What you need to know

Working and going to school remotely are prominent factors driving consumer behavior through the pandemic. Mintel data shows remote work remains elevated and remote workers are widely satisfied with their arrangements. More than four in five remote and hybrid workers are very or somewhat satisfied with their remote work situations, and the majority feel the benefits of remote work outweigh the benefits of going into the office.

Meanwhile, more than half of parents say their children used e-learning either full-time or part-time through a hybrid model, spurring educational tech purchases. Although overall satisfaction with their children’s remote learning arrangements was high, more than half of parents anticipate their children will return to school in the fall. Digital products will continue to play a major role in education, especially as schools commit to using digital learning management systems (LMS) even as students return to in-person learning. Because parents have adapted to remote education and have purchased necessary devices, their tech spending for children will likely migrate away from education-driven devices to leisure and entertainment.

Despite the popularity of remote work, Mintel shows some demographics are returning to the office – older Millennials and Gen Xers with higher household incomes, in particular. Consumers aged 35-54 with household earnings of at least $75K accounted for 22% of all full-time commuters in February 2021, but that figure increased to 32% in May 2021. The growth is an indication that higher earning (ie middle and upper management) employees are leading the return to the office. As for the future of work, there will be no returning to the prepandemic world of the full-time, in-office arrangement. Brands and employers need to contend with the newfound demand for flexible work as a major factor driving consumer behavior toward technology and connectivity, as well as general lifestyle behaviors (ie shopping, dining out) to address the changing nature of consumers in the workforce.

This Report looks at the following areas

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the home office and classroom tech market

  • Levels of remote work for consumers in the workforce

  • Levels of remote schooling for parents and future plans for schooling

  • Tech purchases made for remote work and learning

  • Satisfaction levels with remote work and learning

  • Attitudes toward remote work and the role it will play in the future


For the market size of this Report, Mintel uses the Bureau of Economic Analysis consumer expenditures for personal computers/tablets and peripheral equipment.

For the purposes of consumer research for this Report, home office and classroom technology includes the following household electronic and office devices:

  • Personal computers/laptops/Chromebooks

  • Tablet computers

  • Computer monitors

  • Computer mouses and keyboards

  • Computer speakers

  • Printers

  • Webcams and webcam lights

  • Standing desks

  • Ergonomic chairs

  • Headphones and earbuds

Remote workers: full-time remote workers, consumers who work exclusively from home and hybrid commuters – consumers who split between remote work and commuting

Remote learners: full-time remote learners, children who attend school virtually from home exclusively and hybrid remote learners – children who split between virtual schooling and in-person schooling

Market context

Economic and other assumptions

Mintel’s economic assumptions are based on CBO estimates released on February 1, 2021. The CBO’s previous forecast for US GDP to fall by 5.8% in 2020 was revised after a stronger second half of the year and the updated estimate indicates negative 3.5% GDP for the year. The CBO forecasts GDP to grow by 4.6% in 2021 and projects unemployment to continue to fall to average 5.7% for the year.

COVID-19: US context

The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the US in January 2020. It was declared a global health pandemic and national emergency in early March 2020. Across the US, various stay-at-home orders were put in place in Spring 2020, and nonessential businesses and school districts closed or shifted to remote operations. The remainder of 2020 saw rolling orders, as states and local governments relaxed and reinforced guidelines according to the spread of the virus in each region.

Vaccine rollout began in December 2020 and has continued throughout 2021. Mintel anticipates business operations in the US will remain in a state of flux through 2021 as vaccines are administered and social distancing restrictions and capacity limitations are relaxed. The rapid spread of the Delta variant may result in increased restrictions in some areas of the country.

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