Forget commuting! Remote work is where it's at, and home offices are on the rise. Thanks to tools like virtual private networks, video conferencing software, file sharing platforms, the cloud, VoIP, telework management technology, and of course, Wi-Fi, employees of companies both large and small can contribute value remotely. In fact, forget the home office, too. Nowadays, you can work anywhere - from the couch to the coffee shop - assuming you have the right broadband plan. That's because remote workers need their high speed internet providers to deliver a reliable connection so they can get things done.
Are you getting things done? If your broadband internet is laggy, drops out, or has a lot of downtime, the answer is probably no. And in that case, it's time for you to look at which high speed internet providers are delivering on their promises and which are dropping the ball. It turns out that not all internet service providers are created equal when it comes to remote work, which is why we've put together a post outlining what telecommuters really need from their high speed internet providers and how they can go about getting it.
Who Is Working Remotely and Why?
A lot more employees are telecommuting these days, and they're not just part-time work at home parents or college students. Almost half of all US workers spend at least some time working remotely, and nearly 4 million of those telecommute for at least half of their working hours. The average remote worker is a white collar professional in their 40s making a higher median salary than their in-office colleagues. Telecommuters include both the self-employed or flexibly employed, contract workers, and those who work conventional hours for conventional businesses. Men and women are equally likely to telecommute.
Employer support for telecommuting is growing for a number of reasons. Companies that allow employees to work remotely can save money on facilities and amenities while promoting themselves as sustainable and forward-thinking. Work from home policies can reduce absenteeism and turnover, check the spread of illnesses around the office, and boost employee morale. Employees like having the option to work remotely because it gives them a greater degree of flexibility over their hourly schedule and because they feel being outside of the office makes them more productive.
How Much Bandwidth Do I Need to Work Remotely?
To telecommute, you need a reliable internet connection that meets your bandwidth needs won't fail you when the pressure is on. The first thing you need to do when you're comparing high speed internet providers is decide how much speed you really need to telecommute effectively. A too-slow connection will make working from home feel less like freedom and more like a never-ending series of frustrations, but that doesn't mean you should pay for bandwidth you don't need, either.
Are you happy with the speeds you're getting now but want to see if there are less expensive plans out there? Use a speed test website to figure out how much bandwidth you're actually getting with your current broadband plan and start by looking for providers offering similar plans. Keep in mind, however, that cloud services, video conferencing, and logging into remote computers can eat up a lot of your bandwidth. Will your kids be watching streaming videos while you work? Then opt for the highest bandwidth plan you can afford if you're switching ISPs, just to be on the safe side.
Another thing to consider is that your current asymmetrical broadband plan may not be sufficient if you're telecommuting frequently because you'll need a fast upstream connection to send files to colleagues and to use VoIP. If you can't find a symmetrical broadband plan that works for you, make sure you're choosing the plan with the highest possible upload speeds or start looking at business-class plans.
The Best High Speed Internet Providers for Remote Work
When you're trying to determine which high speed internet providers are good for telecommuting, look at broadband companies that have a reputation for reliability, speed, uptime, and affordability along with plans that offer symmetrical upload and download speeds.
You should also look for ISPs that offer plans without data caps. Sites like BroadbandSearch have lists of the ISPs that service your neighborhood along with unbiased information about these providers and their plans so you can quickly get a feel for which could be a good fit for your home office.
Depending on where you live, finding the best ISP may just be a matter of contracting with the residential ISP or business broadband provider that services your neighborhood. Many Americans don't have a choice when it comes to broadband providers, and if that's your situation then ‘best' is whatever is available. But if there are many high speed internet providers delivering broadband in your neighborhood, then look for ISPs that not only have a reputation for delivering on their promises, but also offer free Wi-Fi hotspot access. When you telecommute, being able to get out of the house for a change of scenery is a beautiful thing!
Consider Paying More for Business Broadband
Residential internet service is less expensive than business broadband, but there are some very good reasons to upgrade to a business class plan if you work remotely - including the fact that some ISPs actually have Acceptable Use Policies that prohibit business use of residential service plans. Business broadband plans are not only faster than residential plans; they also include uptime guarantees, website hosting, the option of setting up your own server, and 24/7 personalized customer support.
Business broadband plans are also more likely to be symmetrical, which is especially important for remote workers who are creating content and sending it to clients or the home office for review. You also need to think about upload speeds when you're backing up your data offsite (which you should absolutely be doing if you work from home).
Better still, the business-class plans offered by high speed internet providers typically come with unlimited data. Going over your data cap can mean paying a hefty fee or having your bandwidth throttled until the end of the month, which could be disastrous if you're working from home during crunch time.
Lastly, you will get a whole other level of tech support when you invest in a business broadband plan. Forget the experiences you've had with support in the past as a residential customer. When you have a business plan, you'll get through to a real human being quickly and chances are that the person on the other end of the line will know what they're talking about. And if they can't fix your connection immediately? Your contract may include financial compensation for downtime.
Switching to a Business Plan
If you've decided you're ready to make the switch to a business broadband plan and you've found a high speed internet provider with a plan you can afford, you'll find that the process of switching is similar to signing up for a residential plan. Comcast, AT&T, Spectrum, and Verizon all give remote workers the option of signing up for business broadband at home, though you might run into ISPs that limit business service to select addresses on streets that are largely commercial. Some ISPs will require you to have a Federal tax ID number to sign up for business plans or to show a business license, though given how ubiquitous remote work has become most high speed internet providers are open to providing business internet at residential addresses.
Here are a few more things you should know before committing to a business class internet plan:
- Some ISPs have restrictions when it comes to things like VPN pass-through. Make sure you know if there are limits on a plan before signing up for it.
- Many high speed internet service providers require business customers to sign a 1-year contract, though a few do offer month to month packages. Be ready to make a commitment.
- There are business broadband packages that include the option to bundle your service with a TV or phone package, but the amazing deal you get for bundling may only last for a few months.
- Most business broadband plans come with service level agreements guaranteeing a certain level of service. Make sure you review these carefully before signing up for a new plan.
The more you know about the high speed internet providers (residential or business) that service your neighborhood, the easier it will be to make the switch when the time comes. So should you make a change? You may be surprised to find that even though your old broadband plan seemed sufficient for a long time, your new plan makes you wish you could work remotely five days a week!
When you're ready to sign up for a a new broadband plan that will make telecommuting easier, checkout ISPs in your area.