If any sentence starts with ‘the biggest challenge the world has faced’, the reader immediately knows that what lies ahead is discussion around the impact of COVID-19 writes Xavier Nel, head of product at CloudGate.

The pandemic is on every mind, board meeting and strategy. It has reshaped the world of work and redefined how organisations manage people and the future. Today, as millions of people and thousands of organisations navigate the complexities of working from home, it is time to move away from thinking of this as the ‘new normal’. It is time instead to optimise today for an uncertain tomorrow.

One area where organisations can fundamentally support their people is in the technology that they use to manage their remote working and home offices. The steady evolution of technology and capability over the past ten years has stood the entire planet in good stead during the lockdown. With cloud services, accessible online conferencing solutions, and virtual servers and desktops, organisations have been able to leap into fully equipped remote offices from kitchen tables, bar stools and (for some) comfortable sofas. Still, the ubiquity of the cloud still needs the stability of hardware and this technology has also evolved.

The devices that employees use to access virtual conferences and cloud platforms need to be stable and efficient. While mobile devices can be used to access some services, and tablets and laptops are easy to procure, it’s important to provide people with an end-point device that’s as comfortable, capable and easy to use as a traditional desktop PC as this can have a major impact on their productivity. Seemingly small differences can cause people immense stress, especially if they need to work for extended periods of time.

A laptop with a smaller monitor limits on screen usability and increases visual strain, a tiny keyboard can minimise accuracy and increase time spent on simple tasks as does using a touchpad versus a mouse. Laptops are harder to setup in a way that is ergonomic and comfortable to sit in front of and work on for long periods.

In the heightened tensions of the current crisis, these small problems can feel very big. Right now, it’s crucial that companies consider the wellness of their people as they work in complex, remote conditions. They need to provide them with the right tools so they can connect seamlessly, work effortlessly, and build home offices that help them feel empowered and part of a functional team. This can make all the difference between an efficient and happy employee and one that becomes frustrated and unproductive owing to the challenges that they face.

Mini is massive in remote working world

The mini PC has become a huge player in the remote working world. Most people tend to have some form of home computing set-up with a monitor and an external keyboard and mouse, so if the company slots in a capable mini PC, they are handing over the final component for the perfect virtual office. This gives employees a ‘work PC’ and a ‘home PC’ option – they can use one for the business and one for their home life. This neatly sidesteps any of the issues that come with using a PC for both parts of life – there is a whole new Pandora’s box that opens up when mixing personal and business content on one device – and gives people a sense of control over their workloads and content.

A mini PC is designed to deliver professional end point capabilities. It can connect over Wi-Fi or directly with an Ethernet connection, it can connect to an external keyboard and mouse, and it works with an external monitor or even two. Users can simply plug their accessories into the device and start working. For those employees that don’t have a monitor or keyboard and mouse, these can be also purchased for them at minimal cost to company and will cost less, together with a reasonably priced mini PC, than an entry level laptop or desktop. Mini PCs have no moving parts and are thus typically more reliable than most basic laptops, and they are often a lot faster thanks to their use of SSDs.

Mini PC’s use very little power, saving on the additional electricity costs of having to run a computer from home for extend periods of time. This low power consumption also makes it much easier to implement cost effective power redundancy solutions such as a small UPS to cater for electricity outages.  It’s small size also makes it very easy to transport, install and maintain reducing a businesses overall cost to implement and support their remote users.

The mini PC can fit into most small spaces quite easily which allows for home workers to create tidy and dedicated office spaces without impacting on their living space too much. For many people who don’t have a lot of home space to work with, this can really help them when it comes to creating a home office.

These fully functioning, high-end mini PCs tick the business boxes of agility, efficiency, increased productivity, and empower the employee to work and live in a way that is optimum for them. This is, perhaps, the most important thing in these complex times, giving employees the support they need so they can work to the best of their abilities in challenging times.

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