Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, work from home (WFH) practices became the most common norm for companies and businesses.
Almost a year after, many employees are still working from home. But some offices and workplaces have started to go back to working from the office as various practices return back to normal.
In a chat with Technext, Morgan Mierke, Head of Business, East, West and Central Africa at Logitech expressed that he doesn’t think working from home, working remotely or working from anywhere is ending in the next 2-3 years.
He explained that if it does, it will most probably a hybrid model. A trend where 50% of employees are going to work on certain days and the other 50% that aren’t in the office are working from home
Has WFH been a successful experiment?
In March last year when the world transitioned to remote work, there were several questions bordering on if the new model will be successful.
After several months of using the model, Morgan shares his thoughts on the WFH model. According to him, WFH is improving productivity and is great from a team collaboration perspective but from an emotional team perspective, it’s lacking.
“I think productivity will improve, I have been stuck in Lagos traffic several times where I am running late for a meeting and I can’t get there. However, I think the exchange of ideas that are sparked by having a conversation over a cup of coffee in a graphics design or journalistic company like Technext is missing.”
Longer Work hours
According to a study carried out in US, Canada and Australia, people are working 2.5 hours longer every day. That’s like 12.5 hours a week.
Morgan agrees that people are working a lot longer while working from home. He explained that it takes longer to conclude business when working from home. “You end up having 3 or 4 video calls whereas if you are having a physical meeting you have a 2-3 hour meeting and the business is concluded,” he commented.
He also added that working longer doesn’t mean you are productive.
I am already 4 hours into my working day and I have already had more than 4 virtual calls. Certainly, I am in contact with everybody but am I really productive. Well, that’s up for debate.Morgan Mierke, Head of Business, East, West and Central Africa at Logitech
What you need (Gadgets) to work from home
Before the pandemic, most people have done some form of remote working like checking their emails or quickly receiving a virtual call at home using their laptop mic and camera.
Morgan believes those days of just simply using a laptop are gone. And since nothing is changing anytime soon, a fully setup workspace is needed at home.
“I think the way work has evolved, having been stuck at home for the past twelve months, I have got near respect for people that work in call centres that sit in this environment 8 hours a day. With headphone, mics on working behind a computer, people especially if you are in a customer service environment. It’s very different,” he said.
He added that the long hours means that the required gadgets have to evolve from being just nice to a whole new lot of products like the Logitech Zone Wireless Bluetooth Headset that is ultra-comfortable.
If I go back to the time when I first started at Logitech, the headphones I had then I could keep it on for barely an hour a day, but this new one I can sit on for 8 hours a day.
For example, the Zone headphone currently has leather clothing but before now it could have been cloth that would have become worn and inconvenient after prolonged use.
Similarly, there are mouses enhanced to improve user experience. Using an ordinary mouse may be handy for 20 -30 mins while catching up on emails but if you use that mouse for 3-4 hours per day, it would put enormous stress on the wrist.
People Spend More for Comfortable Gadgets
When the pandemic first started people thought it would last for 3-4 months and be over. So while shopping for WFH gadgets like the webcam, they did not try to buy the more expensive ones. They just got one that has the functionality they need.
The Logitech boss however revealed that the longer the pandemic became, the more people became gadget conscious. He explained that as the pandemic progressed people tended to buy up and spend more money because they are stuck at home.
“Before, getting a mouse that is functional was ok. Now you try to get the best that suits your hand perfectly and you can work with it all day. I have seen people buy the streaming cam instead of the brio cam which is very functional.”Morgan Mierke, Head of Business, East, West and Central Africa at Logitech
Asides from WFH gadgets, people are also buying gaming products. Morgan disclosed that while growth in keyboards, headsets, mouses and webcams have been quite great, the growth in gaming products has been mind-blowing.
Rural areas don’t need to buy up
Speaking about gearing up, Morgan pointed out that it’s important to consider infrastructure around where you are living. He explained that there is no sense in having a 4k brio camera or 4k stream camera if your internet connection is not ok.
“I think people in the urbanised cities like the gadgetry stuff and have started buying up but I think people in the rural areas with lower internet connectivity don’t need to buy up. It’s not going to improve the quality of your picture. Like I have said it’s infrastructural dependent.
“If you are in the middle of Lagos or Johannesburg your electricity, the internet is there. But if are in the more remote places in the world, you may have internet service but you may not have it 24hrs a day,” he concluded.
Morgan’s Favorite Work from home gear
Selecting the best WFH gear with so many option and price ranges can be a bit of a task. Asked what his favourite gear is, Morgan pointed out the Logitech MX Master 3 Advanced Wireless Mouse is very good especially for travel. “You can drop it in your sachel or handbag and whip it out in a coffee shop and is also good at home,” he explained
For Keyboards, he says Logitech MX Keys Advanced Wireless Illuminated Keyboard is cool. However, for webcams, the Logitech Brio 4K Stream Edition Webcam according to him does the job perfectly with ist 4k Fast and self-adjusting features.
For the Headset, Morgan says those in the Logitech zone series are very similar with the major difference in pricing points and comfortability. He added that his personal choice is Logitech Zone Wireless Bluetooth Headset with its padded headband and noise-cancelling features.
New products – Virtual cam, G923 Racing Wheel
Speaking about Logitech products, the W/Africa business head revealed that there has been a lot of these product enhancements. He explained that Logitech is not a revolutionary but evolutionary company and it doesn’t invent new products on a monthly basis.
He added that it had made quite a few evolutionary advances in its webcam. “For our Virtual cam, we created smaller units that can be used in the home environment before they were pure conferencing facilities. They are an all in one appliance so instead of buying a camera, speaker and hardware and software components to run it, it’s all in one.”
Morgan also revealed that some new products are coming especially in Gaming – New headsets that go over the ear type in different colour but funkier. A new G923 Racing Wheel and Pedals for PS5 and Xbox.
Logitech Products are safe from Cyber threats
Asked about the security concerns of people working online, away from the confines of the office security structures, Morgan expressed that security is a network-related problem and is something to be very conscious of.
He explained that because its products are hardware-based, it’s more likely that they can hack the network but they can’t really hack the hardware like the camera. He added that people needed to take precautions.
One or two of our products have had bugs in the past that have been fixed but they do not contribute to modern security issues like the modern network environment.Morgan Mierke, Head of Business, East, West and Central Africa at Logitech
The future of work has changed and people are trying to find a comfortable model. Morgan expressed that while WFH still gets the job done and isn’t going anywhere soon, it will never replace face to face interactions.
He added that Logitech digital products have been around for a while and have been enhanced extensively to make WFH easy and fast. He explained that people are now buying up for comfort, it also provides the functionality of all the products below them.
Morgan also revealed that Logitech will be launching fully in Nigeria before the end of April, with product support and availability both online on platforms like Jumia and offline in tech markets like Computer village.
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!