Litigation Support Manager Mike O’Hara Shares his Knowledge on Home Office Headaches

Home.  Office.  For many of us, these words have become interchangeable.  Throw “school” into the mix and it’s easy to understand how some of the most common issues virtual warriors face can quickly change the course of a day…not for the better.  So let’s take a quick peek at some simple solutions that just might steer your day in the right direction.

How we choose to connect with each other has become more important than ever.  At this point, most of us have likely contracted one of the major video conferencing companies to assist us on this front.  Whether you Zoom, Webex, Go To or perhaps even Legalier (don’t you love when nouns become verbs), it is vital to treat each video conference with the same diligence, care and attention to confidentiality and privacy as you would an in person meeting.    The simple steps of requiring a password to enter a meeting room and restricting URL sharing may make joining the meeting slightly more cumbersome, but they are absolutely essential and should never be bypassed.  While the major players all offer security built into their platforms, don’t be fooled into submission.  The onus is still on the meeting organizer (that means you, Virtual Warrior) to lock down the meeting’s security.

Now let’s talk about flexibility.  We have put some serious hours into honing this skill lately, so let’s carry it over to video conferencing.  You may have contracted a specific platform to host your internal meetings, but it’s important to stay agile.  Our internal video conferencing platforms provide essential communication, but we also must be prepared (ideally without panic) to join conferences hosted across any platform.  Largely, this means steering clear of platform specific cameras and devices.  A Zoom integrated system will only cause a headache when you’re called to join a Webex meeting.  Doing yourself the simple favor of purchasing equipment compatible with multiple operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux) and any video conferencing platform can go a long way.

Okay, so you have your flexible equipment all set up and you are ready to connect.  No problem…unless your internet connectivity IS a problem.  One of, if not the biggest, pain points of working remotely is acquiring a steady internet connection.  While there are a couple of excellent options to increase your connectivity, let’s exhaust the simplest and most obvious first.  Seek out a wired connection whenever possible.  This is especially true when running a video conference.  So back to that flexibility we were talking about earlier.  In this arena, that often means you’ll be on wifi.  So what are your options when you can’t plug in?

The reality is we need to be able to rely on wifi often on short notice.  As such it’s important to do some work up front.  Contacting your ISP (internet service provider) to see if you can increase your wifi output can go a long way (it can also help you hone your patience to go with all your new found flexibility).  This provides the ideal opportunity to ask what converting your home office to a wired connection would entail.  There is a reason ISP’s will only guarantee the wired speeds they offer and advertise their wifi speeds without a guarantee.  The steady bandwidth offered from a wired connection can go a long way in headache prevention.

If you have already contacted your ISP, have sufficient internet capabilities and are still dealing with inconsistent wifi, welcome to a very large club.  Purchasing a higher end router rather than using the one provided by your ISP is a good first step.  Routers are simple to setup and purchasing your own also adds an extra layer of security to your connection.  Remember that onus?  Router location is also important.  The further we move away from the router, the weaker our wifi signal will be.  If your home office is a good distance from your router, finding a more central location for either may help.

If moving your router and/or office location isn’t an option, you may want to look into purchasing a wifi extender or repeater.  The difference is actually quite simple.  An extender is a wired device; a repeater is wireless.  You can plug the repeater into an outlet and connect it to your existing wifi signal.  It will then rebroadcast that same signal extending the range of your existing network.  It is vital to place the repeater in a location that receives a strong wifi signal from the router to reap the full benefits this handy device can offer.  The extender will produce the same result through a connection wired directly to your router. 

Security.  Flexibility.  Connectivity.  Good luck, Warriors!