Hybrid Work Drives Office Placements

Investments in the home office support the market longer term



Deborah Hawkins


Ever since the pandemic forced most office knowledge workers into the home office, the office equipment industry has been in turmoil. The basis upon which the industry built its business model was forced into massive levels of under-utilization. Thanks to strong vaccine roll-out in major markets and the desire to socialize and collaborate with other people, however, we now see signs of recovery—albeit in new constellations.


This year’s annual Office Hardware Forecasts for the US and Western Europe hinge on two major market developments: the remote worker and the continued remote working and planning for the hybrid office.


It is clear that the remote worker is here to stay. The longevity of the pandemic, as well as the autonomy experienced by many home workers the past 15 months, points to levels of future remote working as high as 30% compared to an average of 10% pre-pandemic. Investment in the home will continue way into 2022, with A4 all-in-one inkjet devices leading the charge along with e-commerce sales. Some revival of black-and-white laser is expected to support those high-volume users in home offices.


A4 Printers for the Home Office Give Placements a Boost in the US


The future office configuration is yet to be determined, but we already know that many companies are discussing change. A recent survey of European channel resellers stated that more than 50% of their customers are actively planning to change their print environment. That change is heavily focused on facilitating a work environment that allows for innovation, creativity, and collaboration, as well as social distancing. One of the strongest reasons for returning to the office is the technology provided, and that will shape the success of office vendors into the future.


Everything that A3 devices stood for—high productivity, high volume, and a centralized location—is a tough fit where the requirement is to keep shared facilities to a minimum and allow social distancing. Added to that is the attractiveness of A4 devices, whose page price has gotten much closer to that of A3 recently. Keypoint Intelligence expects to see a surge of down streaming of devices contrary to recent market trends, whereby the focus will be on a higher number of total devices where page volume is spread across many lower-speed devices.


A4 Devices Lead the Charge in the WE Office


However, hybrid is not only about work location. Hybrid is also about smoothly transitioning from paper to digital, and the transformation of many job roles going forward is the future for the imaging industry. Being able to connect the dots between disparate IT systems and enabling print, scan, and copy, as required within a predominantly digital workspace, is what all companies need help with. Industry trends suggest that larger companies are going to change their dynamics first—probably because they tend to have the most money to invest—but, in the same vein, they also have the greatest potential to save.


Looking to facilitate change is the new focus for the office equipment industry. The future is bright if you are brave enough for the challenge.


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