Work-from-anywhere has been an enduring theme since the onset of the pandemic, with 35% of surveyed Americans working remotely five days per week and 87% taking the opportunity to work flexibility if offered.
Organizations are striving to equip their personnel for success regardless of where they happen to work, not only to retain their current talent, but attract new talent. Modern technology and tools, like 5G, are critical to supporting this distributed workforce and optimizing business operations.
My name is Ronald van Loon and I’m a T-Mobile for Business partner. As an industry analyst, I’ve been particularly interested in the role 5G plays in the future of work.
5G is the great enabler of the work-from-anywhere (WFX) culture and is becoming increasingly valuable as an augmenter of other technologies, such as AI, AR, Wi-Fi 6, and IoT. From virtual training to faster decision making, more companies are leveraging 5G to differentiate their organization and deliver a modern employee experience.
Emerging 5G Scenarios for Work-from-Anywhere (WFX)
As the fifth generation of mobile networks, 5G is designed to provide faster speeds, lower latency, and more reliable connections than former generations of mobile networks. This enables more efficient and reliable communication and data transfer, which benefits businesses in a variety of industries.
A top priority in enabling a WFX environment is ensuring workforces have access to fast and reliable internet connections that allow them to collaborate and stay current with colleagues and clients, and access important work-related tools and resources – all in real-time. Also, people often need to access multiple devices or applications while working remotely. When provided with the bandwidth and agile tools that eliminate dependency on physical proximity, WFX workforces are positioned to be as competitive as in-office workforces.
Adoption of 5G among businesses is growing, with 80% of respondents citing better efficiency as a main benefit and another 41% reporting it helped optimize operations. When united with AI, IoT, Wi-Fi 6, and edge computing, there’s further opportunities for enhancements because connectivity is foundational in supporting the core capabilities that promote digital transformation and innovation and drive the new WFX culture.
Virtual learning and training
5G helps companies compete in the current labor market by allowing them to recruit, onboard, upskill, train, and retain employees. For example, 23% of IT decision makers use 5G for virtual learning and 21% for virtual training. In industries like manufacturing, 5G and AR accelerates personnel training and reduces errors, anomalies and costs, such enabling field technicians to download 3D models and 2D drawings in fractions of a second.
Injury and accident prevention
In physically-intensive jobs, 5G bandwidth can help companies prevent injuries and accidents and speed up responsiveness to accidents when they do occur. For example, a construction company could disperse connected smart cameras throughout job equipment, sites and vehicles to monitor for possibly hazardous situations and alert workers if needed, such as for fuel leaks or overstocked pallets.
Collaborative mobile robots
5G supports human-to-machine collaboration, such as autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) connected via 5G that synchronize with human workers for tasks like transporting large items or monitoring perimeters. Vision technology, navigation algorithms, and virtual maps help these robots traverse complicated spatial environments, like a factory, and coexist alongside human personnel.
Alleviating remote work challenges
5G can help alleviate challenges associated with WFX culture, like data security and enabling immersive interactions between co-workers. For instance, 5G fixed wireless has a SIM-authenticated cellular, licensed-spectrum network that’s difficult to penetrate, helping create a secure WFX environment. Also, 5G-driven telepresence via holographic video calls offers a more natural means of communicating and collaborating between distributed employees.
Transforming the UX
5G and Wi-Fi 6 (the newest version of the broadly allocated wireless standard for local area networks) can be leveraged in conjunction to improve user experiences (UX) whether the workforce is in an office, in the field outdoors, or at home via seamless broadband coverage. For example, employees can change between 5G and Wi-Fi 6 according to the unique security demands, their current location, and access privileges while maintaining a consistent performance experience.
Endless 5G Possibilities for a WFX Future
5G can enable exciting possibilities for the future of work and employee experiences in an emerging WFX culture. With numerous use cases arising across every industry, organizations can exploit this core technology to bring out the full potential in both their workforce and their other technologies.
By Ronald van Loon