In the current climate, an increased number of employees are working from home on a regular basis. However, whilst remote working poses several benefits in terms of job satisfaction, as well as physical and mental wellbeing, there are some key practical considerations to maintain productivity levels.
A vital aspect of a productive home working set up is your internet connection; without this, employees will struggle to work properly, as well as communicate with colleagues and clients. In this article, we will outline how to choose the best broadband for working from home, in order to ensure you and your employees can work effectively when away from the office.
Broadband for working from home: what to consider
When considering the best broadband for working from home, there a few key aspects which should ideally dictate your decision.
Data usage caps
Some internet service providers (ISPs) will offer contracts that include data usage caps. Whilst this type of contract will generally be a more budget friendly option, they are not recommended for those working from home.
If you are online eight hours a day, five days a week, not to mention evening or weekend browsing, your data usage will inevitably creep up. If you exceed the broadband limit agreed in your contract, you may find that your ISP charges a fee or throttles your connection – both of which you will naturally want to avoid.
ISPs will often implement traffic management at peak hours, in order to ensure a stable broadband connection for all users.
Whilst traffic management does ensure that all users can access the internet equally, certain types of traffic are usually prioritised. Before agreeing to use a particular broadband supplier, check the contract for how they utilise traffic management – if they do it all.
Number of users
If you are the sole user of your home broadband connection, you are unlikely to require a large amount of bandwidth. However, if you regularly work with others, or have housemates/family members who will be using the internet simultaneously, a stronger connection will be required.
What internet-based applications will you use when working from home?
You also need to consider exactly what you will be using the internet for, and the challenges each application may pose.
IP telephony – VoIP/SIP trunking
The majority of businesses across the UK have woken up to the many benefits posed by upgrading to cloud-based telephony solution, such as VoIP. Whilst the advantages are extensive, those that particularly apply to companies with home workers include:
- Free internal calls – regardless of physical location employees working within one VoIP network can make internal calls free of charge, including international calls with some contracts.
- Remote working capabilities – provided their mobile device is configured to the office network, or they are set up with a softphone, all employees can make and receive calls as though they are in the office.
- Conference calling – VoIP allows for hassle-free virtual meetings with both employees and clients via conference calls.
In order to make HD VoIP calls when working from home, you need a stable and reliable broadband connection. Poor quality calls risk limiting productivity and giving an unprofessional image to clients.
Whilst direct VoIP calls will not require substantial amounts of bandwidth, multimedia messages and VoIP calls made over solutions such as SIP will need significantly more. Be sure to check an ISP’s offered broadband download and upload speeds, as well as commitment to quality when searching for a new provider.
When working from home, you will often use cloud-storage applications in order to both upload and download shared files. Whilst files such as Word documents will not require large amounts of data or increased bandwidth, this is not the case if you are sharing larger items such as videos or ZIP files.
Being forced to wait extended periods to access your files when working from home is not only irritating, but is also guaranteed to limit employee productivity.
Fibre vs ADSL broadband for working from home
Arguably the most important factor to consider when choosing internet for home working is the type of broadband connection you have – fibre or ADSL.
ADSL broadband (Asymmetric Digital Line Subscriber) relies on traditional copper telephone wires to deliver broadband. ADSL typically only offers a maximum speed of up to 8Mpbs. Whilst this is sufficient for sending and receiving emails, it will struggle to support more advanced tasks such as regularly downloading/uploading files or video calling.
ADSL has the added drawback of being notoriously unreliable. The copper wires that make up the ADSL network are prone to damage, which will hamper your internet connection. Experiencing a broadband drop out when working from home can be seriously detrimental to business operations and should naturally be avoided at all costs.
Additionally, ADSL will be impacted by the upcoming PSTN switch off, meaning that it will soon become an obsolete technology, which is not ideal for those working within a growing company.
Fibre-optic broadband is primarily available in two forms:
- FTTP (Fibre to the Premises), which delivers a full-fibre internet connection, directly to your property with maximum speeds of up to 330Mbps.
- FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet), which utilises fibre-optic cables up to the cabinet on your street, then copper wires from here to your home/premises, with up to 80Mbps.
Whilst FTTP is more expensive and less widely available than both ADSL and FTTP, it offers the fastest and most reliable standard broadband connection for home use. If FTTP is not available in your area, or is out of your budget, FTTC is perfectly sufficient.
For employees looking for the best broadband package for working from home, we would always recommend opting for a fibre connection where possible, be it FTTC or FTTP. Not only will this futureproof your homeworking set up, but also ensures a faster and more reliable internet connection.
Business or home broadband?
Most ISPs provide business broadband contracts. Business broadband plans typically include a range of perks, including:
- Service Level Agreements (SLA), which guarantee a certain level of up-time, with financial compensation available if these agreed levels are not achieved.
- Dedicated customer support teams.
- Priority over other types of traffic.
- Prioritised repair in case of network damage.
- A static IP address, which is needed to host a domain and to create a remote connection from another device.
However, business broadband packages are not cheap, usually working out exponentially more expensive than a residential plan. In most cases, if you work from home alone it is unlikely that you will require a business broadband contract. It will probably only be suitable if you are running a business from your home – not just working remotely.
If you can get a residential contract that offers a fibre-optic broadband connection, this will be perfectly adequate for employees who work from home.
At Structured Communications, we offer both residential and business broadband contracts, suitable for both in the office and for employees working from home. Using a dedicated network, we are able to offer unrivalled broadband connectivity, as well as superior customer support. To find out more about our contracts, please get in touch with the team.