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Mumbai/New Delhi: The rush among companies to meet the new work-from-home norm amid the Covid-19 outbreak has led to a spike in demand for laptops, especially of refurbished leased ones of every kind.

There was already a shortage of devices in the market due to the disruption in supplies from virus-hit China. Now, the additional demand has worsened the shortage, said Jaipal Singh, associate research manager (client devices) at IDC India.

“The current demand that enterprises have is an immediate one, whereas normally they would place these orders over some time. Given that the supply side is also recovering, enterprises are certainly looking for refurbished devices as an option to maintain business continuity," said Singh.

Smaller IT firms are keen to procure refurbished devices in the expectation that the current work-at-home norm won’t last long, which means using these products would keep expenses down.

IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, which covers everything from desktops and workstations to laptops and tablets, forecast a considerable decline in PC shipments in H1 2020.

Its research was published in late February, after which the epidemic has expanded rapidly. Many critical components, such as panels, touch sensors and printed circuit boards, come from the badly-hit regions, which will cause a supply crunch heading into Q2 (April-June quarter). As a result, companies are reaching out to the refurbished computers market to meet demand.

Nakul Kumar, co-founder and chief operating officer of Cashify, said dealers offering laptops on lease are running out of systems as there is a growing demand for laptops in Delhi by companies urging their employees to work from home. “If it is a long-term contract, they provide new laptops but in case of short-term requirements, they lease out refurbished laptops," added Kumar .

Delhi-based SIG Systems which gives out laptops on lease has seen a surge in demand in last few weeks.

“We are getting more than 1,000 requests every day from Delhi NCR [National Capital Region]. Earlier, we used to rent out 15 to 30 laptops on a daily basis, but now, we are doing 300-400 laptops every day. The duration of the lease is minimum one month," a SIG Systems spokesperson said. According to a personal computing (PC) industry person, demand for new laptops, including the cost-effective Chromebooks from leading vendors like HP, has spiked significantly in the last few weeks from both individual users as well as enterprise clients.

To be sure, most IT companies have protocols on the extent to which teams are authorized to work from home and many client-specific projects would not allow it normally. On Monday, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner Praveen Pardeshi asked private firms in Mumbai to function “only at 50% of their staff capacity or face action under section 188 of the IPC" following a large number of positive cases in Maharashtra.

So, in addition to laptops, companies are also trying to procure interim digital collaboration tools to enable employees to work remotely, ensuring security controls and network support are in place, said research firm Gartner Inc.

“We see remote working is likely to become a mainstream mode of working after the event, and organizations should expect this to be a permanent and persistent pattern in their workplace and prepare for this long-term shift. This would mean demand for remote working tools, laptops and network bandwidth over a period is going to grow," said D.D. Mishra, senior director analyst at Gartner.

romita.m@livemint.com

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