Home working revolution puts laptops centre stage

Increasing requirements to multi-task during the pandemic has accelerated the need for hardware and software innovation


SPONSORED BY ASUS

One of the most striking consequences of the coronavirus pandemic has been the shift to remote working by British employees. As schools and universities return after the summer, there’s still a reluctance to return to the office in the UK. With concerns over further outbreaks, it’s likely that a hybrid model of working will now emerge. This also has consequences for home office tech.

The numbers are stark. Only a third of UK office workers are going back to their office compared with 83 per cent in France, according to research by Morgan Stanley. The novel and largely positive experience of home working has made staff rethink the attractions of the office.

Painful, long and expensive commutes mean the sofa, the bath, even the toilet at home is a more frequented place to work, while video conferencing and the use of collaborative tools is now a daily occurrence. Going forward, employees may be unlikely to return to the office in their droves soon.

“This unplanned experiment has shifted us all to work from our living rooms and shared spaces at home. It has huge ramifications for employee productivity in the short and long term. It also has implications for the digital tools, platforms and hardware we use,” explains Ciprian Donciu, country manager for the UK at Asus, a multinational and global leader in electronics and hardware.

A recent survey found home workers start much earlier, at 8.12am, than if they were going into the office. One in three of the more than a 1,000 people surveyed are so busy they carry on working when they go to the toilet. While over a third start work before they have had their first coffee, showered, cleaned their teeth or got dressed out of their pyjamas.

It shows that work is being prioritised before many other tasks; not only that, 59 per cent of respondents are multi-tasking while working at home, whether it involves browsing social media or paying bills, texting friends or preparing meals. In the same poll, 55 per cent said they had also increased their level of multi-tasking when it came to their work.

“People are combining a lot of activities at once while working from home. Multi-tasking is the new norm. It doesn’t mean people are less productive. What it means is that we are going to have to develop better ways of managing this multi-faceted environment going forward, especially if it’s set to continue. Our digital software, hardware and home office tools will need to reflect this intimately,” says Donciu from Asus, which ranks number one globally for worldwide sales of motherboards and number three for consumer notebooks.

In the same poll, it was found that the average British home worker has 11 tabs and 11 documents open during the working day on their laptop or personal computer. Interestingly busy Londoners have more open with 13 tabs, which increases to 16 for high-wired millennials.

“Employees now desire using more than one screen when they work at home, because they need to deal with many more information feeds than in the past. This is one of the reasons why we have revolutionised conventional laptop design in recent times, by  adding a second ScreenPad display into our latest ZenBook Duo range,” says Chris Walker, marketing manager for the UK at Asus, which has been named one of the world’s most-admired companies by Fortune magazine.

“Workers need to multi-task and remain as equally productive on a laptop at home, with many not having the space nor the access to external monitors as they would in the office. Multiple displays means video conferencing, editing documents and reading emails can now be done simultaneously anywhere, without compromising on the experience. Match that productivity with the right performance and you come to what we’ve achieved with our latest ZenBooks.”

“Many employees now desire using more than one screen when they work at home”

It is not surprising that during lockdown sales of monitors went up by 360 per cent in the UK, mobile computing purchases also skyrocketed by 230 per cent, according to data from GfK, as employees had to manage the future of their work in the home environment.

Whether hybrid working models, mixing both office days and more remote working in a multi-functioning environment, is the answer to Britain’s productivity puzzle remains to be seen. The UK has seen slow rates of productivity growth over the past decade, with hourly output and real wages no higher now than they were prior to the 2008 global financial crisis.

A reluctance by UK employees to return to the office could drive more of us to commit time and energy to our work. A study in Europe, North America and the Middle East by Harvard and New York University economists found that people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic spend around 48 minutes more time a day connected to their office.  They also spend more time in meetings with more people.

It is not just hardware that is going to have to deliver more to employees sitting in the bathroom working at home, or in their pyjamas, but software and connected services too.

“Having great hardware is only as good as the software that’s onboard, which is why all of our ZenBooks are powered by Windows 10. Microsoft have done a great job in providing the tools necessary to keep people connected at home, be it their cloud services with Microsoft 365 or helpful features such as Windows Hello, which reads biometric data through our laptop’s infrared camera to securely login a user without the need for passwords. It’s definitely a team game,” says Walker.

It is certain that there’s no going back to the way things were before the pandemic. Our working day is unlikely to be the same ever again. The question is whether it’s likely to boost UK productivity in the long run. A better balance between home and office work, multi-tasking and new digital tools could in fact make a difference. Only time will tell.

Working from home with Asus, please visit www.asus.com