There is no question that the way we work is changing. My Inc.com colleague Brit Morse wrote about a study that shows 62 percent of employees work remotely at least part time. That's partly due to the way companies are trying to attract the best talent, regardless of where they are located, but also because of advancements in technology that allow workers to stay connected with their teams.
Those changes have real benefits to businesses and employees, from increased productivity, greater profitability, and a happier workforce. Now, with the coming 5G revolution, remote work is no longer a niche trend but will become the way we work.
Here are three ways 5G will change the way we work from home, or everywhere:
Everyone who works remotely knows that the biggest challenge is relying on internet connections that aren't always, well, reliable. Even when you work out of your home, and pay for high-speed internet, that doesn't mean you always get what you pay for. And never mind when you're traveling, or trying to work out of your local coffee shop. Nothing is worse than trying to log on to a Zoom meeting and finding out you're barely able to get more than 2 MB/s.
5G changes that because you no longer work at the mercy of the closest Wi-Fi hotspot. Having ultra-fast wireless capabilities built into your devices means that you'll be able to connect from virtually anywhere once carriers complete rolling out their 5G networks.
With the increased speed and bandwidth of 5G comes the ability to work in some very interesting new ways. Now, it isn't that far-out to think about how virtual reality and augmented reality can allow us to work, even when we can't be there physically. For example, inspecting a factory in another country in real time, without having to leave your home office, is a viable scenario when you aren't constrained by the speed or reliability of your connection.
In fact, all kinds of work that currently require an employee's physical presence will be able to be done as 5G allows not just remote work but virtual work. That means remote workers will be able to actually interact with and manipulate objects or data from far away, in real time, just as if they were there.
For example, perhaps your job requires you to be onsite so you have access to vast amounts of data. Perhaps you're responsible for research or programming or other data-intensive work that has been harder to do remotely. With the arrival of 5G, however, those requirements no longer exist as you're able to access and process that same data in real time, from wherever you want to work.
The ability to work from anywhere, instead of having your work environment dictated by your job role or function, will lead to increased productivity as workers are able to create an environment that works for them. At the same time, 5G will allow those workers to remain connected both to their teams and the work that they do.
Not only will that lead to a boost of productivity for individual workers, but for companies as well. I work remotely, and one of the biggest challenges is all of the little delays that add up to a lot of time spent waiting. Waiting for meetings to launch. Waiting for files to upload. Waiting for images to sync across devices or networks.
5G, in addition to significantly faster data speeds, also means far lower latency. That's the short delay between the time when you request data and when it starts to download. 5G networks feature almost no latency, meaning that not only can you send more data with a command or interaction, but you can also do it instantly.
The bottom line is that when you're no longer chained to an Ethernet cable or the availability of a Wi-Fi hotspot, the opportunities for staying productive no matter where you work start to become real. There's really no question that the future of work is increasingly remote. With the rollout of 5G, that future is near and it's arriving quickly.