5G is on its way to account for 15% of the global mobile industry by 2025. As more mobile carriers implement 5G technology, it will have a significant impact on digital workforce management.
Upgrading to a 5G future means improving the infrastructure connecting buildings, utilities, transport, and, of course, people. 5G will have far-reaching effects on fields like medical research, self-driving vehicles, and space exploration. For this article, we’re focusing on how 5G will change the way organizations approach managing their workforce.
What Is 5G and What Makes It Special?
5G is the fifth generation cellular standard, with improvements in speed and performance compared to 4G. Compared to its predecessor, 5G has:
- A low latency period, which means that data takes less time to travel from point to point
- Core network slicing, which allows mobile operators to create specific networks for specific use cases
- Edge computing, which processes data closer to end users and allows large amounts of data to be processes in real time
Here’s what that translates to in the workplace:
- Collaboration software, including audio and video conferencing calls, that consumes a lot of data will become faster
- More support for devices other than smartphones, like healthcare devices and ID cards
- Higher speed automation to cut out repetitive tasks and use human labor more effectively
4 Ways 5G is Transforming Digital Workforce Management
To put it simply, upgrading to 5G means sharing more data faster. Let’s look at some specific ways that will impact digital workforce management.
1. Seamless Real-Time Collaboration
Choosing the right collaboration tools is an essential part of digital workforce management, but guaranteeing that those tools work seamlessly can be a challenge. With the population of mobile workers in the U.S. set to increase from 78.5 million in 2020 to 93.5 million in 2024, organizations need their mobile software solutions to be reliable.
Ideally, real-time collaboration tools can:
- Connect workers across locations and time zones
- Allow instant access to document and file sharing
- Centralize and streamline communication
But even when teams have access to these tools, lag time can seriously affect workflow. With 5G, “real-time” brings us closer to truly experiencing collaboration in real time.
2. Remote Work Support and Sustainability
Earlier we talked about network slicing as one of the main differentiators of 5G. Mobile carriers can divide, or “slice” networks into different tracks for different devices or applications. Organizations can enable devices and workstations to have separate networks, all on the same carrier.
In practice, this looks a lot like rerouting traffic. A collaborative meeting that requires a lot of bandwidth won’t mean that another team experiences delays or poor network coverage. Organizations can have more control over how they distribute coverage to minimize lost time and productivity.
Ultimately, this will make remote work more sustainable. While 2020 may have been the year of transitioning to working remotely, 2021 has proven so far that remote work is here to stay. It’s estimated that 36.2 million Americans will work remotely by 2025, an 87% increase from before the pandemic.
While pixelated videos, glitchy conference calls, or delayed updates may seem like small-scale inconveniences, they add up to make remote work a more frustrating experience. 5G eliminates these issues to support the ever-growing remote workforce.
3. Better AI Integration
The integration of artificial intelligence in the workplace has been on the radar for years, and 5G will accelerate the process. Together, 5G and AI are a powerful pairing. While 5G speeds up data sharing, AI analyzes that data and lears from it faster.
We’re only beginning to see the potential of 5G and AI working in tandem. Recently, IBM partnered with Samsung to leverage AI for mobile devices operating on a 5G network. Their goal was to build a platform that generated alerts for firefighters and law-enforcement officers and addressed issues before they escalated. As Steve Canepa, Global Managing Director at IBM said:
“Using 5G mobile solutions, these devices can also be customized to withstand intense environments, such as those encountered by a soldier in the field, power plant employees working in harsh weather conditions, an emergency worker responding to a disaster or a worker in a mining plant.”
For frontline industries, AI integration into 5G networks could make a significant impact on worker health and safety.
4. More Unified Communication Across a Global Workforce
Network slicing and faster connection speeds means that 5G is better positioned to support a single platform where employees can collaborate in real time.
With 5G-supported mobile platforms, organizations can break down collaboration silos and encourage bottom-up communication.
When collaboration is siloed, or flows top-down in an organization, many employees don’t have the opportunity to be active participants and decision makers.
Consider file sharing in an organization that employs frontline workers. If that file is shared via email, chances are that it only circulates among the top stakeholders. Oftentimes, files are posted on bulletin boards, or stored in a back office, and they are difficult for frontline workers to access. But with a centralized mobile platform like Beekeeper, which is specifically designed for frontline workers, all employees can have instant access to important files right on their mobile devices.
More support for remote work also means that organizations can build a stronger global workforce. Widespread implementation of 5G will allow employees to work from any location and still have reliable network support.