We certainly are living in unique and interesting times these past few weeks with the COVID-19 pandemic. Although we’re used to working from home in the computing industry, it’s still unusual to find ourselves doing it every day. In the absence of in-person collaboration, we are forced to meet online using tools like Webex, Skype and Zoom. Under normal circumstances, this is not a big deal, but with more people working remotely (not to mention with the kids at home doing their classes virtually), internet providers are experiencing record-level traffic. I don’t know about you, but I already experienced a lot of issues with online meetings. Below are some tips to help improve your teleconferencing experience.
One of the great features of online meeting tools is the ability to see each other through video teleconferencing. Unfortunately, this also eats up a lot of bandwidth and slows down an already strained network. If not necessary, turning-off the video will dramatically improve performance. It’s probably better anyway that colleagues don’t see your pajamas or unkept hair.
Close Running Applications
When we work, it’s normal to have multiple open applications. I typically have a browser open with multiple tabs, SQL Server Management Studio, Visual Studio Code or some IDE, Outlook, Slack or Teams, Word, Excel, and other apps open. When you’re getting ready to hop into an online meeting, close any applications you won’t need during the teleconference. This frees-up precious resources on your laptop.
When working in the office, I typically use my laptop’s audio (through a headset) when attending online meetings. One of the most common issues I encountered when I started doing this at home was the loss of audio right in the middle of the meeting. You know what I did? I called-in (through my mobile phone’s hands-free earbuds) instead using the call-in number. I haven’t had the issue since. I can’t quite explain it, because my mobile phone also uses my home Wi-Fi, but it works like a charm every time.
Another great feature of online meeting tools is the ability to screen share. If you really need to free-up precious bandwidth, try sending an agenda to your attendees including relevant content that will be discussed in the meeting, rather than doing it over a screen share. Not ideal, but this option is available to you in a pinch.
I conveniently have a study at home where I do my work. This is also where my Wi-Fi router is located, so I can connect my laptop to the router via ethernet cable. This dramatically increased my connection speed compared to Wi-Fi. If your workstation is not close to the router, consider moving closer or purchasing a long ethernet cable. It might be worth the hassle, especially if this situation drags on for months. Of course, the benefits go beyond online meetings (as you may have already surmised).
You should be doing this already as proper etiquette, but in case you’re not, mute yourself when you’re not talking. Believe it or not, even when you’re not talking, your mouthpiece picks up ambient noise and transmits it to all the attendees. Especially if you have a dog or an adorable toddler in the house. They can easily derail an online meeting, and everyone will start talking about their own pets and kids instead of doing actual work.
Pause Streaming Activities
Maybe it’s best to pause Hulu, YouTube TV or Spotify. You’re supposed to be in a meeting anyway, even if you’re muted. Your kids may not like it but maybe ask them to pause their streaming activities as well while you’re in an online meeting. Just tell them it’s a small sacrifice during these difficult times.
Restart Your Modem and/or Router
A couple of days after the work-from-home order was given, I noticed that my online meeting experience started to get bad. I was losing audio and my screen was freezing. I knew right away the problem had something to do with my internet connection. I checked my connection speed using a mobile app and there it was—not even reaching 25 Mbps. So, after my meeting, I reset both my cable modem and my Wi-Fi router and that solved the problem.
Upgrade Your Service
When everything else fails, look at your internet service. Maybe you opted for a lower-end plan thinking you weren’t going to need it. Well, you need it now so consider upgrading. Usually, you don’t need those blazing-fast plans. Unfortunately, these are extraordinary times. Lots of people are working from home and the kids are also home. You can always downgrade once everything goes back to normal.
Lastly, in the face of the Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, your organization must ensure it’s prepared to handle the remote-workforce surge needed to keep your business running and employees safe. Let Anexinet help accelerate the scaling of your remote workforce to keep your employees productive and safe. Click here to learn more.
Digital and Analytics Services Manager