Anatomy of a WFH Connection

We can’t predict the future, and while many companies have started to return to the office in fits and starts over the past year, “work from home” (WFH) is likely going to be top of mind for some time to come. That means that enterprise teams are going to have to get comfortable with the “last mile” residential ISP connections their WFH users leverage to access the network. 

But unlike commercial connectivity, which is often backed up by ISP SLAs, most residential Internet access is delivered as “best-effort” — that is, capacity is prone to fluctuate wildly for any number of reasons. 

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been signing onto work from home over the past few months, or really anyone who lives in a household riddled with devices: You were probably frustrated with slow buffering on Netflix long before “jitter on Zoom” became a part of your day-to-day WFH vocabulary. 

But what may be surprising is just how this variance plays out over a widely-distributed enterprise footprint.

When we at AppNeta closed our offices back in March, we conducted an initial survey of our own WFH network connections (something we recommend every systems team does to help gain a baseline of expectations for network performance out to critical team members.) We found that not only are most users’ residential ISP offerings way off the capacity levels they’re used to experiencing in-office, they’re not even getting the full download and upload speeds that they’ve contracted for.

This variance in speeds can be wild, with some WFH users getting only a fraction of what their providers advertise. Compounded with the stress on the user’s home network from non-business tools, this misalignment between expected and delivered capacity can sink worker productivity, and can compound across teams. 

This “last mile” between the enterprise network edge and a user’s residential workstation is where the bulk of performance issues arise in the WFH era, as reported by our own network management team and our enterprise customers. And while IT teams may not own, manage, or really control those residential “last-miles,” they can still gain visibility into how that connection is performing to help resolve issues before they ripple across departments.

Teams need to understand what these variances are going to be so that even if they can’t regain those lost seconds of dwell time because of the limitations on that last-mile connectivity, they at least have the data to baseline end-user expectations and inform improvements (and expected results) going forward. That means not only getting to the root of the problem (and proving innocence) fast, but also having the data handy to seek out resolution with the appropriate stakeholders.

Gaining this insight shouldn’t come at the expense of network resources by forcing IT teams to deploy a patchwork of monitoring solutions that only paint half a picture of performance. 

To learn more about how teams can get ahead of these and other challenges that are rampant during the WFH era, join our webinar, WFH: How to ensure end users stay connected.

Author's Bio

Paul Davenport

Marketing Communications Manager, AppNeta

Marketing Communications Manager, AppNeta