The next generation of workplace technology innovation will be in our homes. Now that so many more of us are working remotely, that trend is set to stay. As a PwC report states “it’s time to reimagine where and how work will get done,” and research from analyst firm, Gartner, found that 51 per cent of all knowledge workers can be expected to work remotely into the future – almost double the number that were in 2021.
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Professionals are not going to want to return to the offices, or at least, not permanently. One major expected consequence to the disruption of the past two years is that it will redefine how work is done and where people were previously spending five days in the office per week, going forward it will only be one or two days, and only when it’s necessary for a meeting or project.
Employers won’t fight this – research shows that both productivity and morale increases when people work from home – so, instead, the question will be how to maximise the remote working experience.
Technology will be the answer, and particularly IoT running over 5G networks. The impact that this relatively new technology combination will have on how people work has only just started to be realised.
IoT applications for professionals
IoT will allow people to connect securely to the corporate network, for example. Cloud- based management software will allow employers to provide their remote working employees with laptops and mobile devices, and then ensure that those are updated, patched, and monitored for unusual activity remote. Previously one of the great concerns about allowing employees to work from home was the difficulty in getting technical support if it was needed. This has been addressed through these management tools – the IT team no longer need to be physically present to troubleshoot, manage and support.
Meanwhile, AI assistants will continue to become more feature-rich, and of benefit to the remote employee. IoT-enabled devices like Alexa and Siri can already help with finding locations and making orders, but before long they’ll be able to schedule appointments, display work and deadline reminders, and otherwise help to organise the day.
Remote meetings will be enhanced but IoT technology, too. We’re already used to cameras and software working together to provide custom backgrounds to give meetings a professional edge, but AI-powered recording and transcription services will deliver each participant a full meeting minutes immediately after a call concludes.
The role 5G plays
5G has a major role to play in all of this, thanks to the extreme speeds and minimal latency that it offers. For example, 5G and IoT has been used in China to allow a doctor to manipulate a machine and operate on a patient thousands of miles away. Most of us don’t require tools of quite that precision for our own work days, but this does open up the opportunity for hands-on training sessions hosted remotely, or “live” physical collaboration even when the two participants are separate.
Another opportunity is in VR and AR, and in recent weeks we’ve seen Facebook talk up the “metaverse.” With Facebook being all-in on this it’s going to dominate the media cycle for some time to come, but there are workplace applications of it too. With regards to this
“convergence of the physical and digital” the idea is that we place ourselves within virtual spaces, and the connotations of that for both personal and professional lives is only just starting to be explored.
5G is critical to this, too. The idea of the metaverse is that it travels with the person and the transition between the digital and the physical is seamless. For that to occur, the Internet connection needs to be mobile and omnipresent, just as 5G is, and it will need the “window” into the world of the digital digital, such as mobile, laptops and VR devices, that are all connected – for the metaverse to work, IoT and 5G need to converge.
(Almost) endless possibilities
The applications of this are endless, and every sector will benefit. Rather than having to turn up to a house walk through, buyers could explore a digital recreation from within the comfort of their home. Customers will be able to access “in-person” professional services from experts from around the world. You’ll be able to “try on” clothing and other retail goods virtually before purchasing them online. AI will assist teams with the data crunching, and automation will free individuals up to focus on higher-value and more strategic tasks.
It’s often said that 5G is going to be the foundation of the next industrial revolution, and that many of the greatest applications of the technology haven’t even been thought of yet. In combination with IoT, however, the biggest impact that 5G will have will be to not only enable people to work remotely, with no impact to their productivity, but actually work even faster and more securely. Eventually, the office will be less a place that people work, and more a strategic resource for specific meetings and networking opportunities.