In case you haven’t noticed, the business world has changed. Forever. The transformation facilitated by a worldwide pandemic continues to evolve and promises to foster exciting new advancements for the remote workforce. As we look to the future state of work models, 87% of U.S. business leaders expect to see some of their employees working from home three or more days a week. Even those who anticipate heading back to the company office are expected to adopt a modified schedule where working remotely a day or two a week will be the accepted norm. In this new hybrid model, flexibility replaces rigidity, and virtual becomes commonplace for collaboration.
However, this shift to a mobile-centric, work-from-anywhere environment poses challenges for enterprises, an estimated half of which operate with employees on limited, pooled or shared data plans. This places a significant burden on IT staff that not only have to predict how much data they’re going to need each month – particularly difficult with companies managing thousands of employees – but also must monitor and track usage to keep costs from exploding. Overseeing these plans is challenging. Inevitably, overage penalties are commonplace, resulting in a negative impact to bottom-line financials.
5G promises to foster breakthrough innovations – much like 4G did. Preparation is essential for businesses in order to take advantage of this opportunity – not only for technology adoption, but also to effectively address an anticipated surge in mobile data usage that is expected to average 38% per year over the next 5 years. Enterprises need to evaluate their mobile strategy and, in particular, explore options with carriers that can provide unlimited usage plans to ensure cost predictability. Doing so will free their distributed remote workforce to openly connect, communicate and collaborate without being bound by artificial constraints due to limited, pooled or shared plans.
Another challenge facing enterprises that have adopted a work-from-anywhere philosophy is keeping their remote workforce productive, whether they’re working at home, at a distant location, or somewhere in between. For home-based workers, broadband access can be spotty and often unreliable – particularly when access is shared with other family members, such as someone streaming video or a child taking an online class. About 60% of people say they’ve had issues with simple voice and video streaming for work or school in the last six months.
For enterprise IT staff, helping to manage all the issues that arise with the abundant number of ISPs currently providing broadband connectivity for homes is no easy task. For those located in rural America, the situation is even worse, where 28% have no broadband access at all. Even where access is available, many work-from-home employees simply don’t have a choice in the broadband providers.
5G fixed wireless access is helping to bridge the broadband chasm by delivering a high-speed alternative to traditional ISP options. While fixed wireless is not new, it’s gaining further traction due in large part to 5G and mid-band spectrum that offer notably improved availability along with speeds around 300 Mbps and peak speeds up to 1 Gbps. In addition, low-band 5G fixed wireless can deliver speeds around 100 Mbps with nationwide scalability.5
For the growing workforce who expects to continue working at home for the future, having reliable, high-speed internet connectivity can dramatically improve productivity. One way that the challenge of fighting for bandwidth at home is solved is through Home Office Internet from T-Mobile for Business, an innovative solution that delivers a separate, reliable high-speed internet connection for home-based employees while allowing IT to maintain control to business-critical applications and filter out non-business content.
Collaboration is critical for remote workers. However, maintaining productivity while on the go can be challenging. Mobile employees need a full suite of collaboration tools to stay connected and engaged with co-workers without having to worry about exceeding data restrictions posed by limited or shared plans.
Security also remains a concern for enterprises that have to ensure that their sensitive company data is protected. Remote workers who use unsecured personal or public Wi-Fi connections can inadvertently expose sensitive company data and cause potentially massive security risks for enterprises.
Integrating essential services such as business calling, messaging and video conferencing onto an AI-powered, cloud communication platform like T-Mobile Collaborate enables mobile workers to effectively collaborate and maintain their productivity from virtually any device and location.
Enterprises are not only looking to collaboration solutions as a means to help improve productivity, mobility and flexibility, but also as a way to help save IT staffing time and money. Today, enterprise and government organizations are paying billions to maintain legacy telecom infrastructure, including antiquated PBX systems, outdated on-premise collaboration technologies, and little-used desk phones. In 2019, businesses spent nearly $6 billion on legacy telephony infrastructure. New collaboration tools provide a full enterprise-grade phone system with all the flexibility of the cloud and all the functionality previously delivered by older, expensive on-premise PBX configurations.
The pandemic has taught us that individuals, teams and even entire workforces can perform quite well while being entirely distributed. Looking forward, companies are embracing the concept of Work From Anywhere. Hybrid workforces are no longer isolated exceptions, but in all likelihood represent the new requirement of today’s workforce.
One certain thing is that it’s a brave new world for mobile workforces that are here to stay. To remain competitive, businesses must adapt to an evolving environment – one where employees are mobile but need the tools and resources to do their jobs effectively. Digital transformation is changing how workers communicate and enterprises operate. Innovative collaboration solutions connect workers on the go through business calling, messaging and video conferencing from virtually any device in any location. High-speed internet connectivity provides Work From Home employees with the bandwidth they can dedicate to maintaining productivity. And unlimited 5G rate plans deliver the flexibility and freedom that remote workforces require while reducing the burden on IT staffing.