Ready Or Not: 3 Ways The Pandemic Is Reshaping The Workforce
If business leaders learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that flexibility in workforce management is key to future success.
Many organizations that managed to rapidly pivot when Covid-19 hit—by sending their employees home equipped to work—not only survived but also thrived. The forced reset imposed by the pandemic has even in some cases been a catalyst for accelerating the digital transformation process that is essential for future success.
A 2020 Gartner survey concluded that 82% of company leaders in the United States plan to facilitate remote work for employees at least part of the time, and 47% intend to allow full-time remote working.
Changes to how we work—in particular, the emergence of hybrid work—were beginning to happen years ago. But the pandemic has launched these changes into overdrive, forcing the economy to rapidly reconfigure to keep business going when working close together is not an option.
Here are three ways Covid-19 brought the future closer and some pointers on how fast, reliable and broadly available 5G connectivity will help us conquer tomorrow’s work environments.
1.A Workforce Enabled By Automation And AI
Gartner has identified that the traditional approach—managing a full-time workforce of office-based employees—can result in a team whose skills quickly become outdated and can fall short of meeting the changing needs of a business. Artificial intelligence, automation and other advances were having a profound impact on how work was organized even pre-Covid. Gartner had already documented in 2019 that 37% of enterprises responding to its CIO Survey were beginning to implement AI, up from 10% only four years before. Now enterprises are pivoting toward a workforce model that can also include freelancers and gig workers, supplemented by robots and AI-augmented resources—a mix that becomes more agile, scalable and resilient. Added to this, now that work-from-home (WFH) has become more established, employees too can be offered more flexibility in how and where they work.
Forrester has also acknowledged this same trend, going as far as to say in April 2020, “The Future of Work Starts Now.” Its report spelled out four major “shocks” that were about to impact workplaces: systemic risk, including not only current and potential future pandemics but also growing economic, climate and political uncertainty; the rise in robots and automation; employee data; and employee power. This latter point has a considerable effect on workforce strategy, since employees who have embraced the freedoms of WFH may be reluctant to give them up.
2.A Work-From-Anywhere Mindset
5G, along with the smart tools it enables, is integral to helping businesses adapt to this new hybrid model, blending remote working with some time in a socially distanced office environment. One of the earlier myths about home-based workers was that they must have lower productivity than those who work daily in an office. We now know that the opposite can be true—that the improvement in work-life balance, resulting from being nearer to family and from being able to trade commuting time for more exercise or social activities, can often enhance productivity.
“Flexibility, collaboration and productivity have always been key to running an effective business—and are especially critical during a global pandemic,” says Mike Katz, executive vice president of T-Mobile, in his recent blog. “Now, thanks to more efficient data networks, 5G technology and a work-from-anywhere (WFX) philosophy, we’re entering a new world of workforce mobility.”
While time in the office needs to be spent productively, particularly when it comes to interacting directly with co-workers, the primary requirement when working elsewhere requires high-speed connections that enable employees to work as effectively as if they were in the office. T-Mobile’s WFX solutions include home office internet, which provides a reliable, separate high-speed internet connection for a company’s at-home workforce, over its 5G network, prioritizing safety and security. Because it is a separate connection for work, home-based workers won’t have to compete for bandwidth with family members who are streaming movies or playing video games, and it also guarantees enterprise-level security to protect corporate data and systems.
WFX also serves the many field-based workers who are neither at home nor in the office, equipping them with a secure and reliable connection that can even support augmented reality tools to help them carry out complex tasks effectively.
3. Digital-Centric Microbusinesses
The new WFX paradigm is also providing opportunities for progressively minded microbusinesses to start up and grow. Figures from the U.S. Small Business Administration show that America’s microbusinesses—those with fewer than 10 employees—made up almost 75% of all private sector employers in 2016, and accounted for 11% of private sector employees. Despite tough times for businesses, some small enterprises with innovative business models—like pop-up retail outlets, online fitness coaches and a new generation of parcel couriers—have thrived during the pandemic. Part of the reason for their success is their ability to set up online ordering, contactless payments and delivery tracking using 5G without the need for costly IT infrastructure.
Embracing A Flexible Strategy For Business Success
Gartner has suggested that hybrid workforce strategies are in fact more complex than just allowing employees to work remotely for part of the week. It says that in a true hybrid workforce model, one in which productivity and engagement are a priority, employers and employees need to agree that business objectives determine who carries out the work and when and where it is done.
Both WFH and WFX are long-term trends that will continue after the Covid-19 pandemic fades away. By reducing the need for regularly attending a conventional office, 5G-powered WFX—whether at home, in the field, or at any kind of flexible work location—provides an agile new way of working that improves employee motivation and wellbeing while helping businesses to achieve better outcomes.
5G: Capable device required; coverage not available in some areas. While 5G access won’t require a certain plan or feature, some uses/services might. See Coverage details, Terms and Conditions, and Open Internet information for network management details (like video optimization) at T-Mobile.com.