When you’re working from home, one of the most important ingredients for your success is having a strong, stable internet connection. You’ll need one if you’re going to have video calls or ongoing communications with your coworkers and clients, or if you’re relying on cloud services for the majority of your work. A dropped connection, or even a significant drop in speed or reliability, could disrupt an entire day’s worth of work.
So what steps can you take to ensure this doesn’t happen?
Phase One: Get the Right Service
First, you’ll need to make sure you get the right service, which means choosing the best possible provider and the most appropriate package for your needs. You can use a service like InMyArea.com to find the best internet providers in your area. Depending on where you live, you might only have one option, but it’s more likely that at least two internet providers will be competing for customers in the neighborhood. Check out prices, plans, and customer reviews to determine which provider will suit your needs better—usually, one provider will have a clear history of more reliable internet provision within a given area.
From there, you’ll want to review the different plans that are available. Most service providers differentiate their plans based on bandwidth—the maximum speed at which your computer will be able to download data. You can probably get away with a connection of 1 to 4 Mbps if you’re interested in video conferencing, but if you want high-definition video streaming consistently and reliably, you’ll need at least 5 Mbps. Depending on what apps you’re using, you might also need a plan that offers lower latency.
Pay close attention to how reliable and fast your internet connection is for several weeks; if you notice a discrepancy between what you’re paying for and what you’re getting, you may need to change plans or providers.
Phase Two: Optimize Your Home Wi-Fi
Assuming you have a good provider and a good plan in place, your next step should be to optimize your home Wi-Fi.
There are several ways you can do this, including:
· Getting a good router. Your internet provider may provide you with a router of their own, but if they don’t, you should get the best-quality router you can afford. Newer, higher-tech routers tend to be more reliable than their older counterparts. While you’re at it, make sure you keep your router’s firmware updated, which can prevent errors and ensure consistent service.
· Placing your router optimally. The placement of your router can significantly affect its performance as well. Keeping your router at a central point in the home can ensure equal coverage throughout the building. Alternatively, you can keep it in the room where you plan to do most of your work. You’ll also want to ensure there are few obstacles (like walls or furniture) that stand between your router and your devices.
· Protecting your Wi-Fi with a password. Add a password to your Wi-Fi network. It’s a simple step that will prevent any unauthorized parties from interfering with your internet.
· Minimizing the number of active devices when working. Devices can stealthily hog your bandwidth, so try to minimize the number of active devices on a single network as much as you can while working.
You may be able to improve your internet reliability and speed by purchasing a range extender as well.
Phase Three: Backup Plans
There’s no guarantee that your internet will remain fast and reliable, even with these steps in place, so it’s a good idea to have backup plans in place. If your phone can be used as a hotspot, you can consider that a first-level backup plan. You may also be able to keep some offline work available, just in case you’re stuck without internet for a brief period of time.
Failing that, it’s a good idea to scout your neighborhood or greater city area for potential working locations. For example, there may be a café or library in your neighborhood where you can get free or cheap Wi-Fi access (as a short-term measure during an internet outage). You may also be able to sign up for a coworking space, so you can have a more professional environment in which to work.
There’s no surefire way to guarantee that you’ll always have a stable, high-speed internet connection, but with these steps, you’ll get as close as you can. It might take a bit of extra money and a bit of extra work to get yourself set up, but once you’re done, you can rest assured that even during peak hours or a temporary outage, you’ll have all the resources you need to keep working consistently.