The best broadband to get which enables you to work from home effectively is a fast, stable connection, with unlimited data. For most New Zealanders a fibre broadband connection 100Mbps or greater is by far the best solution.
Let’s break down what’s most important in an internet connection that we need for working from home.
The types of jobs that can be done from home of course vary widely, but the vast majority benefit from a very fast internet connection.
In most office environments for example, we have all become very reliant on having a fast connection and network which allows us to upload and download all the data and files we’re needing to without waiting around.
Even numerous emails with attachments become painful to deal with if you’re puttering along on a very slow internet connection – and this becomes even more of an issue if you have other members of your household competing with limited bandwidth, either work or school related – or streaming/downloading entertainment for that matter.
An ultra-fast fibre connection provides as much speed as you’re wanting and then some.
I’d recommend sticking with 100 Mbps or higher, to ensure your broadband connection is never the limiting factor.
I’ve been working from home extensively during 2020, and we’re on a Fibre Max connection here (getting up to almost 900Mbps download / 450 Mbps upload) - which has been fantastic. I just never have to think about the connection having enough speed and bandwidth to allow me to work at full pace, regardless of what the rest of the family are doing online.
Now of course another big consideration is with continued household internet usage PLUS the additional work-related internet data usage how much data we’re going to be chewing through each month.
In my view data caps are a thing of the past – unlimited data on a home connection is perfect. Again, it just becomes something you never have to consider.
The household can continue downloading and streaming and everything they want to, while for all your work you’re easily able to upload and download large quantities of files, video call regularly, and everything else that your working from home requires, without any concern as to the monthly data usage.
Stability of your connection
It’s not only the speed of a connection, or how much data you’re transferring that matters however.
The stability of your internet connection matters tremendously.
Most of us at some time have experienced an unstable connection, and it is incredibly frustrating at the best of times – let alone when we’re depending on it to remain connected to our work / colleagues / clients.
An unstable broadband connection might actually completely disconnect regularly – or may just have a lot of interference on the copper line for example, causing all sorts of jitter and instability in your connectivity.
All of this means having to restart uploads or downloads of files, getting disconnected from video or VoIP calls (or just having our call quality lag and glitch), or getting tripped up when we go to run a quick search and find some information we’re needing to complete our task and a hundred other annoyances.
A stable broadband connection (and indeed entire home network) is vital.
Once again, Fibre tops the stability tables – by it’s very nature it simply isn’t impacted by the myriad of environmental variables that old copper DSL or wireless broadband connections are.
So, you’ve got a high speed fibre connection, and it’s rock solid stable.
Again it becomes just a service that you don’t have to think about, it’s just always there, and always working – I’ve always been a big fan of things that just “get out of your way” and let you get things done.
Video calling has never been more used in human history than right now – and with good reason.
With many more people working from home throughout the country (and the world) over recent times, video calling has been a wonderful tool to help stay connected with their colleagues and clients. This is something I’ve experienced first hand.
Latency of your internet connection plays a big part in how useful video calls are.
There will always be some amount of latency (delay) when using a video calling service, whether that is Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, Teams or whatever your chosen platform is. But if you add a poor quality internet connection with high latency into the mix, that’s when you get those disjointed annoying conversations happening… People accidentally talking over the top of each other, “Can you see me? How’s my video?”, audio and video juddering and suddenly speeding back up. Not fun.
If you’re on a high quality internet connection that has low latency, you’re set up to stream the best quality audio and video of yourself to your colleagues on the call, and likewise receive their video/audio streams nice and smoothly wherever possible.
WiFi vs Wired
It’s worth considering as well that within your own home you need to have a good connection to your router.
If your laptop or desktop computer is using a wired ethernet cable connection back to the router, this is the least susceptible to outside interference or other environmental issues around the home (or neighbours homes) that can degrade the quality of your connection, and potentially impact your working from home.
Of course for many of us, connecting to wireless is the preferred method to get our laptop online around our homes, and if that is you just make sure you have your WiFi access point setup for the best possible signal to your laptop.
- Your router should be close to where you’re working.
- Try to minimise the number of walls or large or electrically “noisy” electronics the signal is having to get through to reach your laptop.
- Often you’ll have better WiFi speeds if you connect via 5GHZ WiFi rather than 2.4GHZ, if your router and laptop support that. This is especially true if your home is surrounded by many neighbours 2.4GHZ WiFi signals, which “overlap” and interfere with one another.
What about a VPN?
Many of us with office jobs when working from home will need to connect to our company network via what is called a VPN, or Virtual Private Network.
This effectively means your device has access to virtually everything you normally would if you were sitting in your office.
Your IT person will give you all the settings needed to connect to your companies VPN if that is something you’re needing to do.
What sort of work space will you need to work from home?
Another aspect of working from home that has come into focus during 2020 for many of us is that we need to find somewhere suitable in our home to work for any length of time.
So what makes a suitable work space in a home?
Of course it needs to be somewhere you can concentrate – now of course most office environments have plenty of distractions too, but the home has it’s fair share of these. Noisy children, pets demanding to be fed, door knocking visitors – you name it.
But it’s actually not only your own ability to concentrate on your work that you need to be mindful of. It’s also keeping in mind that depending on your circumstances you likely have other members of your household who are using the space too.
If everyone in the house has to be quiet and stop what they’re doing every 5 minutes when you jump on a video call, that is bound to create friction in the household after a while!
Ideally you’ll have a spare room in your home that can be used as an office, where you’re able to surround yourself in everything you need to do your job well, while also allowing the other occupants of your home to live their lives.
Do you need a static IP address?
Most internet providers use dynamic IP addressing, which basically means that whenever your router reconnects to the internet, you get assigned a new IP address.
This works just fine for most situations, but there may be cases where if you’re working from home extensively that having a static IP address (which does not change) is useful – or even required in rare cases.
Again if you’re not familiar with whether this is something you’re needing, it’s more than likely not something you require – but your IT person will be able to clarify if that is something that is needed.
Working from home can be a wonderful thing
I hope you’ve found this useful in clarifying what you’re needing to think about when it comes to getting a great broadband connection which allows you to work from home effectively.
I know I’ve found working from home actually very productive, with fewer distractions than in the office, dramatically reduced wasted hours commuting, – and all in all has been a nice change which has brought more balance into my life as a result.
As long as we set ourselves up with everything we need to be productive, stay connected, and allow our household to feel like their home is still a home, we can do great things!