A Work-from-Home Guide to Internet Speed

Woman Working from Home.

With benefits ranging from creating your own schedule to writing off part of your rent or mortgage, there are many reasons why almost 3% of the workforce is spending less time at the office. One study even shows that employees who work from home are actually more productive thanks to fewer distractions from co-workers and a quieter workspace.

To keep up with your workload, though, your home Internet speed needs to be at least as reliable as business Internet. Read our guide below to help determine how much bandwidth you need and compare residential or business service.

Determining Your Current Bandwidth

Bandwidth is the maximum rate at which your computer can receive information from the Internet. Larger files, such as movies, require more bandwidth, while checking your email or working on a Word document uses less.

To determine your current bandwidth, test your Internet speed with an online speed test tool. While your service provider might promise a certain maximum speed, the speed you actually get depends on the number of devices that connect to the Internet at the same time, the types of activities you do (word processing, video conferencing, chatting with clients, etc.), and cloud and storage needs.

In most cases, Internet connections download much faster than they upload, since most online activity involves your computer receiving information from the Internet. Upload speeds tend to be slower because sending emails and posting on social media don’t require a lot of bandwidth, but depending on your specific needs you could require a faster upload speed.

Calculating How Much Bandwidth You Need

If you work from home and are considering adjusting your Internet service, you’ll first need to calculate how much bandwidth you actually need.

For example, you wouldn’t want the most elite business Internet service plan if you live alone and work from home during the day. But if you have a family, factor them and their online activities into your bandwidth needs.

Opting for Residential or Business Internet

Residential Internet will probably be enough if you use your home as a satellite office, but you may have to deal with speed lags throughout the day because some residential lines are shared with your neighbors to keep the overall cost down, be sure to check with your local service provider. If you’re a small-business owner, you may want a dedicated business line so you’ll have a consistent connection around the clock.

Another perk to a business line is some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer service-level agreements (SLAs) that can guarantee a certain level of performance, as well as compensation if the service doesn’t meet that level. ISPs may also offer small business-owners Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), data backup, security, and Wi-Fi network setup for an additional fee.

Some companies require their remote workers to connect their home computers to a VPN—a private network that allows you to share data securely. If your employer hasn’t provided a computer with an already-established VPN, you may want to think about that feature when you’re deciding between residential and business Internet for your home.

Choosing Your Internet Service Provider

Now that you’ve figured out how much bandwidth you need and whether you want residential or business high-speed Internet service, how do you choose a provider? Consider the following tips:

  • Make sure they offer high-speed Internet. The faster your Internet connection, the better—especially when you’re working on a deadline.

  • Compare prices based on download and upload speeds. Not all companies use the same unit of measurement for speeds (i.e., 60 Mbps is not the same as 60 Gbps).

  • Pay attention to contract terms. If you’re working from home short term, you may not need a year-long contract. Some ISPs offer month-to-month options, while others will charge you a fee for canceling service before your contract ends.

  • Ask about add-ons and fees. Business customers may get some added perks with their service plans, but even if you decide to go with a residential plan, ask about any additional benefits or fees. For example, some providers charge a one-time or monthly fee for the router, and some offer free virus protection or website hosting.

In the end, it just takes a little research into Internet speeds, and you can get as much work done at home as you do in the office—if not more!