Over the years, businesses have grown comfortable with their bandwidth, turning the other way as employees stream internet radio services like Pandora while hard at work. As workplaces have advanced to large servers and fast internet connections, small business owners haven’t seen a need to lock down internet use. But thanks to Cloud computing, that may soon change.
“Back in April Proctor and Gamble announced that they have banned their employees from using Pandora and Netflix, precisely because they utilize Cloud technology and they needed to free up more bandwidth,” James McNeil of Walker Sands Communications says. “As implementation of Cloud technology continues to grow so will this issue.”
At Proctor and Gamble, workers were listening to 4,000 hours of music on Pandora daily. 50,000 YouTube videos were being downloaded by Proctor and Gamble employees each day, as well. As it looks to streamline operations and rely more on Cloud-based technology, Proctor and Gamble is placing an emphasis on increasing productivity and freeing up bandwidth for work-related data transfers.
In the early days of workplace internet usage, employers paid more attention to computer usage policy abuses. Internet radio was a no-no because it slowed the network down. As bandwidth and server space increased, businesses loosened restrictions and, in the time that has lapsed since, workers have grown lax in moderating non-work-related internet use during work hours.
“Clients say they keep adding servers and still don’t have enough [bandwidth],” Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing firm Modis, told USA Today. “People leave Pandora open and don’t even think about it.”
But the Cloud has brought new complications. Workers expect to access work servers via smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops, requiring fast access. With so many sites embedding audio and video, internet streaming has reached epic proportions, prompting businesses to ask, should we block certain sites?
Cisco Networks is working hard to address these issues, with its Cloud Connectors. Bandwidth variations can affect a server’s performance drastically, according to Cisco, prompting the company to come up with solutions that can make a user’s experience more consistent across all platforms.
Still, small businesses should strive to limit waste, blocking sites like Netflix and Pandora. Online streaming certainly has its use, especially for businesses that use social media sites and YouTube for marketing. For small businesses relying on Cloud-based servers, here are a few tips for freeing up bandwidth in the workplace:
- Check your equipment. If you haven’t updated things since you moved operations to the Cloud, it might be time for an overhaul. Either way, technology changes every couple of years and by upgrading routers, cabling, and even your desktops and laptops, you can see a significant increase in productivity.
- Create a computer usage policy. Every employee on your network should be required to sign a computer usage policy. This policy reinforces that equipment is to be used only for work-related purposes, including when that employee is on breaks and at lunch. Addressing streaming radio and video specifically in the agreement may cut down on bandwidth usage due to these behaviors.
- Block access. This can be done on the server level, by an expert who knows how to implement it, or using third-party software on a server, like EdgeWave Remote Web Filtering. Check with your server provider and make sure this capability isn’t available as part of your current plan.
While small businesses may feel this crunch later than mid-size and large businesses, it is never too early to start freeing up bandwidth. Slow bandwidth can reduce productivity, slowing down operations and affecting your business’s bottom line.