If you’re working remotely, getting your work-from-home tech organized should be priority number one. However, trying to optimize your home internet (while increasing your WFH productivity) can feel like “one more thing” to do.
To ensure you get all your tech essentials sorted out as well (and quickly), use these simple pointers, so you can jump in and work from home like a pro.
1. Prevent home internet overload
With everyone at home streaming videos and working online, your home internet set-up might be struggling to keep up. To prevent dropped VoIP calls, slow downloads and choppy video calls, try the following quick fixes:
Bookmark your favorite speed test website.
Choose a speed test website or app that you like. Run a quick speed test before you begin your day or start an internet-based call. The lightning-fast results will let you know if you’re running at top speed or if you need to make some changes, such as:
Plug in for a wired connection.
If video-call colleagues are saying you sound like Darth Vader (due to a patchy Wi-Fi connection and voice-packet loss), you might want to cozy up to your router and connect your laptop or desktop via ethernet cable. The direct internet connection will improve your call quality and help you sound more like yourself.
Shut down non-essential wifi devices.
Connected devices running in the background can overload your Wi-Fi and slow downloads and videos. Do a quick device check (e.g., the kids’ phones and tablets) and turn off any unnecessary devices before you start any real-time online work.
Minimize household internet use
Ask household members to minimize their internet activity when you have scheduled video calls or need a strong internet connection to finish your work.
2. Upgrade your router
Routers are the internet workhorses that get tucked away under a desk or in a bookshelf, faithfully blinking away and gathering dust. Now that you’re working from home, your router is pulling working harder.
If your existing router is over five years old, it might be time for an upgrade. The newer models (unlike the router your internet provider set you up with way back when) are designed to handle the plethora of devices that are common in many households today.
Ultimately, “People with devices both new and old will see an improvement by upgrading to a recent router that supports the latest Wi-Fi standards,” says the New York Times.
3. Give your Wi-Fi a boost
Your internet might be weaker in some areas of your house than others. The more walls your signal has to travel through — as well as passing through dense construction materials — the weaker your Wi-Fi signal becomes (the same way your voice is harder to hear in another room).
If you find your signal is weaker in certain areas of the house, a Wi-Fi booster might help. Simply plug the booster into an outlet where the signal is weak. There are multiple types on the market. Read the reviews to see what people like and don’t like about a particular type.
4. Go pro with these work-from-home tech extras
Need a tech treat to make working from home feel more comfortable and professional? You might want to try these special tech accessories.
Wireless keyboard: Even if you’re working from a laptop, connecting a wireless keyboard can give you more flexibility for how you work.
Want to elevate your laptop, while keeping your keyboard on the desk? With a wireless keyboard, you can maneuver your keyboard to the position that suits you.
Keyboards and keys vary in shape, size, and feel. Before you jump in and buy a new keyboard, think about your key preferences.
If your work is keyboard-centered, an ergonomic setup might be a good option. Also, do you like keys that are sleek and flat, or raised with a dip? If you’re a writer, you may even want to invest in a high-end mechanical keyboard.
Freestanding microphone: Working from home will require more time on conference calls. While new computers’ microphone quality is pretty good, a freestanding mic will let you fine-tune the sound quality as needed.
Smart lights: The right lighting can make your workspace feel comfortable, reduce eyestrain, and help you look good on your video calls.
A smart light bulb in a lamp or ceiling fixture lets you change the light’s brightness and color with a swipe of an app.
Maximize your remote-working tech (and minimize the headaches)
Switching from on-site employment to working from home is a significant leap. Getting your home internet up to speed is part of that process.
Whether your modem could use an upgrade or your Wi-Fi a boost, some simple adjustments might be your ticket to a smooth work-from-home transition.