3 pandemic-related trends for 2021

When we shifted rapidly from working in offices to working from home early this year, we weren’t at all ready. I’ve heard stories of employees who stripped their offices of everything but their phones because they lacked office furniture at home; workers who got thousands of dollars to buy home office equipment; and employees who got nothing other than a “good luck.”

But tech companies have been watching, and in 2021 we will see several new trends affecting laptops and the arrival of some exciting product bundles. I want to talk about the three most interesting to me this week.

Branded office bundles

One problem with the rush to work and study from home is that support organizations have been hammered by problems resulting from that lack of consistency. To address this problem, vendors are putting together bundles that — at a minimum — include a router (where many support problems  originate) to meet company standards regarding security, management, and reliability. Other than that, it isn’t yet clear what the bundles might contain and whether they will be packaged together (more likely from an online vendor than in a store) or connected by brand, so employees can build their bundle from approved parts. (The latter would more likely be in-store.)

Regardless of approach, by mid-2021 I expect there will be a way for employees to more easily pick products that comply with company policy and for companies to fund those programs and ensure they help mitigate the support problems now plaguing them. 

WAN-connected laptops

This is something likely to be a parallel effort to the WFH hardware bundle. People are working at home with spouses who are also working or streaming, and kids that are gaming, streaming, or studying. As a result, their internet bandwidth isn’t adequate, causing videoconferencing to degrade or fail. The industry solution: more common WAN integration in laptops to guarantee more reliable connections  and better videoconferencing meetings.

While backhaul issues are being reported regarding 5G deployments in the U.S., they’re expected to be mitigated by mid-year. A dedicated WAN link that is secure and more reliable seems to be driving this trend. If you’re planning to buy laptops in the year ahead, you may want to consider this option seriously — and update your RFPs. 

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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