Not everyone is a technological guru, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. In most office settings, you send an email or call the IT department to resolve your software and hardware issues. But COVID has changed everything. Now that remote work has become commonplace, many employees have to fend for themselves. As a result, work from home technical issues are your problem.
However, these potential pitfalls shouldn’t limit your productivity or efficiency. Rather, you should think of them as part of your job duties as a remote worker. If you’re struggling at the tech side of your work from home position, here are some tips to resolve some common technical issues.
Slow or No Internet Connectivity
Working from home is a godsend for its flexibility and work-life balance or work-life integration. But that’s IF—and that’s a huge if—your internet is up to speed. Sometimes the internet seems to have a mind of its own. In most situations, the diagnosis is relatively simple: it’s either your computer, router/modem, or your ISP (internet service provider). Here we’ll dive into each problem, and what you can do to fix them.
Before you pull your hair out over internet connectivity problems on your computer, make sure that your computer is the actual culprit. Doing so is simple. Just use another device and attempt to connect to your Wi-Fi. If they connect with ease, the problem is with your computer.
Once you’ve ascertained that your computer is having issues, start with the simple stuff. Most computers have a button along the top row that looks somewhat like a cell tower. This is easy to bump, and all you have to do to re-enable Wi-Fi is to hold the function button (Fn) and press the button. Then you’re back in business.
As a fail-safe, you should also check to see if you’re in airplane mode. Airplane mode automatically disables Wi-Fi, so just flip it off. Your computer should automatically reconnect.
Modems and routers are two different devices, although the terms are often used interchangeably. But most ISPs use a modem/router combo that connects to the internet and then sends that wireless signal throughout the home. If you have a larger home, you may have an additional router to extend the Wi-Fi signal.
Regardless of your setup, your router or modem could carry the blame for a poor internet connection. First, use an internet speed test to see if you’re getting any download or upload speed.
If you aren’t getting any connection and none of your devices are connecting, you may need to reset the modem/router. Some of these devices have a reset button, but most require you to unplug them. After unplugging the device, let it rest for 30 seconds before reconnecting the power cable. Once completed, wait a few minutes to see if you’re back online. Hopefully, this solves the issue.
Internet Service Provider (ISP) Issues
Sometimes, the modem, router, and your computer are functioning normally. In this case, the work from home technical issue is probably with your ISP. But before you call them in a rage, consider a few issues.
Does your internet plan have a cap? If so, ISPs cut off service or severely limit your download speeds. Also, if you have numerous internet users in the house (another work from home spouse or kids taking virtual classes), it can cause the internet to crawl. Other times, the ISP may be conducting maintenance or having a temporary outage. Make sure you go through all of the above troubleshooting steps before you call your ISP, as this is the last step you should pursue.
Whether you use Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari, your browser can develop issues. Sluggish browser performance is usually the crux of the issue, and if that’s the case, here are a few tips to amend the situation.
First, check if you’re running the latest version of your browser. These are usually found under “Help” or “About” in the settings of the browser. If you haven’t updated to the latest version, slow connections to web pages may result.
If none of these suggestions solve the problem, try uninstalling and reinstalling your browser. This will clear out the cache, cookies, and other information that may be causing your browser to stall.
Malware and Viruses
Work from home security is an integral facet for remote employers and employees. Without proper scans, blockers, and antivirus software, hackers can gather sensitive information that can cause problems and ruin the company’s reputation. That’s why malware and viruses are two of the most significant work from home technical issues.
Determining If You Have Malware or a Virus
While you (or your employer) should outfit your work from home computer with security programs, you may not know where to start. The first step is to determine if you indeed have a virus or malware. Some of the most common signs of these malicious programs include:
- Sluggish computer performance
- Inordinate amount of pop-ups
- Unexpected or strange computer behavior
Remember that viruses, malware, and spyware can infect your computer, even if you have the proper programs in place. But by looking for these signs—especially if they popped up overnight—you can narrow the scope of your problems.
Limiting Exposure and Fixing Malware and Virus Issues
To limit your exposure to malware, use these cybersecurity safety practices:
- Never go on sketchy websites, especially those without up-to-date an SSL certificate.
- Don’t open any files, except for those from a reputable website.
- Don’t click on any emails from a strange or unknown sender.
If you suspect that you have malware or a virus, start by running a scan of your computer. Windows Defender is a solid free option, but you could also use other scanners such as AVG, Malwarebytes, or Avira. These programs should identify any malicious programs and remove them.
When you still experience problems even after running antivirus and anti-malware programs, you may need to enlist the help of a professional.
Video calls are essential for almost every remote worker, especially those who work in teams. But if your audio or video isn’t working, this work from home technical issue can cause a headache. Fortunately, these are often quick and simple to solve.
If you aren’t getting video on your Zoom or Microsoft Teams call, follow these steps:
- Make sure that no other programs are using the camera.
- Ensure your Windows or Apple privacy features allow camera usage.
- Go to your computer manufacturer’s website and download the latest camera driver.
- If all else fails, restart your computer or uninstall and reinstall any programs from the video provider.
With any luck, your video should be working. If you have a problem with audio in a video conference, you’ll have to troubleshoot. Fortunately, video call providers often let you test the audio connection to see if it works before your chat.
If you aren’t getting an audio signal, you may just have your microphone switched off. To fix this, go to sound settings and look for recording devices. Then, turn your microphone on. If you’re using an external/USB mic, just make sure that it’s plugged into your computer correctly.
Work from Home Technical Issues With Hardware
Personal computers—whether a laptop or desktop—are your greatest asset as a remote worker. Yet some of the components you use with your computer can act up. Knowing how to fix them can save you tons of time and stress. So if you’re having a jumpy mouse or a printer that refuses to do its job, here are some tips to resolve any work from home technical issues with hardware.
Unless you’ve purchased an external mouse, your laptop touchpad is your tool of choice. So if it starts acting up, you have a few ways to resolve it. First, check it for moisture. If you’ve recently washed your hands, the water on your touchpad will cause it to jump around. Next, make sure you haven’t accidentally disabled it on your keyboard. If none of that works, update your touchpad driver.
Printers—especially the wireless variety—can be the cause of many headaches. So if your printer won’t do it’s job, here are a few tips to amend the situation:
- Unplug the printer, let it rest for 30 seconds, and plug it back in.
- Check all your cables if it’s a wired printer.
- Uninstall and reinstall printer software.
- Update the printer’s drivers
If this doesn’t resolve this common work from home technical issue, simply toss the printer out the window. But on a serious note, this should fix the problem. Hopefully, you won’t have to battle any paper jams.
External monitors can help you multitask while also reducing eye strain. But sometimes, you’re met with a blank screen. Obviously, you should check the power cords to ensure they’re plugged in. If that doesn’t repair the problem, listen for any beeps, noises, or other sounds that could mean your monitor is kaput. Finally, use the reset button that many monitors (but not all) have. Hopefully, you should have a vibrant screen in front of you.
Resolving work from home technical issues shouldn’t drive fear into the darkest depths of your soul. While some problems are certainly frustrating, this article should provide the information you need to solve simple issues. And for those more complex problems, the internet is full of useful tidbits that can take the guesswork and irritation out of the equation. The more you learn and practice technical troubleshooting, the more confident you’ll become. Suddenly, you’ve become that one remote worker who all your friends come to for help. That’s an exciting prospect.
Do you have any tips to resolve or troubleshoot common work from home technical issues? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube to share your advice. We’d love to hear from you!
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