In many ways, 2020 became the year of home working. With the order to stay at home, businesses were forced to come up with ways to continue working while keeping the safety of employees at the height of importance. Remote working became the way forward, with many people setting up temporary offices and desk spaces in the nooks and crannies of their homes. For some, having a laptop was enough to mean that operations were minimised. However, other corporations were faced with issues such as access to internal infrastructure and security risks.

This guide will provide information and advice to both businesses and employees who are now tasked with working from home.

What are the main challenges faced?

While remote working offers flexibility and safety, there’s no doubt that there are challenges that are unique to these working arrangements. While this guide will focus on network complications and security, we couldn’t overlook the other complications that arise in this situation. Many businesses experience:

  • Communication issues - Employees are used to being able to interact face-to-face and aren’t easily equipped with the tools to maintain these strong levels of communication outside of the office space.
  • Managing time - By taking out the commute and dedicated working space, employees can find themselves overcompensating. Work has a tendency to spill over into downtime and staying ‘logged on’ can escalate employee stress. In other environments, such as working families, it may be hard to distinguish clear working hours and productivity can dip if not appropriately managed.
  • Available technology - Unless provided by the business itself, employees can struggle to complete their jobs without the right technology. This extends further than physical devices and can relate to software restrictions and cloud-based services.
  • Non-suitable internet bandwidth - Many of us sign up to internet packages that suit our at-home life. This differs significantly from that needed to perform many work-based projects. For this reason, a significant number of homeworkers find that they are unable to work at the desired speed or cannot access the required programmes.
  • Security - And finally, network security can be significantly impacted if remote working is not set-up and managed appropriately.

Why is security an issue for remote working?

When a network is set up within an office, physical protections are put into place to prevent security breaches. IT teams are tasked with implementing virus scanners, firewalls and blocked IP addresses to protect all data that passes between employees. Our increased reliance on technology means that stepping outside of these safe environments can put your business at risk.

Some of the reasons why remote working poses so many security risks are:

Online Activity

Instead of communicating face-to-face or working through an internal network, we tend to move everything online. The convenience of being able to work from anywhere with a strong internet connection has both its positives and negatives. While it makes working from home easy, it also increases the risk of external hacking or data interruption.

Data Sharing

With limited technology available on all devices, remote workers tend to share passwords in order to complete work quicker. While this may support productivity, it also puts this information at risk of being shared or discovered by the wrong people.

Personal Devices

When working outside of a normal office environment, it can be tempting (or sometimes unavoidable) to use personal devices in place of professional devices. Again, this may help to push along a project, it also means that you’re unlikely to have the security measures in place to protect from and prevent hacking.

Network Usage for WFH employees

A key challenge faced by home workers is network bandwidth limitations. Research from Zen Internet found that 89% of homeworkers wasted just over 30 minutes a day due to unreliable Internet connections. 86% were faced with slow internet speeds and 45% of respondents believed that the impact of this could cause frustration between the employee and employer. Requirements for working and leisure online activities vary dramatically and it can be a challenge to determine when an increase in bandwidth is needed.

What Is the Best Internet Speed for Home Workers?

In general, most internet speeds are suitable for home working. However, it depends on your individual needs and what programmes you need to use throughout the day. In general, you need a minimum of the following internet speeds to do these activities:

  • Video conferencing: 1 - 4 Mbps.
  • Email and chat applications: 1 Mbps.
  • Web browsing: 5 Mbps.
  • Video streaming: 5 Mbps.
  • Music streaming: 2 Mbps.
  • Sharing large files: 10 - 1000 Mbps (dependant on size).

In general, we recommend having a general download speed of 16 Mbps, a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps and 1 Mbps for web browsing.

Network Security For WFH Employees

Working from home poses several security implications for businesses, some of which we have mentioned in this blog 8 ways for businesses to tackle security when employees work from home. Cybersecurity is important on all levels but perhaps takes on a new focus when remote working becomes commonplace for your business. Unsecure Wi-fi networks, using personal devices, specifically targeted scams - there are a host of complications that can leave you open to hacking risks. Steps you can take to minimise this include:

  • Using strong, complicated passwords and performing regular password audits.
  • Using a VPN and allowing access for employees.
  • Ensuring all technology is updated regularly.
  • Backing up all data using the cloud.
  • Alerting employees to the risks of phishing emails.
  • Encrypting communications.

Another way to strengthen security both inside and outside the workplace is to ensure your network and infrastructure is up-to-date with the latest technology. Here at Adept Networks, we work with businesses and clients from all industries to ensure that the right security methods are implemented at all times. If you have any questions about working from home and how your network can help to strengthen this, get in contact with our team here today.