The pandemic turned the job over. The remote workspace is about to be upgraded.

A coronavirus pandemic shut down the economy in March, leaving millions of workers home, scrambling to set up remote offices in the kitchen and living room, and jumping into a zoom call with colleagues. It was. Today, a number of new technologies and devices introduced this week at CES (Consumer Electronics Show), America’s largest consumer technology event, are helping workers manage their new work-life balance.

According to the Pew Research Center, seven out of ten workers who can work remotely are currently working from home or most of the time. More than half of these workers want to continue working from home for at least some of the time after the pandemic is over. Prior to the crisis, only two out of every ten workers who could work from home did so, according to Pew.

This change has led tech companies, from big companies like Dell to start-ups, to rethink the fast-growing telecommuting market.

Pandemics are accelerating the many remote workplace trends that consultants have predicted for years with less traction. “It took us five years and five weeks to think,” said Jeff Schwartz, US leader of the Future of Work at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “The difference between 2020 and the last decade is that 2020 was a time machine for the future.”

However, moving from office to home is not always easy. Pew found that one in five remote workers complained that they were having a hard time finding the right workspace at home. One-third said constant interruptions were a problem — perhaps from pets, children, spouses and other family members.

This is part of a new workplace trend that has the potential to penetrate remote offices from CES.

Streaming is everything

Now that the Zoom and Microsoft Teams have replaced face-to-face meetings, tech companies are deploying computers and devices aimed at improving the digital streaming experience.

One of the problems many teleworkers struggle with is uneven Wi-Fi. Blame the old router or blame the fact that workers are sharing Wi-Fi with partners who work from home or children attending online school.

But CES companies are deploying potential answers. It’s a new generation product that operates in a new 6GHz spectrum called Wi-Fi 6E. Today’s Wi-Fi products operate in the overcrowded 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, but next-generation routers and devices that support Wi-Fi 6 should be faster, as they may not have to compete for space. .. It operates in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

Among the new products announced at CES is Netgear’s Nighthawk RAX E500 router, one of the first routers to support Wi-Fi 6E technology. The company charges devices to help families manage work, education, doctor consultation, and smart home technology without encountering WiFi issues. The $ 600 device, which looks like a stingray, can be pre-ordered, the company says.

Computers with Wi-Fi 6E capabilities are also being rolled out, including Dell’s new Latitude 9420 laptop with a variety of connectivity options, including Wi-Fi 6E, and many other additional features to help with the Zoom lifestyle.

Rahul Tikoo, Senior Vice President of Dell’s Client Products Group, said: “Many of us work from home and learn at home. Two kids are learning at home from a Zoom call.” Offering the best possible bandwidth during a Zoom call. I want to be able to do it. “

Some of the Latitude 9420s are what Tikoo calls “little joy.” For example, SafeShutter is what Dell calls “the industry’s first automatic webcam shutter.” That is, when it detects that your laptop is zooming or using another streaming service, the displayed physical shutter opens automatically. When complete, the shutter will close.

“These devices do some work for you,” Tikoo said. “We’re always worried.” “Hey, is my camera off?” You don’t have to click three more times to make sure the camera is on. “

Its laptop, which will be available later this spring, starts at $ 1,949.

Fix pitfalls in remote work

Slow Wi-Fi is only part of the problem of working from home. Unpleasant furniture, background noise from children and pets, and security are one of the other issues that can make remote work uncomfortable.

Ergonomics is getting a lot of attention at this year’s CES, and one company has announced what is called “the world’s first office chair with both heat and massage techniques.” X-HMT chairs are not cheap. Depending on the model, it ranges from about $ 900 to $ 1,250, which may be appealing to remote workers looking for more comfort in their current office setup.

“The introduction of heat and massage was developed before COVID, but there was an explosion in this home office,” said Tony Mazlish, CEO of Future Seating, which manufactures X-HMT. “What people are trying to do is keep track of their situation. Every day, they say,” I’ve been sitting in a kitchen chair for six months, so I’m done. ” ”

Mr. Mazurish said that when he began shipping chairs in November, he expected that about 20% of chair sales would come from X-HMT. Instead, he said it was about 40%.

Comfortable seating may be one solution to the challenge of remote work, but tech companies are deploying devices aimed at solving another major problem, background noise.

Headphones, earphones, and other audio devices that block background noise are not entirely new technologies. Bose and Apple’s AirPod Pro have long offered such products. However, noise canceling technology continues to improve. Some of the latest headphones and earphones are especially for remote workers, such as the Jabra Elite 85t, the brand’s first wireless earphone with active noise canceling. The $ 229 earphone has a “6 mic” mic feature (6 embedded mics) that could appeal to remote workers. Jabra says this provides “excellent call quality” for both the user and the other party.

A clean working environment is also in the minds of remote workers, and CES has many products aimed at disinfection and purification. Among them is Targus’ UV-C LED disinfectant light, which will sell for $ 299 this spring. The device sits on a desktop keyboard and runs every hour for 5 minutes, disinfecting the keyboard and mouse with sterile UV light. (There is a motion sensor that stops the machine when sitting at the desk.)

“PC Renaissance”

Dell, HP, and other computer makers are announcing new products at CES, selling them to remote workers who want to pick up and move while coordinating Zoom’s calling and high-speed processing requirements.

The PC market has grown exponentially as workers move to remote work. This brings new life and interest to ultra-lightweight, ultra-fast laptops and screens that can be connected to devices for crisp displays.

“PCs are in a big renaissance,” said Tikoo of Dell. “Third-quarter data shows that the industry grew at 23%, which we fully expect to continue.”

Among the new products is the HP EliteBook x360 1030 G8, an HP notebook for creative workers. It supports 5G broadband and is what HP calls the “best screen-to-body ratio” in its category. He also received the CES Innovation Award for design and engineering.

As part of that, Lenovo is debuting what is called the “thinnest ThinkPad ever.” ThinkPadX1 Titanium Yoga is 11mm thick and starts at $ 1,899. It’s also packed with speed features such as the 11th generation Intel Core processor and 5G wireless technology.

Another trend of the year: curved screens that can be connected to laptops and other devices to provide an immersive work experience. One such screen is Dell’s UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD Monitor. It is said to be the world’s first 40-inch ultra-wide curved WUHD monitor. It will go on sale later this month and will start at around $ 2,100.

One of the companies that doesn’t participate in CES is Apple, which traditionally has its own launch event twice a year. According to trade magazine MacRumors, Cupertino, California-based tech giants may announce new versions of AirPods and iMacs sometime this spring.

The pandemic turned the job over. The remote workspace is about to be upgraded.

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