Picture the scene. It’s early 2020. Millions of people worldwide are working from offices, retail outlets, health centers, schools and colleges, and a plethora of other professional
locations. They are surrounded by business-grade equipment that helps them perform their jobs well. If something goes wrong, there’s an in-house IT expert or external consultant who
can physically be in the building to sort the problem out.
Then everything changes. Suddenly, those millions of people have to quickly find ways to carry on working or selling – but remotely. This represents an important landmark in what is
often referred to as digital transformation, which small businesses adapt to by making do with the tools they already have, or hurriedly acquiring and setting up consumer-grade applications and equipment.
Professional standards for WFH
Many of these quick fixes, however, are not the best in the long run. While performance issues like as bad lighting in video meetings, poor audio through laptop speakers, dropped
calls, and patchy WiFi was acceptable for a while, expectations are now higher. There’s very little excuse for not having a professional working-from-home image, one that gives a positive image of an organization and supports collaboration and communication. Plus, efficient equipment and network connectivity just make every individual’s working life so much better.
Additionally, IT support cannot stop by someone’s house or apartment when something goes wrong. Many home-based employees have had to become their own IT managers, an
extra role that can demand a lot of valuable time. Working from home is here to stay, so small businesses need access to technology that is reliable and unobtrusive, with the ability to provide remote support when needed – in other words, they need business-grade technology.
Level Playing Field
Enterprise-grade functionality is now appearing in a variety of products designed for smaller businesses. The playing field is more leveled because a microbusiness can have access to
the same great features as its much larger competitor. Having big, impressive offices or shopfronts is not the only way to shine. After all, the customer experience (CX) has been
reduced down to the size of a screen in many instances, so any way to improve that CX matters.
So what types of products will make the difference? That is going to depend on the nature of the business, but there are plenty of examples. Audio can be improved with professional quality headphones, or hands-free speaker-phones. Small WiFi-enabled multi-functional devices can print, scan and copy. Ring lights instantly improve visual appearance in a meeting, while task-lighting reduces strain on eyes, and anti-glare filters on laptops reduce blue light. Consider investing in a high-quality desktop monitor to avoid always looking down at your laptop (or at least think about getting a laptop stand and wireless keyboard). Network-attached storage, or regular backing-up of content to the cloud, helps protect against data loss.
Make the right connection
Of course, one of the most fundamental tools for most home workers is robust connectivity. Your connection also needs to be safe, fast, and accessible everywhere you need it. The first
step is to check that the network service in your home (via a service provider) is adequate by running a broadband speed test. The second step is to choose the right network equipment for your home.
If all you need is basic business-quality WiFi, the NETGEAR Business Essentials WiFi family is ideal for a wide variety of situations. These affordable, standalone wireless access points deliver fast bandwidth and reliable performance. Essentials are also designed for fast, fuss-free installation, and an intuitive user interface helps with on-going management and troubleshooting should you need it. Customers also receive 90 days phone and chat support, plus a three-year hardware warranty.
The Essentials range contains access points to suit each home working situation, including WiFi 5 or WiFi 6, Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), and desktop, wall, or ceiling mounting. With its neat, compact design, Essentials fit just about anywhere, whether hidden from view or in plain sight.
Like other NETGEAR wireless products, some of the Essentials family includes the ability to create separate networks — called SSIDs — under the same device. Mom, for instance, can have one SSID for her job as a company director; Dad can use one to teach his students; the kids have their own for schoolwork; and a fourth can be used to support connected devices (such as printers, IP cameras, entertainment and smart home systems). WAP3 authentication and a DHCP NAT service for firewall security help keep everyone and their information safe.
Where more control over data traffic is required, the answer might lie in managed network switches, such as NETGEAR’s Plus series. These devices provide entry-level easy switch management for essential services, with features including customizing Quality of Service (QoS) and priority for different voice, video and data traffic; creation of virtual local area networks (VLANs); and different numbers of ports and Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), depending on the model.
NETWORK Remote control
NETGEAR makes it simple to monitor network traffic and make configuration changes on the spot, and some models offer the option of remote management through NETGEAR Insight’s cloud-based portal. This allows businesses to simply support remote workers’ network requirements from hundreds of miles away via a web interface or the Insight smartphone app.
Achieving the right connectivity allows people working from home to enjoy the same experience as they have in their traditional business locations. For many, working from
home has become the new norm, so it is only right to upgrade to the quality of business technology that it deserves.