Working from home puts extra pressure on your internet connection – often to the extent that many homeowners can’t handle. While you might manage with slow or unpredictable internet speeds for the occasional remote working session, a long-term work from home position requires the right strategy.
The good news is that you probably won’t need to spring for business broadband just because you’re working from home. The bad news is that not every connection will be well-suited to a schedule of video conferencing, cloud software, and VoIP connections.
Here’s what you need to know if you’re using your broadband to work from home.
Why Do You Need for Emails, VoIP, and Video Conferencing?
The most common, internet-focused activities most employees engage in these days include emails, VoIP, and video conferencing. The good news is that email doesn’t require a strong connection – you can usually send emails quickly from your home.
The average email is around 56KB – tiny by today’s standards and easily handled by even the cheapest broadband deal. The biggest concern you might have with email is sending large files.
Frequently sending or receiving large email attachments could justify an upgrade in broadband speed, and you will need to be aware of data limits if you do not have an unlimited package.
Mainstream apps for VoIP aren’t very demanding either. Skype, Google Meet, and other similar tools only require a small amount of bandwidth, so your standard ADSL should be able to handle them with no problem. Skype uses a minimum 30Kbps (Kilobits per second) of upload and download speed for a standard voice call.
Video calls are a lot more demanding.
The recommended video calling upload and download speed are 300kbps for Skype, and it’s similar for Microsoft Teams, Apple Facetime, and various other products. Zoom recommends around 600kbps with a recommended rate of 1.5Mbps (Megabits per second).
And the more people you have in a video call, the more your bandwidth requirements increase.
At first glance, these numbers might not seem like much, but a cheap ADSL connection has an average speed of around 10Mbps and can struggle during a busy conference call. Fibre optic broadband will generally be a better choice for faster video conferencing.
Large File Uploads and Downloads
Another common aspect of working from home can often involve working with large files. You might need to transfer files to colleagues, which means uploading them to the internet. Alternatively, you might need to download files from the cloud.
The bigger the file, the longer it will take for a standard connection to deliver your content. Small files might not take long to upload or download via ADSL, but if you’re sending large amounts of data, like video or large audio or image files, then you’re going to need a much stronger connection.
It’s also worth looking for a stronger download and upload speed if you’re using cloud storage to sync your work to a cloud-based backup regularly. Failure to upload all of your information from your computer to the cloud at the right time could mean you miss out on protecting your work.
What If You’re Sharing the Connection?
Even if your work doesn’t require a huge amount of internet bandwidth, sharing your connection with other family members might require you to upgrade the speed. If more than two people use the same link in your home, you’ll need at least an essential fibre connection.
Think about the other people in your home and how they’re using your internet connection. If your spouse is also working from home, or you have kids managing their classes remotely, then you’re going to have even more demand on your standard connections.
The more people using your connection at once, the better your connection needs to be. You may need to think about getting a specialist service if you’re working in a house or flatshare with multiple people in need of a strong connection.
If fiber broadband isn’t an option, you could even look into getting a second phone line installed for dedicated broadband.
Backing Up Your Connection
These days, it’s less likely for a broadband outage to disrupt your workflow for very long. However, if something does go wrong with your connection, it can stop you in your tracks. If you can’t exactly take your work with you to a local internet café, you might need to think about backup options.
Smartphone tethering is a popular choice, but you’ll need to be aware of your data caps. You can connect your computer to your phone as a source of mobile internet, but it’s likely to be slow. You’ll also have to keep a close eye on how much data you’re using.
Some broadband deals now also come with a 4G data backup option which can kick in automatically. You can buy a 4G backup yourself, and some routers come with a SIM card slot or USB dongle to allow you to access this feature.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to work more effectively from home, you’re going to need the proper internet connection.
Entry-level fiber with an average speed of around 35MB and unlimited data should be a minimum for anyone working from home. This will easily cope with the standard usage of a single person, and it may allow the connection to be shared too.
If you can’t get fiber, ADSL may be acceptable for a single person. However, if you’re sharing the connection, it might be worth investing in a second line or your own 4G/5G broadband service for a dedicated work connection.