How to Support a Work-From-Home Network

In today’s workplace, remote workers demand a friction-free, consumer-like digital work experience, so they can remain productive and avoid time lost to slow technology. Whether problems lie with the work-from-home network, slow internet or Wi-Fi, SaaS or unified communications, or the physical endpoint—a laptop or tablet—itself, IT teams need employee-centric tools, purpose-built for the work-from-anywhere world. 

The work-from-anywhere world is here to stay.

Most companies today support employees working from home, either on a full- or part-time basis, and, as a result, are benefiting in areas like talent acquisition and retention, employee productivity, and product innovation. In a recent article Airbnb co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky, said it perfectly:
 

“We want to hire and retain the best people in the world (like you). If we limited our talent pool to a commuting radius around our offices, we would be at a significant disadvantage. The best people live everywhere, not concentrated in one area. And by recruiting from a diverse set of communities, we will become a more diverse company.” 

But for all the benefits that remote work gives to employees and employers alike, supporting employees working outside the office can be costly.  

 “Why is that?” you might ask.  

Here’s the thing. Corporations purchase management software for office networks, servers, and applications, and even extend management to laptops to reduce support costs. But most management tools don’t address the most significant technical problem of working from home: the home network.  

The home network is invisible to IT, and any attempt at troubleshooting its issues can feel like trying to throw darts in the dark. According to a recent Zendesk blog post, average weekly support requests are up 20 percent since 2022, which means that IT departments are spending more time and money to ensure remote environments stay connected. 

 

Home networks have problems

Home network issues result in several connectivity problems each of us is all too familiar with, including slow or no internet connectivity, long virtual application load times, router problems, SaaS and web application latency, and interrupted video calls. The causes of these problems can run from problems with the local ISP, lots of people connecting to the same network—multiple people working from the same home location, kids doing at-home school (see also gaming, Netflix, TikTok and SnapChat)—to proximity to the router, and so on. 

The result of these network latency issues can severely affect work productivity and frustrate employees. According to an article published by the New York Times, the number-one, most-complained-about work-from-home tech issue is internet connectivity, which includes unreliable Wi-Fi signals and slow internet speeds.  

What makes connectivity even more difficult tis the fact that most at-home network equipment is consumer-grade and unmanaged, which means that your IT department doesn’t have credentials to access it. This leaves IT in the dark, making troubleshooting network issues more difficult and time-consuming.  

Common culprits of poor home network performance include: 

  • Poor ISP connectivity 
  • Misconfigured network equipment 
  • Weak Wi-Fi signal strength 
  • Wi-Fi channel conflict 
  • Rooms with lath and plaster (these substances impede Wi-Fi signals) 
  • Multiple users connected to Wi-Fi networks 
  • Congested link to ISP 
  • Poor wiring 

Troubleshooting a home network can be complicated 

So, how do you troubleshoot an unmanageable network? As in life, there is always an easy way and a hard way, and the hard way is manual troubleshooting. On a typical help desk call, an IT service desk will walk an employee through the following steps:  

  1. Run ping and ipconfig to give the support admin a baseline of information about the local computer. 
  2. Run nslookup to understand whether or not the computer can obtain a DNS server automatically. 
  3. Perform OS patching, check CPU and hard drive health, then check the firewall configuration. 
  4. Download tools like Network Performance Monitor or ManageEngine OpManager, then analyze remote network traffic patterns to see if there is a network security breach, virus, or rogue applications that could affect network performance. 

While these are great tools, they only provide information about a moment in time with no historical record of what happened when there was a problem. This makes it difficult for the support admin to perform the root-cause analysis that could prevent issues in the future. 

ControlUp makes troubleshooting home networks easy 

ControlUp gives IT visibility into the last mile of networks for physical devices and virtual desktops. Our digital employee experience management platform collects network metrics of endpoint devices running virtual sessions on Citrix, VMware Horizon, Azure Virtual Desktops, or on physical endpoints like Mac, Linux, IGEL, and Windows devices. 

Included in the home network metrics captured by ControlUp: 

  • Wi-Fi signal strength 
  • Network latency 
  • Wi-Fi access points 
  • Wi-Fi mesh identification (BSSID) 
  • Device geolocation 
  • Device location history 
  • Device geolocation from ISP 
  • Remote IP 
  • Country from IP 
  • Network adapter type 
  • MAC address 
  • Name of ISP 
  • Hourly network usage (MB) 
  • Network usage (MB/s) 

 

Controlup for Physical Endpoints & Apps

Every location presents different networking challenges, which makes ControlUp’s Edge DX management dashboard for physical devices the perfect tool for viewing the health of your employees’ digital experience, no matter where they choose to work.  

Take a look at the image below, which shows regions where people have network latency issues and offers other ways to easily find other issues affecting the digital experience. 

 

This image shows regions where people have network latency issues and offers other ways to easily find other issues affecting the digital experience.

 

Edge DX collects data about remote networks and can give recommendations based on what is happening at a given time. For example, because a Wi-Fi signal strength of about 60 percent can reduce overall performance by 80 percent, Edge DX is intelligent enough to measure the Wi-Fi signal strength and then notify a user to move closer to their router to improve their experience.  

Another way that Edge DX can enhance the overall user experience is that when there is network latency, it notifies the admin about traceroutes to definable targets and displays them in a graph to help them better understand which users and locations have latency issues. Ever wish you knew which ISPs your employees are using? Edge DX delivers a report that tells you exactly this, and you can use this information to negotiate better rates and speeds for your employees.  

Look at the screenshot below of an Edge DX dashboard. It highlights a block of time during which a device had a weak Wi-Fi signal that caused spikes in latency. This information can help admins find probable causes of this network latency and prevent future downtime.  

Whether you’re running Windows, macOS, or Linux, ControlUp provides hundreds of out-of-the-box device metrics—and the flexibility to add 100s more—to help you quickly assess the digital experience of your employees’ endpoints. 

 

ontrolUp provides hundreds of out-of-the-box device metrics—and the flexibility to add 100s more—to help you quickly assess the digital experience of your employees’ endpoints.

 

 

ControlUp for VDI & DaaS 

The world of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and DaaS is on the rise. According to Global Market Insights (GMI), the VDI market is expected to grow by 20 percent by 2028. But again, the weakest point of working in a VDI or DaaS environment is the last-mile home network. Thankfully, ControlUp Real-Time DX gives IT admins a view into the performance of a home network, so employees working remotely can enjoy stable connectivity, consistent uptime, and a positive digital experience.  

Below, you can see a view of detailed metrics of the client to the VDI gateway in the Real-Time DX console. 

 

a view of detailed metrics of the client to the VDI gateway in the Real-Time DX console.

 

 ControlUp presents thousands of real-time performance and usage metrics presented in intuitive dashboards. This gives IT teams end-to-end views of the health of their EUC environment from the back-end servers to the endpoints on a home network. ControlUp’s unique Virtual Expert™ technology, combined with an extensive script library, allows IT teams to quickly perform a root-cause analysis and remediate issues, either manually or through automation. You can see some of the real-time metrics captured and displayed in the screenshot below.
 

You can see some of the real-time metrics captured and displayed in ControlUp

While working from home gives employees the flexibility to enjoy a healthy work / life balance, working from home also makes it possible for businesses to hire and keep top talent in the market. However, home networks pose a support challenge for IT staff.  

This is where digital experience management solutions like ControlUp Edge DX, for physical endpoints and applications, and Real-Time DX, for VDI and DaaS environments, can help. They give IT increased visibility and control and make supporting home networks for virtual and physical devices simple. That way, employees are assured a positive digital experience wherever they choose to work on whatever type of endpoint they use! 

https://www.controlup.com/resources/podcasts/supporting-work-from-home-networks/

Want to give ControlUp a try? It’s easy to get started. ControlUp can be up and running in your environment in less than 10 minutes! 

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