Sheltering at home requires preparation and this COVID-19 emergency hit us by surprise. Some of us got hit with a layoff and unemployment and that has all kinds of challenges and I wish all the luck with that one. But for the luckier ones among us your employer gave you the option to work from home. Now comes the hard part when you have to set up a work area and home office connection while somehow managing to shield the worker from all the household distractions and stumbling blocks.
When working from home and planning for your home office connection, you need to think carefully about the others in your home. Kids and animals have to be separated from the worker and face it that’s going to be an ongoing battle. The animals will love to see you and the kids hopefully will too and accept that the person working at home isn’t on vacation. In fact, you also may want to read my other post on how to power up your day, which can help through these distractions.
After you have that squared away you need a place that is off in it’s own area that is quiet and secure. Many employers will want to connect over the internet and with most people you have the bandwidth to burn. One family member checked his net connection at work and found he has seven times the speed at home. Now it will go down if the kids are streaming and playing video games or maybe taking online school classes. You can check your speed just by googling the term “internet speed test.” And if you need more speed call your ISP you may get a surprise and work a better deal.
Now here’s where you may hit a snag. Employers may not want you using WiFi in your house to access the internet and then their systems. Do you have any ethernet ports in your walls being fed by your router? You might and in that case problem solved!
If you don’t have the ethernet ports or the skill set to extend ethernet lines to where you need them there are options. You could hire a person to put this in but then you have to have a guy come to your house and right now we don’t want to do that. First make sure your employer definitely won’t let you use WiFi over your home router. They may hear WiFi and may think it’s public WiFi. My cable company offers that to subscribers when you get their regular internet access.
There is an easy way to use your regular powerlines to carry internet traffic. It’s called powerline ethernet. Google it and you will find a lot of companies offering it. They’re easy to find online on Amazon.com and Bestbuy.com to name a few. They are kind of cool. You get two little adapters. You plug one into a regular power outlet in your wall. Yes, the regular 110 volt outlet your lamp is plugged in. And you won’t lose the outlet they give a pass through in most cases. Then you plug an ethernet cord into your router and then into the poweline ethernet adapter you just plugged into the wall. Check with you powerline adapter’s instructions most won’t let you plug the adapter into a surge protector.
Now take the second powerline ethernet adapter to the place where you want to set up the office and plug that one in to an outlet there. Hopefully it’s close to where you want to place the laptop. You’ll do the same thing and plug another ethernet cable into the powerline adapter and then the other end into the computer’s ethernet port. Now you should be connected for your home office connection.
Try and see if you can score this from your employer for your home office connection. The range in price for a refurbished one is as little at $29 to $99 for a new one. If your employer won’t pay for it, a few sites to look into are Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com or Newegg.com. Certain stores like home centers carry some networking stuff but you might not find them that easy in a physical store. Just check on the store’s website. Home centers are open in my state but why make a trip if you’re going to come up empty? Remember, a lot of other people are setting up a home office connection right now.
If you go to your router and you’ve run out of ports, try and see what is plugged in and maybe you can unplug something. There’s a solution for that too if you can’t free up a port on your router. There’s something called an ethernet switch. This is like a box where you take an ethernet cable coming from your router to the switch and now you have more ports to fill up. They are great to have and are pretty inexpensive for the simpler ones.
The other option for your home office connection is to just buy a really long cable and they will be hard to find as well. We did a food run and needed a new plug and my local home center had no longer ethernet cables. But with those remember, the long cables you string around the house are temporary solutions. You don’t want to be tripping over wires for the next few months!