In this time of uncertainty, one thing seems clear: The fall will require families to gear up. They’ll need to optimize their children’s virtual learning tools while upgrading their own Work From Anywhere capabilities in order to be as productive and efficient as possible.
From K-12 to higher education, schools are grappling with plans for the fall semester and developing contingencies for any eventuality. Splitting semesters between classroom time and e-learning either on college campuses or extending holiday breaks with virtual learning are among the ideas under consideration. K-12 schools are exploring the possibility of continuing virtual classes or adopting a hybrid approach that might involve a mix of online learning and staggered class schedules.
In much of the country, school snow days have become a thing of the past. It’s just another virtual learning day when inclement weather keeps students at home.
For families, that means creating home teaching space for elementary, middle and high school students continuing e-learning at least part of the time. And for some, that means parents will need to work from home a portion of the workweek whether or not their jobs require it.
Upgrading makeshift solutions from the past spring
Patchwork solutions comprised of hand-me-down notebooks hooked to external monitors dug out of the closet may have worked in makeshift home classrooms set up at dining room tables this past spring. But with one or more child learning at home and parents working remotely under the same roof those solutions aren’t going to cut it this fall.
Retailers need to position themselves to anticipate these challenges and bundle solutions for customers who sometimes don’t know what to ask.
Perhaps that means investing in a Wi-Fi-enabled printer shared across multiple users in the home. A single networked printer can serve a child in the family room, another in their bedroom and a parent working from a home office. One printer simplifies the process of maintaining a single set of printer inks and stocking reams of paper.
It may mean upgrading to a mesh Wi-Fi 6 network for maximum whole-house coverage, perhaps with the capability of prioritizing applications like video conferencing at key times of the day. With several people online at once during peak hours of the day, connectivity starts with a solid router, mesh network and strong Wi-Fi to connect everything together and avoid dropouts during critical work meetings.
Dedicating space for a true home office
Those who are dedicating spare bedrooms and other space as home offices are looking to equip them with the latest technologies. Where a home office may have once seemed ancillary, the picture changes when you’re working in it upwards of eight hours a day five days a week.
That almost certainly means one or more large monitors for keeping open email, spreadsheets and other work documents.
Then there are the practical considerations like cradles that allow users to continue using their phone while its charging. Additional chargers, adapters and docking stations can fundamental to a home office.
Unlike the office where you tend to get up to ask a co-worker a question or chat about last night’s ballgame, working from home means being saddled to a desk for hours on end. Wireless earbuds can be crucial because they permit standing up and moving around during a video call.
Lighting and sound come into play when considering a comfortable working environment. That can also mean ergonomic keyboards and mice, comfortable chairs and stand-up desks. Perhaps a wireless sound system or Bluetooth speaker.
White boards and grounding mats should be considered. Times like these require sanitizing devices for things like cellphones and eyeglasses.
Home security and juggling the work-life balance
It’s not hard to imagine the value of wireless front door security when you’re on an important conference call, whether that’s giving instructions to a delivery person or unlocking the door for a child who just got off the school bus.
Whether it’s providing technical solutions to the challenges your customers are facing or providing the answers to questions they have yet to even consider, retailers need to position themselves to be proactive.
Rethink what it takes to equip a home office to function as productively and intuitively as the workspace at work. Consider technologies that can help a child learning from home get the most out of their lesson plans.
The needs for fully equipped home offices and home learning environments are here to stay and will only continue to grow. Retailers who don’t address various consumer needs are at risk of leaving money on the table.