As the current global health crisis leads to a massive increase in working from home, so the motivational, productivity and agility benefits of mini-PCs are coming to the fore.
The COVID-19 pandemic is surely the biggest challenge the world has faced on a global scale since the end of World War II. And as with all global crises, the effects of this latest one will linger long after the virus itself is beaten. It is no great leap to suggest that the world we move into, post-COVID-19, will be a different one, where new ways of doing things overtake the manner in which we have always previously conducted business.
Xavier Nel, head of product at CloudGate, suggests that from a business perspective, this ‘World 2.0’ will, for one thing, be one in which remote working becomes mainstream. After all, the extreme lockdown measures taken to combat the virus have led to an increasing number of companies enabling their staff to work remotely from home.
“Many companies rushed to ensure employees had the devices and connectivity to operate in this manner – often by acquiring laptops for critical employees – and this has led to an increasingly large number of people realising that working from home is not only possible but in many cases, more desirable,” he says.
“However, plenty of businesses have failed to take into account the psychology related to this: it is not enough to merely provide people with a tool to enable remote work – it is just as crucial to consider the overall experience, whether it keeps them motivated to be productive and whether it offers them a similar experience to their usual, office-bound one.”
Such stresses can be caused by simple things like, in the case of using a laptop, having to use a smaller screen, or not having a large keyboard or external mouse. He points out that in the heightened tensions of the current crisis, small things can play a big role in people’s happiness and motivation.
“The major challenge faced by remote workers in a world where cloud access and connectivity are both relatively mature is an effective end-point device. The right end-point device can be the difference between an efficient and effective employee, and one that becomes frustrated and unproductive owing to the challenges they face.”
Nel says that it is here that the mini-PC comes into its own. He points out that most people working in white-collar jobs today have some form of home computer set up. This means they likely already have a large-screen monitor and external keyboard and mouse, which can easily be connected to the mini-PC to create a home office solution.
“Of course, even if the company has to purchase a monitor and mouse for the employee, mini-PCs have the kind of price point that would enable the business to purchase the whole lot for around the same price as an entry-level laptop. Moreover, mini-PCs are faster and more reliable, owing to using a solid-state disk, rather than the typical moving spindle-based hard drive found on most lower-end laptops.”
“Furthermore, it should be remembered that many employees currently operating from home do not have a dedicated room in which to set up their home office. A mini-PC not only takes up far less space than a desktop, but they can also be mounted to the back of the screen, thus making it far simpler if you do need to move your equipment to a different room. Also, these devices are more robust and are less likely to suffer wear and tear or even get damaged accidentally by any small children who are also confined to the home.”
The key thing businesses need to remember when buying mini-PCs to enable remote working is to ensure they find the right one to suit the specific business requirements. For example, these devices do not all come standard with a lot of built-in memory or storage, so if anything needs to be able to run or stored locally – as opposed to from the cloud – these companies will need to be sure they purchase higher-end mini-PCs, that meet these increased hardware requirements.
“As terrible as this crisis is, I think that it will be a key driver of ever-increasing demand for these devices once lockdown ends, simply because businesses are realising the benefits mini-PCs offer in a remote working environment. We will certainly see a significant shift in how enterprises work in the next couple of years, with a vast increase in the number of remote workers.”
“Mini-PCs are ideally positioned to enable this new way of operating, as they offer agility and efficiency, increase productivity and enable companies to quickly and cost-effectively move their business to remote sites in an emergency. This is critical, as it is unlikely to be the last such threat the world faces and a business’s ability to remain productive in the face of such a challenge could easily be the difference between their success or failure,” he concludes.