Being the boss of your home office.

Darragh Synnott
On: 21 Nov 2019
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Working from home

Working from home is experiencing a surge in popularity. The 2016 census showed that nearly 95,000 Irish people work mainly at or from home, up by 14% since the previous census in 2011. By 2018, estimates from Grow Remote, a grassroots organisation, put the number of people working remotely in 2018 at over 200,000.

Working from a home office has a lot to recommend it: there is literally no easier commute, and you can go from corn flakes to collaborating with colleagues in the time it takes to fire up Zoom or Skype. Being able to work from home allows for a more flexible schedule for people who want to achieve a better work/life balance. In one survey of 3,000 workers by FlexJobs, 97% said that more flexible working options would make a positive impact on their quality of life.

Remote working benefits employers too: when Three and Amarach Research surveyed 1,000 Irish people this year, 59% said they would be more productive if they were able to work remotely. That’s supported by research from Harvard Business School, which found higher outputs from employees at the U.S. Patent Office when they were allowed to work from anywhere. Flexible working policies can also lead to higher levels of staff retention. OwlLabs in the US found that people who are allowed to work remotely are more likely to stay loyal to their company.

Types of remote work

People who work remotely usually fall into one of two groups: the first is full-time employees of a company who want to work from home for one or two days a week. The second type is entrepreneurs or business owners whose main office is their home. Both groups need connectivity, but their requirements are different in other ways.

For someone working from home as an alternative to the office, the essential items they need for connectivity are a mobile phone and possibly a mobile broadband router or dongle. Here, we look at the options available to give the best possible connectivity for your needs.

Mobile hotspot

The people working from home in this way often use their mobiles as a hotspot, and many are choosing that tethering option for convenience. However, if someone receives a call on their mobile while in the middle of a web session when tethering, it will end the session.

So anyone who works from home who needs to be in regular contact with the office should have a solution that will keep them online while taking those calls. People who are likely to need to work in this way can use either a pocket Wi-Fi device like the MiFi portable hotspot, or a mobile broadband router like the B525, which appears like a landline router but connects to the mobile broadband infrastructure. It’s convenient as a dedicated mobile broadband solution for the home office because there’s no cabling required (except to plug the router into the mains).

Separate connectivity

Our second group is people who are setting up a business and whose home will be their primary office. In our experience with these types of customers, it’s better to choose a connectivity option that’s completely separate from their home network. This way, they’re not competing for valuable bandwidth with kids who may be streaming videos at the same time and eating into the connectivity speeds.

To provide that we offer a range of different solutions. We’ve launched a new product, Broadband+, which essentially is a precursor to 5G which will provide very high-speed connections over the air, without the need to install a fixed line.

Because it’s an antenna connected to the outside of the house, the Broadband+ product provides superior coverage and speed than traditional mobile broadband. The antenna then connects via cable to a Wi-Fi router in your home office. This unit will be upgradeable to 5G when it launches, so essentially future-proofing your business. 

Cost-effective calling

For handling calls, using a voice over IP solution would remove the cost of setting up a physical landline, which can be costly for the owner of a new business that’s just started up and who’s watching their costs carefully. Some VoIP solutions can be controlled via a smartphone app; they let people have a landline number that routes to their mobile. It has a feature to localise the number for a specific regional area code like Limerick or Galway. This gives a business the ability to tap into a market in a particular region, without needing to physically move closer to that location.

Small and micro-businesses always want to seem bigger than they really are, and this is a very cost-effective way to do this. While the mobile phone is still a very important business tool, some customers prefer to call a business over a landline than a mobile, so having a landline number via VoIP is a cost-effective way to provide an extra layer of professionalism and reassurance to customers.

Staying accessible

Many small businesses, especially in the early stages, need to be accessible to customers outside regular office hours from Monday to Friday, so the ability to answer landline calls directly from their mobile ensures customers can reach them at any time. As anyone who runs their own small business can confirm, it’s their livelihood and their life; they don’t want to be uncontactable, they want to be always available.

The growing availability of productivity and collaboration tools means that the numbers of people working from home, is sure to rise further. The good news is, no matter where they happen to live, high-quality reliable connectivity is no barrier to being as productive as they would be in the office.

For more information about the communications and collaboration solutions available from Three, visit here.

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