What to do when personal devices slow down company bandwidth

As more and more employees use their own devices at work, the network logically slows down

Chances are you don’t remember the actual day when you told your employees that mobile devices were acceptable forms of communication in your office. That’s because you probably never did.

In fact, it’s probably more likely that you went to great lengths to prevent having your employees bring these devices into your office – either to stop them from playing Angry Birds during company meetings or from texting their friends about what they ate for lunch that day.

Unfortunately, what had previously been a very clear line of demarcation between personal and professional life has quickly merged into one very inseparable form of technology that companies must now learn to both accept and accommodate in order to ensure that their businesses continue to run smoothly.

Employees are using their iPads to take notes on client calls and are answering work-related emails even when they’re not at the office, which is helping to make them more productive than they were before.

What this means – beyond the benefits they offer – is that you now also have one more very critical aspect of your business that you need to keep tabs on: how to avoid network congestion.

As more and more devices are added to a network, that network logically slows down. If there are too many devices, it gets overloaded. An overloaded network dramatically reduces productivity, creates unnecessary anxiety for everyone involved, and, at the most serious level, can even shut down an entire company until things get back up and running.

How can this be fixed? Take the necessary steps to upgrade your network with technology that will deliver the same speed and performance, no matter how many new devices your employees may bring online.

Cable operators and other service providers carry the majority of bandwidth responsibility, so select a communications partner that will let you scale your bandwidth up or down depending on your business needs. And make sure that this provider can do it quickly, because waiting around for someone to manually upgrade your network is not how you want to be spending your time in the office.

Minimizing security risks

Since today’s mobile devices are not company-owned, it unfortunately also means that your IT department can’t always control them, which makes accidental malware downloads or computer viruses not only frequent, but also widespread occurrences.

Without the proper security safeguards in place to protect them, these devices can allow unknown users to access sensitive company data, which puts your entire business at risk.

How can you prevent this? By finding ways to limit employee access to critical data or verify their identities when accessing certain devices and applications. Software is constantly being added to the market to let IT administrators set controls so that users are unable to access certain programs without prior authorization. It may seem minor, but these small changes can help protect your network from dozens of known – and unknown – security risks.

Earlier this year, Comcast polled more than 2,000 businesses about whether they were seeing an increase in the number of devices – such as smartphones and tablets – connecting to their wireless networks. A whopping 75 percent said yes. Of those, a third said they were already experiencing network performance issues as a result, which means that it’s only a matter of time before the remaining two-thirds start to encounter similar issues.

At the end of the day, allowing employees to access corporate networks from their personal devices 24/7 does improve productivity and can drive business growth – which means that now is the time to invest in a reliable network infrastructure that has the capacity and bandwidth to support BYOD, and that offers the scalability and security features to accommodate the ever-changing needs of your employees.

Doing so will not only make things much easier, but will also benefit your company in the years to come.

Steve Walsh is Greater Boston regional vice president of Comcast Business.

Categories: Workplace Advice