How 5G can help CIOs empower distributed workforces today.

As it becomes increasingly clear that remote work is here to stay, it’s up to CIOs and IT to make sure that these newly nomadic employees have the remote collaboration tools they need to prosper.

Once only available to a small percentage of knowledge workers, the COVID-19 pandemic kicked open the door for remote-eligible employees and grew the types of jobs that can be done anywhere. This continued expansion toward a truly work-from-anywhere (WFX) corporate culture is a direct result of the top- and bottom-line benefits for both organizations and employees.

Why WFX is here to stay.

Most business leaders today are realizing that their remote work fears—loss of control, lower productivity, inability to enforce policies, loss of corporate culture and identity, etc.—were unfounded. A year into the biggest workforce experiment ever conducted, studiesi show the benefits of remote workers. Many employees are actually more productive,ii happier, and enjoy greater work-life balance when working remotely.

There are a lot of other, more practical reasons why WFX is something CIOs can get behind. It allows companies to recruit talent from anywhere, increasing the available pool of qualified applicants exponentially. As CIOs are well aware, finding people with the skills to execute digital transformation strategies is a never-ending challenge.

The combination of WFX policies, high-speed connectivity powered by 5G networks, and highly-capable mobile devices is giving rise to global insourcing.

Strong WFX policies also help companies outside of desirable (often coastal) urban centers compete for the best talent. Just as the internet powered the rise of global outsourcing 25 years ago, the combination of WFX policies, high-speed connectivity powered by 5G networks, and highly-capable mobile devices is giving rise to global insourcing.

By citing the successes associated with moving thousands of in-office employees to remote work early in the pandemic, CIOs can also leverage the WFX trend to reinforce and expand the business case for digital transformation. The reason so many organizations were successful in transitioning to WFX almost overnight was the years-long effort by IT to move their organizations off of aging, inflexible, corporate-data-center-bound infrastructure and into the cloud.

Bottom-line benefits for the business.

As organizations reduce their office space needs, they can find significant bottom-line savings, as well. According to Global Workplace Analytics,iii U.S. companies could save between $525 and $665 billion per year through remote work policies. The savings comes as a result of lower real estate costs, less absenteeism and turnover, and increased productivity.

With the fight to combat climate change a goal from the boardroom and balance sheet, companies can also take advantage of positive PR from a lower carbon footprint thanks to WFX policies. In some cases where states such as Californiaiv have active carbon offset marketplaces, there can be real financial benefits for companies that reduce their carbon footprint from powering fewer facilities and data centers.

Fewer office-bound employees also means CIOs can spend less CapEx budget on technologies like legacy PBX upgrades, desktop phones, Wi-Fi access points, conference room A/V equipment, and a host of other expenses, such as tech support and security associated with running a facility full of people. Instead of giving these monies back to the business directly, these savings can then be spent on technology such as 5G network-capable routers, tablets, smartphones, and laptops that remote workers need.

20% of remote employees report better physical and mental health and employers report a 21% increase in the number of “high-performers” in their ranks.

Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey
Happier and healthier employees.

WFX can also reduce employee stress, increase meeting effectiveness (while reducing their frequency), and enhance employee concentration through fewer co-worker interruptions. According to Gartner's 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey,v 20% of remote employees report better physical and mental health and employers report a 21% increase in the number of "high-performers" in their ranks.

No longer having to bear the high costs of commuting and eating out, remote workers would benefit with a noticeable reduction in work-related expenses. Put another way, they essentially get a raise that costs the company nothing to provide—the very definition of "win-win."

WFX technologies are already in place.

Thankfully, much of the technology needed to support this free-ranging workforce’s remote collaboration has been in place for some time. Laptops have steadily replaced PCs. Most knowledge workers today have a smartphone, tablet, home broadband internet, and a Wi-Fi router to connect them all. And widely available virtual private networks (VPNs) secure the connection back to the corporate network.

The widespread adoption of cloud-based infrastructure and applications has helped power WFX, too. The former category makes it much easier for CIOs to quickly expand and contract compute power and storage as needed to meet constantly fluctuating demand for different applications and services. As more compute power and storage gets pushed to the network edge (a trendvi 5G is expected to accelerate), cloud-based productivity and remote collaboration tools give them the ability to provide enterprise-class services to employees almost anywhere they are.

Collaboration apps in particular have experienced a massive surge in usage because of the pandemic. After months of settling in, far-flung teams are now quite comfortable using video conferencing apps to get things done. As the needs of WFX workers begin to coalesce around a few core collaboration and productivity technologies, it’s expected that these important tools will get a lot better at keeping virtual teams connected and productive. When you add in the technologies that make up the mixed reality landscape, namely augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and gamification, the already diverse pool of job titles that can be done remotely expands dramatically.vii

In the WFX era, the right network is paramount.

What's missing from this mix is a reliable way to connect remote workers with high-speed, low-latency broadband regardless of where they are. This is where mid-band 5G networks come in. Unlike high-band (millimeter wave) 5G, which is still years away from fueling ubiquitous use cases, mid-band 5G is here today and can provide remote workers with the same broadband experience of terrestrial connections such as cable or DSL.

Currently, T-Mobile's Ultra Capacity 5G (leveraging mid-band spectrum) covers over 100 million people in urban and suburban areas across the U.S. By the end of 2021, that number will double. This unparalleled reach ensures that most WFX employees in urban and suburban areas of the U.S. are in range of a mid-band 5G signal today or soon will be.

There are many good reasons for CIOs to connect their distributed workforces using Ultra Capacity 5G:

  • A separate, reliable, high-speed internet connection simplifies life for employees. Relying on one network in and out of the office makes for a more seamless work experience. Instead of having to search for Wi-Fi signals when they are out or competing for bandwidth with their kids when they are home, they have dedicated connectivity that goes where they go. According to the FCC, there are still 25 million people in the U.S. without a broadband connection. Microsoftviii puts that number at 163 million. Ultra Capacity 5G can help CIOs overcome these connectivity gaps if they exist in the areas their employees work (or want to work).

  • Having a single network offers the flexibility to match productivity tools, collaboration suites, and unified communications platforms to network performance. Having a single network for out-of-office connectivity gives them a good reason to reduce and consolidate the number of platforms, suites, and tools they support today, as well. This makes life a lot easier and cheaper for everyone by reducing helpdesk and licensing costs, improving cybersecurity, and improving ease of use by giving employees across the organization just a handful of platforms to learn and use.

  • Ultra Capacity 5G simplifies vendor management. There are over 2,700 internet service providers (ISPs) in the U.S. Having to negotiate and manage contracts with a cross section of these to supply remote workers with connectivity is an expensive spreadsheet nightmare. Negotiating with a single broadband provider that has nationwide reach—a title no ISP can claim—can save IT a lot of time and their organizations a lot of money.

  • CIOs can also provide branch offices with connectivity through fixed wireless access (FWA) contracts. Ultra Capacity 5G comes at just the right time for CIOs that are looking to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) to save them money on the expensive MPLS circuits and regional ISPs contracts many currently rely on for branch office connectivity.
Keep your people connected and productive, wherever work happens.

T-Mobile for Business is taking the next step by bringing Ultra Capacity 5G together with unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and mobility solutions to help your distributed teams work from almost anywhere. Utilizing America’s largest and fastest 5G network,ix T-Mobile WFX includes unlimited 5G with the latest 5G phones, tablets, and hotspots; AI-powered cloud communications including calling, messaging, and conferencing; and business-grade 5G/4G LTE fixed wireless connectivity in your employees’ homes.

As you can see, 5G isn’t the over-hyped, future-state technology pundits have been talking about for years. It’s here today and is more than capable of solving today’s problems and challenges for CIOs and their distributed workforces.

Ready to give your workforce the speed to connect and the tools to collaborate where work happens? Learn more about T-Mobile WFX.

 

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