Are you reading this from home? That makes you one of the 391 million of online adults working remotely we found in our TUP/Technology User Profile survey across 6 countries. If you are like the average employee around the world, you are also reading this on your own PC, tablet, or smartphone, and not one provided by your employer.
Home PCs are the new work PC.
Insights professionals in the tech industry already know from personal experience about working remotely. It was not too long ago that many researchers would be balancing notebooks on their knees in darkened focus group viewing rooms while reaching for another M&M or two. (Not that there’s anything wrong with M&M’s). However, most of the world’s employees do not have experience as remote workers, nor are they set up properly.
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.
Two out of three employees suddenly working from home are not well-supported by their employers, at least not with their technology.
Among the largest US employers, 18.6 million employees working at home are doing so without a work PC. This is almost half (47%) of all US work-at-home employees without a work PC. Pre-pandemic, firms with 1,000 or more employees provided 20.6 million of their employees with at least one work desktop or notebook PC. This measure is based on our TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 wave with 3,935 employed respondents. As of April 15, 2015, 30.3 million online American employees are still working for these large companies with 1,000 or more employees. Of these, 11.7 million employees are working from home with a work PC.
Most employees are effectively subsidizing their employers by using their own personal home PCs, tablets, or working at home without any computing device.
Large companies aren’t the only ones not supporting employees’ technology needs. Midsize companies have 13.6 million employees working at home without a work PC. Midsize companies (50 to 999 employees), have fewer employees in total (32.9 million nationwide) than large companies, of which 21.6 million were working from home as of April 15th, 2020.
Small companies, while smaller in total number, have the highest share of work-at-home employees without a work PC. Their 7.4 million work-at-home employees without a work PC are more than twice as many as their 3.1 million working at home with an employer-provided PC.
While employees are still employed and working at home, it’s important that they have the resources they need to get their work done. Employees who already had an employer-provided PC ostensibly need one while they’re working from home.
Larger firms are more likely to have IT/IS departments and computing infrastructure and support built around the physical workplace. Most smaller companies need the same capabilities and if they’re not in-house resources, then they rely on multitude of consultants and VARs/VADs. While remote workers are not a new phenomenon for employers of any size, hardly any were ready for the recent rapid shift due to the pandemic.
Long before the pandemic, employers have long relied on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) where employees pay for many of their own devices – from PCs to smartphones. I expect the sudden work-at-home shift to inspire some employers to better provide for their employees. Besides building goodwill, this will benefit employers by having a more consistent set of configurations to manage which will, in turn, help employees to be more productive and will reduce employer’s support needs. However, based on experience, I expect inertia to continue – with most employers relying on employees to foot the bill for their at-home work technology and its support.
About this TUPdate
MetaFacts conducted independent research to gather the results used in this TUPdate. The projections of total US employees by employer size are based on TUP/Technology User Profile 2019 conducted among 8,060 respondents, of which 3,935 were employed full-time or part-time. Also, this TUPdate included results from the April 15th, 2020 wave of the MetaFacts Work From Home Study, the third weekly wave of a special study focused on the quickly changing situation. This wave included responses from 396 employees working at home.
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 Work At Home Study may request the supporting information and can make additional inquiries. For more information about MetaFacts and subscribing to TUP or the MetaFacts Work At Home Study, please contact MetaFacts.
Do older notebooks have a life, and which market segment has the highest concentration?
Smaller companies – those with fewer than 100 employees – have the highest share of Used/Refurbished Notebook PCs in use – 17% or one in six. In businesses with 100 to 999 employees, the rate is lowest at 7%, and slightly higher for employees in organizations of 1,000 or more employees: 11%.
These results are based on the most recent wave of Technology User Profile, the TUP 2014 edition. More can be found in the PCs chapter. The large-scale survey is in its 32nd continuous year, documenting and detailing the full scope of technology adoption and use.
For this MetaFAQs analysis, MetaFacts is sharing a portion of the answers to selected survey questions: specifically the PCs in active use, and whether the PC was acquired new or used/refurbished. The full TUP service includes further related details on the types and brands of PCs, segments and profiles of those who use PCs more than Smartphones and vice versa, detailed activities within each category and mapped to each PC, and much more. The TUP survey gathers comprehensive details about the active usage of many consumer electronics products, including Printers, e=Book Readers, Smartphones, Basic cell phones, and many other connected devices.
In addition to tracking PCs, Technology User Profile details the many devices which online adults use to regularly connect to the Internet. The survey-based research details what people do with their devices, where they spend their technology dollars, and how often they update (or don’t update) their technology products.
Technology companies who want to know more about technology adoption, wireless technology, or about their current or future customers can contact MetaFacts to learn how to subscribe to the rich resources of Technology User Profile.
MetaFAQs – Frequently Asked Questions with answers supported by the facts: the MetaFacts.
Extensive information about the personal computer market is available in TUP – Technology User Profile.
Despite the on-the-go lifestyle of the technology consumer, there’s still a sense that “home is where the heart is.” It seems that home and work desktop PCs, while no longer the only option, still have a place in the tech-race. As mobile devices develop more PC-like qualities, and as desktops grow out of clunkerhood, each spurs the other on to top the market.
Below are a few examples of questions addressed in TUP related to the PC market. The full TUP service enables drilling down beyond the answers to these questions to identify which other technologies and services are disruptive and to profile which market segments are and aren’t adopting. TUP is much more than a one-dimensional market view or opinion piece, providing access to answers to the following questions as well as many others.
Primacy: What is the center of the user’s world? Their home PC, work PC, mobile phone? Is it one device or many?
Longevity: Are mobile computers used for more or fewer years than desktops? If so, what’s the difference, and who uses them longest?
Which combination of tech devices is the most popular today? How large is each segment? Who are in each segment? Which direction are they headed with their buying plans?
Which PC brands dominate the PC market? How does this vary within brand segment?
How does the life and lifespan of a PC vary by form factor? Does it vary by brand? By user segment?
Are Apple’s retail shoppers already the Apple-faithful or is Apple drawing in the unconverted? Who are these shoppers?
Most-mobile customers – where do they go and what do they do?
Who’s busiest – desktop users or notebook users? How do their profiles differ?
How are smartphones challenging or complementing mobile PCs? Which market segments are coalescing around which platforms?
How much have PC users integrated PCs into their personal lives?
Used/Refurbished PCs – who buys them?
How does the life and lifespan of a PC vary by form factor? Does it vary by brand? By user segment? By tech spending behavior?
What are the leading PC brands among Hewlett Packard printer users? How does this differ for the other major printer vendors?
Do PC users behave differently as they gain more experience? Are Newbies or Vets mostly focusing on certain activities versus a broad mixture?
What channels do people use for buying PCs? How about printers and printer supplies? How do Best Buy customers compare to Office Depot of Staples shoppers?
Age-related market adoption – which products and services are age-skewed? Which are skewed toward older rather than younger users?
What’s the likely near-term outcome for an OS upgrade? Which market segments have the oldest OS?
Who is buying the highest-end PCs? Are there brand differences? What else do users buy and what else do they use?
How is HP’s PC penetration within the overall HP footprint?
Do mobile PC users print differently than desktop users? Do the more-mobile use more or fewer printers? Do the more-mobile print different content?
How does PC and online usage vary across segments such as workplace company size or industry?
Entertainment primacy – what is the center of the user’s home entertainment world? Is it one device or many? Which devices and services, and among which segments?
What is the mix of communication products and services – landline, wireless, email, IM, etc. – by segment?
What do most people do with their mobile phone as compared to their PC? Which user segments align with which platforms?
Which tech buyers focus more on retail than shopping online and vice versa?
Which operating systems dominate within which segments?
Is it really one to a customer? How often are PCs shared? Which market segments use more than one PC?
How do online shopping activities differ between Hewlett Packard, Apple and Dell customers?
Tech adoption cycles may not be as fast as the tech-focused think. How many and which users still use older tech products?
Are PC users primarily accessing the Internet at home, in the workplace, using friends or neighbor’s computers, or in public places such as libraries or cybercafés? Which users use other’s PCs and which have many to choose from? Are smartphones or netbooks changing this?
Which key tech devices are consumers planning to buy? Which segments show the strongest plans and how does this compare to their tech spending?
Do Apple users “grow up and give up” their Apple? When do they get one again, if they do?
What are the attitudes about texting and driving? Who is most supportive and who is mostly opposed?
To what extent have Dell and Lexmark penetrated the printer market? Which segments have they penetrated? What is Hewlett Packard’s share among Dell computer owners and Dell or Lexmark printer owners and has this changed?
Are Apple’s best customers really unique?
How do consumer attitudes about purchasing technology differ between Apple, Hewlett Packard and Dell customers?
Who spends the most hours online?
How has the division of work vs. personal use of technology products continued to blur?
How prominent is Home PC renting versus outright purchase?
How are users communicating, given all their communication options?
Who are the biggest tech spenders? Which segments spend the most and least for devices? How does spending for tech services differ?
What is the impact on privacy concerns on use of social networking?
How strong is name-brand dominance?
What do users sync or “store” in the cloud? How do users share images – social networking sites or photo-specific sites? Which users are the most active?
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