Much of the workforce has now moved office operations to homes because of COVID-19. But the number of people working remotely had already been increasing every year. 4.3 million Americans worked from home prior to the pandemic, a number that has increased by 140% since 2005.
The trend is no mystery. Working from home gives employees more flexibility, it makes many of them happier, and some even become more productive – a growing number of companies are also implementing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. Companies are realizing that requiring employees to report to an office for a set number of hours each day does not necessarily equal better efficiency and results.
The reality of working from home can be quite different from the ideal, however. There are unique distractions and issues. And one of the surprising aspects of working from a home environment—especially as this pandemic has stressed capacity—is experiencing new Wi-Fi problems.
Workers no longer merely require a network to support casual internet surfing and streaming. They need it to handle more sophisticated applications and processes to do the job. And without the usual enterprise-level network connection and in-house IT team, remote teams and managers may find that core functions are inefficient or worse—impossible.
Even workers who have access to an organization’s network engineer via phone and video conferencing may find there are still difficulties as to what these experts can do from afar.
Thus, learning how to address some common Wi-Fi issues will help minimize distractions and get you back on track faster!
1. Slow internet connection
The biggest Wi-Fi issue remote employees face at home is a slow connection. You may experience this when video conferencing with team members or using heavier applications with large files.
The first thing you should look into is your router location and set up. The router should be in a centralized location with little to no obstruction. If it’s in a corner room of the house, half of your coverage is going out to the street. Likewise, if the router stored away in a cabinet, you’re making its job a lot harder. Move it to a countertop in the kitchen or a shelf in the living room. It may not be pretty, but it can significantly improve your coverage. If you have external antennas, try adjusting those as well to see if alternating positions make a difference. Wi-Fi Range Extenders can also greatly improve your setup, boosting connectivity across a larger area to all users who need it.
If you live in an apartment building or another tight housing area, your neighbors’ networks could be interfering with yours. There are free software platforms like NetSpot that can tell you the nearby wireless networks and what channels they’re using. If you see a lot of traffic on the same channel, consider switching your router between 2.5 or 5 GHz.
One cause of a slow connection could be the other devices and activity happening on your network. If someone is streaming video, someone else is online gaming, and someone else is downloading large amounts of content, you’ll probably experience a lull in network performance. Usually, you can see bandwidth usage reports through your ISP app or router dashboard. You may need to upgrade your Wi-Fi or work out an internal schedule, so you have better connectivity.
If all else fails, there are two other likely causes: your ISP or your router. You can use an external app or plug directly into your modem to test the internet speed. If it’s lower than your typical speed or the plan you pay for, then you know it’s your ISP and not your router. If your internet speed is normal, you may need to get a new router to support your activity.
2. Devices won’t connect to the Wi-Fi network
If your devices aren’t connecting to the network, start with the basics. Turn the Wi-Fi off and back on again on the device itself. If that doesn’t work, try going into your network settings and removing or forgetting your home network before reconnecting.
The next option is to turn your router off and back on again. If you have no luck there, use an ethernet cable to connect your device directly to the router. If you can connect to the network that way, then it’s a Wi-Fi issue. If you can’t, it’s an internet connection issue, and you’ll need to contact your ISP.
Be sure to try these troubleshooting tips on various devices. If you’re having trouble connecting your laptop to the network, see whether your phone and tablet are having the same issues. It’s just another step in determining whether the problem is with your network or your devices.
3. The connection is spotty or drops altogether
Perhaps more frustrating than not being able to connect to the network at all is having an unstable connection that seems to drop sporadically. Before you do anything else, try to identify a pattern. Does the internet drop at certain times of the day? How about when your neighbors are home vs. not home? Do you notice issues when you use the microwave? These can all be causes of network interference. Again, this would be an issue that may require you to evaluate nearby networks and change your channel if it seems overcrowded.
If you all of a sudden lose your network altogether, the issue is most likely with your router. It could be as simple as the router resetting itself for an update, but it may also be time for an upgrade.
4. Miscellaneous troubleshooting tips
If your router keeps resetting, you forget your Wi-Fi password, or you’re just out of options, try hard-resetting your router. You’ll have to reconfigure and reconnect it, but it could solve a myriad of connection issues.
Viruses and malware can also do damage to your network. Run a scan with your security software to determine if a malicious presence could be affecting your system performance.
Last—if all else fails—contact your service provider. They will likely walk through some of the same troubleshooting tips as we’ve discussed here, but they may have some additional insights. There may be an outage in your area, or your provider could have newer and better hardware available for an upgrade.
Running into connectivity issues at home is frustrating. It’s another distraction on top of many you’re already facing. But knowing the right tools to use, such as 7SIGNAL’s Mobile Eye, can help you tackle some of the basics yourself, saving you time and keeping you productive.
Related read >>> Coronavirus, Remote meetings, and the Demand for Stable Home Wi-Fi
7SIGNAL® is a leader in Wireless Experience Monitoring. The 7SIGNAL platform is a cloud-based Wi-Fi performance management solution that continuously monitors the wireless network for performance issues—maximizing network uptime, device connectivity, remote worker productivity, and network ROI. The platform was designed to support the Wi-Fi management needs of the world’s largest organizations, educational institutions, hospitals, and government agencies. 7SIGNAL continuously monitors the connectivity of over 5 million global devices. Learn more at www.7signal.com.