Six Tips to Work Beyond Your Connection Speed
So, you’ve finally got the green light to move ahead with smart working. Your employer’s given you the OK, your remote-working tech is all in gear and you’ve even set up a totally profesh home office.
By all measures, you should be good to blaze ahead with working from home!
Well, unfortunately, there may be one last obstacle standing in your way: a painfully slow internet connection.
For a huge number of smart workers, slow internet is a roadblock that’s simply out of your control. Maybe you live out in a rural location where cable lines aren’t the most reliable. Or maybe the ISPs in your area just don’t deliver good service. Whatever the case, the frustrating fact is you’re trying to move ahead with your work situation, yet that all-essential factor of your connection is blocking your path.
So, does that mean your only choices are to go back to the office or stop working entirely?
Of course not!
Just take note of these tips, you’ll be able to master smart working even while stuck on the lowest of bitrate speeds.
1. Limit Your Use of Streaming Media
Plenty of us work better if we have an album, podcast or YouTube video playing in the background.
Trouble is, those sources of entertainment will put a costly strain on your bandwidth. Depending on your connection quality, that data could come at the cost of maintaining your online presence.
If you need to stay online for work, first make sure your connection isn’t being eaten up by excess streaming media. And if you absolutely need to put on a video, you’ll want to drop the quality by a notch or two.
2. Create an Internet Usage Schedule
Along the same lines as the last tip, anyone else in your home who’s plugged into the internet will necessarily slow down your already less-than-speedy connection.
Obviously, that’s something that can’t be helped if those other users are also smart working. But if they’re just web surfing, it’s usage that’s better kept under control.
For all non-essential browsing, set up a schedule limiting who can use how much internet and when. This could be as simple as saying those not smart working get a couple hours of internet use, max, or as complex as specifying what kinds of net usage are okay, such as banning online games but allowing reduced-quality video streaming.
Really, the specifics of this policy can and should be tailored to your household. The only constant in the process is to keep it consistent and keep it enforced. (And don’t tolerate complaints — there are offline sources of entertainment, after all!)
3. Have Multiple Methods of Transferring Files
Frustratingly, email alone isn’t a reliable way of sending or receiving files when you’re on limited bandwidth. Sometimes, the connection can completely fizzle out if you’re trying to push an attachment onto an email server. Worse, the problem can persist even after you’ve tried a tech forum’s “guaranteed” fix — leaving you to just sit there, stuck with that important document still left unsent.
To avoid these disasters, you really need a backup file sharing service. This can be an upload site or a UCC tool, but either way, it’s essential to have an extra way of sending documents in case one isn’t cooperating. After all, in times of stress, it’s much easier to jump to a fallback than comb through the web for a fix.
4. Dial Into That VoIP Call or Videoconference
While VoIP and video obviously have their perks, those advantages sadly aren’t possible if your ISP can’t keep pace with the bandwidth demands.
In plain English, this means that when it’s time to hop onto a group call or videoconference, you’re better off just dialing in through your phone’s data plan.
Sure — that’ll mean losing out on that all-important visual component of the conference. But considering it’s either no video or no connection at all, that’s a small price to pay under the circumstances.
5. Avoid the Dead Zones
This one is probably going to be familiar to most WiFi users — but to the less experienced, it’s important to remember that wireless coverage isn’t always consistent across the home. In larger spaces, you often end up with so-called “dead zones”: areas where the internet lags, or even cuts out altogether.
These spots are best avoided in any smart working scenario, but it’s a warning that rings doubly true for those of us with slower connections. So before you settle into a particular location to handle your remote work, first make sure your internet there is stable. Remember, a constant connection is what will ultimately make or break the feasibility of a smart worker’s office space.
6. Consider a Wired or Limited Connection
It’s time to address an inconvenient truth about WiFi: it’s always going to be slower than a wired connection.
That on its own isn’t a reason to ditch wireless connections altogether, obviously. But it is an important factor to consider if your home office has to account for slow internet. As nice as it is to keep a distance from your modem, that may be an unaffordable luxury if doing so shifts your network into the slow lane.
Alternatively, you may want to consider if it’s necessary for you to be online for the full extent of your working hours, or if you only need your connection to share results. When you’re dealing with an especially slow connection, it’s worth talking to your team and establishing just how often you’ll need to be online. That way, you can reserve data usage for those most essential moments of upload and download instead of stretching it across a whole day of maintaining your online presence.
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