It’s a sad realization that we’re still being weighed down by the COVID19 pandemic but as I always say, no virus has ever put down the human race and we’ll win this battle as well. Part of that process is making sure our economy still functions and to make that work, pun intended, people must work.
The global situation right now has pushed a digital revolution in many major industries. To combat further spread, limited movement is advised in certain regions especially where quarantines are in effect but in general, we are all advised to stay indoors to limit the virus’ transmission.
This limited movement has forcibly created a scenario wherein businesses have to change the way they approach their workforce. Thankfully, in today’s highly connected world, the Internet has made it possible for any computer systems to operate outside of the office. This allows companies to comply with workforce mandates limiting physical staff in the workplace where it’s particularly useful to offload non-client-facing staff to a work-from-home arrangement, allowing businesses like food services, retailers, and others that require physical presence to pour their manpower allotment to their client-facing staff.
With that said, in this article, we’ll guide you through the things you need to know about a work-from-home arrangement and how you can properly choose what fits your work needs. Lenovo’s got a wide assortment of products that are sure to address your requirements and remove the headache of thinking through which is the right product. Being the world’s number one PC maker, Lenovo’s innovations in other areas such as tablets, accessories, smartphones, software, and services, as well as smart home and office solutions, make it possibly the most prolific end-to-end technology organization that can deliver smarter technology around the globe for more people and businesses to unlock their potential. With the ongoing pandemic highlighting the importance of technology, Lenovo made sure to develop its latest devices with smart technology enabling users to face current and future challenges while also meeting basic needs to keep the world going even under lockdown.
Hopefully, by the end of this article you’ll have enough knowledge to know which is overkill and just right.
The majority of articles I’ve seen doing recommendations for work-from-home devices are somewhat rooted in the idea that most work-from-home users are a bunch of people with Microsoft Excel doing spreadsheets which is a very big misunderstanding of what work-from-home is.
You, as a part of your company’s workforce, understand your working requirements best so that’s key to understanding what computer you require. This expands further to my point that it’s just Word and Excel that drives the WFH employee. In this segment, we’ll talk about the possible use-cases.
SMB, SME, and Large Enterprise
First, we have to understand what kind of work we do. Now in most small-to-medium businesses and enterprises (SMB/SME), tasks are a bit more mixed, and depending on the scale of how advanced the IT infrastructure of the company is, you may be using in-house software or good ol’ MS Excel. Regardless, any spreadsheet program that doesn’t deal with 50MB of files will easily run in entry-level computing systems. If you’re in accounting handling large worksheets, typical sheets maintained for a month will be in the lower 2MB sizes so it’ll be easier to keep working on an entry level system. That said, if you’re using primarily a spreadsheet program, as long as you meet the minimum requirement, you’re good. And that’s pretty much where it ends in most recommendation lists online.
What they don’t explain to you is that a lot of companies employ application systems which may either be developed in-house or are commercial software. Commercially available software for businesses usually fall under CRMs, Sales, PLM, etc. which some companies form to build their ERP solution. The beauty of these software is that they’re either hosted onsite, through the cloud, or as a SaaS (System-as-a-Service) which means that most of the computing will be done by a server and all clients need to do is input and manage data as needed by their job. This means that even with the lowest-specced computer, as long as it has access to the system whether through the Internet or via a VPN to the corporate network, workers can do their jobs easily.
So for the most part, that sets the stage for what we need. We’ll go into more details in our Per-Job Function section but before we get more specific, let’s get some terms out of the way.
Explaining each and every component and what they do is something I’d love to go into detail in this article but that would derail us from our main topic. Still, here’s a quick guide in letting you know which is which and how to determine if you need something or not.
Processor – The processor is the brain of the computer and it’s usually the first thing people refer to when talking about a powerful system like a laptop. Tasks like browsing the web, doing your emails, word processing, and modules for business apps usually don’t require much CPU power. With Intel CPUs, the naming may sound technical but the Core series model usually tells us how a product stacks.
A Core i9 will be a top-end product which is good for heavy tasks and a Core i7 should be a decent all-rounder. This goes the same for a Core i5, and anything lower is decent for entry tasks.
The CPU affects performance the most so if you’re just typing, you won’t experience the difference between a Core i9 and a Core i5 but when it comes to rendering a video project, a more powerful CPU can shave hours off rendering.
RAM/Memory – To make sense of computer memory the easiest way possible, the principle of memory or RAM is this simple: the more memory you have, the more your computer can do at the same time.
You’ve probably seen the memes online. An app like Chrome, despite being light on the CPU, can eat so much memory. The same goes for any application. If you have an image-editing software open with a large resolution file while you’re browsing and you have a lot of tabs open, you may start to feel some slowdown.
More RAM is simply better and it’s easily upgradable.
Graphics – This gets complicated because there’s a lot at play here and speaking of play, games are usually what people attribute to when talking about graphics. We wanted to focus more on the work and study products for this article.
Simply put, if your laptop has a discrete graphics card, it should be able to deliver better graphics performance when handling GPU tasks such as video playback, graphics acceleration, and of course, games.
Integrated solutions are more than capable of handling 4K video playback and GPU acceleration on productivity software and on compatible applications, as well as GPU accelerated rendering via the integrated graphics.
SSD Storage – We’ll just skip hard drives altogether. SSDs have made laptops their home and I highly urge everyone to choose SSDs over hard drives when buying laptops. SSDs give the benefits of faster performance overall, giving your system a snappier feel by loading applications faster and opening your files faster. SSDs also have no moving parts and use so little power that it barely affects your battery life.
In addition to the above specifications, Support is another feature that we recommend anyone planning to get a computer or laptop to consider in line with the previous components. In this “new normal” of working-from-home, devices are more likely to get extra wear and tear damage since they’re being used for both professional and personal reasons. Exceptional IT support is necessary to keep things running smoothly and to quickly mitigate any loss in downtime brought by accidents or any damage.
Job Functions and The Best-Fit Hardware for You
Purchasing/Treasury/Admin/HR – If you fall into any of these job functions, you’re mostly working with either one module of a business management software or a spreadsheet and your email. You will probably work with an online gateway for interacting with external services but for the most part, a fairly light hardware system will allow you to juggle with ease through emails, open browsers, and software. The Lenovo IdeaPad S145 is a good starting point for these use-cases and is able enough to function far more than just system use.
Sales – You’re the spearhead of the company and the one on the frontlines to make sure that the company makes money and sometimes, that requires you to be a little bit more personal. In a COVID19-free world, that may be all good but right now, you need to be as agile as you can to close your next sale and if a potential client is having second thoughts over email, a personal visit might help convince them further, along with a quick presentation.
That said, I highly recommend a physically light and compact unit with a bit of power to make sure your work is done in a snap and does not hit snags during a presentation. The Lenovo Yoga S730 is super-compact, has great battery life, and is decently powerful for all your needs, be it juggling email, your business intelligence, and sales lead modules, as well as an Excel sheet to track your leads.
Accounting – Pretty much the stereotypical work-from-home job function, accounting staff actually have a very unique requirement: large spreadsheets require large screens so it’s easy to navigate through larger spreadsheets. Being work-from-home though, that may not always be the best option since not having a permanent office leaves you at the mercy of having to be agile. The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i 15” offers a capable point of entry for an affordable, large-screen laptop that allows accountants to work with large spreadsheets, navigate through email, and keep their Accounting modules all in place.
For those looking to do more work with heavier files like large masterlists, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5i is also an option as its 15.6” IPS (In-Plane Switching) display allows for a better viewing experience through its wider angle and enhanced color quality. Both models have an HDMI output port, just in case you want to use a larger external screen to help with the spreadsheet.
IT Support – Just because you’re in IT doesn’t mean you need a fast system. Right now, you’re probably providing email, chat, or phone support to the WFH workforce which may see you working with a lot of communication apps like Skype, or an in-house instant messenger along with an email client. Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5i is a laptop that can ensure that the support staff has decent support in his work as well, with a snappy system backed by good hardware.
In the off-chance you need to visit a workmate at his place for further support, the light and compact build makes it easier to carry this laptop in a backpack or messenger bag.
Creative Services – For the art department staff, I would usually recommend going with a desktop with a tablet. Thankfully, modern devices make it easier and Lenovo’s IdeaPad Flex 5i featuring a stylus allows creative individuals to work naturally with their creativity apps.
For the most part, if your company has an IT department, they would usually recommend your deployment but if they’re being generous to let you choose your unit, the products we listed are an easy go-to recommendation to save you the headache of going through the research.
Now I know we didn’t list a lot of other job functions but as mentioned, you know your job better than anyone else and we’ve already highlighted your expected specsheet if you do certain things. For more specific jobs like a corporate video editor or a systems developer, the requirements are quite specific and predominantly app-dependent, making it quite difficult to do a quick recommendation. We’re open to sharing more details about other use-cases so feel free to let us know in the comments what you do and what software you use and we’ll give a recommendation.
Do note that the top-notch hardware and other premium features discussed above are complemented with Lenovo’s Premium Care warranty, which provides a direct and easy connection to Lenovo’s technical engineers. The service even includes on-site repair, meaning that technicians will go to the customer’s house to address any problem, as appropriate. What’s even better is that Lenovo recently extended its Premium Care warranty to three years for most of the newer devices in order to better support its customers during the pandemic and beyond.