“Work is about being connected anywhere and at any time. While some staff will have to remain on-site, for the first time it’s been proven that sales, management and collaboration can be done from anywhere,” explains Lizelle Le Roux, Tarsus Distribution’s Business Unit Manager for HP. “Workplaces of the future need to be fluid and adaptable to this new hybrid environment, which is why notebooks are simply selling more than desktops.”
A mobile workforce needs portable and power-efficient devices, so while desktop computer sales are dropping – and according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), by 30% – the laptop market continues to thrive. “Companies have become truly mobile and connected. If you are not, and if you’re not making moves towards that set-up, your business is not going to survive,” warns Le Roux.
“Today’s technology is focused on collaboration and connectivity. If your workforce cannot connect remotely, then your business will not be able to continue doing business. The pandemic has forced companies to make that shift faster,” adds Le Roux.
Le Roux believes that organisations were always heading towards a more agile working environment, but the coronavirus pandemic fast-tracked the future of work. “It forced companies to trust that people could do their jobs remotely. And a lot of organisations have come out of this saying that they’ve seen great success and that their productivity has gone through the roof,” she adds.
While for many companies this meant a massive notebook roll-out to equip remote workers as quickly as possible, the compute technology needed to get the job done wasn’t only focused on going mobile – it was about form and function.
“In the past, users got away with entry-level PCs or laptops. They needed the basics. But now we also need good connectivity and use video and data and this is where compute power needs to increase,” says Le Roux. “It’s not just the hardware that has to be more powerful and reliable, it’s also the connectivity. What device your company rolls out is important and if they’re simply going to choose entry-level machines, it may do the job but going into the future, it’s not going to cut it.”
Ultimately, companies couldn’t predict the pandemic. They don’t know what’s going to happen in the future or how their workforce will need to adapt. Even though different industries have different technical requirements, the overall concept remains the same: offices of the future need to become more fluid and adapt as needs change. This is also why choosing the right compute technology is critical: “When buying technology, companies need to do a long-term analysis and see where their business is going to understand their objectives,” advises Le Roux. “They need to make sure that they are empowering their workforce with the right technology. Instead of sweating assets for as long as they can, companies need to have the future in mind and consider things like product life cycles, manageability, upgradability and security.”
Any compute technology that is rolled-out needs to be future-fit. A distributed worker, for example, stuck with a device that is mobile yet has reached ‘end of life’ status and doesn’t meet the requirements for remote management, means IT technicians won’t be able to troubleshoot.
“Vendors are also becoming more focused around services and security. Devices are one aspect, but with everyone online, they’re now realising how important it is to have these elements as a value-added offering,” she explains. “And with the POPI Act, companies have to make sure they’re compliant and that goes hand-in-hand with security and the need to safeguard your data going forward.”
The pandemic isn’t over just yet. While some staff have already returned to the office, many organisations are looking towards a more hybrid way of work. “Those companies, however, that continue with a fully remote set up are going to have to think about how they are going to manage the IT hardware,” says Le Roux. “What we’re finding is that people are now gearing up their home-work environment to be more comfortable. Often, they prefer the peripherals in their remote office. Sometimes, their connectivity is superior. Businesses of the future are going to have to take these things into consideration and, at the same time, make sure that their workforce is adequately supported, managed and protected.”
Ultimately, Le Roux ends, compute technology that is future fit is more about the worker sitting behind that device. “Technology is just the enabler. As a business you need to ensure that person is capable and connected.”