Don’t Let Spotty Internet Ruin Your Work-From-Home Situation

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Is bad Internet cramping your work-from-home style? Small changes can help you get through the workday without freezing mid-Zoom with the boss. 

More people are working from home than ever before. About one-third of all workers ages 18 and over work from home all the time. More (41 percent) join them at last half of the week as some offices embrace a hybrid model. 

A work-from-home setup comes with many perks. Gone are the days of an annoying commute that adds hours to your day or feigning small talk in the lunchroom with your boring coworkers. As a WFH warrior, you get to roll out of bed right when 9 a.m. hits and block your calendar so no one can schedule a “quick” chat.

Unfortunately, the WFH life isn’t without a dark side. A whopping 70% of remote workers say they’re lonely working from home. That lack of human interaction can be especially difficult when troubleshooting technical difficulties with your home Internet. 

Poor Connections Interfere with the Workday

A dropped video call or sites that refuse to load aren’t just a “you” problem. A survey conducted by WhistleOut reveals it’s a growing problem amongst the work-from-home crowd. 

More than 35% of respondents say weak Internet stopped them from doing work. Spotty Internet also means 65% of respondents saw video calls freeze, cut out, or drop entirely. 

These days, the Internet is a necessity for WFH positions. Without it, 83% of remote workers would be productive for less than half a day. In dire situations, like long-term outages, nearly half (43%) of remote workers rely on their phones to create hotspots to get their work done. 

How to Handle WFH Internet Problems 

Chronically bad Internet may deliver a blow to both your workday. Here’s what you can do to protect your tech and reputation.

1. Make a Move

Do you live in an apartment with cement walls? Is your router on the main floor, but your office is upstairs? You may be dealing with a simple issue of bad positioning. Too much space or physical interference between your computer and router may slow down your wireless connection. It can even make it impossible to connect.

Eliminating this distance can speed up your Internet considerably. Try not to cover your router by placing it under tables or inside a drawer. 

Think of it like a radio. You wouldn’t place your radio in a cupboard; you want it on your desk with reach, so you can crank the volume to sing along to Taylor Swift’s Fortnight. The same principle applies to your router, minus the break-up angst. You want your router out in the open, so it can transmit a signal freely to your computer. 

2. Get a Wi-Fi Extender

Moving your router or office isn’t always easy. If it’s too inconvenient to relocate these items, you can invest in a Wi-Fi extender. This gadget plugs into any wall outlet to strengthen the existing wireless Internet, giving it a boost to reach greater distances. 

3. Find Your Ethernet Cable 

If you still have trouble finding a consistent signal, even after the great migration, forget about Wi-Fi. Pretend it’s 2001 and plug into your router the old-fashioned way: with an ethernet cable.  

You’ll recognize an ethernet cord as the electric blue wire that came with your laptop; however, they can come in the whole rainbow of colors. Each one has a Registered Jack 45 (RJ45) that plugs into your router and your desktop tower or laptop. Once plugged in, it creates a wired connection between these two devices. The physical connection provides a stronger Internet connection than Wi-Fi. 

4. Change Your Internet Provider

If you still can’t make it through a single video call without glitching, it may be time to upgrade your Internet package. Investing in better equipment may also help boost your signal, especially if you get a top-of-the-line router with your new account. 

While shopping around, pay attention to the Internet speed. Slow speeds could be the reason you have so much trouble online. Faster download speeds, like 200 Mbps, should be enough to power your workday; however, 1,000 Mbps reduces the chances you’ll run into quality issues on video calls.

Stability is another important feature of your Internet. Take some time to see how people describe the Internet provided by other carriers in your neighborhood. You want reliable, uninterrupted connections in addition to fast upload and download speeds. 

At this point, it’s time to talk to your employer about their WFH policies. They may compensate you for your Internet bill, especially if you need to upgrade to high speed to be productive. 

5. Create a Savings Fund for Tech

If your employer doesn’t give you a stipend for tech, then payment, maintenance, and repairs fall solely on your shoulders. This can wind up being costly, as today’s cost of living is significantly higher than usual.

Squirrelling away a little cash with every paycheck softens the cost of buying a new modem, the sign-on fee with a new provider, or a bigger monthly bill. Over time, these little contributions will add up, so you’ll have enough to handle anything — even if a breakdown blindsides you.

6. Have a Safety Net

You can’t always predict when your router or modem dies. Sometimes, these disasters happen before you save up enough money. 

In a tight situation, you might use an online installment loan or line of credit to help you take care of urgent repairs. Online loans are convenient and simple, even with spotty Internet. You can use your phone’s data to shop around and see if you are qualified to get money online.

7. Budget for Your Utilities

Upgrading your package for faster, more reliable Internet requires some budgeting. Normally, this is where someone tells you to cancel your Netflix subscription and stop ordering takeout. But you might not have to give up these luxuries for the sake of better Internet. You can handle extra Internet bills by being careful with other utilities. 

These energy-saving tips keep your usage low, saving you money you can use towards your new Internet. 

  • The Department of Energy says you can save as much as 10% on your heating and cooling costs by turning your thermostat back by 10°F for 8 hours a day. That translates into $220 savings for the average family who spends $2,200 a year on energy. Ideally, you should aim to set your home’s temperature between 62°F and 68°F in the winter and above 78°F in the summer for even greater savings.
  • Weatherize your home to prevent air leaks. This ensures the heated or cooled air stays where it’s supposed to, and your HVAC doesn’t have to work harder.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with LED lighting. The average household saves a whopping $225 from this simple switch!

8. Invest in an Energy Backup 

Power outages can render your new router and modem useless, even with full bars. If you live somewhere without a reliable power grid, you need to be prepared when the power goes out.  

Research what kind of backup generator you need for the size of your home. You might also want to think about a redundancy for your Internet. A backup service gives you peace of mind if your provider experiences service interruptions often.

Bottom Line

Working from home on a permanent basis is a privilege but also a responsibility. Whether you work in enterprise security or graphic design, you need to improve your Internet to ensure remote work is attainable.