We are all familiar with the effect slow WiFi can have on our personal productivity – and the frustration that can cause.  The impact of poor connectivity on a business-wide basis is less easily measurable – yet can have a more serious impact on staff productivity and morale.

Slow WiFi

We’ve all experienced the frustration of a poor WiFi connection, whether it’s on a large site with poor coverage, on the train or even in our own home.  But imagine dealing with those frustrations on a daily basis while trying to do your job.

Poor WiFi in the workplace can have a huge impact on your ability to do your job – and can lead to sustained frustration and resentment.

You’re then not only dealing with the lost productivity that directly results from the lack of decent WiFi, but the impact of declining morale as well.

Reasons for poor WiFi performance

There are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing WiFi problems.  In office environments, these include:

  • Signal strength loss through reflection or absorption
  • Inadequate access point coverage
  • Security configuration problems
  • Inadequate bandwidth provisioning
  • Unreliable service from telecoms service provider or carrier
  • Lack of a back-up connection
  • Physical disruption to line into building
  • Legacy devices that don’t support the latest WiFi standards being used
  • Lack of QoS (quality of service) management solution, resulting in bandwidth hogging by certain devices

As you will note, some of these problems are due to the local area network (LAN) and some are because of the wide area network (WAN) or Internet link.  Given the range of possible issues, when trying to establish the cause of poor WiFi performance it is important to work with a service provider or IT partner that has a good overview of the internal network as well how connectivity and telecoms links are provided.

Improving WiFi performance: A customer case study

It is not uncommon, when troubleshooting WiFi problems, to find that there isn’t one simple solution to the WiFi issue; there can be multiple reasons contributing to poor performance.

That’s exactly the situation faced by the team at Vivobarefoot – before they turned to Netstar to find a solution for them.

Damian Peat, Director of Operations and Sustainability at Vivobarefoot, set out the problem: “We were experiencing issues with bandwidth on the main network and I went to Netstar with the problem.  They came back with a solution quickly.”

Netstar upgraded the business’s routers and connectivity and introduced a Meraki cloud-managed WiFi Solution – delivering an integrated solution that solved the root causes of poor-performing wireless.

Damian was impressed; he commented, “Netstar has some total IT ninjas.  If I have a particularly difficult problem, I feel comfortable I can contact people at Netstar who I know will be able to solve it.”

Netstar’s experience assisting Vivobarefoot is not uncommon; while bandwidth issues may underlie a WiFi issue, they are rarely the sole cause of problems.

Click here for the case study

WiFi connectivity: The Achilles heel of modern business

Given the dependence the modern workplace has on its WiFi connection, not dealing with poor WiFi performance quickly can have serious financial implications.

It has become the norm in corporate environments to leverage cloud-based applications – organisations don’t want spreadsheets stored on laptops or sensitive data being stored on an employee’s phone.  Using cloud-based systems which often rely on WiFi has become standard practice and can increase security as well as productivity.

We access the Internet, software applications, VoIP telephone services and business conferencing services, point of sale systems and other networked services over our WiFi networks.

When your WiFi fails, so does staff and customers’ ability to use all dependent services – negatively impacting the customer experience. This in turn hits productivity, profitability and can potentially cause reputational damage.

The self-directed workaround

When staff experience problems with poorly performing WiFi, their natural response is to find a workaround: for example, storing local copies of documents on phones or laptops or using mobile phone signals to transfer corporate data.

Suddenly that carefully constructed corporate information security policy is being undermined from within.

What’s more, the business is facing higher costs from the use of more expensive mobile networks and all those carelessly downloaded documents will disrupt version control.

These workarounds can be a real headache for IT managers because, as well as causing the afore-mentioned problems, they also mask the original problem of poor WiFi performance.

Dealing with the symptoms of poor security and poor version control

One of the key changes at Vivobarefoot since the company started working with Netstar has been the implementation of a cloud-based file sync and share solution.  This has provided many benefits for the business – particularly for information management across its two locations in the UK and China.  Netstar also helped Vivobarefoot migrate to cloud-based email, which has also aided the Chinese operations in particular.

These changes might not have been possible without the original solution to improve WiFi performance for the company.

From Vivobarefoot’s example, we can see how stabilising WiFi performance can open the door to making more significant operational improvements.

Is poorly performing WiFi holding back your organisation?

If you are experiencing poor connectivity or bandwidth issues, don’t put off speaking with a trusted IT partner.  As we’ve seen, the knock-on effects of poorly performing WiFi can have a huge impact on the performance of your organisation more broadly.

If you aren’t sure whether you need to improve your WiFi performance, you could consider undertaking a systems audit.  Again, your IT partner should be able to advise here.

If you aren’t sure about any of the issues we’ve raised in this article and would like advice, please get in touch with the Netstar team; we’re always happy to help.