How to Work Remotely and Stay Connected with Better Internet
The office is becoming a distant memory for many workers, and while the Next Normal will mean people will go back to the office, flexibility is here to stay. But flexibility is only beneficial when you can be as productive at home as in the office.
You don’t want to miss a call with a customer because your internet cuts out. Or for your boss to miss your brilliant insight because your connection freezes.
We’ve all become accustomed to it and have treated each other kindly, but let’s face it – that’s not what the Next Normal should look like.
What it should look like is blissful, perfect connectivity you don’t have to stress about. The flexibility to work anywhere, from your home, a beach, a train or a coffee shop when the world returns to normal.
There are many ways you can make your internet work better for you today, to start making the Next Normal your reality.
Here are seven of the most important tips to get you the best remote work connectivity.
1. Test Your Internet Speed to See Where You're at
The first step to truly get a handle on how your internet is performing is to test your speeds. You can use tools like Speedtest by Ookla or M-Lab to see which speeds you’re getting right now. Some connectivity tools like Speedify or Pingify also provide handy stats about each of your connections in real-time.
Test your speeds from your Ethernet or as close to your router as you can as your baseline. Then go further out and explore your house or workspace to see where the speeds start to drop off.
You’ll want to check out upload speed, download speed, and ping to see how much latency you have in your connection. Use one device at first, making sure others aren’t connected, and then you can add in others to see how they affect your speed. You’ll easily be able to tell whether you aren’t getting speeds near what you’ve been promised by your provider, and having all of the information will help you diagnose any root causes.
2. Use All Your Internet Connections at Once
When a connection drops out, wouldn’t it be great to have another connection step in instantly to save your video conference?
You can have faster connections, clearer video and audio for any data you livestream. It also automagically recognizes and prioritizes live streams like video, VoIP, etc. to ensure that the bandwidth you have to work with is going to the right place.
3. Get the Fastest Internet Provider You Can Afford
Not all internet service providers are built the same. Some are great in one area but less stellar in a different part of town. And some are just not up to par. Not to mention that there’s a huge amount of variability in last mile connections.
If your speeds are as expected but not delivering what you need, then you’ll need to investigate going up a tier or two to gain extra speed and performance. It may be more costly, but could be worthwhile if it saves you the time and energy you would spend dealing with a slow connection while working remotely.
If your speeds are consistently worse than expected, talk to your provider to see if there’s an unknown issue that may be slowing down your connection. Then if all else fails, talk to your neighbors to see which providers they’re using and how happy they are with their speeds. Try out a competing provider if your speed tests are disappointing.
5G will increasingly become a strong alternative to fixed broadband as it becomes available, starting with denser urban environments. Satellite providers such as Starlink may soon become an excellent alternative for people outside of urban environments who have limited broadband connectivity.
4. Stay on Top of Outages
Even the best providers can go down sometimes. But when it happens, how can you tell if it’s your internet or if it’s theirs?
If your internet service provider is down, then you should first go to your providers website using another available internet connection to see if there are any reports of outages. They typically share that information within your account section or as a notification on their website itself - e.g. Comcast Xfinity.
If there aren’t any reported outages but you are experiencing one, your provider may not be aware of it yet or is in the midst of investigating it. In those instances, Twitter is a valuable resource and you can search for “[internet provider] outage” to see if there are any reports from frustrated customers who may be dealing with the same issue.
If your internet itself seems to be working, but you aren’t able to access a specific website or cloud provider, Downforeveryoneorjustme.com and Downdetector are useful resources that will tell you if a website is offline. If you’re affected but nobody else is, there may be issues with your network or provider for you to investigate.
5. Prioritize Your Work Traffic
Are other people in your house streaming Netflix, watching YouTube or playing video games during the day when you need to get work done? You can make your internet more reliable by sending their traffic through a different Wi-Fi frequency than yours by changing your router settings.
Routers typically operate using both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands. Often times your router can split those bands into separate networks, if activated in your router’s settings. By enabling it, you can use one Wi-Fi band for your work-related traffic and other traffic will go through the other band. While 5 GHz can be faster, 2.4 GHz offers better range, which should factor into your decision about which to use for work.
Most newer routers will allow you to create a guest network, which you can typically use to limit the maximum amount of speed that separate network consumes and even the hours it can be used. Meaning you can share it with your kids without worrying about them taking necessary bandwidth away from your work.
Quality of Service features within your router may give you an additional layer of control, by enabling you to choose which traffic a router should prioritize, such as video calling as a higher priority than gaming traffic. That’s similar to what Speedify’s software can do to detect important live streaming traffic like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc.
6. Plan Your Internet Usage
You may not always be able to plan when you need to hop on a video conference, but you can plan almost everything else you do online.
The internet is most congested during several peak hours that now can stretch from lunchtime to around 9:30 p.m. If a download or your family’s Netflix fix can wait until off-peak hours, then you’ll have more bandwidth for work during the hours when you need to be online and working.
When you’re outside of home, you have less control over what others are doing on networks you’re connected to. However, you’re still able to control your own activities and choose not to use bandwidth you may need for other tasks. And it’s even easier if you have a tool like Speedify that helps your most important traffic remain unaffected by spreading out the risk of network congestion.
7. Strengthen Your Wi-Fi Signal
Speedify will help you add your connections together and optimize traffic. If you’re at home, you can add to your internet performance by ensuring that your Wi-Fi signal is strong wherever you use it.
Having a single router may not be enough if your space is large, such as working on a different floor than your router with a lot of walls, ceilings and other objects in the way. Range extenders are an option and are typically inexpensive. If you’re shopping for one, you should consider one made by the company that created your router - setup will usually be faster and compatibility will be more seamless.
Another option to consider is to use a laptop or desktop as an extender using Connectify Hotspot. It gives you the benefits of an extender without having to invest in a new piece of hardware.
By adding all of the combined capabilities of your hardware and software together, your work traffic will flow through even the most congested network with ease.
Connectivity is the key to productive remote work
If you want to be more productive, start considering how you will achieve blazing fast internet connections with superb network quality, and find the right devices, equipment and tools that will help you collaborate, video conference and take work anywhere.
Our Next Normal series will help you do that, by providing you with the tips, tricks and technologies that will help you optimize your remote work experience to become a WFH Superstar.
Together, we can make the Next Normal better than the old.
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