How 5G Will Transform the Remote Work Experience
Recent events have abruptly led to the mass-adoption of remote work, permanently changing the way we perceive our digital environments. As we adjust and adapt ourselves to home isolation, technology has become our sole space for community and collaboration. These disruptions have transformed the ways we look at civic, social, and professional engagement for good.
To enable this, flexible and stable networks stand at the very heart of our online social engagements, business productivity and operations. 5G has become a change agent that is considered among the most important technological enablers in this decade, and people are looking to 5G to deliver better coverage and data speeds. In a recent study, respondents resoundingly view advanced wireless technologies like 5G as the ‘key enabler of innovation’ during the pandemic, and 87% believe their company will have a ‘significant competitive advantage’ by leveraging high-speed wireless technology.
According to a report by VIAVI Solutions, as of January 2020, commercial 5G networks have been deployed in 378 cities across 34 countries, and this number is likely to increase rapidly over the near future. With 5G’s increased bandwidth, faster speeds, and low latency, or response times – it all means that remote workers will be able accomplish tasks they couldn’t before with slower and lower bandwidth capabilities.
Let’s look at the various transformations 5G will bring.
- Enhancing Functionality and Improving Productivity
The increased speed and bandwidth of 5G means that we will be able to work in some new, interesting ways, especially when it is coupled with XR, which includes extended, virtual, and augmented reality. When we are not constrained with internet speed or physical limitations, all kinds of work that require physical tasks will be able to be performed remotely. This is because remote workers will be able interact with objects from far away, in real time, just as if they were there. One visible scenario could be engineers virtually inspecting a construction site in another country, which can be done without leaving their home. With 5G and XR capabilities, they could access the digital representation of what the site is supposed to look like, and then change the engineering specs of the building in real-time.
The ability to work from anywhere in the world will lead to an improvement in productivity as workers can create an environment that suits their individual needs, instead of having their work environment dictated by their job. For instance, one employee may reach optimum productivity in a crowded space, such as a coffee shop or co-working space, while others may prefer a quiet study. With 5G’s increased coverage and bandwidth, they can work wherever they choose to.
- Increasing Accessibility and Availability
Working from home comes with one big challenge: stable internet connections. Almost everyone who works remotely is very much constrained by the speed and reliability of their home internet connection to perform their job. 5G connectivity will provide an exponential bandwidth improvement and latency reduction even when we’re on the go enabling us to connect and work from virtually anywhere. These changes are likely to impact where employees can live and work, potentially opening up opportunities for rural and out-of-reach places, which increases flexibility and accessibility for employees.
Medical staff are crucial resources in times like these, hence protecting their health and safety should be our priority. In the medical sector, 5G technology can help to reduce the impact as well as improve our efficiency on tackling the crisis. Using 5G-powered video conferencing, medical staff can perform important tasks in real-time from distance, such as conducting patient consultations, remotely operating equipment, and even reviewing CT-Scan results. When necessary, they can have consultation & collaboration sessions with other doctors and medical experts in either their own country or around the world.
- New Metrics for Performance
However, this new world of remote working comes with its own challenges. There will be less in-person contact between employees, hence companies will need to change their organisational culture to fit the needs of both workers and employers. More importantly, there needs to be a shift from the outdated assumptions, such as “if you’re not there, you’re not working”, which can be challenging to evolve. One crucial element is developing a new set of metrics to measure employee performance that focuses on productivity, rather than the number of hours worked.
The second challenge is employee burnout. The flexibility given by remote working means employees can perform labor virtually anywhere and at any time, which gives rise to the risk of working around the clock. They may be tempted, or perhaps expected by their manager to be ready for any tasks 24/7. Therefore, again, companies will need to transform their organisational culture to adapt with the new needs and challenges of remote working.
5G will provide the digital backbone for essential industries and infrastructure all over the world, enhancing our ability and transforming the way we work. It will allow us to be better prepared for whatever comes next, and help us stay close to the people and things that matter most.
The collective tools, software, protocols, and practices required for all 5G deployment phases form the core of the emerging 5G testing field. Since 2013, VIAVI Solutions has been an early driver in 5G adoption and we continue to deliver innovative and cost-effective 5G testing tools to customers. Check out our comprehensive portfolio of 5G Test Tools and learn what makes VIAVI a stand out amongst other 5G testing companies.