Untethering the remote workforce with 5G
In the age of 5G and remote work, professionals can make moves and work wherever they can connect to the network.
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When the coronavirus pandemic hit, the Jennings family felt trapped. Like millions of Americans, Crystal and her husband Sean were suddenly stuck at home trying to work remotely while caring for their restless children. Record temperatures in Phoenix, Arizona, meant many days when Brixton, now 8, Beckham, 5, and Boston, 2, couldn’t even go outside to play. Says Crystal, “We literally felt we had nowhere to go to escape.”
Fortunately, Crystal got approval from her marketing agency to work remotely permanently, allowing the family the chance to fulfill a longtime dream of moving to a farm in the country. Being self-employed, Sean worked from home, too. But their chosen destination of Meridian, Idaho—a friendly community with good schools and a lower cost of living—was unfamiliar territory to them. The Jennings’ top concern? Whether they’d have access to fast, reliable internet.
Fortunately, Verizon offered wireless coverage they could count on: Crystal found that she could make video calls while Sean found he could readily share files for his own marketing work. “Verizon’s network allowed me to give clients the same level of service had I still been in the office,” says Sean.
Remote work is here to stay
The Jennings are hardly alone. Remote work is here to stay. Fully 97 percent of workers want some form of remote work post-pandemic, according to a recent FlexJobs survey, with 58 percent preferring to work remotely full time. Employers are increasingly embracing this trend because it allows them to attract and keep the best talent. Nearly 80 percent of respondents in the FlexJobs survey said they would be more loyal to their employer if they were offered flexible work options.
Companies benefit in other ways as well: In a physical office environment, they lose $600 billion a year to workplace distractions, according to research by Global Workplace Analytics, while remote workers are 35–40% more productive than their in-person counterparts.
With professionals increasingly relocating from urban areas like New York and Los Angeles, the benefits are widely shared. Companies get access to larger talent pools, not just city-based professionals.
“Remote work is a win-win, because the employee can move to a location of choice and save money in cost of living, and the employer will see higher productivity and lower attrition, and save on real estate costs,” concludes a Harvard Business School report co-authored by Prithwiraj Choudhury, an associate professor in the school’s Technology and Operations Management Unit.
Our new out-of-office lives
Many of those gains are made possible thanks to mobile connectivity plans like the Jennings family uses.
For Crystal and Sean, the biggest benefit of their connection is the ability to raise their children the way they grew up. While working remotely from a converted shipping container in her backyard, Crystal can enjoy the view of their donkey and pony grazing in a grassy field and watch their boys build forts and pick blackberries.
“We truly have the best of both worlds—connectivity and nature at its best,” she says. “We certainly wouldn’t have been able to live our work-from-home, mini-farm lifestyle if we didn’t have a reliable internet connection [where we live].”
David Reischer couldn’t agree more. When COVID-19 reached New York City in March of 2020, the 47-year-old lawyer and his wife Olga left Queens for West Dover, Vermont. Avid skiers, they had visited southern Vermont often and always planned to buy a place in that area. The pandemic provided the push they needed. Social distancing in a tiny village of less than a thousand residents was infinitely easier than in the dense metropolis of New York City. That was a critical factor since they live with David’s elderly parents, who are at a greater risk of infection.
To his delight, David found he could do his work remotely with videoconferencing and still have plenty of time to ski and enjoy quiet little moments like walking his dog and saying hello to neighbors he knows on a first-name basis.
The remote-work lifestyle means something completely different to Kelli Lovett, 34, and her partner Eddie Kingswell, 32. Living in Atlanta, they became fed up with what she calls “long hours and zero work-life balance.” In 2018, they quit their jobs, bought a van and began a nomadic life on the road, parking their van at roadside rest stops and campgrounds. Both were able to work remotely whenever they had an internet connection—Kelli as a consulting technical accountant and Eddie teaching English online—and indulge their love of traveling at the same time. “I was extremely nervous about how I was going to start a new consulting business relying on a hotspot,” she says. “But over the last three and a half years, we have witnessed the potential of wireless connections explode.”
Their new life is not without hiccups—Eddie sometimes has to teach at bizarre hours because of time zone differences—but they consider that a small price to pay. “The lifestyle and freedom that today’s connectivity has afforded us is unbelievable,” Kelli says. “We can travel without having to sacrifice our careers or income.”
5G Ultra Wideband and the future of work
For the growing number of remote workers, video and audio in HD, possible with 5G Ultra Wideband, will be crucial to support productivity and collaboration while working from home—or on the road. 5G Ultra Wideband, which is available in select areas, can help usher in this new future of work, and with its latest expansion people around the U.S. will have access to the network’s massive capacity and low latency, which allow for connected devices to operate with low lag time.
Watch Verizon’s Up to Speed Live episode to learn how unlocking the potential of video and audio streaming in HD with 5G Ultra Wideband, works:
The bandwidth available with 5G technology has other major implications for the way we work, giving rise to innovations like Verizon’s BlueJeans virtual office, Spaces. This new platform allows users to build a 3D avatar, have real-time conversations, whiteboard and brainstorm “in-person” and have spontaneous interactions, much like a real office. The next generation of the BlueJeans platform combines these abilities with high-quality audio, HD video and web-conferencing capabilities that integrate seamlessly into leading collaboration tools such as Office 365, Google Calendar and more. BlueJeans’ in-app intelligence can also capture the most important meeting discussion points, assign action items and quickly replay highlights to make each meeting far more effective.
For families like the Jennings, the potential for greater connectivity in more areas is promising for the future they have dreamed of. Back in Meridian, Idaho, the Jennings family are the opposite of nomads, reveling in a powerful sense of place. They have become so enamored of their lifestyle that they are creating a nonprofit called On Some Farm to encourage more families to make the transition to rural life. “We wanted to feel that no matter what was going on in the world around us, we had our own ‘happy place,’” says Crystal. “We wanted our kids to feel connected to what matters, what brings peace. And I think now they do.”