Wireless networks are faster, more affordable and easier to install than ever before and businesses that hadn’t yet made the switch are now doing so in droves.
The advantages of a wireless office are:
- As the name implies, no wires means everyone’s job is made easier, from the IT guy to the person in charge of the office
- It’s much easier to reconfigure your office space and extend connectivity in the future, as your business grows and changes
- It saves time and increases productivity by making company information instantly accessible to anyone anywhere within the office space
- It is cheaper to install than an Ethernet system which requires hardwiring of the office
- If you’re in a leased office, setting up a wireless network is more cost effective, as you can take it with you if you change premises
Things to consider when choosing a wireless network include:
Your current and future needs
Look at your current setup and decide whether you want to replace it (if your hardware is outdated) or simply add wireless access points to your existing wired LAN (Local Area Network).
Does your current budget allow for the setting up of a wireless network, or are funds already earmarked for other areas of improvement (such as upgrading your business phone system)?
How many workstations, offices and meeting rooms do you have? How many will you require in the future? Do they all need wireless connectivity? Are your staff currently using more mobile devices such as tablets and laptops than desktop PCs? It’s important to have a plan before you purchase any equipment, but remember, you can always start small and add more access points later on.
The logistics involved
How big is your office? The average coverage of a wireless access point is around 150 feet, so will you need to install more than one access point? Are there any thick walls or other infrastructure that may weaken or reduce your coverage?
Where should the access point be located? How many people will be using it? (The general rule is 25 people per access point). Is everyone using wireless-enabled devices or will you have to invest in new hardware?
Once you have worked out what you need and purchased your equipment, it’s time to set up your wireless office. If you don’t feel confident doing this yourself and don’t have an IT person on staff, then you should consider having an outside expert come in and do this part for you.
The steps involved are as follows:
- Install the access point(s)
- Activate the connection
- Connect devices to the network
- Configure each device
- Test it is all working
- Secure your network
Because your data will be transmitted by wireless, which can be intercepted, it is important to make sure your new network is secure.
Ways to achieve this include:
- Choose a new password to replace the default and change it every month
- Enable data encryption (normally turned off by default)
- Change the SSID (network identifier) and do so every few months.
There are many advantages to going wireless and as communication devices become more and more mobile, there will come a time when a wireless office is as essential as a VoIP phone system. So making the move now, with an eye to your future business needs, would seem to be a smart move in anyone’s book.