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Employee Network Connectivity: A Year Into COVID and There's Still Work To Be Done

CMS Wire: When thousands of WWT employees went to work-from-home environments, IT practitioners like Jason Kayser focused on easing that transition from a network connectivity standpoint.

by Dom Nicastro

When thousands of World Wide Technology employees went to work-from-home environments, IT practitioners like Jason Kayser focused on easing that transition from a network connectivity standpoint.

Kayser, senior manager of infrastructure engineering of the $13.4 billion, 7,000-employee technology and services provider, said the first big challenge was helping employees self-educate about their new work digs: how to best connect to their workplace applications, collaboration tools and systems.

“Trying to figure out the transition during COVID, that was really interesting to see,” Kayser said in an interview with Reworked. “What's the network responsibility for us as a company vs. what’s the user's responsibility? What’s that line of demarcation? Do people really want their company to get into what they are doing within their homes?”

Educating Employees About the World of Connectivity

Kayser of World Wide Technology said in terms of connectivity issues for employees, his teams are looking at things like tunneling protocols when employees return to the office and 5G capabilities. For now, they have been able to scale connectivity because pre-COVID-19 IT teams had done most of the legwork with many employees working remotely and traveling.

Their IT team’s big focus for connectivity in the early days of the pandemic? Education. They sent out content to employees to ensure they had solid connections in place for their new setup. Part of the messaging included:

  • Be Strategic About Router Placement: Donʼt try to hide your router from the world. Thatʼs the device that makes or breaks your wireless signalʼs ability to work for you. Try to place your router in an open area near the middle of your home.
  • Be Cognizant of the Number Of Connected Devices: With the growth in "Smart Home Technologies," many homes have significantly more devices connected to their wireless network than they are aware of. Each of those connected devices (Echoʼs, Google Homes, televisions, appliances, home security cameras, mobile devices, etc.) can impact your wireless network.
  • Pick The Right Wi-Fi Band & Channel: Most wireless routers offered today have dual band capabilities. This allows the router to broadcast both 2.4 Gigahertz (GHz) and 5 GHz bands for their Wi-Fi signal. If you have a large home and need Wi-Fi to transmit across multiple walls or floors, you should use the 2.4 GHz band (this is where router placement is important as well). Otherwise youʼll likely achieve faster speeds using the 5 GHz band.
  • Upgrade Your Broadband: For those who are just starting to work from home, an increase in your ISP (Internet Service Provider) speed may be the fix you need. Reach out to your to your local ISPs and see what speeds they are offering. Many ISPs are constantly upgrading their capabilities and can offer better services very quickly.
  • Security Is Important For Your Home Network; Change Your Default Network Name And Router Password: New routers come with a default Service Set Identifier (SSID) name and password. While you need to use this default information the first time you connect your computer to the router, best practice is that you change it immediately after set up is complete. If you continue to use your routerʼs default SSID and password, hackers can easily gain access to your router with these default credentials.
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