If your company has asked you to work from home on a temporary basis, and you’ve never done it before, take a minute to make sure your Internet is up to it.
Think about how you work and what you need to do online to keep in touch. Different professional tasks require different speeds in order to complete them successfully. If you spend the majority of your online time on the phone and responding to emails, your speed requirements will be different from someone who will have to upload large secure files.
Check the tasks below to learn the relative range of speed for carrying them out effectively. These examples refer to a single user. If more than one person is online your speed needs could increase. Just to give you an example, a household of 4 heavy users will be best served with 200 to 500 Mbps.
Routine office tasks: 1-3 Mbps
- Sending and receiving emails: Here we mean most routine emails and messaging sessions transferring around 1MB or less of data.
- Sending files via email: Typical documents attachments between 4-10MB, such as Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations without complex graphics.
- Talking through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): This is a phone hooked up via internet. VoIP technology also includes the voice-only option found in messaging tools such as Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and more.
- Simple messaging through Slack or Microsoft Teams: These tools are an alternative to email for many people, and are ideal for real-time back and forth around specific subjects.
Video Conferencing: 3-9 Mbps
These days, teams and companies have turned to video conferencing, live-streaming, and screen-sharing technologies to replicate the experience of being together in a conference room.
Virtual meetings are perfect for presentations and collaborative work sessions, but can lag and show picture quality issues when not supported by the proper speed. If you will spend a lot of your day participating in video conferences or screen shares, the last thing you need is to stall a meeting because of bandwidth issues.
For effective video conferencing, According to Skype’s support page, the recommended speed for HD video calling is 1.5 Mbps. However, for a group video chat, this figure increases to 2 Mbps for 3 people, 4 Mbps for 5 people, and 8 Mbps for 7+ people.
Follow these useful Five tips to have a better virtual meeting.
File Downloads & Uploads: 5-25 Mbps or more
- Ongoing downloads and uploads of complex files: larger items such as design files, uncompressed audio files, sizable PDFs, and longer video files. A higher speed helps ensure that you’re spending your working hours getting things done, not watching a progress bar slowly ticking. In fact, this is why the FCC recommends a minimum speed of 5-25 Mbps for telecommuting.
Video Editing and Graphic Programs: 45-115 Mbps or more
- Downloading and uploading large video and multimedia files: If your work involves sending or receiving video or multimedia files, then you need enough bandwidth to make it run smoothly.
- Check your speed with an online calculator: To maintain productivity, a minimum speed of 45 Mbps should allow you to function smoothly. There are many available upload and download online calculators that can give you a sense of the relative time it would take to transfer large files. According to this upload calculator, a single user could upload a 500MB file with a household speed of 50 Mbps in under a minute and a half. And you may want more speed when downloading too, which is why Time Magazine recommends speeds of 100 Mbps if you find yourself downloading very large files frequently.
Is Anyone Else Using Your Bandwidth?
Keep in mind that other people connected to your home network will impact your overall speed. You also have to be aware of the kinds of activities they’re doing when you have to work. Is somebody else also working from home or are kids taking classes? Are people gaming or streaming movies and shows? Additional users on your network will add up.
If you notice a substantial speed lag from what you’re accustomed to, you can start your troubleshooting by taking stock of all the screens in your home. Video streaming places the largest strain on your home’s bandwidth. Get a better sense of your household speed needs in our guide on choosing an internet speed.
For a frustration-free work from home experience, the right internet speed will enable you to accomplish all the tasks on your plate reasonably quickly, and ensure you don’t endlessly encounter the buffering pinwheel.