Skip to Main Content

Strategic Business Insights (SBI) logo

Connected Homes November 2020 Viewpoints

Technology Analyst: David Strachan-Olson

Disruption of the Household

Why is this topic significant?

The May 2020 Viewpoints discusses how key forces in the global business environment affect the commercialization of opportunities related to connected homes. This Viewpoints provides a concise analysis of one such force—disruption of the household—and describes plausible alternative pathways along which this force could develop.

Description

The coronavirus-disease-2019 (covid-19) pandemic has caused significant disruption to household structures and behaviors. Households are dealing with many changes, including lost family members, lost jobs, lost access to critical services (such as education and childcare), remote work, and the stress of living in isolation for long periods. Individuals and families have had to adapt to new ways to work, learn, play, and connect with others while at home.

The disruptions to individual households will combine to have significant impacts across the greater economy. Early societal changes include increased unemployment claims, parents leaving jobs to care for children, and renters leaving high-cost urban areas such as San Francisco, California, and London, England. Early commercial outcomes include increased use of e-commerce sites, grocery delivery, and digital entertainment (see "Growing Influence of E-Commerce" in the September 2020 Viewpoints.) Many more unforeseen outcomes will likely emerge as the covid-19 pandemic continues.

Implications

If the covid-19 pandemic ends relatively quickly, pent-up frustration over extensive time at home could reverse disruptions quickly and not lead to many permanent changes to households. People may be eager to return to prior habits and behaviors to feel a sense of normalcy or hope to travel away from home. Alternatively, a long pandemic could cement new behaviors for households and create major setbacks for young families and those who struggled during the pandemic. The extent of disruptions will vary widely by region and household income. High-resource households could choose to keep beneficial disruptions, such as grocery delivery and remote work. Low-resource households could struggle to recover their prepandemic status and also with back rent and lost wages.

Impacts/Disruptions

Disruptions to family life will have far-reaching direct and indirect consequences that become apparent only once the covid-19 pandemic has ended. Changes in household demographics, income, digital communications, and purchasing behaviors (of home products and services) are likely to take place. Some experts fear an acceleration of the growing inequality between households: households with members that could work from home with little disruption to income as compared to households with reduced wages during the pandemic. Companies will want to appeal to both types of households but will require different products and services to meet the needs of each group.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: High

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: Now to 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

E-commerce, grocery delivery, digital entertainment, consumer products, at-home education, at-home services

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas:

Home Telepresence Rooms

Why is this topic significant?

The May 2020 Viewpoints discusses how key forces in the global business environment affect the commercialization of opportunities related to connected homes. This Viewpoints provides a concise analysis of one such force—home telepresence rooms—and describes plausible alternative pathways along which this force could develop.

Description

The coronavirus-disease-2019 (covid-19) pandemic has created a monumental shift in working habits because many office workers now work from home. Prolonged remote work is encouraging high-resource users to convert portions of their homes into telepresence spaces that help them appear professional on video calls with colleagues, clients, and companions. Early on in the pandemic, many remote workers tried to make do with impromptu work setups, but as the pandemic has gone on, workers have created dedicated working spaces within their homes. Remote workers are rearranging living spaces, and those with personal resources or the ability to expense employers are purchasing cameras, microphones, lights, large monitors, desks, and office chairs. In addition, some households have taken measures to improve the performance of video calls by purchasing higher-capacity broadband service and upgrading home-networking equipment.

Implications

Home telepresence and dedicated home office spaces could play an important role in shaping the future of work. The longer the covid-19 pandemic goes on, the more workers will adapt to remote work and have dedicated spaces and setups in their homes. In extreme cases, employees are leaving small apartments in cities for larger homes in the suburbs. New York, New York, and London, England, have both experienced an exodus of renters to surrounding suburban areas. Employers will face decisions about whether to allow employees to work from home much more frequently in the future. Some employers might adapt hybrid practices to support both on-site and remote employees. However, even with the best setups, some workers will still value face-to-face interactions with coworkers. In addition, companies that value the cross-pollination of ideas between workers may also be eager to have employees return to physical offices.

Impacts/Disruptions

Home offices have always been an important component of connected homes but rarely the focus. If significant quantities of office workers continue to work remotely, either full- or part-time, after the covid-19 pandemic, a significant change in focus of the connected-homes industry could occur. Such workers, and their employers, could seek out solutions to improve the productivity and experience of remote work. Workers might purchase devices to improve office setups and symmetric broadband service to better support video calls and large file uploads. Employers might look for enterprise-like devices and services to support these workers, such as increased availability of cloud resources for file sharing and enterprise apps previously hosted on intranets. Further in the future, home offices might continue to change to support more immersive forms of telepresence including augmented and virtual reality. Advances in robotic telepresence could enable nonoffice workers to perform remote work through teleoperation of robots.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: Medium

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: Now to 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Home offices, monitors, lights, web cameras, broadband services, home networking equipment, cloud/edge computing

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas: