Tag Archives: Home PCs

Work-life balance – back to the future or the past? [TUPdate & MetaFacts Pulse Survey]

Progress toward work-life separation, until sudden integration

I will admit to having recently used more than one cliché about these being “unprecedented times” or even that we’re headed towards a “new normal”.

When it comes to work-life balance, what was “normal” is all-too “precedented”. For years, PCs have enabled American employees to bring work home. Enabling is not always a positive characteristic, depending on one’s perspective. No sooner had employees scaled down their work at home, minimizing their commingled work and personal activities, then along came COVID-19.

Employees using Home PCs for work – a recent history

For decades, employees have slowly separating their personal and work lives. Step by step, application by application, employees had been using their home PCs for fewer and fewer work-related tasks. In the MetaFacts 2015 wave of TUP/Technology User Profile, we found that one in three US employees regularly used their home PCs for work email, one in five to search for work-related financial or other information, and one in six to manage work appointments or share files. By our 2019 wave, we found that home PC usage levels for these work activities had dropped to around two-thirds of these levels.

Now that six in ten US employees are working from home, and with almost half (49%) using a home-owned PC, their home PC is getting a lot of work-related use.

In addition to the work activities employees had been avoiding on their home PC, the home or work PC employees are using at home to work is being utilized for an even wider range of activities than before. Well beyond checking work emails, employee communications have broadened well beyond emails to include video calls, group video meetings, and group chats.

Also, more than ever before, there is currently deeper collaboration through shared cloud storage systems and platforms.

The work-life balance challenge made more visible

With so many working from home, the work-life balance challenge is more visible. Six out of ten US employees are working from home and not going to a workplace, a rate we found remained effectively stable in each of our May 7th (61%), April 15th (59%) and earlier April 8th (61%) and MetaFacts Pulse survey waves that included this question.

Interestingly, how employees use their work-from-home PC is different from how they recently used their employer-provided work PC. Employees are spending less time in face-to-time meetings and using their PCs as a focal communicating point to get things done.

Less than a year ago, in our MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 wave, we found employees used their work PCs to do similar activities as we found in our May 7th MetaFacts Pulse survey, although to a greater extent. Employees are using their work-at-home PCs more intensively than they had been using their work PCs. For every type of work-related or personal activities, a higher share of employees is doing the activity than before.

The active life of the work-at-home PC

Among employees working from home in May, 84% are using a PC, whether owned by their employer (35%) or themselves (49%). Their work-related activities are strongly intermixed with their personal activities, except for personal activities with a work PC. Many employers that provide PCs, especially larger employers, lock down the capabilities of the work PC to restrict its use to certain work apps or activities. Also, employees have learned to separate their personal communication activities onto other platforms, especially to use their smartphones.

American workers choose different video platforms for video calls than meetings, and for personal versus work-related matters

US employees have continued to have work meetings – essentially moving from face-to-face meetings to video platforms. With widespread stay-at-home orders in place, video platforms for calls as well as for group meetings have grown in use among employees as well as the general online public, and for personal as well as work-related matters.

However, there is no one single dominant platform for all subjects and numbers of participants. The closest thing to a dominant platform is Zoom, with Skype in the wings. Zoom and Skype are in the top-ranked platforms for both personal and work matters, as well as for calls and multi-person meetings.

Consumer-focused WhatsApp is top-ranked for personal use and among the main platforms being used for work video conferences, likely a surprise to many company’s IT/IS managers.

Corporate-oriented Microsoft Teams and WebEx are ranked within work-related calls and conferences.

Fewer video conferencing platforms for work than for personal

There appear to be more standards in place for work-related videoconferences. While the mean number of platforms in use is close to 3 for personal calls and conferences, as well as for work-related video calls, the mean is closer to 2 platforms for work video conferencing platforms.

Today’s long tail for work video conferencing platforms

The largest number of American workers (37%) use only one video conferencing platform for work-related issues. The rest (63%) are juggling many. This reflects the current state of confusion following the rapid move to working at home. Employers are likely to reduce the number of platforms used, at least within their companies. Standardization helps employees to be more efficient, and can also help employers to strike more favorable pricing with platform providers. However, many outward-facing employees have the same challenge as consumers – finding a common platform when communicating with others who have their own different standards.

About this TUPdate

The information referred to in this special TUPdate is based on independent research conducted by MetaFacts: three waves of MetaFacts Pulse surveys and two waves of TUP/Technology User Profile.

The projections of total US employees are based on TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 conducted among 8,060 respondents and the TUP/Technology User Profile 2015 wave conducted among 2,896 employed respondents. Also, this TUPdate included results from the May 7th, April 15th, and April 8th, 2020 waves of the MetaFacts Pulse Employee survey.

Resources

Current TUP/Technology User Profile subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. Subscribers to the MetaFacts Employees Pulse surveys may request the supporting information and can make additional inquiries. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP or the MetaFacts Pulse surveys, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Cloud Storage, Communication, TUP 2015, TUP 2019, TUPdate, Usage Patterns

Parents sharing their home technology – or not [TUPdate, MetaFacts Pulse Survey]

By Dan Ness, Principal Analyst, MetaFacts, April 24, 2020

Busy parents are busier than ever

Parents are busier than ever with the many stay at home conditions and school closures across the US now.

Two days ago (April 22, 2020), we surveyed 322 online adults with children 18 or younger. We asked them about the computing devices in their homes, how they share them, what they plan to buy in the next few months, and how an additional home PC might affect their home.

Most parents say they have enough computing devices at home. Nearly two-thirds (61%) have as many or more PCs or tablets than people. Many parents said an additional personal PC is not really wanted, as most (35%) say it would make no difference and feel they have enough (12%).

Those few who would welcome a new home computer value several benefits. One-sixth (16%) expect more efficiency – getting more done with less effort, whether it is more schoolwork or for work from home. Almost as many (14%) expect they would have to share the PCs they have less often. They predict there would be fewer fights between their children. (and who wouldn’t appreciate that!).

Yours, mine, and mine

With the many PCs they have in their home, we asked how and if they share them amongst themselves.

More than half (55%) share PCs, with higher priority given to schoolwork (34%) and working from home (25%). Another half (48%) do not regularly share PCs.

So much to choose from

American parents have been the biggest buyers of home technology for the last three decades of tracking them as part of TUP/Technology User Profile. As of our April 22, 2020 survey, 61% of adults with children in the home have as many or more computing devices (desktops, notebooks, or tablets) than people in the home.

Although many of the reasons have shifted over the years, a common thread throughout this time has been caring for children’s education, household entertainment, communication (think email and social networking), and basics such as personal finances. More recently, with the COVID-19 crisis and so many parents staying at home with their kids, there is an enhanced need for many to support their children’s education with homeschooling. Plus, many are now working from home and so now content for the same devices.

Hey kids – be quiet!

Over the next 3 months, as many intend to buy a notebook PC as buy a tablet. Mobility is key, even if currently it means moving from room to room instead of traveling on a plane, train, or automobile.

Computing devices rank strongly, with 39% plan to buy at least one computing device, whether it is a notebook (21%), tablet (20%) or desktop (12%).

Considering planned items individually, managing sound is important while staying at home. Headsets/headphones top the list of planned items, at 34%. Although our survey did not specifically ask this question, having been a parent of teenagers, it is likely that not everyone in the house shares the same musical tastes, much less the same volume levels. Plus, many of the top over-the-ear headsets include noise-cancelling features that could come in handy for either children or their parents. Speakers are the 2nd-mentioned planned purchase, at 22%. These may be for those fortunate enough to have a living space with enough space or walls.

One in six parents (17%) cited their intention to buy a printer. That is not surprising, since in our previous TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 survey we measured printer penetration at 68% in the US, slightly down from prior years. Many new homeschoolers are undoubtedly realizing that a printer is vital for children’s homework, for creative projects, and for working from home.

Interestingly, among homes with children, the ones with strongest purchase plans overall are those that already have computing devices than people. There is a good amount of tech-accumulation in the works, especially among those with the most tech. So much for the tidying up and minimizing lessons of Marie Kondo.

About this TUPdate

MetaFacts conducted independent research to gather the results used in this TUPdate. The projections of total US adults with children are based on TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 conducted among 8,060 respondents. Also, this TUPdate included results from the April 22nd, 2020 wave of the MetaFacts Parent Study, the first wave of a special study focused on the quickly changing situation. This wave included responses from 322 online adults with children age 18 or younger in their home.

Resources

Current TUP/Technology User Profile subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. Subscribers to the MetaFacts Parent Study may request the supporting information and can make additional inquiries. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP or the MetaFacts Parent Study, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Desktops, Households, Market Research, Notebooks, Printers, Tablets, TUPdate

Work from home or stay at home – ready or not! (and supported or not) [TUPdate]

As a long-time information worker, remote worker, and road warrior, I’ve learned to be flexible, resourceful, and use technology to my advantage. Whether I’ve been crunching numbers or presenting results from a café in Paris, my office, home, or somewhere in between, I’ve carried an evolving assortment of tech devices so I can stay connected and work.

However, there are many people who haven’t had this experience, and may not be prepared or supported.

This TUPdate investigates several groups of consumers and workers who will soon be encountering changes in their use of technology devices and services. With the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shifts taking place now, many are not technologically ready for a work-at-home or stay-at-home experience.

Although a home PC isn’t a requirement to get online, it’s still the most widely used and most-useful device for many activities.Chart comparing work activities by device type

Among one key group – information workers – one of the most tech-savvy and tech-reliant groups, a work PC is the cornerstone of their work activity. Even though most also have smartphones, home PCs, and tablets, there are only a few work activities done more often on any other type of device. Smartphones, despite the many apps developed for them and their constant presence, only surpass work PCs for making phone and video calls. Tablets, which are increasingly becoming PC-like (and not only because of Apple’s marketing), aren’t being used similarly to PCs for work activities.

Information workers are only one of several groups to stand out as not having home PCs and being the most able to benefit from them. For this analysis, I’ve used TUP/Technology User Profile to look at three groups:

  • Information workers – workers who have a work PC
  • Adult students – attending a college, university, or other learning institution full-time or part-time
  • Elders – age 55 or older

Information workers

Information workers as a group are the least ready to be working remotely. While some employers provide work notebooks that could potentially be used at home, most don’t. Forty percent of US information workers and 58% of German information workers are self-supported, having no work notebook but having a home PC. Even higher, 54% of US information workers and 65% of German information workers are unsupported information workers, having no work notebook.Size of key groups working or staying at home

While it’s possible that some employers will simply have employees bring their work desktops home for the duration of their time working at home, I expect that not to be widespread.

Students

A smaller share of students than information workers have no home PC. Among American students, this share (29%) is larger than among students in Germany. Although some assignments and online classes and may be conducted using a smartphone or tablet, I expect many will require the larger screens or horsepower of a PC. Tablets aren’t an immediate answer at hand: only 26% of students without home PCs use a tablet.

Elders

Elders are another group likely to remain at home. Although there are regional differences about the age level of persons mandated to remain at home, those requirements are changing quickly. For this analysis, I set the bar low for typical definitions of being an elder or senior – at 55 or older.

Within elders, I also investigated a particularly vulnerable group – elders living alone. This group is one of the most connected groups of all these groups, at least with respect to the penetration of home PCs. Only 5% of American elders and 2% of German elders don’t have a home PC.

Looking ahead

The conditions for COVID-19 pandemic are uncertain. I expect most employers to support their information workers with additional technology, even though historically that’s only been the case for the minority of employers.

For self-supporting information workers that already have a home PC, this employer support is most likely to come in the form of expanded software licensing to support employees that need special software to get their job done, and remote access software to allow employees to reach their office-located desktops, servers, or networks. In many cases, especially among larger employers or technically sophisticated employers, new support will include the requisite VPN and security software to help protect the employer’s confidential information. For those self-supporting information workers with home PCs that are too old or underpowered to support the employee’s needs, some employers may order and provide work PCs for their employee’s homes. Other employers may rely on the employees to personally obtain a home PC so the employee can continue to work.

For unsupported information workers that don’t have a home PC, I expect most employers to provide a work PC or to encourage or to reimburse their employees for a home PC. As for self-supporting information workers, additional software, connectivity, and likely printing capabilities will be needed as well.

This is a quickly changing time, and it’s currently unknown how long the stay-at-home/work-from-home provisions will remain in place. However, over the last two decades, technology users have shown a strong amount of habit energy and inertial. What they do with technology changes slowly, even while there are rapid shifts in the devices and services they use – and where they use them!

Inertia simultaneously saves and disrupts technological transformation. Scanners and printers with integrated scanners have been at the heart of the paper to digital change. So much that was paper is now electronic. The “paperless office” has been a hyped cliché for decades, and yet is truer with each passing year. Although electronic signatures have been legal for over 20 years in most countries, and digital copies are increasingly acceptable in many cases, the migration from paper to electronic lumbers along gradually. Consumers and businesses alike continue to need to convert hardcopy documents and images into electronic form.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from the TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 edition which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Basic cell phones, Cloud Storage, Communication, Desktops, Graphics and Image, Information and Search, Market Research, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUPdate, Usage Patterns, Video calling

The Second Life of Home PCs – TUPdate

Home PCs enjoy a longer life than in the hands of their original owners, as many are ultimately enjoyed by someone else. This is more strongly true in developed countries than in developing ones.

For each of the last five years, one in 9 home PCs in the U.S. active installed base were used/refurbished home PCs. In the UK and Germany, the rate has been similar. In three major developing countries – China, India, and Brazil – the rate is much lower. This is based on the most recent five waves of MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile, from 2015 through 2019, developed through surveys of 11,625 respondents in 2019 and similar sample sizes in other waves.

Home PC reuse rates like other tech devices

Home PCs aren’t the only used/refurbished tech devices in active use. Across the US, China, and especially Germany, basic cell phones/feature phones have a high share acquired from a prior user. At a similar rate to home PCs, 11% of US basic cell phones in active use are used/refurbished. In Germany, this rate is one in six, the highest rate among these countries. The lower rate (8%) in China can be attributed in part to the more recent adoption of smartphones as a user’s first mobile phone, so there are fewer feature phones available for reuse.

Tablets

Compared to home PCs, tablets have a lower rate of being used/refurbished. For Android tablets, one issue has reduced longevity – newer operating system versions and older versions and devices not being supported for long. Some tablet manufacturers have maintained a short service life, making used Android tablets less useful to a potential new owner. Apple has taken a different approach, extending the life of older iPads with an operating system that spans a wide range. Even with the latest version, iOS 13, released in 2019, Apple released a new fork for iPads named iPadOS which is backward compatible through earlier iPads such as iPad Air 2 (released in 2014).

Smartphones

Smartphones have lower reuse rates than home PCs, tablets, or basic feature phones. This is due to several factors. From the customer demand perspective, many smartphone users crave newer models, as manufacturers continue to innovate and entice customers to upgrade. Also, as carriers continue to update their networks, some older equipment is retired or deprecated, making affected mobile phones less useful.

Who uses the used?

There’s a strong economic factor at play dividing users of new and used/refurbished technology devices. The highest rate of used/refurbished home PC use is among currently unemployed Americans. In the US, this rate is 20% of the home PCs in active used by the unemployed. The used/refurbished home PC rate is also strong among homemakers and part-time employees. Unlike the unemployed, homemakers, or even part-time employees, a higher-than-average share of full-time employees use their home PCs for work-related activities, from creating presentations to being involved in group chats, web-based group meetings, and video calls.

Whose Home PCs lasts the longest?

The use of used/refurbished home PCs appears to be more related to country and culture than to the specific brand.

Dell has the highest rate of used/refurbished home PCs actively used by American adults, representing 12% of the Dell home installed base. Acer’s rate closely follows with 11%, and HP’s and Lenovo’s rates are 10%. In Germany, Dell also ranks highest, matching Lenovo, each with 14%. In China, the overall reuse rates do not vary strongly by brand.

Looking ahead

It’s unlikely we’ll see major changes in the way PC makers offer refurbished home PCs. For most manufactures, programs have been in place for years mostly to manage overstock and asset recovery of returned PCs, and less to spur demand among consumers for more used/refurbished home PCs. Apple is exceptional, in that it offers trade-in value for a wide range of their products, from iPhones and iPads to Macs. This is a prominent part of their positioning as being an environmentally aware technology maker.

Consumer demand is unlikely to change quickly. Consumers will continue to find a new home for their home PCs as they buy additional ones, either within their own families, neighborhoods, or friends.

About this TUPdate

The analysis in this TUPdate is based on results drawn from multiple waves of TUP (Technology User Profile), including the 2019 edition which is TUP’s 37th continuous wave. This survey-based study details the use of technology products by a carefully-selected and weighted set of respondents drawn to represent online adults.

Resources
Current TUP subscribers may request the supporting TUP information used for this analysis or for even deeper analysis. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts.

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Filed under Desktops, Market Research, Mobile Phones, Notebooks, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUPdate

Home PC Trends – Highlights from TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 – US

Home PCs are very much alive and being well-used. Home PC usage rates are stable, both in overall penetration and in the number being used.

Nearly all online American adults regularly use a home PC, yet they see them differently. Younger Americans see them as adding to their entertainment, while for older adults it helps them get things done, communicate, and shop. Home PCs have evolved from being a primary focus of American technology life to being one of many devices. Usage patterns and form factor choices vary; by user age, household composition, choice of OS ecosystems, and other factors.

This MetaFacts Highlights Report looks at the major trends in home PC usage in the US and examines how users have changed in both their levels of home PC use and activities. Also, it examines PC trends with respect to the broadened use of alternative devices. Further, it investigates differences by user age, presence of children, OS of other devices, and other factors.

The source for this analysis is MetaFacts TUP/Technology User Profile, with results from waves 2019 and earlier, all based on surveys of from 7,326 to 8,060 online adults in the US.

Highlights Report Contents

  • Home PC Penetration
  • Number of Home PCs
  • Number of Home PCs in use by User Age Group
  • Average Age of US Home PCs
  • Age of Home PC by User Age
  • Top 10 Activities for Home PCs
  • Top 10 Activities for Smartphones
  • Main Activity Gaps and Overlaps on Home PCs and Smartphones
  • Age-Skewed Home PC Activities
  • Number of Home PCs and Presence of Children
  • Smartphone, Home PC, and Tablet use by User Age Group
  • Home PC Operating Systems
  • Home PC Form Factors by Brand
  • Home PC Form Factor by User Age Group
  • Home PC OS Ecosystems of Connected Devices
  • Average Age of Home PCs by Brand
  • Home PC Activities by Brand
  • Number of Home PCs by Brand
  • What’s Ahead for Home PCs

How to obtain the results

  • Current subscribers to TUP/Technology User Profile may request the full Highlights Report, supporting TUP information used for this analysis, or even deeper analysis
  • For example, clients may request similar results outside the US, or within your chosen market subset
  • For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP, please contact MetaFacts
Activities for Smartphones and Home PCs – identifying gaps and overlaps

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Filed under Behaviors and Activities, Communication, Desktops, Entertainment, Households, Information and Search, Market Research, Notebooks, Operating systems, Smartphones, Tablets, TUP 2019, TUP Highlights Report, TUPdate