Hybrid working has become the norm and has placed a surge in demand for home internet and broadband connectivity throughout the day and night.
Not only are workers trying to connect online, but there may also school children taking online lessons on top of existing demand for leisure uses such as social media interaction, streaming movies and accessing online gaming platforms.
We’ve compiled our top tips for making the best use of your home internet in order to help you work from home more effectively.
We admit that our advice is very heavily weighted towards ensuring priority is given to business use rather than leisure use, but we hope our top tips will help you maximise your productivity when working from home.
- Service provider and internet speed
- Connection type and use of routers and signal boosters
Speeding up your internet connection
The speed at which your router connects you to the internet will determine how long you spend waiting for files that you need access from work servers to load and therefore impact how quickly and productively you can work.
Most internet service providers now boast about their ability to provide fast broadband connectivity, and whilst some are offering speeds of up to 200 MB per second, the actual delivery of these speeds will vary depending on some of the issues we discuss in this article.
It is very easy to test the speed of your connection. Most providers have a web page you can visit to run a diagnostic to test the speed of the connection. It is important to know this information as it will enable you to decide which changes will make the most difference to the speed of your connection.
If you only have access to download speeds of around 10Mbps, you’re going to have to be much stricter with your internet usage while working from home than if your speed delivers 67Mbps. You should run the speed test at different times of the day as internet speed will vary according to the quantity, type and ways in which devices are connected, the tasks they are performing, as well as the overall demand in your area. Consequently, speeds will vary at different times of the day.
If there is just you at home using the internet to check emails and doing research using Google, you won’t be placing a huge amount of strain on your connection, but if your job includes lots of video calling or downloading and uploading large files, then you might need to create a plan for when members of your family can use the internet, whilst also factoring in who else in the neighbourhood may also be trying to get online.
Timing access to the internet at home
Traditionally, the working day has been 9am to 5pm, but one of the benefits of working from home is the flexibility you have as to when you can work.
In order to achieve the best connectivity for all users, you may find yourselves creating a co-ordinated timetable for each other that prioritises the times at which key tasks need to take place and so avoids everyone in the household being online at the same.
The way in which devices are connected to your router and how far away from this signal they are being used can also make a huge difference to the speed at which the connection will be delivered.
WiFi is the most popular method as it avoids unsightly cables trailing from the router connection box to all of the devices that need internet connectivity, but this is when distance and barriers to the signal such as doors and walls have a huge influence.
Always ensure your home router is powered by a mains plug socket and not plugged into an extension cable. Also, ensure it is not located near other electrical devices that are renowned for disrupting wifi signals such as cordless phones and microwaves. The ideal position is in the center of the house where it is not obstructed by walls or furniture.
Sometimes a plug-in WiFi powerline adapter can help deliver a signal boost to rooms that are out of signal range, but even when these WiFi adapters are used, the connection can still be very weak and therefore slow the speed at which you can connect and carry out your work.
If you’re struggling with a poor Wi-Fi connection, you might want to try changing your wireless channel settings. If your Wi-Fi router is broadcasting on the same channel as your neighbours, this ‘contention’ could be one of the reasons your internet is slowing down, particularly at peak usage periods. Some of the more advanced routers –– such as the Virgin Media Super Hub 3 and BT Smart Hub 2 –– will automatically switch to less congested channels.
Wireless frequencies will also impact on range and bandwidth. There are two frequencies: 2.4 GHz which offers coverage for farther distances but may perform at slower speeds, and 5GHz which provides faster data rates at a shorter distance.
If you do struggle with WiFi signals and plan to work from home often for work purposes, we recommend you try to connect your laptop or PC to the router using an ethernet cable or consider a dedicated connection just for business use.
The final tip is related to the type of devices that are being connected and what activities they are being used for.
Streaming movies, music and games is going to slow down your connection and potentially affect your download and upload speeds. Amend the settings on devices so they do not stream in HD unless absolutely necessary. The difference between streaming in HD and SD is significant. HD can use up to 3GB per hour (7GB for Ultra HD) while standard video quality only uses up to 0.7GB per hour.
Top Tips Summary
- Partner with an internet service provider who can deliver the internet speeds you need.
- Plan a timetable for when the internet is needed and schedule tasks that require the most bandwidth for quieter hours
- Ensure connection to the router will deliver the strongest signal
- Set limits on the number of devices connected whilst you are working
Link ICT provides businesses and schools with secure high-speed internet connection. We can also install dedicated business lines into private residences if purchased as a corporate package for more than ten employees