffee shop, but without an entire desk worth of gear, attached. For many workers, the tools they need to get their jobs done were company-provided but now they are working outside of the workplace, there is no access to most of these tools.
No more external storage, no more external graphics processors, no more external monitors or keyboards - the devices many of us rely on to get work done now have to be portable, with storage, processing power, and more, all at a reasonable cost.
Powerful laptops have become a necessity
Working from home doubtlessly has some advantages, allowing more time for productive work due to less time commuting and moving from meeting to meeting. It also allows for people to set whatever mood they want for work - whether that’s a dedicated home office, working from the couch, from a coffee shop, shared workspace, or changing it up day-to-day. The possibility of so many locations means that the devices remote workers choose need to be able to fit all of those spaces.
Working remotely can be great, but it also has its drawbacks. The need for a device capable of running vital software such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Webex is no longer a luxury but is now a necessity - and with that comes a clear mic, quality camera, and a way to angle the camera so the focus is on your face.
Additionally, with the use of flexible workspaces projected to continue rising, remote workers need the ability to conduct all elements of their job from the device they have with them. This can include anything from presentations, word processing, video and photo editing, screen sharing, signing PDFs, and more. The need for a reliable internet connection is paramount, with the demand for services such as 10GB ethernet internet rising exponentially.
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Changing expectations for business laptops
These changes are subsequently changing how laptops are being made. For companies that are entirely remote, the question now is how best to equip employees with a business computer that addresses their needs.
The expectations for these laptops are rapidly changing. Previously, the expectation was to simply get work done, at work. Now, the expectation is to be able to get work done, anywhere, quickly. Business computers used to be a means to get work done, now they are the lifeline connecting employees to their jobs.
With more people working from home every day, newer laptops are going to need to meet this demand. Thunderbolt 4 connectors are still new, however they will probably be the future of laptop connections due to their versatility and speed. With one port, users can decide what that port does. Whatever it will become, it will transfer data at breakneck speeds. All while cutting down on clutter on the laptop itself. Additionally, due to the rise in virtual meetings, it is expected that the next generation of laptops will have better, high resolution cameras built in. Perhaps even with a camera cover. One additional camera quality that would be nice to see would be the ability to unlock with your face as a standard feature. With that being said, fingerprint security should be mainstream within the next generation of laptops.
On the track of making virtual meetings better, an upgraded microphone built into the laptop would make it so individuals would not have to use a 3rd party option. Continuing down this rabbithole, it would be nice to see laptop designs that have dedicated communication buttons or shortcuts. For example, next to the speaker volume buttons there could be a mic on/off toggle. But one that works with whatever virtual meeting platform you are on.
Further, due to the increased efficiency of the newest chips available, and the readily available places to charge whilst working from home, the next line of laptops may not have the increase in battery that has been the trend up until now. There is not as much of a need for increased battery anymore, so perhaps the trend will plateau.
With that being said, there has been an increasing demand by employees to have these devices provided by the employer. Seeing as how the business computer is everything for any given employee, employers are having to adapt. For example, if one employee does not have a device that allows them to do their job well, then they are going to be seen as a bad worker - with the inverse being true as well. Therefore, a quality device, with powerful components, a hi-resolution camera and microphone twinned with powerful speakers, all at a reasonable price is more than just where business laptops could trend - but the expectation.
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Transitioning to a hybrid working model
If remote work gets to the point where employers are providing employees with laptops, they are going to want to have a way to manage those devices. However, as not everyone has incredibly strong network speeds, there will need to be an adaptation to where IT can efficiently manage those that have poor connection.
Large companies like Apple and Twitter are already looking at what a hybrid work atmosphere or entirely remote atmosphere will look like. As these companies begin to set (unintentionally, or intentionally) the standard for working conditions during and post- pandemic, other companies are watching.
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