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One factor that businesses must consider to extend work-from-home policies is the reliability of broadband internet to employees' homes.
In many parts of the U.S. -- particularly in rural areas -- broadband can be undependable to the point that it affects an employee's ability to work. This is especially true for remote workers who must always be available using IP-based unified communications tools.
Let's look at steps enterprises can take to bolster internet connectivity using a backup internet connection for home offices and the various benefits and challenges that go along with it.
1. Determine whether employees need backup internet connections for home offices
The first thing a business must consider is whether an employee requires redundant internet connectivity in the first place. This decision process should be kept simple. If internet connectivity hinders an employee's ability to perform daily tasks -- for example, the internet connection frequently goes down -- the employee can make a case for a secondary link.
However, teams must also consider that, while an internet connection may technically be operational, the throughput necessary to perform bandwidth-intensive functions overwhelms available bandwidth. In this case, the employee and employer should see if they can simply increase the broadband upload and download speeds.
Alternatively, businesses can deploy a secondary connection, with both links used simultaneously in a load-balanced manner, to provide both improved resilience and increased throughput capacity. That said, keep in mind the technologies required to accomplish this goal can quickly get expensive.
2. Evaluate available backup internet options
Where an employee lives will determine the types of backup internet options available. Internet connectivity options for most homes and neighborhoods include fiber-to-the-home cable and digital subscriber lines. Wireless options include 4G, LTE, 5G and fixed wireless broadband.
Satellite internet is often available, but keep in mind this technology suffers from longer latency times. Additionally, some employees could potentially connect through private WAN links, such as metro Ethernet, fiber or point-to-point wireless links, depending on availability or proximity to a business office.
3. Learn how to deploy and manage employees with dual internet connections
Employees will need to install special router hardware in their homes in order to deploy a backup internet connection that operates either in an active/standby mode with automatic failover or in a load-balanced mode.
Pre-configured modern routing hardware is typically available to make the installation a plug-and-play job any nontechnical employee can handle. Another benefit is the company's IT department can access the remote router to collect and analyze performance statistics for each employee. Ultimately, this will streamline the troubleshooting process when connectivity issues arise.
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