The number of people working from home — even just some of the time — is on the rise. According to research conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, 50 percent of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20 percent to 25 percent of the workforce teleworks at some frequency.
Regardless of when and how often you work from home, to be productive you need fast, reliable internet and Wi-Fi. When Internet speeds at home seem to be working slower than normal, many people assume something’s broken. But, that’s not necessarily the case. Most people don’t realize what the top things are that impact home Wi-Fi speeds and what they can do about it.
To keep you productive while working from home, here are six tips to make sure your Wi-Fi is set up to give you the most robust signal strength and speed:
- Location, location, location. You want your wireless router out in the open, off the ground and in a central location. Avoid rooms surrounded by windows, as the signal will bounce right outside. Don’t keep it near a fish tank. The signal doesn’t easily pass through water. Finally, don’t keep it hidden underneath the stair case or in a book shelf in the furthest room of the house. It can restrict how far the signal can travel.
- Avoid potential interference. Many common household devices and appliances can affect Wi-Fi performance. Keep your wireless router away from items such as microwave ovens, cordless phones, gaming system remotes, baby monitors and Bluetooth headsets. Additionally, certain construction materials, such as steel siding and concrete, can degrade wireless performance. While you cannot easily change the structure of your home, understanding what may be impacting your internet speeds can help you place your equipment in a more ideal location.
- Santa’s visit may slow down your Wi-Fi. Of course, the number of devices connected at the same time and how they’re being used play a role in performance. In particular, many families will be connecting new holiday gifts — like smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, portable Bluetooth speakers and video game consoles — to their home’s Wi-Fi network. If your Internet doesn’t seem to be working at its maximum potential, particularly after the holiday season, call your provider to assess your plan and see if you need more bandwidth to support all of your connected gadgets.
- Did you ever notice service is slower when the kids are home? Older wireless devices, such as first and second generation tablets or cell phones that we often give to our kids to play with, can affect network performance for all connected devices in the house. Most newer wireless routers have two frequencies — 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz. By placing your children’s wireless devices on a separate channel from your own devices, like your work laptop, your speeds won’t degrade after 3 p.m. when school is out.
- Upgrade antiquated equipment. Can your modem and router support the speeds your Internet service provider is delivering? If your wireless equipment is more than a couple years old, it might be time for an upgrade. If you rent equipment from your provider, give the company a call to determine whether your modem and wireless router need to be swapped out.
- Check for updates regularly. Chances are, regardless of who your internet service provider is, the company is constantly making updates to your service. To take advantage of these upgrades, restart your router and modem every four to six weeks.