Has the COVID pandemic changed the workplace forever?

  • 2020 - the year that changed the office forever

The COVID-19 pandemic caused seismic changes in the workplace and has forced businesses of all sizes to try and identify which changes are temporary and which are here to stay. It’s not just medical jargon we’ve picked-up along the way – new terminology like hybrid, blended and distributed working now pepper management and strategy meetings around the world. Employers have discovered that teams working from home does not necessarily equate with a loss in productivity. So, this month we’re exploring how to manage the impact of less commuting and more computing on sustainability and the circular economy and how to protect your 2020 technology investment.

  • Less commuting

Whilst it took most people a bit of time to adapt to effective homeworking it didn’t take them much longer to realise that there are lots of positive benefits in terms of work life balance. Clearly adjusting to a digital first working model comes with its own challenges but the lack of commute undeniably removes a whole layer of stress from the daily grind. The pandemic has normalised remote working and the general consensus seems pretty clear – employees will not be returning full-time to the physical workspace any time soon. Almost all of the UK’s 50 biggest employers when questioned by the BBC said they don’t plan to bring staff back full time. HSBC is pursuing plans to reduce office space by 40% with even their top bosses switching to hot desking. LinkedIn has seen four times the number of job adverts referencing remote work since March 2020.

  • More computing

2020 was a very big year for PC sales and represented the biggest global growth seen since 2010. IDC, the premier market intelligence firm, puts the year at 302 million shipments, up 13.1 percent year on year. 2020 was an equally massive year for the tablet market, which saw a 13.6% increase in sales. A total of 164.1 million tablets were shipped, up from the 144.5 million in 2019. Last month Jaguar Land Rover had to pause production at two of its UK plants because of the global shortage of semiconductor chips that has been caused by this dramatic upswing in PC sales.

  • Impact of increased laptop and tablet sales on E-waste

In a commercial context laptops and tablets have a predicted life span of between 3 to five years. Whilst there are hopes that the unprecedented growth in cloud computing might lengthen their time in service, should we be planning now for an inevitable surge in E-waste? Many companies had already started to make their move to a more mobile environment pre-pandemic, but the purchase of additional laptops, mobile phones and dongles to improve home office performance, has accelerated the redundancy of desk-based hardware. This makes the repair, reuse and recycle message more important than ever.

Some experts argue that the pandemic will create a tidal wave of E-waste once the huge influx of new technology purchased last year is added to the already dire predicted volumes for the middle of this decade. Others claim that whilst the permanent move to mobile supported workforces will indeed result in more units to dispose of these are much more compact than their desktop counterparts and are arguably easier to recycle.

  • What can you do to avoid the tidal wave?

As an IT Manager, it would be nice to hope that the money businesses will save by reducing office space might in turn boost IT budgets, but this is unlikely to be the case. With cloud computing being so much more affordable than the cost of in-house networking it looks like the expectation is that IT spend overall will continue to fall. So, the single most important step you can take right now is to make a strategic plan to look after your new remote kit and protect the long-term value of these assets.

As the UK’s leading remote workforce specialist, TEKExpress strongly advocates that there has never been a more important time to start working with an experienced support partner. Acting now will ensure that the sustainability of your mobile devices is secured, and the financial value of these assets will be maximised when they re-enter the circular economy in 3-5 years’ time.

  • Dave’s top tips for remote device management

We asked Dave Elkins, our Workshop Manager, for his top 10 tips for looking after remote kit:

  • Chose a suitable device for the working environment
  • Buy good quality protection including screen protectors
  • Plan your maintenance schedule and stick to it
  • Repairing minor blemishes before they become major damage
  • Regularly run the battery through a full discharge/charge cycle
  • Make sure the device is regularly cleaned
  • Keep software up to date for best long-term performance
  • Teach your device users good habits around their device use
  • Harvest spare parts from units deemed Beyond Economic Repair
  • Maintain a battery charge of around 50% for any stored devices
  • Dave adds “Keeping track of our client devices using Lucy, our bespoke tracking and management platform, means we have a complete history of every single device and helps us to deliver remote hassle free care. Should we find common issues with a particular device we can investigate and implement ways to stop these impacting on device sustainability and value”.