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Submitted by NAV Insights on 15 April 2020

Make Work From Home Better with Best Practices in Your Remote Work Technology Environment

Are you struggling to get your work-from-home environment set up to help you function like you did in the office? Are you sharing internet and WiFi with your spouse, partner, roommate, or kids? Is your video conferencing glitchy and your download speed suffering? 

As confirmed COVID-19 cases increase in the U.S., most businesses are requiring employees work from home. From WiFi routers to a quality headset, here are the things you need to make working from home easier for you.

A High-Quality Broadband Package

When you work from home, you need the same quality and reliability of your internet connection as when you were in the office. If you don’t have a strong internet connection, your productivity and patience will suffer because of the time spent waiting for information to download and upload. So, what do you do?

Tip: Check Your Download and Upload Speeds

Most Internet Service Providers (ISP) offer levels or tiers of service, measured by megabits per second (Mbps), that determine how much bandwidth you get. It’s helpful to use a tool like speedtest.net to compare your download and upload speeds with the current ISP service package you pay for each month. 

If you think you need more bandwidth to accommodate teleconferencing, large file sharing, video editing, and other bandwidth-intensive tasks, now might be a good time to upgrade your ISP service plan. 

Tip: It Might Be Time for a Modem Upgrade

The modem you use for your Internet connection also has an effect on your overall speed. If you are using a low-tier or older modem on a high-speed connection, you will not get the full speed promised by your ISP. If you rent your modem from your ISP, you might want to contact your ISP to see if you have the most upgraded equipment. You might also want to consider installing your own modem, which will save you the rental fee and likely give you faster speeds. Check your ISP’s terms about the use of customer-owned modems and see if it supplies a list of recommended or approved models. 

Fast and Reliable WiFi

Since most devices now connect wirelessly, your WiFi performance will impact your experience working from home.

Your speed will be limited by both the ISP service package and the networking equipment you are using in your home. A slow wireless router or WiFi connectivity can bottleneck your speed even if you have a great ISP internet package.

Tip: Routers and Segmenting Networks Matter

If you’ve had the same router for more than five years, now might be a good time to upgrade. Newer routers offer dual- and tri-band wireless networks. With newer, multi-band routers, you can segment your wireless network into two networks. Segmenting your network can improve performance while also increasing security. 

In addition, placement of your wireless router can play a big part in your connectivity and network speeds. Certain objects and materials are worse than others in regard to degrading signal.

Note that ISPs often provide a combo box with both modem and router in one box. This could cause network problems if you are also trying to use your own router with this type of box. In this case, you will want to put the ISP provided modem/router combo box into bridge mode.

Tip: A Mesh Network or Ethernet Cable Could Help

If you aren’t getting the WiFi performance you need after checking your ISP, modem, and router, you might want to consider investing in a WiFi mesh network system. This approach doesn’t just repeat a signal as a network extender does; it strengthens the signal, which improves connection speed. Google WiFi, Eero, and AmpliFi are excellent entry-level mesh WiFi systems. 

One last thing to consider is your Ethernet cable. If speed continues to feel sluggish even after you upgrade your equipment and service, hard wiring your laptop to the router is the most reliable way to improve speed and latency. 

A Webcam for Video Conferencing

Working from home means an increase in video calls on a platform like Microsoft Teams, which is why it is important to have the right video conferencing equipment. If you have a laptop, chances are you already have a built-in webcam. Sometimes, the quality of a built-in camera isn’t ideal, so you might need to purchase a webcam. Nowadays, you can find HD and even 4K webcams that fit any budget. While the quality and performance of your webcam are important, lighting and positioning also help you get the best result possible.

A Headset to Make Phone Calls Easy

One must-have while working at home is a headset or good set of headphones—and that doesn’t always mean the same ones you use for listening to music. The best options reduce ambient sounds around you, minimize distractions, and capture clean audio for uninterrupted conversations. Important factors to consider when selecting your headset or headphone include:

  • Comfort
  • Audio quality
  • Battery life
  • Noise cancellation
  • Roam range

Whether due to self-quarantining or companies mandating working from home, these tips and tools for your home technology environment will keep you productive. Want more tips? Read Working From Home: 5 Tips From Experienced Telecommuting Veterans or view our webinar, How To Successfully Deploy a Remote Workforce.