Working from Home
The pandemic has caused a cultural change in working practices. Combined with the high cost of office space and the inconvenience and expense of travel, teleworking or working from home has become common. However, implementing teleworking requires careful planning to optimise security, maximise efficiency and minimise costs.
Benefits of home working
- Not having to battle through traffic or fight your way onto public transport.
- Being able to work during tube and train strikes.
- Saving the costs of travel and parking
- Being able to work normally when the weather makes travel dangerous and unpredictable
- Being able to minimise the distractions of the office
- Work times can be flexible to achieve work-life balance while working from home
- It is possible to work even if unable to travel through injury, illness or unplanned childminding
- Staff with long daily journeys might be able to mix teleworking with office working
- Saving office costs by hot-desking
- Modern phone systems allow home workers to have remote extensions
- Social distancing during health emergencies.
- The ability to employ disabled people who would not otherwise be available
- Increasing the available pool of staff by employing people who live further away.
Considerations of home working
- Setting targets and measuring them to ensure maximum productivity of home workers.
- Having fast, reliable Internet connections.
- Data security if business data is accessible from out of the office
- Does the home worker have a suitable workspace
- Can the homeworker work free from distractions
- Performance of systems and seamless integration of data and telecoms
- Essential to minimise distractions while working from home
- Homeworking needs planning before the emergency strikes
- Saving on London weighting and travel costs
- Staff costs for energy
Planning for working from home
Every year when the weather gets bad, or there is a tube or rail strike, we get calls asking to set up remote working for a user who needs it today. Although we can usually set up something quickly, it is much better to plan in advance. A well-implemented and secure home working solution requires firewall configuration, a virtual private network configuration, and setting up the worker’s computer. If the user plans to use their personal computer, it is essential to ensure it is secure. This means ensuring it has good quality anti-virus and that Windows or Mac updates are current. Securing the machine with a login and password ensures other people can’t access company data.
Home office network
One of the essential requirements for working from home is having somewhere suitable to work. You need a reliable home office network. Your home network must be secure so you do not compromise company data.
Your home office needs a comfortable workspace and needs to be free from family distractions. Your family needs to understand you are working and are not available. The words “Can you just …….” are the biggest destroyers of concentration and productivity.
This workspace can be in many places: attic, basement, spare bedroom, conservatory, summer house or a converted garage.
Often the chosen space won’t have functional Internet connectivity. There are several ways to get a reliable home office network. Assuming you already have a good Internet connection at home, running a cable from your existing router will work if there is an easy cable run. The cable is cheap, and there is nothing as reliable as a bit of wire. Using wireless might work, but if the signal is weak from your existing router, that needs to be improved. Even a simple router from your service provider will generally have good wireless, so if it is not working well, there are many possible causes. Distance from the router, too many or thick walls, things which restrict the signal or interference from nearby routers or devices. Our Wireless Networks page had information on wireless troubleshooting.
The answer might be adding another access point nearer to your office. Buying one with a built-in switch will help connect computers, VoIP phones or printers.
Garden Office Network
If you are preparing a home office network in a summer house or other structure in your garden, you might want to run a cable. If you do, it needs to be at least outdoor grade or ideally steel wire armoured (SWA), and you will have to make holes in the house and summer house, which need to be weatherproof. Another option is to use Ethernet over power adapters. These are cheap and usually work well. They are available in Plug-in form and ones which replace existing 13amp wall sockets. Although these features increase costs, they can also offer multiple ports and wireless access. We don’t recommend using Ethernet over power adapters with built-in wireless as they are usually very basic and not very secure.
If using Ethernet over power adapters, the house and summer house must be on the same electrical phase.
You might consider the 4G cellular Internet, but make sure you can get a strong signal. Using 4G can use either a plug-in dongle or a router with a SIM card. 4G Internet can work well, but a quality external antenna will be required if the signal weakens.
Basement office network
If you choose to work in your basement, you might not get a good mobile signal. Your choice of mobile provider matters here. EE works over your wireless and is reliable. Vodafone offers sure-signal, a box you have to pay for that uses your Internet connection to make calls. You are paying for an expensive box to make up for the inadequacy of the Vodafone service. Vodafone Suresignal can be a hassle to get working and does not work well with load-balanced Internet connections. For other providers, check how their service works.
Use our Internet speed checker to test your Internet connection
Our Internet speed checker is advert free.
If you are unsure if your problem is with your wireless or your broadband, run the test twice. Run the first test connected directly to the router with an Ethernet cable, then run a second test connected by wireless. If the wired test is much faster than the wireless test, the problem is wireless. If your wireless is the problem, try running further tests from different places to see if you have a coverage problem.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) planning
Businesses don’t want to pay people who are not sick, and the staff don’t want to stay at home without pay. If there is a significant outbreak, businesses will have to close down, causing a loss of business and enormous costs.
Many people can work from home if they have the systems. Even staff who rely on their desk telephone, like receptionists, can work from home with modern telephone systems.
There is no one size fits all solution, so ask Atomik.biz to evaluate your business to plan for large-scale home working. Don’t wait for the need to arise, as it will be too late. Act now and contact us for a free consultation.