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New HP hardware directed at remote work

HP hardware releases are centered on 'micro mobility' around the home, enabling remote employees to be productive in spaces not designed for work.

Recent HP hardware announcements, such as a portable secondary monitor and laptops with 5G and 4G LTE capability, emphasized the importance of productivity while working from home.

HP Inc. announced new EliteBook laptops and EliteDesk PCs and monitors in late May, discussing the challenges posed by the current stay-at-home orders and how enterprises could overcome them.

Cory McElroy, director of product management for HP's commercial notebooks, said the line between an employee's home and work lives has disappeared. Enterprise tech, he said, has to be flexible enough to operate in a home environment that was not designed to be a workplace.

Andrew HewittAndrew Hewitt

Forrester Research analyst Andrew Hewitt said the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic caught organizations off guard and they're now working to catch up. IT admins are starting to think more broadly about the technology needed to sustain work-from-home measures, including network speed and dual-screen setups.

"A lot of the organizations that I'm working with are very much struggling to get that holistic technology experience in someone's home office," he said. "They typically think [that] a person needs a device, and they need access to video conferencing capability, but they often don't think about the broader ecosystem of technology."

Meeting remote work needs

The home environment, McElroy said, presents challenges that don't exist in the office setting; at home, workers must battle for bandwidth and other potentially scarce resources, like quiet spaces. As such, he said, hardware must accommodate "micro mobility," or a user's ability to pick up, move to another space in the home and resume work as the situation dictates.

The company announced several new laptops in its EliteBook line, including the HP EliteBook x360 1030 G7 and HP EliteBook x360 1040 G7 computers, both with 5G capability. HP also made note of new laptops with optional 4G LTE capability, like the HP EliteBook 835 G7, HP EliteBook 845 G7 and HP EliteBook 855 G7.

The 5G and 4G LTE-capable EliteBook laptops enable micro mobility while ensuring reliable connectivity and can bypass slower home-network bandwidth, McElroy said. The computers' anti-glare displays, he added, make it easier for employees to work outside, in sunlight.

Aaron Slessinger, director of commercial displays planning at HP, said 38% of employees working from home needed an extra monitor, according to an HP survey of IT decision-makers and end users, but he noted that 51% of remote workers don't have a dedicated workspace. The HP E14 G4 Portable Monitor, he said, provided an extra 14-inch display without sacrificing mobility. The monitor is connected and powered through one USB-C cable and has a kickstand so it can remain upright independently.

Opportunities in the market

Forrester's Hewitt said the rushed adoption of work-from-home policies has led to a disconnect between the home and office experiences.

"For a while, people thought this pandemic was only going to be a couple weeks long," he said. "It seems like a lot of organizations are pushing people out longer."

As it may take a long time before offices resume normal operations, he said, IT admins should consider how tools like monitors, keyboards and mice might best be deployed at home to ensure optimal remote-work productivity.

Holger MuellerHolger Mueller

Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, agreed that IT must take a holistic approach to provisioning a remote worker.

"IT needs to support a remote workforce better and more ergonomically," he said, raising the possibility that companies consider hardware, like a second monitor, in addition to such things like furniture in ensuring employee productivity at home.

Eric KleinEric Klein

Independent analyst Eric Klein said HP was well-positioned to meet the enterprise need to support remote work. Demand for laptops in general, he said, has been high, and new technology might help fill the new challenges posed by working at home.

"As the workforce moves to be more remote, and more of us are working remotely, a lot of times our home networks are not robust enough or reliable enough," he said, adding that 4G LTE and 5G-capable laptops could ensure continued connectivity even when one's home network is less than ideal.

Given the number of improvised work-at-home spaces such as a dining room table, a portable monitor may be an ideal solution for remote workers in need of a second display, Klein said.

"That's actually a very shrewd move. [HP] realizes there are a lot of people working at home who don't have a second monitor" but want one, he said.

Klein said he anticipated hardware companies would look at new ways of addressing the work-from-home niche as the situation persists.

"There are opportunities for a broader range of hardware than we've seen quite yet," he said.

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