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5 Tips to Improve VoIP for Remote Workers

A remote workforce depends on high-quality VoIP calls and video conferences. Here are five ways to improve the experience.

Key takeaways: 

  • VoIP is becoming the norm because it is cost-effective and flexible for remote work
  • 5 ways to improve VoIP for remote workers:
    1. Prioritize VoIP traffic when possible
    2. Make sure employees have the right gear
    3. Reduce jitter
    4. Integrate MOS testing
    5. Use a wireless network monitoring tool

Most Americans who could work from home over the last year did. Companies of all shapes and sizes made the shift forced by the pandemic, and to some degree, the transition is permanent. Pew Research found that over half of workers who telecommute want to stay remote even after the pandemic is over. At a minimum, hybrid remote/onsite arrangements are becoming the norm.

What does this mean for network managers? New strategies must be mastered and implemented so that normal work tasks, like effective video conferencing and safe data transfers, can still happen from anywhere employees are tuning in.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), which enables online phone and video calls, is now a requirement at many companies. Employees can use VoIP on their smartphones, computer, or desk phones, so it’s a versatile option that only requires an internet subscription. The VoIP market is set to reach $194.5 billion by 2024, thanks in large part to the flexibility the technology offers.

But while VoIP has been a great addition to offices and homes, it brings new challenges for network managers to deal with. For remote productivity to remain high, workers can’t be trying to solve lots of call drops, video lags, and slow reconnections.

Here are five tips for improving VoIP for remote workers:

1. Prioritize VoIP traffic when possible

Whether you’re an individual dealing with a home router or manager handling lots of remote routers, this equipment must be able to prioritize business-related VoIP calls over other types of network traffic. Sometimes, this means investing in routers that are meant for business, or at least ensuring they have quality of service (QoS) features. QoS can prioritize VoIP traffic on congested links, so that VoIP traffic doesn’t have to wait for other packets to go through before it can be transmitted. It goes right to the front of the line.

One challenge may be that residential internet circuits do not provide QoS and they will not honor enterprise tags. If VoIP traffic has QoS tags added at the client, however, it should still get prioritized over-the-air to the access point through Wi-Fi Multimedia Quality of Service (WMM QoS) , providing some benefit in this area.

2. Make sure employees have the right gear

Sometimes, a device or accessory is the culprit of VoIP issues for workers. For example, an outdated headset can significantly impact call quality, as can an old laptop, mobile phone, modem, or wireless router that only supports 2.4 GHz. Assess whether an employee’s VoIP problem has to do with one of these devices. 

Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) programs can allow employees to use the latest devices and help save money on upgrades, though this can be a double-edged sword when it comes to security and using the latest equipment. BYOD helps many organizations make the transition to VoIP since there’s more flexibility when choosing a service provider. A pitfall, however, is ensuring that a range of equipment meets the specs required for performance.

Whichever model is chosen—BYOD or company-issued equipment—make sure the devices are up to the task.

3. Reduce jitter

When a network isn’t configured correctly or is experiencing a lot of congestion, jitter may occur. Jitter is an abnormality in latency, or an inconsistent delay in receiving data after it’s been transmitted. Jitter causes data packets to arrive at intermittent or unexpected times. VoIP calls may be interrupted or dropped, and lots of jitter is one of the most common reasons that quality suffers. Jitter isn’t usually an issue with tasks that require low bandwidth, like sending an email, but it can seriously impact high-bandwidth activities.

The potential QoS prioritization solution mentioned above could help with high jitter. However, poor internet service could be the cause. Depending on what remote employees are dealing with, this could be an ongoing problem, especially without a monitoring solution to show you the root cause of a VoIP issue with your remote teams.

4. Integrate MOS testing

Mean opinion score (MOS) testing is an assessment of a user’s VoIP call experience—the quality and performance. A range of factors impact the opinion, which can be gathered through individual, subjective assessments or algorithms, including whether speech was distorted, the volume was too low, there was significant static or background noise, or there was a lot of echo. 

MOS helps you measure the quality of calls so you can track down the root cause of an issue and resolve it for better employee satisfaction.

5. Use a monitoring tool

Without the right wireless network monitoring technology, you won’t have many hard metrics on how users experience video and audio conferencing that requires VoIP. Stay proactive against these issues, including drops, delays, and jitter, with a tool that monitors from the end-user’s perspective. You need visibility into what’s occurring in real-time so you can prevent problems.

With 7SIGNAL’s Wireless Network Monitoring platform, you get a cloud-based solution that continually tests Wi-Fi performance from the device perspective. Our Mobile Eye® agents are deployed on remote devices to test the end-user’s experience. Tracking the network on this level is a must for remote work environments and to ensure that there aren’t issues with VoIP and other crucial online tools. 

7SIGNAL® is the leader in wireless experience monitoring, providing insight into wireless networks and control over Wi-Fi performance so businesses and organizations can thrive. Our cloud-based wireless network monitoring platform continually tests and measures Wi-Fi performance at the edges of the network, enabling fast solutions to digital experience issues and stronger connections for mission-critical users, devices, and applications. Learn more at www.7signal.com.