Tips for using public Wi-Fi for working remotely
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Kerry Butters from BroadbandGenie.co.uk analyses the data from their recent public Wi-Fi test and offers some top tips for making the transition to working remotely on local hotspots.

Whether you’re a freelancer or working for a business that needs you to go that extra mile, more and more often we are being asked to work outside of the office. That’s not a problem for some, there are more than enough pubs and coffee shops where you can set up your laptop and get cracking. But the constant demand to be online can sometimes leave you scrabbling for a connection when you should be working.

There are dongles available from telecoms companies that will connect you to the Internet for a price, but lots of us don’t want the additional hassle (or price tag) that come with them. It has been suggested however, that with so many free and public Wi-Fi networks available to us these days, it is actually possible to work entirely off those.

Several broadband providers already offer their customers free access to public Wi-Fi hot spots. There are even some providers that make hotspots available to everyone for free, as long as they register with them beforehand. Broadband Genie recently sampled some of the services on offer and found that you can certainly make the argument for working on public Wi-Fi. We would, however, suggest that, if you want a pain free transition, you keep some of these things in mind.

  1. Know your local hotspots
    If you live in a city centre you will almost certainly have access to multiple Wi-Fi hotspots that you can use, but not all hotspots are created equal. Popular hotspots will be slower and more crowded, neither of which is conducive to good work. We would suggest you use the apps and websites available to you and find somewhere a little off the beaten track where you can really spread your work (and elbows) out a bit.
  2. What are you using the Internet for?
    If you spend your whole day sending emails and checking Twitter, then a hotspot will probably work fine for you. If, however, you need to join a video conference, upload or download big files or do anything which could be considered data intensive, then you may find yourself frustrated when your internet slows to a crawl.
  3. Is your computer secure?
    If you’re handling sensitive information as a part of your work, or you keep a lot of private information on your device, it might not be the best idea to be connected to public Wi-Fi regularly. They’re much more vulnerable to intrusion than a private, password protected network. That’s not to say that you couldn’t work from a public network, but it pays to be wary and ensure that your machine has plenty of protection.

This can be done by altering your firewall settings in antivirus software and/or Windows and ensuring that any sensitive data that’s stored on your machine is encrypted. Check out these four tips from Microsoft for more information.

Overall we would say that the future’s bright for remote workers looking to take advantage of their local coffee shop’s workspace and Wi-Fi. And with providers looking to spread their influence outside of the cities, it’s only going to get better.

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