April 27, 2020
One of the luxuries of working in an office environment is that you can almost treat tech like running water … there is infrastructure in place to make sure everything just works, and if it doesn’t there’s a team that can fix it. WiFi is strong and fast no matter where you are in the office, there are places to hardwire, and video calls are idiot-proof due to AV systems like Zoom Rooms (shameless plug, if it’s not that way at your office, contact us).
This is never more apparent than during the current zombie apocalypse. Everything you took for granted is now a whole lotta your problem. Extroverts are now being forced to become lonely nerds stuck behind their laptops at home… the horror.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Traditionally there are two methodologies to beef up your wfh game, a) the complicated/hobbyist way, where you turn your garage into the “server room”, and b) the KISS method (keep it simple stupid) using as few components as possible. We are going to run through a couple of quick options from the latter. Sure, you’ll have less ability to tinker and tweak things exactly to your liking, but for 99% of work-from homers, it will work great.
The first goal is to beef up your WiFi.
Your home wireless has probably been adequate, but now that everyone is home all the time, you need it to work fast under heavier loads and you need it to work everywhere in the house.
Luckily, Google has an app for that. (Surprise, surprise.)
Pick up a 3-pack of their Google Nest WiFi Routers. Setup is simple, just plug one into your cable or DSL gateway, and then space the other two out evenly around your home (the other two only need power). You can cover up to 6,500 sqft this way (ymmv). Setup and configuration are all done via their smartphone app and is fairly idiot-proof. These are “mesh” technology and not old-school repeaters. I can bore you with techno-jargon as to why mesh is far superior, but the short version is it just works. It also gives you one single wireless network throughout the house similar to what you have at the office.
The next issue on the list is video conferencing.
Yes, you can just use your smartphone or your laptop’s webcam/mic/speakers for your “Zoom” calls (using Zoom in a brand-agnostic way here, similar to Kleenex). However, that definitely limits your options, and the audio/video performance is somewhat underwhelming. Fear not, you can get professional video conferencing results in a very simple plug and play package. The Logitech MeetUp HD Video and Audio Conferencing System is a single cable solution, plug the USB cable into your computer and you are good to go. It has everything you need (speakers, a microphone array, and a wide-angle high-res camera) in a unit about the size of a small soundbar. It can be mounted below or above the TV, or sit on the table. This won’t give you the full “Zoom Room” experience** you may have at work, but it will at least give you a similar audio/video quality (in fact we use these same devices in our full Zoom Room setups for small/medium meeting rooms).
Congrats, now you’ve mastered WFH wireless and A/V in record time … so stop worrying about tech and get back to work 🙂
**If you are in a position where you can designate a room at your home as a Zoom Room, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We can provide a needs analysis and quote, and also explain the difference between regular Zoom and Zoom Rooms.
Lastly, file sharing (securely and on the cheap)
Most companies have some form of cloud storage available that lets team members share files back and forth. But this can get out of control with people using a variety of one-click setup options like DropBox. Inherently there’s nothing wrong with the platform itself, but as your team spreads out and may be using more than one platform to keep files, you may create a lot of unnecessary risk to your security if your teams aren’t using the systems and protocol you recommend.
To keep it simple, if your company is on GSuite use Google Drive. If you’re on Microsoft use OneDrive, but even then, keep in mind that files are owned by individuals and not the company. Google has a shared drive feature “Team Drive” which basically makes it act more like a file server (instead of individual users “owning” files, the company owns them). And Microsoft has Sharepoint for file sharing across its productivity suite.
In addition, there are great independent platforms like DropBox or Box, but no matter what you use, just note one very important caveat…
EVERYONE should use two-factor authentication for any file management system. No debate.
Security is only as great as its weakest link so ensure you have 2FA enabled so that you protect your system from being compromised.
While you look to ensure “running water” for your team in their home office environments, keep these three things in mind, and know that the Transcend team is here to help idiot-proof your space, no matter where you work!
All the best,