Working From Home – The Necessity and Challenges for Remote Office Access and Remote Conference Meet
Working from Home #WFH, this tag line has become one of the most popular keywords recently whether within the corporate or private sector and not just in our country but globally as most of us are being instructed to stay at home due to this unprecedented Covid-19 attack.
Working from home is not something new. In fact, many organisations especially MNCs which have employees all around the globe had already been practicing WFH.
When we talked about Working From Home, there are many components involve in implementation particularly technology setup.
Tools like Laptop, Internet and WiFi is a must when we talked about Working From Home. Apart from this, a remote server access to office or VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection is also important. Many SME organizations do not have remote access to office file server, accounting system and etc. Company’s operations may come to a halt in this case if employees are not allowed to be at office premise. As such, it is imperative in times like this for company bosses to have remote office setup ready so that staff can work from home.
At Aglotel, we provide this service and offer quick (within a day or two the most) and secured remote setup for SME customers to allow staff to access to office servers from home.
Next, will be remote meetings, whether with colleagues, suppliers or customers. Cloud-based video conference platforms are available out there in the market which do not require extensive hardware setup. Cloud-based video conference platform is getting popular and much more affordable as it can run on laptops, tablets and mobile devices. Solutions like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, Microsoft teams and etc. are the options available. Most online video conference platforms do offer free cloud-based video meeting packages for a limited time or with limited features. However, there are some challenges of cloud based online conference meetings. The common complaints we received regarding video conference meetings are bad video and voice quality and unstable connectivity.
There are many reasons for such complaints:-
1. Internet speed at home
Unless you have a dedicated leased line, broadband internet which is commonly used does not guarantee consistent speed as it is offered based on best effort by service providers, subject to contention with other neighbouring houses who are also subscribing to the same provider connecting to the same exchange.
2. Bandwidth cap
Besides speed, Broadband Internet Service Providers also have data usage capping. What is data usage capping? Data capping is where Internet service providers impose a limit(quota) on the amount of data used by a user over a period of time. This is calculated in Megabyte (Mb), the number of megabyte of data you are allowed to use within a month.
3. Video Conferencing application vs Internet surfing (upload and download).
Another important fact about video conference application is that video conference meeting uses both upload and download Internet traffic whereas the normal Internet browsing or email activities uses more downloads and much lesser uploads compare with video conferencing applications. Each time you join a group video conference meeting, your computer camera and microphone capture your video footage together with your voice and upload it to the cloud. As such, your video conference meeting application need a strong upload Internet traffic whereas normal Internet browsing or email activities do not require such heavy upload traffic line. As such, choosing the right Internet package is important to ensure sufficient upload and download traffic are allocated for video conferencing applications.
4. Con-current users and devices at home
For many, working from home experience is something that most employees still need to adjust especially those who have spouse and children who are competing to use the same single Internet source at home. The concurrent users and the number of devices using Internet simultaneously do affect the Internet quality when running video conferencing applications.
5. Home WiFi Setup
Finally and probably the most important factor is your home WiFi router. This is the most challenging part for many home users. Many home users do not understand how WiFi router behaves. The home WiFi router offered by your Internet service provider is often not enterprise grade quality. They are mainly consumer grade WiFi routers, meaning they have limited signal coverage strength. If you are staying in a double storey terrace house, most likely your WiFi wireless router does not have the signal strength strong enough to cover the entire area of your house. Home WiFi router will also has limitation as to how many devices can connect to the router at the same time. Cheap WiFi router may possibly give you only up to 5-8 devices connectivity and they may not be able to support all concurrent Internet use simultaneously.
How do we solve the WiFi issues? First consider moving some of the high Internet traffic application devices to cable connectivity instead of wireless. Smart TV or Apple TV can be connected directly to the router via cable connection instead of using wireless connectivity.
Consider upgrading your home WiFi router for stronger signal coverage that can handle multiple heavy streams of Internet traffic at once. Many new WiFi routers and devices support dual band frequency (2.4GHz and 5Ghz band). At Aglotel, we supply WiFi booster access point to enhance your home WiFi signal coverage. For example, it can provide strong signal for a typical double storey house both upstairs and downstairs and able to support up to 40 concurrent devices. Without a good WiFi booster, no matter how fast is your Internet subscription plan you get, it’s just a waste of money if the WiFi router signal cannot travel far within your house.
In summary, working from home can be a great experience and ensure staff productivity continues. Just how effective they are depends entirely on the preparation and Internet setup at home and office.