Business Internet Bandwidth Considerations for Return-To-Office (RTO)

If you’re bringing the team back under one roof, you might need to rethink your business internet bandwidth requirements and network connectivity overall.

business internet rto
Matt Pinto

Aug 18, 2022


Returning to the office? Good for you….maybe. Working from home is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you’re bringing the team back under one roof, you might need to rethink your business internet bandwidth requirements and network connectivity overall.

Whether your new normal resembles your old normal, or you’re adopting hybrid working practices, it’s likely you’ll need to adapt to a landscape that’s significantly altered from 2019. And even if you’re determined to replicate your former work environment, your business partners, suppliers, and customers probably won’t be.

It’s essential that your RTO internet package is designed with your new reality in mind – so here’s our return-to-office guide to selecting the enterprise internet package with the bandwidth you’re going to need.

Before Getting to Bandwidth

Before you get to defining bandwidth needs, there are a few things we’d recommend understanding so that you make the best connectivity decisions for your team. First and foremost, you’ll want to understand the differences between a dedicated internet access (DIA) line and a best effort internet connection, and determine whether or not the criticality of the office and its connectivity use cases warrant one or the other as your primary connection. Second, it’s worth thinking through a redundant connection if downtime would be particularly costly. Finally, as you go connectivity shopping, you’ll want to ensure you understand things like business internet SLAs and latency, jitter, and packet loss as well so that you’re comparing connectivity options across more than just sheer bandwidth. 

Okay, onto my Bandwidth Needs!

Phew, now that we’ve gone through all of that, we’re ready to help you think through bandwidth needs for your primary and backup internet access circuits.

Here are 11 key points you’ll need to factor into your bandwidth calculations to make the most of your onsite work environment.

  1. How many employees will be working onsite at a given time? You’ll also need to account for staff with flexible or hybrid arrangements, and leave plenty of headroom for any changes or expansions of your in-office team. If you’re using low-bandwidth applications at the site, you’ll want to have 2-3 mbps of download bandwidth per employee working, and up to 10 mbps per employee for high-bandwidth applications.

  2. What cloud-based services/online business apps will be used? Make sure to include every SaaS (as well as any IaaS and PaaS) solution – you’ll need to estimate the bandwidth required for a single instance of the app, and multiply that by the number of users accessing the app. Some cloud-based services require very little bandwidth at a given time (internet browsing, email, chat, etc.), while others may be extremely bandwidth intensive (large file downloads, cloud backup, video calls, video streaming, gaming). 

  3. Nowadays, onsite workplace culture comes with some sweet perks – it’s no longer frowned upon to use personal applications such as Instagram, Youtube, or even Netflix at work. Even the most free-and-easy employers have limits, though, so decide on a boundary here so you can put a figure on how much bandwidth you want to allocate for this.

  4. VoIP calls may well be part of your RTO internet-bandwidth considerations – and they soon mount up, especially when multiple calls are being made concurrently. As a rule of thumb, allow up to 1 mbps for every concurrent call. 

  5. Now that we’re all social creatures again, you might be having guests. Will they need their own guest Wi-Fi network? As with personal application use, figure out what you’re comfortable with and put a number on it, and allocate for this beyond your standard employee use cases.

  6. Are you backing up your local devices offsite? If you aren’t doing so already, you should audit which devices or data you’re currently backing up to protect your enterprise, as well as looking at the frequency of the back-up – is it happening in real-time, daily, or on a weekly or monthly basis? This should be factored into your bandwidth need calculation.  

  7. Videoconferencing is a vital part of working life in almost every sector – and for organizations with work-from-home or hybrid working arrangements, it’s a necessity. And even if you’re all back in the office, it’s highly likely that you’ll need to be videoconferencing with partner organizations, customers, or suppliers – so try to quantify and allow for your current (and future) videoconferencing needs.

  8. Are your connectivity needs still met by traditional MPLS / centralized access methods like hub and spoke? Are you okay with all your data being ‘backhauled’ through a centralized data center, or are you ready to upgrade your RTO internet to something more cloud-friendly and direct? (It might be worth getting in touch with us here at Lightyear to help you with that.)

  9. Even with the recent introduction of Delivery Optimization settings, Windows updates can affect your bandwidth availability, slowing everything else to a crawl if unchecked. It’s a good idea to ensure you’ve got some wiggle room in case you need to run Windows updates alongside your everyday operations.

  10. The increasing number of smart devices in the workplace is also a bandwidth factor – devices such as Smart TVs and networked printers will need to be accounted for in your RTO internet-connectivity considerations. 

  11. Many organizations are undergoing RTO processes with a much keener eye on how they’re using their physical spaces. This ongoing cost-benefit analysis is often accompanied by sensor setups to track occupancy and space utilization. If you’re planning to keep a measure on wasted space in this way, be aware that these devices will also require an investment of bandwidth.

This return-to-office guide should provide your enterprise with a sturdy framework to assess your RTO bandwidth needs. Lightyear has been conducting these assessments throughout the pandemic, and we’re currently helping businesses of all kinds procure the right solution for their RTO internet. Get in touch, if you need expert assistance.

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