Blog | Does hybrid working require more bandwidth?

November 15, 2021 Raz Sheikh

Two people sitting in a cafe looking at a phone

Hybrid working is the future, one that many of us are ready to embrace. Indeed, 82 percent of company leaders plan on implementing the hybrid model, while 73 percent of employees worldwide would like to see flexible remote working options remain post-pandemic.

When looking at the advantages, these figures aren't surprising. There are the obvious benefits of flexible hours and reduced commute times, which can help create a better work-life balance for staff. Then there is employee productivity and engagement, with the majority of executives reporting an increase in each.

These metrics can be difficult to maintain, however. That's because the virtual meetings so necessary to hybrid working require more bandwidth than traditional office work. While office-based tasks such as emailing and researching online use less than 100 Kbps per second, HD video conferencing needs a download speed of at least 2 megabits. Below this minimum, issues can occur with audio and video, resulting in lapses that make for inefficient communication and unproductive collaboration.

There’s also the challenge of knowing exactly how much bandwidth your workforce needs. As the number of people in the office can change day-to-day, so too can the demand on your internet.

Better bandwidth for reliable communication

The more communication and collaboration there is, the more bandwidth matters. For individuals using asynchronous messaging platforms, a medium bandwidth of up to 500 Kbps ****should suffice. But for those attending virtual meetings, a much faster connection is required.

Some of the ways poor bandwidth can affect company meetings are:

  • High latency.  This occurs when there is a delay in data transmission, and causes frozen screens and out-of-sync audio.

  • Packet loss.  When data travelling across a network fails to reach its destination, audio outages occur.

  • Jitter. This happens when there is a time delay in sending data packets over the network, causing distracting effects like audio clicks and flickering screens.

Just one of these issues can make meetings longer, less efficient, and more awkward and they can all be mitigated with better networking.

Access vs accessible

As hybrid working becomes more commonplace, employees are setting up further from the office, with some choosing to move to a different country altogether. While this opens up a broader talent pool, having this sort of staff dispersal increases the burden on IT infrastructures.

There are also the workers who share their internet with family members or roommates, dividing their bandwidth into the amount of people in the household.

Providing access to the company's network via a VPN is not enough to guarantee accessibility. It's also not enough to guarantee security. For a reliable, fast and safe connection to your company's network, it's worth rethinking your infrastructure.

As it doesn't reroute traffic to avoid network congestion, a standard VPN connection can hobble your performance. That's why businesses adopting the hybrid working model should consider an alternative.

SD-WAN

A software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) communicates over the internet using encryption between locations. It supports multiple connection types like DSL and mobile while using dynamic path selection. This means your company can decide on what kind of network traffic to prioritise. Plus, it's fail-safe, maintaining the connection even when a link fails by routing through another channel.

With SD-WAN, it's also easy to view traffic and trends through intuitive dashboard interfaces which let you monitor demands, fluctuations and trends over time. Then, you can analyse and take rapid action based on data. This means you can push out changes to branches quickly, prioritising traffic for critical applications and protecting your users digital experience.

Furthermore, you can schedule and automate changes based on trends in your hybrid working practice. For example, you can prioritise voice and video on Mondays, when your users need to work from the office.

Hybrid working does not necessarily require more or less bandwidth. But, as you continue you'll discover pain points and areas of reduction. However, hybrid working does highlight the need to closely monitor the network. This provides the data and insights that allows you to see trends, no matter how subtle, to make changes that benefit your business.

Put simply, SD-WAN is a flexible solution that improves connectivity and performance, whilst also having the advantage of being cloud-friendly. It provides service to as many users who need access without compromising performance or safety.

Claranet for better hybrid working

The hybrid working model has multiple benefits for both employers and employees. But without the right networking strategy, it could be a burden on your infrastructure, as well as a drain on company time.

Claranet provides scalable network bandwidth that will grow and shrink in line with your requirements. As the highest-accredited cloud, network and cyber security specialists, we will give unbiased advice about your connectivity options. And with 25 years of experience, you can trust we know what we're talking about.

To find out how you can improve your network, contact us today.

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