Home office network
One of the essential requirements for making a success of working from home is having somewhere suitable to work. You need a reliable home office network. Your home office needs a comfortable workspace and needs to be free from family distractions. Your family needs to understand you are working and are not available. The words “can you just …….” are the biggest destroyers of concentration and productivity.
This workspace could be in any number of places, an attic room, basement room, spare bedroom, conservatory, summer house or a converted garage.
Often the chosen space won’t have functional Internet connectivity. There are several ways to get a reliable home office network. Assuming you already have a good Internet connection at home, running a cable from your existing router will work if there is an easy cable run. The cable is cheap, and there is nothing as reliable as a bit of wire. Using wireless might work, but if the signal is weak from your existing router that needs to be improved. Even a simple router from your service provider will generally have good wireless, so if it is not working well; there are many possible causes. Distance from the router, too many or thick walls, things which restrict the signal or interference from nearby routers or devices. Our Wireless Networks page had information on wireless troubleshooting.
The answer might be adding another access point nearer to your office. Buying one with a built-in switch will be useful if you want to connect computers, VoIP phones or printers.
If you are preparing a home office network in a summer house or other structure in your garden, then you might want to run a cable. If you do it needs to be at least outdoor grade or ideally armoured and you will have to make holes in the house and summer house which need to be weatherproof. Another option is to use Ethernet over power adapters. These are cheap and usually work well. They are available in Plug-in form and ones which replace existing 13amp wall sockets. They can also offer multiple ports and even wireless access, although these features increase the cost. We recommend against using Ethernet over power adapters with built-in wireless as it is usually very basic and not very secure.
If using Ethernet over power adapters, the house and summer house must be on the same electrical phase.
You might consider the 4G cellular Internet, but make sure you can get a strong signal. Using 4G can use either a plug-in dongle or a router with a SIM card in it. 4G Internet can work well, but if the signal is weak, a quality external antenna will be required.
If you choose to work in your basement, you might not get a good mobile signal. Your choice of mobile provider matters here. EE works over your wireless and is reliable. Vodafone offers sure-signal, which is a box you have to pay for, that uses your Internet connection to make calls. You are paying for an expensive box to make up for the inadequacy of the Vodafone service. Suresignal can be a hassle to get working and does not work well with load-balanced Internet connections. For other providers, check how their service works.
For further information, read our other article Working from home.
Use our Internet speed checker to test your Internet connection
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If you are unsure if your problem is with your wireless or your broadband, run the test twice. Run the first test connected directly to the router with an Ethernet cable, then run a second test connected by wireless. If the wired test is much faster than the wireless test, the problem is the wireless. If your wireless is the problem, try running further tests from different places to see if you have a coverage problem.