Internet Speed for Work Productivity at Home: It’s Not the New Normal, but the Next Normal

How has the pandemic stress-tested the busy digital home? The center of daily life has accelerated connectivity and technology, blurring the lines between our physical lives and the digital world as a result, according to a survey by Deloitte

The pandemic certainly rallied telecoms, digital service providers, device makers, and institutions to keep the nation connected and productive. Overall, existing technology helped many companies see how they could support and even accelerate use cases in a pandemic world. 

Many devices

Deloitte’s Connectivity and Mobile Trends survey of US households explored the extent to which lives have changed — and how global mobility professionals and employers are moving to meet expectations, which is good timing considering that most tech companies in the Bay Area are going to require employees to report to work at least three times a week, even if they have all the devices they need to work.

In corporate apartments in northern California, households have a wide array of devices, services and communications tools. The average household has a total of 25 connected devices. These include laptops, tablets, and smartphones, video streaming devices and smart TVs, wireless headphones and earbuds, smart home devices, fitness trackers and connected exercise machines, among others.

Who worked at home with all these devices? At the start of 2021, 55% of US households included someone working from home; 43% had someone schooling from home. 

Both groups agreed that the top benefit was the ability to reduce the chances of getting COVID-19, closely followed by having no commute and being more comfortable. Both felt more connected to family and better able to manage wellness. 

In other cities, shifting productivity into the home has exposed some of the limits of current technology and connectivity solutions, with home workers and homeschoolers noting video conferencing problems, slow or unstable home internet service, and balky systems assessed for work or school. This is not an issue with California Corporate Housing where guests are furnished with super fast Wi-Fi connectivity. 

In the survey,  21% said not being able to meet face to face with colleagues was the most difficult for companies and employees, not the technology. With the grand reopening of California on June 15, which means no required capacity limits, no more physical distancing and loose mask mandates, online work will not be the predominant scenario for most companies, especially those offering a hybrid work-office system: work 3 days at the office, 2 days at home. Among the tech companies in Silicon Valley, Apple is offering this hybrid system when its employees come back to work in September.  

The next normal 

Instead of the new normal, workers are looking forward to what could be called the next normal — when normal life resumes, but with some definite changes in work arrangements. Many are looking at various implications in a hybrid work system, especially if they need the following questions answered soon:

  • Will households demand more connectivity and solutions at home? What new behaviors might be working their way into the home?
  • Which roles and industries are likely to assume a hybrid model, and which may return to full-time duty at the office?
  • How can connectivity providers and companies work together to deliver the next generation of productivity solutions?
  • Is there an economic imperative to expand high-speed connectivity to rural communities? 

5G solution 

The pandemic has served as a massive experiment with next-generation solutions that further blend physical and digital lives. Providers are starting to offer fixed 5G internet to the home. While many homes won’t get 5G home internet if it costs more than their current service, California Corporate Housing can’t wait to offer it to assignees and workers in the Bay Area.

Here are some 5G home internet offers key benefits:

Affordability — Once 5G is more widespread, 5G home internet will become one of the most cost-efficient internet services available.

Gig speeds — 5G speeds will be significantly faster than what most households have, with the potential to reach 1,000 Mbps.

No contracts or hidden fees — Currently, most of the carriers offering, or getting ready to offer, fixed wireless 5G are promising no contracts or hidden fees, which includes free installation.

Low latency — With reduced latency, data between a source and its destination will be able to transfer much faster. This means fewer delays, fewer buffering and lag instances, which is important when video chatting with co-workers