Forewarning: this will be a bit of a tricky topic because it’s impossible to talk about bandwidth conservation without words like limits, controls, and monitoring. Let’s face it, in today’s workplace, employees have come to expect the complete freedom that comes from Wi-Fi and BYOD and are likely to balk at anything that hinders their “rights” to these services. We’ll focus on providing tips and logic that allow you to control bandwidth consumption, all while maintaining happy employees.
Identify Your Largest Culprits
If you’re like most offices, you’ve got that one guy. The one that is sitting there with 56 browser windows open, streaming music as well as that day’s big game, yammering on his work phone, all while surfing the web on his Wi-Fi connected cell. Not only is this behavior obnoxious, it’s killing everyone else’s productivity. Start your bandwidth conservation with these individuals. Begin with a simple conversation. “Do you really need to have all of that going all at once?” If a conversation doesn’t work to both kill the usage, and frankly, get them back on task, you can move forward to more aggressive measures including website restrictions, a separate Wi-Fi network for all cell devices, or a performance improvement plan for this individual.
Implement Social Media Controls Wisely
Social media can be extremely beneficial for your business connecting customers, providing excellent marketing opportunities, and opening a door for customer service. It becomes a problem when you have people sitting at their desks scrolling their feed, posting selfies, or going live to tell people about what they ate for breakfast rather than working. To solve this problem, we do not recommend killing access to all social media in your office. People will find a way around your controls. Instead, we recommend conservative protocols.
First, have a conversation with your employees. Let them know that you understand their desire to connect with the outside world while at the office but that it can’t interfere with work expectations. That means personal live videos, bathroom breaks for a selfie photo session, and constant comments on friend’s posts are out. An occasional birthday greeting or post are perfectly acceptable.
If this doesn’t stick for the company as a whole (not just the occasional individual), you have to get a bit harsher. For example, limit access to social media to between the hours of 11-2 (a typical span for lunch breaks). Limit access to particular departments like sales, marketing, and customer service. Limit access to particular problem sites, i.e. if Instagram isn’t utilized in your company social media strategy, you may want to cut access entirely.
Block the Right Websites
Outside of social media, typical bandwidth sucking sites include YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, Netflix, and any other streaming service. While you’re probably okay allowing music streaming (listening to music often brings people into hyper-focus), you’ll want to cut off access to most video streaming when you start to see bandwidth issues. Rather than get rid of everything cold turkey, consider putting a TV with access to all of these streaming services in the breakroom so that employees don’t feel deprived of their binge-watching, but are at least doing it in a constrained, appropriate environment.
Backup and Update at Appropriate Times
Data backup and systems updates are absolutely critical to business success, but you don’t necessarily have to do the heavy lifting during peak usage hours. Instead, schedule the major daily backup (not just incremental minute-to-minute changes) to run after hours. Cluster your system updates to run all at once for all employees at night or on the weekend rather than whenever the employee sees a pop-up.
Aggressive Security Protocols
Malware and viruses are notorious for stealing bandwidth. Make sure you have the proper firewall and virus protection protocols in place to avoid having these piggybackers stealing your network power.
Audit Your Bandwidth – Get What You’re Paying For
Every year, we recommend running an audit on both your phone and bandwidth services to make sure that you’re getting what you’re paying for. What do your upload and download speeds look like versus what you were promised? A master agent and MSP can help to make sure everything is in line.
Bandwidth is a limited and extremely important asset. You don’t always have the option of buying more pipeline. Instead, implement these bandwidth conservation protocols to make sure your employees are always able to work at their maximum capacity.