Whether you’re lucky enough to be pitching up in a dedicated home office space, or you’ve found the last spare corner of your living room to take over, a lot of the country’s workers are finding new ways to carry out the day job, from their own place of residence.

While there are some perks to working remotely – popping out for a walk at lunchtime, or having five minutes relaxing with the cat or dog – there’s no denying that it also comes with its challenges.

Even if you’re not trying to juggle the home-schooling and childcare routine, there are some tech challenges which face us all. And, from maintaining secure systems to keeping operations running smoothly and quickly, here are some of our top tips and things to look out for…

Phishing emails are at large

Unfortunately, while COVID-19 is a pandemic which we’re all playing our part in helping to control and combat, for cybercriminals, it’s also an opportunity.

When there’s a ‘fear-inducing’ card for a hacker to play, it hits the table almost immediately – and, sadly, the Coronavirus is one of these instances.

Phishing emails have always been a nuisance – and sometimes a very convincing one at that – but there are some key signs to look out for, and these should be followed with every strange-looking email that enters your inbox.

Backing up is still important

Backing up data and important documents has always played a vital role within the successful IT mix, but with many employees working from home, it’s still important that this still continues to happen.

The great thing is that backups are now almost entirely cloud based. If you operate on Office 365, your IT support team can enable ‘One Drive’ – essentially an online cloud storage tool – which allows staff to store, sync and backup all items on their desktop.

If you’re unsure on whether you have this feature enabled or need further advice, our friendly team can offer some pointers.

Suffering from slow file access

It may be the case that when working from home, accessing shared folders and apps is very slow in comparison to when you’re in the office. That’s because, as a general rule, your connection speed is a fraction of what you’re used to with your on-premise link. As a result, this will have a knock-on effect on the speed and efficiency at which you can move data to and from the servers.

Connections are measured in mb, and the more mb, the better. For example, something downloading over a 10mb connection rather than a 1000mb is going to take up to 100 times longer.

If limitations are set by either your home broadband or the shared bandwidth everyone is using, your IT support team can’t make anything ‘go faster’. However, if you’re all trying to access something important, it may be worth agreeing with the team when you can do it, maybe using lunchtime or an evening for transferring huge files.

Coping with slow internet speed

A few of your team members may be complaining about sluggish internet speed, but why is this the case?

As more people are working from home, at the same time as other family members are streaming games and TV series, this undoubtedly uses more download speed – available bandwidth – than usual.

In this sense, it’s easiest to think of an internet provider’s connection as a hose pipe that’s delivering water to all its customers. Once the pipe is on a street, the service is now shared with up to 50 people. And, as the flow gets nearer to a house, the pipe gets narrower because each home is taking some of that water – which, in turn, affects each household’s resource.

This means that once the water pipe gets to your home, speed over Wi-Fi can be very fast, however this ‘rapidness’ isn’t backed up by the internet service. The pipe between your device and home router is bigger than that from your router to the internet provider.

Therefore, it’s important to remember that while your local Wi-Fi may show five bars on your tablet or laptop, this relates to the quality of connection from your device to your home router – not the internet speed.

Saving the bandwidth

Sticking with the water analogy, it’s vital to save water (bandwidth) at home – and that will take some communication and compromise from all family members.

To help conserve this valuable resource, there are some quick changes you can make to your daily routines, such as:

– Instead of streaming music while you work, you’re better off downloading it from your music service in the evening, so you can then listen to it in offline mode – or why not dig out the CDs? If you like to listen to YouTube in the background, be aware that ‘listening live’ can have a considerable impact on your available internet speed.

– Pre-download a couple of films for the kids on their tablets the night before, because if you have two or more children watching different things, this really adds up.

– Action all your smartphone updates or app downloads in an evening, as this is usually the quietest time and there will be more bandwidth available.

In short, with everyone living under one roof and wanting to access the internet at the same time, it goes without saying that some negotiation is required. For example, if you have to take a video call, that might be a good time for the rest of the family to do their homework or go on their daily walk.

If you’d like to chat about more homeworking tips with our team, get in touch here. No matter whether in the office or at home, the kettle’s always on at Q2Q.

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Technical IT Support illustration at Q2Q HQ Lancaster, Lancashire and the North West