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Best practices for creating an effective home working environment – Part 1

In determining the best practices for home workers, we have assumed as we move into the later phases of the Covid-19 Pandemic, that large number of our workforce will continue to work from home. As they do so, they will inevitably be involved in audio and video conferencing calls with colleagues, clients and suppliers.

For these reasons it is important that home workers are able to create as professional a home working environment as possible, in order to give clients and suppliers particularly, an excellent experience during business meetings and to ensure successful and effective meetings.

And like all business meetings, anything we can do to leave a first class impression is desirable.

Finding The Right Space

Finding the right home working space may be a challenge and is dependent on home in which you live.Whatever space you choose, ideally it should be free from children and pets – if that is possible?

The health and wellbeing of homeworkers is paramount. This means that homeworkers should be encouraged to follow their organisations Health & Safety guidelines, exactly as they would do when working at their desk in the office.

For the sake of your health and well-being, close to the top of the list of things to be considered would be the ergonomics of the room and equipment to be used.

The use of a desk or table at the right height, a good office chair, a laptop along with a second monitor – with appropriate risers, in order to raise the laptop and monitor to the right height are really good starting points.

If possible, the room should be clean and tidy. Consider the background, wall mounted company branding – so all meeting participants know instantly which organisation you represent is a good idea. IKEA clip frames are perfect.

Make sure you were your company branded clothing (if you have any) during important meetings.If you have a large area available to you, perhaps you might be able to utilise one of those ‘pop up’ marketing banners placed behind you?

The health and wellbeing of homeworkers is paramount. This means that homeworkers should be encouraged to follow their organisations Health & Safety guidelines, exactly as they would do when working at their desk in the office.

Network Connectivity – Into Your Home

Bandwidth into the house is vital – without the right bandwidth, any video or audio conferencing is probably going to be poor.

You should look to find the provider which can deliver the highest download speed as well as a relatively high upstream speed – remember that video conferencing can often be sending as much data as it receives

Bandwidth available to home workers will be affected by other users in the home – and it might be necessary to arrange the ‘family day’, so that other broadband users take a break at the time of your especially important video meeting!

Fired Up Technologies has access to data base of every BT exchange in the country. This data base shows a list of the internet service providers (ISP’s) who can deliver services into your home. With this information, you can make educated choices about which ISP will deliver you the internet connectivity you really need.

You can also use the information to get the best ‘deal’ for you and your household.

Network Connectivity Within Your Home – Wired Connectivity

Another really important consideration is how you make available the supplied bandwidth from your home router to your home office.

We would always recommend using a wire rather than wi-fi.

Audio conferencing using voice over the internet and video conferencing are always better with a wire.It is interesting that many new homes today are cabled up with Ethernet (also referred to as Cat5 / Cat 6 or computer) cabling when you buy them. This makes it so much easier to distribute wired connection to the internet around your home.

If you do not have Ethernet cabling in your home or if wi-fi is really difficult, there are some low cost technologies available which will allow you to extend the wired connectivity from your home router into any room. Get in touch and we will be happy to help.

There a so many unknowns and so many variables with wi-fi, we would always recommend using a wired connection back to the ISP’s router.

Network Connectivity Within Your Home – Wireless Connectivity

If you cannot get a wire, we can suggest ways to improve wi-fi signals around your home.

One simple thing you can do, is to ask your service provider to upgrade your router. You may have had the same router for years.You may be due a free router upgrade, but service providers will not offer you an upgrade – you may have to ask.

Ideally, you need to ask your provide to give you a router which incorporates two wireless radios, referred to as dual radios. This means that the router is capable of  creating two wireless networks in your home.

One network operates using the 2.4Ghz wireless frequency and the other operates using the 5Ghz wireless frequency. The 2.4Ghz frequency is used for general internet browsing, emails etc – while the 5Ghz frequency is more suited to real time applications, like video and audio conferencing.

Provided your laptop and/or mobile phone will support working with dual radios, we recommend that you connect to the routers 5Ghz wi-fi network, while the rest of your household connects to the 2.4Ghz wi-fi network

For your information you need to look for routers which support 802.11 b/g/n/ac – with ‘ac’ being the bit that confirms the router supports both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wi-fi.

Network Connectivity – How Much Bandwidth

Pretty much all video conferencing platforms support screen resolutions up to (only) 720p (HD Ready) but to make such a video call, you need available to you around 1.5 Mbps of bandwidth.

You can check the bandwidth available to you using tools like www.speedtest.net

The speed test will show you the maximum speed at which data can travel not only from the internet to your laptop, but also from your laptop to the internet.

Referred to as downstream and upstream speeds, you must not forget that video conferencing is simultaneously sending and receiving data at high speed; so your upstream speed is as important as your downstream speed.

If you are unable to connect on a wire, then and old router and thick walls (for those of you who live in a castle) will affect the bandwidth available to your laptop

Part two coming next week…

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