Tech Troubleshooting: Tips for Working from Home Effectively

04/24/2020 3 min read
Collette Parker
Collette Parker Editor for Staffing.com and a member of the remote talent economy for 20 years, as an enterprise business reporter for TIME magazine and the author of five business books.
Tech Troubleshooting: Tips for Working from Home Effectively

There is perhaps no clearer sign of the shift to remote work than the sudden spike in people googling “How do I fix slow wifi?”

Unreliable wifi is the bane of many remote workers, but it's not the only issue bringing misery to the home office. A quick search on social media reveals low-quality video calls and distracting notifications from team productivity tools also top the list of tech headaches.

If you're experiencing work-from-home woes, here are some key troubleshooting tips to get you back on track.

Patchy WiFi

Before you get on the phone to your internet provider, begin with the universal solution to all tech troubles—turn your hardware off and on again. Unplug your modem and router and wait 10 seconds before plugging them in and turning them on again.

As Justin Pot explains on How-To Geek, unplugging the hardware "ensures that all the settings on your router are actually reset, including anything that might have caused the crash in the first place."

If a reset doesn't fix the problem, check that no other apps are hogging your bandwidth. Large file downloads or file-syncing services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive can cause regular web browsing to slow down considerably.

If your wifi is still crawling along, it might be time to call your internet provider for a repair or an upgrade. Before you do, check your internet speed using a service such as fast.com to see how it compares to the plan you have with your internet provider. If it doesn't match up, you might be able to negotiate a cheaper deal.

When all else fails, hardwire your computer to your router using an ethernet cable. It should improve the reliability of your connection.

Poor Quality Video Calls

Video calling might have become the new norm for office meetings, but that doesn't mean it's without issues.

"Yesterday, at an internal meeting, one of my colleagues had a great headset, but he had switched it to the computer microphone, and we could hear every time he moved," said John Wang, a partner with Aon Inpoint.

A decent pair of headphones and a mic can make a big difference to video call audio quality, so make sure you spend a bit of time understanding the settings and getting those right, recommends Wang.

To switch between headphones and computer audio on Windows:

  1. Make sure your headphones and Bluetooth are turned on.
  2. Click the speaker icon next to the clock on your Windows taskbar.
  3. Select your headphones from the list of sound output devices.

To switch on Mac OS:

  1. Make sure your headphones and Bluetooth are turned on.
  2. On your Mac, go to System Preferences, select Sound, and click Output.
  3. Select your headphones from the list of sound output devices.

Digital Distractions

Team collaboration apps mean your coworkers are never far away even if, geographically, it feels like it. These apps can be incredibly useful, making it easy to keep in touch and work together. However, all those pings and notifications can be more of a hindrance than a help when you're trying to focus.

Here's how to switch two of the most popular team collaboration apps, Slack and Microsoft Teams, to Do Not Disturb mode:

Slack

  1. In Slack's desktop version, click the small bell in the top left of the screen.
  2. From here, you can pause all notifications for anything from 30 minutes to the following day. You can also set a Do Not Disturb schedule to mute notifications at a designated time each day.

Microsoft Teams

  1. Click on your user profile icon in Microsoft Teams.
  2. Under your user name, go to Available.
  3. Select Do Not Disturb from the options to disable all notifications.

Despite these common issues, remote work can be rewarding. By arming yourself with a little technical know-how, you can help to ensure your working day runs smoothly no matter what life throws at you – patchy wifi and all.

Collette Parker
Collette Parker Editor for Staffing.com and a member of the remote talent economy for 20 years, as an enterprise business reporter for TIME magazine and the author of five business books.