By Dan McGowan, CEDIA Public Relations Specialist
You’re likely tired of hearing about how much the global pandemic has changed everything. Understandable, because you’re steeped in – and trying to make your livelihood in – this altered reality every day. Fortunately, not everything that has changed is necessarily bad and some could be beneficial for business.
Increased connectivity expectations
A fully reliable and robust home network for almost everyone tops the list of major changes that are here to stay. A strong home network has become akin to water, sewer, and electricity services. If anyone goes out, we’re in trouble and our current level of dependency on flawless internet access likely won’t dissipate after the virus does.
“How am I going to live my life when (for example) my power keeps going off? Well, we’re getting to the point where internet (usage) is very similar,” says Ian Bryant, CEDIA’s Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships. “I’m working from home. What am I going to do? I have to be on this conference call in five minutes.” That sentiment and need, he adds, includes all aspects of the home network and has exposed an issue that integrators have been called upon to remedy time and time again: wireless coverage.
Those working from home – especially if children are also now learning from home – are discovering that connecting from multiple corners of their living area at once is stretching the limitations of systems designed for less demanding use and fewer simultaneous users. With customers no longer in a position to tolerate interruptions, they’re seeking robust connection strength for everyone everywhere in the home now and into the future. Expectations have changed and integrators are in a position to provide solutions.
Sure, robust networking is critical, but in a day full of Zoom meetings, great acoustics and sound isolation really help. According to Peter Aylett, a respected residential technology expert with over 30 years’ experience, the acoustics of an office environment are so important. If you are on an audio conference and you are in a reverberant space, it’s just not going to sound very good. Likewise, if you are on a late night call with a colleague in a different time zone, you need a space that will allow you to take these calls and not disturb others in the home. By including some isolation in an office, you are enabling people to work later and have a more private environment.
Peter says that lighting is important in these spaces: Bio-adaptive, task-based illumination can make the day much more bearable. When video conferencing, you don’t want to be lit from above and have big shadows under your eyes. You also don’t want to be backlit, as you’ll then be in shadow. This is why it’s important to consider lighting in the office.
Lastly, reliable power – with backup systems – is not to be overlooked. We often have glitches in power, so what happens if you are on an important webinar and you have a brownout – you’ll have to shut everything down and restart. This is not ideal when you are missing out on an important call. A simple UPS can fix all of this.
Home IT provider
Working from home puts a lot of pressure on the network, but most corporate IT departments aren’t set up to support people at home. “Work-from-home has put cybersecurity and reliability at the top of the list for both the remote worker and the employer,” says Mike Maniscaclo. “Why not become the ‘Outsourced Homeworking IT Department’ for the corporate IT dept that’s overwhelmed?”
But you need to make sure that your team has the skills to do this. The requirement is so much more than setting up a home router and a few Wi-Fi access points. Mike notes that Cisco CCNA Certification is a great place to start.
Mike comments that this could trigger a new revenue model for ongoing service agreements, perhaps paid for by the remote worker’s firm.
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