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Reimagining the future of work with 5G

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A decade ago, 4G changed the world by speeding up data transfer by ensuring mobile and internet connectivity. Today, with 5G going live in many countries, the world is witnessing seamless, secure and reliable digital communication which will help evolve the way we live and work. The pandemic has emphasised the need for superior connectivity in every aspect of our lives leading to much discussion and deliberation around ‘5G’s impact on the future of work’ across organizations.
So, how do we see the work and the workplace evolving in the 5G era?
Our workplace encompasses the physical, virtual, and cultural experience in an organization i.e. where we work (at the office or remotely), the tools we use, and how we interact with each other are. The pandemic has challenged some long-held beliefs about ways of working and accelerated the rate of change towards digitalization and flexibility in the workplace. In fact, in some ways we have leapfrogged into a new way of working that is more flexible and meeting both business and individuals’ needs. 5G with its characteristics of higher bandwidth, ultra-low latency and faster speeds will enable the growing percentage of employees to work from home along with experiencing smoother and more reliable connections to keep operations running without any delay. Not only that, 5G will dramatically improve remote collaboration for a ‘work-from-anywhere’ principle and allow more creativity, productivity, and engagement among the workforces.
Some of the ways 5G will change the workplaces and workforce management
Artificial intelligence (AI) will take centre-stage with 5G – AI has huge potential to transform the workplace in every industry. For Human Resources, this means virtual assistance enabled onboarding, automated document processing and advanced insights from employee surveys will become mainstream. With the role of HR fundamentally changing after the pandemic, process automation will allow for the HR leader to take up more value adding work to navigate complex people-centric matters.
Unified communication, the new staple at work – While collaboration has become key to working during remote work, it usually happens in silos with employees sharing documents over email with one another, then awaiting feedback and eventually sending final document inter-team. 5G is poised to change this by creating a single platform where employees will be able to collaborate real-time, with data heavy files/videos etc. being seamlessly edited and shared on the cloud. This will create a unified communication empowered office where webinars, team/companywide meetings can happen on a single platform.
Network slicing to boost productivity – Network slicing is a foundational concept behind the rise of 5G technology. Telecom operators ‘slice’ the network into separate tracks, dedicated to a specific application, service, or device. For instance, with 5G at the workplace we can enable separate networks for personal and work devices without having to invest in different operators. The most critical benefit will be that organization will be able to route traffic wherever they deem necessary, mission critical meetings, bandwidth heavy collaborations or even certain Learning & Development platforms, basis the company’s priority.
Extended reality will create an immersive work experience – Extended reality enabled interactions over 5G would have a minimal delay between real and virtual world actions, letting us feel like we are almost there in person.
With accelerated digitalization skill requirement and expectations will change – The workforce will have to become more agile and adaptable, be ready for new challenges and motivated to update their skillsets regularly to address rapidly changing situations. Every vertical from manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, retail, agriculture has the potential to be transformed by 5G and various new applications and technologies like AI/ML, AR/VR, edge computing, network slicing etc. will be used. Therefore, a 5G-ready workforce is crucial for an organization’s long-term success. Professionals such as data analysts, data scientists, AI professionals etc., with an in-depth understanding of the technology are therefore going to be in very high demand in future.
To conclude, 5G will make remote work and collaboration much more accessible than ever before. It will allow for a ‘virtual workspace’ with seamless collaboration experience both in and outside the office by leveraging new and optimised tools and applications. With limitless connectivity, this kind of collaboration will become a reality in ways that are unimaginable now, yet possible in the future.
Priyanka Anand, Vice President and Head of HR for Southeast Asia, Oceania, and India, Ericsson

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