Internet bandwidth requirements for remote workers

Working from home is here to stay, and more businesses will continue to implement either a fully remote work policy or adopt a hybrid work model strategy. Some employees, however, may find it difficult to be as productive at home as they are at the office, especially if they don’t have sufficient internet bandwidth. But how much internet bandwidth is necessary to be able to work smoothly?

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth refers to the maximum data transfer rate possible in a network or internet connection. It indicates the amount of data that can be sent over a connection in a given amount of time, and is usually expressed in bits per second (bps).

Imagine two computers with the same internet speed at 100 megabits per second (Mbps): the first computer only has a 50 Mbps bandwidth, while the second one has 100 Mbps. If they were to download the same packet with 500 megabits (Mb), the first computer would be able to do it in 10 seconds, while the second one could do it in just 5.

This is because the first computer’s bandwidth is capped at 50 Mbps — even with a high-speed internet service, the limit of transfer would still be low. Therefore, the higher the bandwidth, the more data can be sent over a connection, contributing to faster uploads and downloads and a better internet experience overall.

How much bandwidth do you need for remote working?

To answer this question, you need to factor in the type of work that you do and the apps that you use. If your job mostly consists of sending emails, editing and writing on Google Docs, and communicating on Slack, then you can do your job with ease even with a low bandwidth. On the other hand, if your day-to-day tasks consist of frequently attending meetings through video calls, then you’d need a plan with higher bandwidth.

Once you have a clear picture of how much data you send and receive on an average workday, you can start looking for plans that can support your needs. And while you don’t need to conduct virtual meetings in 4K quality, you also won’t want your clients and colleagues to appear pixelated during a meeting. Neither would you want a session that gets choppy or cut off mid-conversation.

Here are the minimum requirements for the most common video chat apps used by remote workers today:

For 1:1 video calling:

    • 600 Kbps (up/down) for high-quality video
    • 1.2 Mbps (up/down) for 720p HD video
    • Receiving 1080p HD video requires at least 1.8 Mbps (downspeed)
    • Sending 1080p HD video requires at least 1.8 Mbps (upspeed)

For group video calling:

    • 800 Kbps/1.0 Mbps (up/down) for high-quality video
    • For 720p HD video: 1.5 Mbps (up/down)
    • Receiving 1080p HD video requires at least 2.5 Mbps (downspeed)
    • Sending 1080p HD video requires at least 3.0 Mbps (upspeed)

HD video quality:

    • Outbound signals must always meet a 3.2 Mbps minimum bandwidth requirement.
    • Minimum inbound signals: 2.6 Mbps with two participants; 3.2 Mbps with five participants; and 4.0 Mbps with 10 participants

Standard definition (SD) video quality:

    • Outbound signals must always meet a 1 Mbps minimum bandwidth requirement.
    • Minimum inbound signals: 1 Mbps with two participants; 1.5 Mbps with five participants; and 2 Mbps with 10 participants

Video calling:

    • HD: 1.2 Mbps (up/down)
    • SD: 400 Kbps (up/down)
    • The more participants, the higher the bandwidth requirement for downloads: 512 Kbps for three participants; 2 Mbps for five participants; and 4 Mbps for seven people. Upload requirements remain constant at 128 Kbps.

Teams requires the same upload and download internet bandwidth for the following scenarios:

    • At least 30 Kbps for peer-to-peer audio calling
    • At least 1.2 Mbps for peer-to-peer HD-quality video calling at 720p
    • At least 1.5 Mbps for peer-to-peer HD-quality video calling at 1080p
    • At least 500 Kbps/1 Mbps for group video calling

If you’re worried about your internet bandwidth, you can opt for audio calls instead of video calls. This considerably helps lower the information you need to upload and download.

For more tips and solutions on how you can work from home without a hitch, call us. We’d be happy to help.

This post was originally published on this site

Workplace Analytics: An essential tool for business productivity

Microsoft Workplace Analytics presents a clear picture of employee performance, giving managers and leaders actionable insights to enhance productivity. Learn more about this valuable tool and its benefits to businesses of all sizes across industries.

How does Workplace Analytics work?

A paid add-on to Office 365 enterprise plans, Workplace Analytics extracts behavioral insights from data gathered from emails, calendars, documents, and Office 365 apps. This means any data an employee enters into Office 365 can be used to assess their performance and productivity.

The data from which insights are gleaned are generated by employees themselves — how much time they spend on meetings, who they communicate with, and how much time they spend on productive tasks.

All this data can be viewed on the Workplace Analytics dashboard, where information is sorted using the following metrics:

  • Week in the life provides information on how the entire organization spends time and how employees collaborate with one another.
  • Meetings overview shows the amount of time people spend in meetings.
  • Management and coaching presents information about one-on-one meetings between each employee and their direct manager.
  • The internal networks metric shows how people within your organization communicate and collaborate with one another.
  • External collaboration provides insights into how your employees connect with individuals or teams from third-party organizations.
  • Teams collaboration takes a look at how employees and managers use Microsoft Teams to communicate with their colleagues.

What does Workplace Analytics aim to do?

Workplace Analytics is designed to solve businesses’ most common problems, specifically issues related to productivity and engagement.

Using Workplace Analytics data, business leaders can develop effective productivity strategies for the entire company. For instance, if the data shows that employees spend 60% of their time in meetings, managers can come up with a strategy to make meetings shorter or less frequent so staff can focus on productive tasks. Similarly, human resources personnel can use data on employees’ work patterns to identify the causes of burnout — now a widespread issue across businesses and industries — and make recommendations to address it.

Workplace Analytics can be also used to determine how workers collaborate with internal and external parties. Suppose a member of your sales team frequently works and communicates with certain vendors. The sales team’s manager can pull up Workplace Analytics data and use it to assess whether or not this collaboration is helping the team meet targets, or if it’s causing them to miss out on other, more critical opportunities for collaboration and/or making a sale. Based on this information, the manager can also identify which employees are most likely to meet or exceed their targets and set company-wide standards accordingly.

Finally, Workplace Analytics allows managers to determine an employee’s level of engagement, and whether workloads are fairly distributed among workers and/or departments.

To ensure you get the full benefits of Workplace Analytics, partner with a reputable managed IT services provider like us. Our experts are highly skilled and experienced in implementing and managing Microsoft programs and services, so you can rest easy knowing your business is in good hands. Drop us a line today.

This post was originally published on this site

Workplace Analytics: An essential tool for business productivity

Microsoft Workplace Analytics presents a clear picture of employee performance, giving managers and leaders actionable insights to enhance productivity. Learn more about this valuable tool and its benefits to businesses of all sizes across industries.

How does Workplace Analytics work?

A paid add-on to Office 365 enterprise plans, Workplace Analytics extracts behavioral insights from data gathered from emails, calendars, documents, and Office 365 apps. This means any data an employee enters into Office 365 can be used to assess their performance and productivity.

The data from which insights are gleaned are generated by employees themselves — how much time they spend on meetings, who they communicate with, and how much time they spend on productive tasks.

All this data can be viewed on the Workplace Analytics dashboard, where information is sorted using the following metrics:

  • Week in the life provides information on how the entire organization spends time and how employees collaborate with one another.
  • Meetings overview shows the amount of time people spend in meetings.
  • Management and coaching presents information about one-on-one meetings between each employee and their direct manager.
  • The internal networks metric shows how people within your organization communicate and collaborate with one another.
  • External collaboration provides insights into how your employees connect with individuals or teams from third-party organizations.
  • Teams collaboration takes a look at how employees and managers use Microsoft Teams to communicate with their colleagues.

What does Workplace Analytics aim to do?

Workplace Analytics is designed to solve businesses’ most common problems, specifically issues related to productivity and engagement.

Using Workplace Analytics data, business leaders can develop effective productivity strategies for the entire company. For instance, if the data shows that employees spend 60% of their time in meetings, managers can come up with a strategy to make meetings shorter or less frequent so staff can focus on productive tasks. Similarly, human resources personnel can use data on employees’ work patterns to identify the causes of burnout — now a widespread issue across businesses and industries — and make recommendations to address it.

Workplace Analytics can be also used to determine how workers collaborate with internal and external parties. Suppose a member of your sales team frequently works and communicates with certain vendors. The sales team’s manager can pull up Workplace Analytics data and use it to assess whether or not this collaboration is helping the team meet targets, or if it’s causing them to miss out on other, more critical opportunities for collaboration and/or making a sale. Based on this information, the manager can also identify which employees are most likely to meet or exceed their targets and set company-wide standards accordingly.

Finally, Workplace Analytics allows managers to determine an employee’s level of engagement, and whether workloads are fairly distributed among workers and/or departments.

To ensure you get the full benefits of Workplace Analytics, partner with a reputable managed IT services provider like us. Our experts are highly skilled and experienced in implementing and managing Microsoft programs and services, so you can rest easy knowing your business is in good hands. Drop us a line today.

This post was originally published on this site

Which is better, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet?

If your business hasn’t already found the right platforms to support your remote workforce, it’s high time you did so. When it comes to business communications, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet are among the best. Both come with audio and video call functions, but you may prefer one over the other once you get to know what each offers on top of these.

Calling features

Microsoft Teams and Google Meet both offer enterprise-grade security, 1080p HD-quality video, and screen sharing capabilities, but there are some slight differences.

In the free version of Microsoft Teams, there is no limit to the number of people who can use its chat and document collaboration functions. Meanwhile, up to 20 users can join an audio or a video call. This number increases to 250 in the paid version.

What’s great about Microsoft Teams is it supports meeting and group call recording, and even has captions and transcription features. It also has an inline message translation feature that translates messages into the language specified in a user’s settings.

On the other hand, Google Meet’s free version supports up to 100 participants in a video call. What’s more, it has intelligent built-in features like muting and auto screen focus, which automatically switches the screen to the person who is currently talking. It also lets people join meetings even without Wi-Fi or data through unique dial-in phone numbers.

Integrations and add-ons

Microsoft Teams is, first and foremost, a unified platform that allows users to communicate and collaborate on a single platform. It comes with powerful content collaboration on Microsoft 365 apps (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Excel) and easily integrates with hundreds of other productivity and collaboration platforms.

Meanwhile, being a Google product, Google Meet fully integrates with Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). For instance, users can schedule appointments and set call reminders within Google Meet using Google Calendar. Users can even broadcast their presentations live on YouTube.

Pricing

Both Microsoft Teams and Google Meet have free versions but with limited features. With the free version of Microsoft Teams, users can join a meeting and use its screen and file sharing features even without an account. However, they cannot record and save meetings. They also cannot take advantage of call encryption and call-in features if they do not have a Microsoft 365 account.

The most affordable subscription is $5 per month per user, and an additional $4 per user is needed for the call-in capabilities. Adding webinar features is also an additional cost if users want to livestream events to hundreds of people.

Meanwhile, users can use Google Meet for free with their personal Gmail accounts, but also with limited capabilities. A subscription that starts at $6 per month per user, however, lets users get Google Meet along with all the other powerful Google business apps and tools.

What works for you?

Knowing the similarities and differences between the two platforms, it should be easy for you to decide which suits your business the best. Google designed Google Meet for startups and small companies that need a low-cost communications solution, while Microsoft Teams, with its robust features, is suitable for small and large businesses alike.

If you’re still unsure about either product, you can opt for a free trial to help you in making the decision. Otherwise, you can contact our team today so we can recommend a VoIP solution that’s perfect for your business.

This post was originally published on this site

Supercharge your office’s chat app

Do the features of your company’s chat application feel limited? With many tasks and people involved in daily work, having a centralized chat app to help you organize your team not only makes you more efficient, but it also saves time. Here’s how you can use a simple app that lets you do much more.

The convenience of chat apps has enabled workers to cut time spent chatting with colleagues and spend more time doing their tasks. What’s more, work-related software is increasingly becoming more mobile- and user-friendly, with apps like Microsoft Teams bringing together several different platforms. Here’s how you can use that to your advantage:

Use SharePoint to store and share files

You might already be using SharePoint to store files and collaborate with your teammates. But did you know that in every Teams channel, you can click the Files tab to share files from SharePoint with team members? You can also access SharePoint files already shared in the channel and use Office Online or Office Desktop to collaborate on those files.

Forward emails into a channel

You get countless emails every day, many of which might be buried in your inboxes. Fortunately, Microsoft makes it easy to forward any email message from Outlook to a Teams channel so they show up in both platforms.

To do this, click the ellipsis (…) next to any channel name and select Get email address. This generates an email address for the channel, which you can copy and use to forward files, documents, and messages.

Stick with a few groups

While you can create as many groups within your organization as you like, going overboard can result in a cluttered messaging interface that overwhelms team members. Instead, you can create groups based on the number of projects and team members involved ー you can always add more if necessary.

Set up audio conferencing

Teams lets you host voice meetings with groups or with just one team member. This is particularly useful when communicating with remote workers or clients, in which case you can give them guest access to your Teams channel. Guest access ensures they’re able to communicate with someone but unable to view private information.

Test communication strategies

Just because some of the features in Teams overlap with other Microsoft platforms, such as Yammer and Skype for Business, doesn’t mean they’re all redundant. Think of it as a chance to test different communication strategies to find out what works best for you. For instance, if most of your clients have a Skype ID, you can use Skype for client calls.

Share conversations with new team members

Teams makes onboarding new hires easy. Rather than forwarding numerous emails and documents to new employees, use Teams to share past conversations and projects with them. This enables everyone to catch up without having to deal with cumbersome documents.

Microsoft Teams and other Office solutions are equipped with plenty of useful features that can take some time to master. But by taking advantage of these tools, you’ll be able to save time and maximize efficiency without having to spend a dime. If you have any questions about Microsoft Office and how it can benefit your business, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

This post was originally published on this site