Tips to improve Wi-Fi speed while working from home

June 3rd, 2022

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Since the pandemic, work trends and expectations have dramatically changed. Companies worldwide are adopting a hybrid working approach as employees want to continue working remotely.

With more and more employees opting to work from home, network connectivity is more critical than ever. The last thing employees want is to get disconnected from the work server or conference calls. Approximately 58.1% of employees still suffer from connectivity issues at home.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to overcome this, even without the help of IT.  Here are some tips employees can follow to improve their Wi-Fi speed.

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Place the router in an ideal location

Before considering a replacement, one of the first things employees should do is to reposition their router so that it can transmit a strong Wi-Fi signal throughout the house.

Wi-Fi signals distribute differently in many homes, and most of the time, not equally. The router's placement can significantly influence the wireless coverage in a house.

Although it might be tempting to place the router inside a cabinet where it's less of an eyesore or on the ground where it's closer to the power socket, this isn't necessarily the best location, especially when trying to improve slow internet speeds.

Ideally, the router should be placed close to the home office, where employees can receive the best signal. However, that's not always possible as a home router is shared between the rest of the household.

The router should be placed in the centre, where the signal can reach each corner of the house as evenly as possible. Routers need an open space away from walls or any obstructions.

You can tell your employees to place the router on a desk or shelf. For better results, and if possible, they can also mount the router on the wall or ceiling to get a better signal.

Update the router’s firmware

Surprisingly, slow internet speeds are usually caused by outdated router firmware. It's a good idea to encourage employees to update their router's firmware, especially if they want to improve their network connection and security.

There can be specific steps to update the router's firmware. Most brands like ASUS, NETGEAR, and D-Link have these instructions available on their website.

Encourage your employees to update their router firmware regularly for reliable internet speed performance and security protection.

Updating the router's firmware is vital for network security. No matter how up-to-date an employee's virus protection is, an outdated router is a backdoor for threat actors. With the increasing number of cyberattacks in New Zealand, 77.5% of employees feel cybersecurity is critical for making hybrid working safe.

Many technological risks are associated with hybrid working, especially when threat actors target homes with unsecured networks and poorly configured remote desktops. Only 66.5% of employees think their business leaders are familiar with the cyber risks of hybrid working, while 62.7% believe their organisation has the proper protocols for cyberattacks.

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Use Ethernet cables

If the internet remains sluggish even after repositioning and updating the router, employees can consider using Ethernet cables. Although wireless connectivity is great and convenient, using Ethernet cables can provide a more stable and secure network.

Most employees would likely prefer using a wireless connection, especially since that’s how most of their devices at home are connected to the internet. However, Ethernet cables might be a better option if they want to achieve faster internet speeds at home.

An Ethernet cable offers a more consistent connection since it's directly plugged into the router rather than relying on wireless transmissions. Employees no longer need to worry about getting disconnected from conference calls, especially since Ethernet cables can handle data-heavy applications.

Ethernet cables are a great alternative and solution to supply to employees experiencing slow Wi-Fi connection at home. Most laptops have an Ethernet adapter, and docking stations come with a Gigabit Ethernet port.

However, depending on the proximity of the router and your employee's workstation, they might need long Ethernet cables to run through their house, which can be more of a hazard than a solution.

Time to get a new router

If employees still see no improvement in their internet speed and latency, it might be time for a hardware upgrade.

It's not surprising that most employees use the standard router their internet provider supplied. Usually, these routers are older with limited bandwidth and shorter ranges.

Nowadays, multi-band routers are available, allowing users to segment their wireless network into two to three bands.

Dual-band routers broadcast a 2.4GHz band and 5GHz band, while a tri-band router supports an additional 5GHz band. Segmenting devices into different networks allows the internet to run smoothly without interference.

Expect a slow internet connection when the maximum throughput of a standard 802.11ac router is 1Gbps, while Wi-Fi 6 routers can hit 10Gbps. The next-generation wireless is faster, providing better performance and support for data-heavy applications. Wi-Fi 6 routers have more efficient data encoding, resulting in higher throughput. 

With so many options available in the market, it can be challenging to find which router has the best features to support employees while they continue to work from home. Here are some popular wireless routers from trusted brands.

Reach further using an Extender or Mesh system

A single router may not be sufficient to give employees full wireless coverage. If the internet remains slow in some areas of the house, even with a decent or newly updated router, using an extender or mesh system might be necessary to amplify the wireless signal.

A range extender is a cost-effective solution to amplify the router's signal via broadcasting a new network to extend the internet connection to other rooms, eliminating dead spots in the house.

To stay connected using an extender, users need to be connected to a specific network. This can get frustrating for some, as some devices will try to stay connected when it's still within the network's range, even though it's a weaker signal, resulting in a slower internet connection.

Using mesh systems may be a better alternative for some employees, especially when extenders aren't as efficient at distributing wireless transmissions.

Unlike extenders that add to the existing network, mesh systems replace the Wi-Fi network entirely. Instead of merely repeating the signal, it uses a set of mesh extenders, or nodes, to route traffic back to the modem or router, creating a seamless wireless network in the house. 

Extenders are a better solution for smaller spaces, as it is not ideal to have several extenders around the house, as it does degrade the Wi-Fi signal.

Mesh systems provide a more stable and consistent connection. They're an excellent option for larger houses with multiple floors. As long as each node is within range, mesh systems can provide a solid wireless connection. However, mesh systems can also become relatively expensive, especially if the house requires multiple nodes.

Modern network hardware that supports the latest wireless standards should help improve internet connectivity. If speeds continue to remain sluggish even after following the recommended tips above, employees should contact their internet provider for other solutions to improve their internet speeds.

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