NetworkTigers offers tips on improving work-at-home connectivity.
Working from home can be a dream situation for businesses and employees. Working from home can allow more freedom and flexibility, including the opportunity to work atypical hours. At its best, it can increase productivity while helping workers be more autonomous with their days.
The only catch? Working from home puts a premium on internet connectivity. Poor connections can put cybersecurity at risk and challenge overall efficiency without an IT department on standby to fix issues in the office. A stable, secure, safe connection is the first necessity of working from home. Even after the past few years of adjusting to COVID-19 remote work, many workers still struggle with work-at-home connectivity issues. Following are some quick fixes and structural improvements that can help ensure a reliable home office situation.
1. Move the internet router
Location, location, location. Where your router is located within the home matters, and many installation technicians do not account for this. It may be worth considering moving the router to boost the signal in certain rooms of the house. If the router is located in a corner, most of the signal will likely be broadcast outside. If certain rooms away from the router receive a spotty WiFi signal while closer areas connect, it’s a sign that the router’s location is the problem.
To move a router, it may be necessary to run a long CAT5 or CAT6 Ethernet cable under flooring or along the bottom of your walls. It may be possible to use power line network adapters to reach a more centralized location. When the appropriate spot is found, consider mounting your router up high. Most internet routers send their strongest signals down, so raising the router can help its network spread.
2. Try WiFi mapping
Avoid certain areas of the home where other devices are clustered. A microwave uses the same 2.4GHz band as most routers, so installing a router in the kitchen can cause issues with connectivity. Similarly, putting it behind a large television screen may be appealing to hide an unsightly box, but the signals can cause electronic interference. A large aquarium may be a problem. Passing through water or certain bulky furniture can severely limit a WiFi signal. There is no need to get rid of the fish, however. WiFi mapping can help determine the problem areas in a home and guide the router and home office set-up so that signal does not have to pass through too many hurdles to reach the office location.
3. Upgrade your router
If moving the router does not improve the signal reach, upgrading may be necessary. For most apartments or smaller homes, having just one router should suffice. However, more than one is a good idea in a larger, multi-level environment. If the router serves more than 1,500 square feet, more than one may be required. Look for WiFi 6, the most up-to-date generation of WiFi routers available. Also known as 802.11ax, most current devices are geared to run on WiFi6. Gadgets such as Apple TV4k or the Playstation 5 console are set up to run off of WiFi6. If the router can’t keep up, connectivity issues may arise that can’t be resolved without an upgrade.
4. Consider a mesh WiFi system
Mesh WiFi is a helpful solution for larger homes or areas with inconsistent coverage. Mesh networks link multiple access points together to expand steady access. Systems like Google WiFi and Amazon Eero are consistently ranked among some of the better, most accessible mesh networks. After investing in a mesh WiFi network, if certain areas in the home are not receiving a steady signal, add another node to that area to expand your existing network.
5. Upgrade your cellular device
In some areas, network connectivity is slow because service providers are overloaded. Internet provider bandwidth cannot always keep up in the face of increased demand as more and more employees continue to work from home. One way around the issue is to upgrade a different area of network infrastructure. Instead of relying on a router, consider investing in a good phone. Relying on a phone’s WiFi hotspot can seem frustrating, but cellular networks can offer more consistent coverage. They may also be already geared to handle larger numbers of users. Additionally, employees can work on the go more freely by using a cellular hotspot instead of a WiFi router.
A significant drawback, however, is hackers and phishing attempts may particularly target hotspot connections. A mobile hotspot is authenticated by the device’s SIM card, and is a one-to-one connection between the device and the provider. However, they are not impermeable. For instance, in 2021 UK researcher Sam Thomas won $50,000 in a research competition for being able to hack the Samsung Galaxy S21 with a three-bug chain. Two other researchers could also hack into the phone using existing methods.
An IT expert can help figure out how to set up a safe and secure WiFi network. A home office can be a huge asset for companies and employees. Ensuring it is as safe and effective as possible is an important goal. Consistent cybersecurity measures and reliable connectivity are two main ways to make work-from-home as stress-free as possible for businesses and staff.