How 5G will reinvent “working from home”
Published on: April 20, 2020

It’s 10:00 am. Do you know where your employee is? No doubt they are working—somewhere.

Thanks to greatly improved internet connectivity and workforce applications, employees in an increasing number of professions can work just about anywhere they want—in their home, at a coffee shop, on a plane. And chances are they’re more productive and more engaged than they would be if they were in the office. They may even be planning to stay in their job longer because of their flexible work location. In 2017, Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom, in a TED Talk, went so far as to call work-from-home potentially as innovative as the driverless car.

Now, work-from-home is itself about to be disrupted, by the coming of 5G and its ability to enable virtual reality (VR) anywhere through what’s known as XR, the combination of extended, augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technologies. Fifth-generation (5G) communications networks, with their exponentially faster connection speeds, capacity, and communication response times (known as latency), will make possible an astonishing range of innovative new products and services.

As history has shown, new opportunities abound when wireless connectivity becomes faster and costs less. Watching HD video on a smartphone could only have been made possible with the shift from 3G to 4G, just as surfing the web went mobile with the jump from 2G to 3G. Now the shift from 4G to 5G will fundamentally change how, where, when, and in what ways we work.

Imagine being able to interact with a full-size “digital twin” of every place and thing that exists in the physical world, all from a home office. A plant manager in Seattle can immerse herself in a factory in Vietnam; she can see, hear, feel, even smell the shop floor. Avatars of executives can appear in a conference room anywhere in the world. Doctors can even assist with surgeries in faraway hospitals, operating remotely using immersive 3D holograms beamed right into their homes or offices.

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