But help is at hand – with Zen.co.uk’s five homeworking hacks to boost connectivity and productivity
This week marks one full year of home working for millions of UK workers. But what impact has this had on the country’s productivity and, with ‘hybrid working’ (splitting time between home and office working) now voted as the favoured way to work in the future by more than three quarters of knowledge workers1, how can people work effectively from home – without poor internet speeds slowing them down?
In its annual survey released last week, Which? found that 69% of internet users had experienced an issue with their connection in the past year. Low speeds and frequent dropouts were the most common problems experienced more often during that pandemic compared to beforehand.
The findings mirror a similar Censuswide UK survey, which revealed that four in five people (85%) said that they have experienced an unreliable internet connection while working from home. Of this group, nine in 10 (89%) home workers were wasting on average just over 30 minutes a day as a result, with one in eight (12%) losing an hour or more.2
This means over the past year, each person could have wasted a total of 131 hours, that’s more than 17 full working days (based on a 7.5 hour day)!
As the UK’s most reliable internet provider, achieving the best customer scores in the Which? UK broadband 2021 survey3, Zen Internet has put together the top five ways people working from home can enhance their connectivity … and productivity.
- Remedy WiFi Not-Spots
WiFi not-spots, or dead spots as they are also known, are areas in your home where the WiFi signal cuts out or stops working. If you have a WiFi not-spot in your home office or home working space, then this could cause connectivity issues.
There can be a number of reasons for this from the size of your house (and the distance between your wireless device and router) or the signal being blocked by dense internal walls or doors to the location of your router. In fact, Zen’s research found that 9.1 million, or one third of UK households, don’t have access to WiFi throughout their homes4.
One way of addressing this is to relocate your router to a more central location in your home. You should also make sure that there isn’t anything that could be causing an obstruction – for example if it’s next to, or under, a large piece of furniture then that could affect signal strength. You could also invest in a WiFi repeater or EveryRoom which will extend the coverage of your network.
- Give your work devices priority
You may not realise it, but many routers will allow you to prioritise bandwidth for your work devices. This means that you can set it to give priority to anything connected to your work over other tech in the house such as games consoles and TVs. To set this up you should refer to the instructions for your specific router – it is usually found within the settings tab. It’s an easy quick fix and the result should be less buffering and better broadband speed on your work device. Result.
- Plug in using an Ethernet cable
Plugging your laptop or console into a router might seem a bit 1999 but if your device is near enough, then an ethernet connection could be the answer to the consistent, high speed connectivity you have been craving for the past 12 months. Keeping a wired connection between the router and your device will help to keep latency low while reducing congestion on your wireless network (which is good for other devices too). Ethernet is extremely reliable, secure and fast so if you can make it work with the router and device layout then it is definitely worth considering, especially if you have a large family that is all draining the bandwidth on your network.
- Check your router settings
If you’re looking to give your home WiFi network a little help, there are a few settings you can tweak in your router. Here’s the science bit … 2.4GHz wireless networks transmit on 11 channels, but channels 1, 6 and 11 are most frequently used because they don’t overlap. If nearby networks are using one of these channels, choosing another can help to reduce interference. Many modern routers choose the best channel automatically, but it’s easy to experiment in the settings to look for a little improvement. Most modern routers are also dual band – which means they transmit on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. 2.4GHz connections are slower and more open to interference from other networks and electrical devices, but they have a longer range. 5GHz connections have a shorter range but are generally faster and less open to interference. This may sound complicated but a little tinkering with your settings could make a big difference so give it a try.
- Talk to your employer about their long-term tech support
We all had to adapt to remote working and find ways to make it work best for us, but as it becomes the norm your employer will also have a responsibility for providing secure and fast connectivity from wherever you’re based. If your internet issues are causing you considerable difficulties, then it is worth speaking to your employer about their longer terms plans to provide you with the tech and support needed to do your job. Home working is here to stay and office-based connectivity in the home is the next step in cementing this step change. It is more than possible to link employees directly to a corporate network and provide those in poor coverage areas with multi-connectivity solutions to bolster their internet.
Georgina Lord, Managing Director from Zen’s retail division says:
“Even as restrictions in the UK begin to ease and a return to office working becomes a more feasible option, a hybrid working approach is the long-term dream for a majority of employees. Operating a distributed workforce is also being adopted by many large corporations as they reduce their number of UK offices and add more collaboration tech tools to support longer term remote working and reporting.
“For successful home working, it’s vital to have reliable WiFi, especially if you’re doing meetings remotely. These hacks are a good starting point but if problems persist it might be time to switch provider as well.
“We’re particularly delighted that Zen has once again topped the results table in the annual Which? broadband consumer survey, which rates all service providers for customer service, value for money, connection speed and technical support. Keeping the UK connected with fast reliable broadband is the lifeblood of our business and whether customers rely on us for work, play or socialising we endeavour to give them the best experience possible.”