Moderator: Klaus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chariman
- Chalan Aras, VP Products, Citrix
- Glenn Garbelmann, VP Access Architecture & Engineering, CenturyLink
- John Cioffi, Chairman & CEO, ASSIA, Inc
Moderator: Klaus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chariman
Over the next five years, $8 trillion in value gains will be realized by companies migrating to a modern and distributed workforce.
Globally, a viable work from home population exists within eight regions, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and higher-earning portions of ASIAPAC.
A few common and specific traits make these regions strong candidates for work from home, such as high personal and corporate income level, availability of infrastructure, the level of economic development, and a cultural openness to remote work.
Collectively, these eight viable geographies have a population of one billion. The working populace consists of 400 million people, and of those, 160 million will be permanent work from home.
Not only does this translate to a massive talent pool of remote workers, it’s also a major economic benefit to organizations interested in adopting a modern workforce.
Each remote worker saves their employer an average of $10,000 a year on workspace and related expenses. And these benefits are realized by employees as well, who can save between $2,500 and $4,000 a year spending part of the week working from home.
Twitter, Facebook, Slack, Shopify, and more have already announced long-term plans for permanent work from home. Shopify has permanent plans for employees to be remote-only and intend to rework office spaces to reflect this change.
Reducing the importance of a centralized location makes it easier for companies and organizations to re-allocate operational budgets to other areas. Gartner found that 22% of companies have either made or are planning to make cuts to real estate expenses in coming months as a response to work from home. Moody’s Analytics is already forecasting 20% vacancies for commercial real estate by 2022.
Across 160 million remote workers, these savings translate to $1.6 trillion in annual value creation. Over five years, that’s $8 trillion.
We’re witnessing a long-term shift towards working from home. Nearly three in four CFOs plan to shift a portion of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions. Beyond public health and safety, there are several financial drivers incentivizing work from home.
We’re already seeing companies alter their leases and on-site contracts as part of a permanent adjustment. A recent Gartner survey revealed that in April of 2020, 13% of respondents had already made cuts to real estate expenses, with an additional 9% planning to do so in the near future.
This coincides with the cost saving efforts we’re seeing companies make in technology spend and other on-site overhead that have become less critical in a predominately distributed, work from home environment.
Multiplied across a workforce, savings associated with reduced operational expenses translates to significant numbers. According to Global Workplace Analytics, companies will save an average of $11,000 a year per employee when employees work from home at least part-time.
Rent and utility costs. Maintenance. Travel expenses. It all adds up, and not just for the employer.
The same Global Workplace Analytics report demonstrates cost savings for employees who work from home. This includes a reduction in transportation costs, fewer lunches bought out, and less need for professional wardrobe and accessories. Annually, employees who spend a portion of their week working from home are saving between $2,500 and $4,000.
But it’s more than just cost savings, employees who work from home are actually happier and more productive.
A Harvard Business Review study found a 4.4% increase in productivity when employees work from home. This boost comes from a variety of sources, including better work-life balance, a decrease in commute time, quieter noise levels, and fewer interruptions.
The shift towards a modern and distributed workforce is proving to be incredibly popular with employees. 44% of employees would take a pay cut to permanently work from home. One 2019 study shows that remote employees work an average of 1.4 days more than their office counterparts. Another shows a dramatic reduction in absenteeism.
The positive response from employees demonstrates a bigger benefit than a reduction in costs. It shows demand for a modern approach to work.
On December 31st, 2019, there were around 25 million Americans working from home. That’s about 16% of the population in total, with 6% of the workforce holding full-time remote positions.
In March 2020, twenty million jobs were lost or furloughed, mainly due to an inability to transition into telework. Simultaneously, companies rapidly moved 60-80% of the remaining personnel to work from home.
But let’s talk about the future.
When offices open up again, most experts project 40-50% of American employees will spend a portion of their week working from home. Using a conservative estimate, this comes out to roughly 55 million Americans, more than twice the number of employees working from home than when we started the year.
Jonathan Dingel and Brent Nieman from the University of Chicago School of Business found that 37% of American jobs can be done entirely from home. Other studies, like World Bank Group’s Jobs’ Amenability to Working from Home, estimate the number of American work from home jobs to be closer to 61%.
The difference comes down to how you classify face-to-face occupational requirements. A waiter will be unable to fulfill their duties remotely, whereas an accountant is capable of doing many of their functions with only a computer and an internet connection.
As companies make adjustments and remove obstacles to remote work, the percentage of work from home jobs goes up. Some positions will be able to adopt work from home habits for at least part of the week. For example, a job that once required daily face-to-face interactions might rely more heavily on telecommunication and occasional, scheduled visits to the office.
Positions capable of pivoting to work from home typically garner higher pay than those unable to shift to telework. All in, remote-friendly positions account for 46% of all wages earned in the country. These affluent positions include tech, legal, financial, engineering, administration, and management.
Companies are already allocating significant portions of their budgets to promote a long-term work from home strategy, including monthly stipends for expenses. There’s an opportunity to meet the needs of organizations who want to keep these high-earning employees engaged and productive.
As occupational requirements change to better accommodate remote work, an even larger pool of employees will need support. Both Dingel/Nieman and the World Bank Group identified areas outside the United States with viable remote work opportunities.
So is work from home economy here to stay?
Over the past six months we’ve learned the important role residential internet plays in our daily and professional lives. With a projected 55 million Americans expected to continue working from home post-pandemic, we are now seeing a permanent shift towards a distributed and modern workforce. This also means greater reliance on a strong and stable internet connection.
In March, new usage and Quality of Experience data emerged from the surge of shelter-in-place internet activity. By April, average monthly usage jumped to 402.8gb per household, a 26% spike from January and a 47% increase from the previous year.
To accommodate this new demand, ISPs and carriers took drastic steps to increase speeds and lift data caps on residential customers to support work from home. While most networks previously planned out additional capacity over years, the pandemic forced telecoms to act faster in order to maintain connectivity.
This spike in internet activity coincides with the large uptake in streaming, gaming, and teleconferencing. Average daily use in 2020 has already exceeded the highest usage peaks of 2019.
This includes single-day records for the major video conferencing applications, like a 2,900% increase in Zoom participants, 2.7 billion minutes spent in Microsoft Teams, and 3,800 years spent in Google Meet. Again, all in a single day.
Several of these applications saw triple-digit increases in search volume as work-from-home users sought out ways to maintain communication with colleagues and collaborators. Zoom witnessed a 1,562% increase in daily search volume over February and March.
But most of these applications are running over connections that are not equipped to handle the heavy upstream demand of video conferencing. Over these periods of high use, upload traffic has doubled, rising at a faster pace than the infrastructure was built for. This is one of the reasons 52.9% of Americans experience monthly connectivity problems.
Daily, 15.5% of users encounter some degradation to Quality of Experience. Over a video call, these dips in connectivity manifest as delays, glitches, and breaks in communication. Eventually, poor Quality of Experience results in a loss of productivity. Not just for the user, but for everyone participating in the call.
With 42.8 million Americans living without access to stable broadband, it’s clear that most residential homes do not have the enterprise-grade internet needed to support the data-hungry apps of remote work. Around 10 million live with poor cell signal and daily internet connectivity issues, which will not be conducive to communications or productivity.
Teleconferencing requires uninterrupted transfers of data packets, a need that only grows for large groups and screen sharing. This will be a major challenge for employers who look to embrace the benefits of a long-term remote strategy (link to modern and distributed post).
More than half of all Americans say that the internet has been essential during COVID-19, especially for those who plan to work from home in the future. Nearly 43% of full-time employees hope to stay remote, if possible. To do so successfully, companies, carriers, and employees will need to see a boost in connectivity.
Once we stop thinking of location as a qualifier for employment, it makes it a lot easier to hire quality talent from a significantly larger pool. It even saves money. But it all starts with a shift to remote work.
A modern, distributed workforce experiences several cost-saving benefits, like a reduction in office expenses (linkback to Argument for Remote post), but it also expands the volume of available candidates.
Consider the following: nearly 70% of employers report shortages in talent, despite the fact that there are more skilled workers than vacant positions.
There’s a variety of reasons employees leave. Some of it is a large population of Boomers retiring out of the workforce. Some of it is due to pay. An employee in San Francisco faces cost-of-living expenses that are twice that of someone in Detroit, and as such demands a larger salary. But one of the top reasons is work-life balance. Simply put, burn out sends quality employees packing.
When 60-80% of American employees shifted to work from home, a majority reported an improvement in work-life balance. Of those surveyed, 60% say their work-life balance has improved without a commute. This is why remote workers typically register higher job satisfaction scores.
There are benefits beyond public safety and retention. Work from home presents opportunities for cost savings and talent acquisition.
Let’s revisit those two employees from San Francisco and Detroit. To facilitate the cost-of-living in San Francisco, an employer would need to pay their high-skilled talent upwards of $100,000 a year. Yet this same employee living in Detroit would be able to maintain the exact same lifestyle for less than $50,000 annually. Companies in the Bay Area are unlikely to even see a resume from a prospect planning to stay out in Michigan.
By binding employment to a geographical location, employers place themselves at an economic disadvantage. While the above example might be on the extreme end of cost of living, using averages from across the country, we can see a possible savings of 5-10% reduction in payroll costs when employees work from home.
Embracing a modern workforce, one that’s not tied to a physical office, also expands the pool of available talent. Work from home can help re-introduce employees who may have left due to location or office culture. Remote policies provide access to workers with disabilities. It can also help broaden your organization’s geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural diversity.
And all of this is possible on a global scale.
A study conducted in April of 2020 identified international regions best suited for work from home. They included the US, Canada, parts of Europe, and high-income areas within ASIAPAC.
The commonalities that make remote work viable in these regions include the level of economic development, high personal and corporate income level, the availability of infrastructure, and a cultural openness to remote work.
Collectively, these areas represent a cohort of roughly one-billion people, with a working population of about 400 million. Around 80% of these workers are concentrated in 8 regions: The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and higher-earning parts of ASIAPAC.
Making a physical location an occupational requirement limits the talent pool and increases costs.
As with many companies, ASSIA adjusts and progresses to the new normal that the global pandemic suddenly created earlier this year. ASSIA’s employees have transitioned to work-from-home, but ASSIA’s productivity has remained high; frankly, much higher than I expected. Many executives at other companies confirm this similar experience and surprise. When vaccines and/or cures are found, and it becomes feasible for all or any to return to the office, ASSIA and many other companies believe that employees will then still spend at least half their time working remotely. We transcend together to our collective new normal.
In this new normal, broadband connectivity becomes foundational to productivity. An enterprise’s survivability relies on uninterrupted interparty communication, wherever their locations. A poor connection is more than an annoyance. When multiplied across a teleconference, the productivity loss increases with the number of collaborating participants. When multiplied across a company, it is a significant loss of workhours. As such, it becomes crucial to ensure strong and stable connectivity to and from our workforce’s homes.
There is a relationship between connectivity and productivity that can be well learned with artificial intelligence. I call the learned productivity’s connectivity-related component “workput”; i.e., work throughput. By collecting Quality of Service and Quality of Experience data, ASSIA can learn and recognize a poor connection’s productivity-influencing indicators with workput. Predictions and consequent proactive adjustments and/or reactive interventions can then optimize an employee or their companies’ workput through correspondingly workput-optimized connectivity. In short, productivity consequently improves.
ASSIA’s new Equipe solution uses machine learning to measure workput and improve connectivity. Equipe software improves the work from home employee’s productivity and Equipe’s tool ecosystem helps IT administrators troubleshoot connections. Equipe also enables carriers to respond more rapidly and more effectively. As ASSIA Equipe servers learn a company’s workput-connectivity needs more accurately with time, Equipe continues to improve workput.
Work-from-home demonstrates to many globally the need for a reliable and fast internet connection. ASSIA’s Equipe will combine learned and updated knowledge to prioritize work-related flows and optimize effective and efficient fail-over to reduce current productivity loss. As such, Equipe will consequently enhance future reliable speeds for all home applications.
Today and tomorrow, ASSIA supports global partners who will help us all transcend our households to more business-enhancing network experiences. ASSIA’s solutions and expertise will continue to empower our partners and customers to the new broadband normal. All our work from home employees will then be able to improve their workput with ASSIA’s Equipe solution.
Chairman & CEO, ASSIA, Inc.
Broadband connection has taken center stage during Covid-19 as subscribers of all sorts rely on the internet for almost everything—from frequent video conferencing to distance learning. This pervasive and ongoing Wi-Fi use requires service providers to move even more quickly to address customers’ demands and needs.
Optimizing for excellent customer experience can come at a high cost unless service providers take a proactive approach to maintaining networks and detecting issues before they arise. And, further, giving consumers the ability to solve problems quickly on their own, without having to call an agent or request a visit. Doing this gives subscribers what they want, and also reduces the costs needed to serve them.
As demand for high-bandwidth services increases, network operators and service providers are searching for the fastest, most reliable, and cost-effective broadband delivery. With this comes a complexity of network management issues to ensure that the customers get the bandwidth they are paying for and expecting.
ASSIA solutions are designed to manage the challenges of deploying and operating a multi-platform networks (DSL, GPON, cable) and to reduce complexity in their overall operations. When subscribers can’t resolve issues on their own, service providers risk high operating costs from lengthy support calls, unnecessary truck rolls, or replacing perfectly healthy hardware. And possibly all of this without resolving the root cause of the performance issues.
Optimization, though, is precisely what fixes many common problems. A combination of Expresse and CloudCheck gives service providers full network path visibility and diagnostics, from the exchange to Wi-Fi connected devices inside the home. And, they give providers the means to optimize and address issues before they occur. When customers call service centers, agents are quickly able to troubleshoot where the problem exists, diagnose, and resolve them.
Recently, ASSIA has performed in-depth work with multiple customers to help them improve operations around the world. We studied detailed call data and technical measurements that our system collects to tune up our optimization and diagnostic algorithms.
Key metrics we measure include:
We also do detailed analysis over a month or more to monitor any seasonal issues or other impacts on the service.
Our results with one customer showed:
Altogether, we were able to show our customers, with actual data, how our software and technology help them control costs and deliver a better experience to their customers.
Demonstrated revenue and cost savings per 1,000,000 lines with an ASSIA customer
What has been a service provider’s greatest challenge can also be considered their greatest opportunity: resolving technical issues without an in-person visit. The CloudCheck mobile application helps call center agents, field technicians, and subscribers work together to solve problems and handle installation remotely.
Through this app, field technicians can use CloudCheck to optimize the Wi-Fi network environment. And, when a customer calls in, the agent can view the entire network to see whether the issue is inside a subscriber’s home or outside and fix the problem without requiring a field technician to make an in-person visit unless deemed necessary. Remote management provides access to functionalities from anywhere once user-authenticated, so users can manage their networks remotely and field techs can conclude work orders.
An end-user application offers subscribers real-time information about what’s going on with their Wi-Fi and assistance with self-installation and troubleshooting. Features include:
Self-service and field technician apps
ASSIA also provides diagnostics and recommendations so users can improve service on their own. And, to improve the service down the line, subscribers can leave feedback through the app.
ASSIA is a strategic partner and trusted vendor to over 35 service providers worldwide with more than 125 million broadband and Wi-Fi lines under contract, in 17 countries, across 5 continents. ASSIA is a trusted name in the industry for a reason. Our products are built and maintained by experts and leverage our global experience to make internet connections run faster and more reliably by optimizing the performance of whatever infrastructure is in place—copper, fiber, various generations of Wi-Fi including Wi-Fi 6, or 5G. As a result, ASSIA has a deep understanding of the challenges services providers face—from network stability to cost controls to churn.
What matters to internet subscribers is that things work when they need them to. Speed and reliability take center stage when the bandwidth they’re paying for is not what they’re getting. Imagine the frustration of not seeing or hearing participants in a sales call on Zoom, or not having them see or listen to you. When issues like this occur, providers should expect a flood of calls or possibly churn.
Quality of Experience (QoE) is more than raw speed measurement; it ensures that end-users get the internet experience they want on whatever device they use—upstream or downstream. Consumers care more about “just working” than any technical measurements. That’s why providers need to make sure there is enough bandwidth to support end-users and their services, with a little headroom or extra in reserve.
Delivering a QoE that meets or exceeds industry standards can be complicated. ASSIA is working with regulators to define and implement better ways to measure QoE for every customer type. Here’s why that’s important.
Global telecommunications regulators are adopting stringent rules to ensure service providers deliver advertised/minimum speeds, with financial consequences such as allowing consumers to terminate contracts when commitments are not met. To increase and measure speeds, service providers must manage the loads on their networks, which means frequent testing—a challenge when the equipment to run the tests requires a lot of processing power.
Service providers are on the front lines of customer complaints. They must diagnose lagging performance and get the issue resolved—quickly. Whether the choke point is the Wi-Fi inside the house or the broadband to the home, taking a proactive approach to monitoring, diagnosing, and fixing issues ensures better service and lowers costs. It’s not only the speed of the network to the house, but also performance inside the house and through the system. Test often, not now and then.
ASSIA TruSpeed is a CloudCheck® software module that enables service providers, communications regulators, and wholesalers to gain visibility to true broadband and Wi-Fi throughput across the entire network. TruSpeed uses cloud-based machine learning to intelligently monitor and measure broadband and Wi-Fi speeds while assessing bottlenecks across five key points. Other solutions that only measure broadband speeds (not Wi-Fi) can disrupt subscriber experience or are constrained by the limited number of measurements gathered across a subset of the network.
TruSpeed throughput measurements
In a growing number of countries, regulatory agencies require service providers to directly or indirectly provide speed data to the public. Traditional approaches rely on crowdsourced data or expensive hardware or one-off testing. These methods lack accuracy and reliability because of a limited sample size across the network. With TruSpeed, all network lines are tested regularly (including during peak hours). All data collected can be aggregated for regulatory compliant reporting. Transparency of this data shows end users that they are getting the experience they are paying for and regulators that service is being delivered as advertised.
ASSIA has a deep understanding of customer requirements and the expectations of service providers and regulators. We maintain the highest standards of measurement and are working on technologies to improve internet connectivity worldwide. To that end, we will be conducting a study to obtain a complete picture of how testing and how quality assurances can be enhanced end to end. We aim to provide consumers with the confidence that they are getting the service they need and deserve.