When it comes to managing remote teams, there are all sorts of obstacles to overcome and problems to factor into your plans.
Even at a time when the IoT is empowering the remote work revolution, all of this promise can come crashing down around your ears if off-site employees aren’t able to stay connected to mission-critical services.
What is worse, when issues do arise and remote team members need assistance, this will eat into your IT department’s resources and generate even more productivity snafus as a result.
To reduce the instances of imperfect connectivity in a remote working context, here are some straightforward network troubleshooting tips that will help remote employees to solve common conundrums themselves.
Dealing with router dilemmas
The most frequent source of networking complaints is the router itself, and for most home setups this will have been supplied by a broadband provider, with domestic use in mind.
Such kit should be adequate for business use as well, but it’s important to remind employees that if the router is playing up, then they should consult the instruction manual it came with or get in touch with their ISP, rather than creating a ticket with your own in-house support staff.
Most domestic-grade broadband routers are simply designed with integrated LEDs that can indicate when they are working correctly, and when a fault is present. For example, BT Hub flashing can signal that the connection to the internet has not been established, or that cables are unplugged and need to be checked.
It’s important to instill this advice in remote employees early on, as it will both result in problems being resolved faster, and in your own resources not being monopolized unnecessarily.
Considering home office positioning
Even if the router is working as intended, team members who are working from home may report that they are struggling to achieve a consistent connection to it, which in turn can interfere with their ability to attend virtual meetings or complete their work from moment to moment.
At this point, the most likely culprit is the position of their work space relative to their router, specifically if they are relying on Wi-Fi networking to keep their devices online.
If a router is on the ground floor and they are working in the attic room, then the chances of getting a solid wireless signal without any drops, or any compromises in terms of connection speed, are minimal.
Recommending that they relocate to an area of the property which is closer to the router may be an option, but is not always going to be appropriate, depending on how their home is laid out.
The better answer is to either get them to invest in Wi-Fi network range extenders, or to advise them to switch to a wired solution.
Home plug setups, which can boost coverage or create Ethernet access points by using the internal wiring of the property, are best for this.
Again, it makes sense to preempt potential coverage problems in advance and ensure that remote workers are issued with the right advice and equipment as soon as possible, rather than this being something you only address when complaints are raised.
Recognizing network congestion
While office network connectivity will be carefully tuned to provide adequate bandwidth for the number of people that need to use it at any one time, home services will not necessarily be as capable in this regard.
This can pose a problem for remote workers, since if they are having to share the connection with other members of their household, congestion could be unavoidable.
A couple of ways around this are available, and arguably the best option is to cover the costs of a faster, more capacious connection that won’t become a bottleneck during peak periods.
If this is not viable for your organization, then asking team members to request that their family members or housemates don’t do anything data-intensive, like streaming video, while they are working is sensible.
The more information you give remote employees, the easier they will find it to keep their network connections up and running from day to day.
It is also a good idea to invest in the devices and infrastructure that is available to them, especially if they are going to be working from home frequently, or on a permanent basis.