As offices begin to reopen in some cities and portions of the country, consumers will continue seeking ways to upgrade their work-from-home environments while migrating some of their favorite productivity tools and technologies back to the office with them.
As these needs continue to increase, it’s critically important for retailers to provide consumers the latest technology for both home and work, especially as the line between the two becomes even more blurred. Consumers want to be connected 24/7 regardless of location, and there is enormous sales opportunity in meeting that demand.
Returning to the Office
As companies bring employees back to the office, workers return more technologically savvy, with ever greater expectations for comfort and productivity. They want the same products they have become accustomed to using at home. Just as workers upgraded their home office technology with the addition of multiple monitors, ergonomic keyboards, mice, and chairs, employers and retailers should prepare to provide some of the same advanced technologies and ergonomics their employees adopted at home.
Video calls will remain the norm going forward, and products such as high-resolution web cameras will be in demand. Ultra-light weight bone conduction headsets provide for comfortable all-day use while offering better situational awareness because you can hear what’s going on around you.
Hybrid work environments require technologies that make it easy and convenient for employees to transition as they divide their time between the office and working from home. Accessories employing USB-C simplify connecting monitors, phones, keyboards, notebooks, and cameras in various environments. Employees are seeking robust storage drives to easily access work when they are not connected to the company network, whether at home or on the go.
With the acceleration of 5G, manufacturers are integrating LTE into products so that employees can make calls directly from their notebooks and tablets.
Making Remote Work Work for You
As many businesses and schools shut down in-person environments last year, consumers cobbled together the available technology for remote work and learning. As the year went on, consumers began to identify the products that best meet their needs and started upgrading accessories that provided more efficient communication and comfort.
One year later, consumers looking to fine-tune their remote setup are seeking to upgrade accessories like keyboards, mice, and cameras that make it easier to work. Some are choosing to stick with a single brand so that their ecosystem of devices and accessories work seamlessly together.
With the prevalence of video calls, consumers are starting to look at cameras with a higher capacity (1080p or 4K) for more detail work, whiteboarding, or doing product demos. They want cameras with better microphones, image tracking, and other advanced features.
They are looking to the larger bandwidth of Wi-Fi 6 and mesh networks to ensure robust connectivity for work and for streaming entertainment.
In addition to upgrading for the latest features and functionality, the ability to work comfortably is becoming increasingly important, and consumers are swapping out their old equipment. Many workers seated for a large portion of the day are adopting ergonomic chairs, stands, and standing desks along with smart watches that remind them to get up and move.
Staying Connected at Home
As consumers become more connected at home through remote work, learning and daily activities, they are looking for a hub device that acts as a command center for the home. People are recognizing the importance of having an all-in-one smart device with a screen and speakers to check the weather, view the front door, see what’s next on their schedule, and play music or news.
More in-person interactions are driving a rise in home medical devices such as contactless thermometers and oxygen level monitors to stay in tune with their personal health. Wireless home security cameras that can operate for up to two years on a battery charge provide inexpensive solutions that don’t require hardwiring to networks and power sources.
As consumers continue to be more connected than ever — whether at home, in the office, or on the go — it is important for retailers to understand the different consumer profiles and what products fit into each environment.
There is enormous opportunity to address these needs, especially with the rise of 5G and broadband for better connectivity. We have entered a hybrid world, where consumers can choose virtual or in-person, and retailers should be prepared with something to offer everyone.
Fred Towns is President of New Age Electronics, responsible for setting the company’s strategic direction and identifying new growth opportunities. Serving in this capacity since 2011, Towns oversees the organization’s business development, marketing, and customer service. With more than 35 years of experience in the consumer technology industry, Towns previously held the position of Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Panasonic Consumer Electronics Corp. He also sits on CTA’s Executive Board, an advisory committee that helps set public policy positions and priorities for the association, and serves as industry chair of the Anti-Defamation League’s National Consumer Technology division.