How 5G and Wi-Fi 6 will spearhead the future of remote work


Telecommuting is here to stay, and advanced connectivity will be the guiding light.

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Remote work is the new reality. With some states still seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases, employees are realizing they may be working from home longer than they expected. This means that meetings held via video conference and conferences hosted as webinars may be commonplace for a while. 

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Some argue that remote work is the future of work, and that the coronavirus has only expedited its popularity. 

“Remote work is absolutely here to stay,” said Mick Slattery, president of CompuCom. “We’re going to see more than ever movement between locations. Sometimes I’m remote, sometimes I’m in the office.” 

Telecommuting presents some concerns, however. Worries associated with security, visibility, and communication are common, but networking and connectivity remain paramount. Professionals can’t work remotely if they don’t have the connectivity and infrastructure to do so. 

Working in and out of the office, Slattery said, “means I’m going to have the same level of expectations regardless of where I am, and my IT administrators are going to have to support me the same way, regardless of where I am.”

IT teams are looking for ways to bolster connectivity, with 5G and Wi-Fi 6 top of mind. 

Slattery said that tech professionals have long heard about 5G and its potential impact on field workers. While 5G’s potential on that scale is still there, Slattery said that there are even greater use cases right ahead. 

“I have heard about or experienced calls where people are concerned about if others in the house are on the Wi-Fi at the same time they’re trying to conduct something,” Slattery said, or they are concerned if their internet goes down. “For some organizations and some people in particular, when your Wi-Fi goes down during the middle of a super critical event call, maybe even a board interaction, that’s highly problematic.” 

The power of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 

“[Wi-Fi 6] and in particular 5G provides us better redundancy,” Slattery said. “Most of our offices don’t rely on just one network connection, but most of our people working from home are relying on one network connection. How do we make sure that the people who need to be productive and uninterrupted have the right resiliency? 5G would play a huge role in that.” 

The main appeal of 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are the fast speeds and reliability, said Jim Slowik, vice president of tech sales at CompuCom.

“Wi-Fi 6 and 5G offer the same synergy around the fact that it’s all about lower latency, better resiliency, some load balancing, and some of that seamless integration between those technologies,” Slowik said. “When one might take a dip, the other one picks up. That’s the stuff that I think is going to be groundbreaking for the new Wi-Fi.”

This tech is also helpful from a security side, Slattery said. 

“From an IT perspective, it also enables some higher order security capabilities,” Slattery said. “[It lets] you look at some of these devices that are more software defined, WAN-type devices that can extend the security perimeter out to the home and how 5G can help play a role in that.” 

5G and Wi-Fi 6 will be beneficial across industries, but especially with those that have highly  distributed locations, whether it be manufacturing, retail, offices, and the like, Slattery noted. 

“Think branches, think smaller offices, and you can think of industries from different aspects of financial services, including insurance; you can think of real estate, even retail,” Slattery said. “5G has the potential to be a very quick way to extend network coverage and also provide added redundancy into those locations without a lot of additional infrastructure.” 

For more, check out 5G rollouts grow amid COVID-19 crisis on TechRepublic. 

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