Every morning, HR manager Jane arrives at the office ready to work. After her 10 a.m. meeting, she streams her (still-growing) playlist on Spotify until lunch. Although she leaves at noon to eat, she’s always back early to watch some clips from her favorite late-night personality on Hulu before getting back to work. Then, in the afternoon, she streams a YouTube playlist filled with similar music before leaving for the day.
This behavior sounds pretty normal, but for us in the IT department, Jane’s routine is a network usage nightmare; she burns through resources, slows Wi-Fi speeds to a crawl and creates workflow delay for her coworkers — who subsequently flood your department with ticket after ticket wondering why they can’t upload or share files as quickly as they were able to previously. A fictitious scenario, sure, but employees like Jane are as common as they are unaware — they are complaining about the slow internet speed, but they are actually causing the issue.
The Power of Network Monitoring Software
A survey by the International Data Corporation found 30 to 40 percent of on-the-job Internet use isn’t work-related. Luckily, in order to pinpoint which users are draining company bandwidth, you can use WhatsUp Gold’s network flow monitoring feature to monitor, alert, and report on interface traffic and bandwidth utilization.
Network flow monitoring provides detailed and actionable data on the top senders, receivers, conversations, applications, and protocols consuming network bandwidth. This gives enough information for the network admin to know who is consuming too much bandwidth, using RTSP (a streaming protocol), or showing inordinately heavy use of HTTP (web traffic).
The fact of the matter is that you should always be sensitive to your users’ needs, but knowing where the bandwidth hogs are coming from are essential to implementing proactive policies. You can use network monitoring software to pinpoint where large spikes are occurring and what’s causing them. From there, you can examine overall trends comparing necessary heavy usage to superfluous usage, reveal areas for improvement and create further plans to optimize the firm’s most congested networks. Most importantly, educate your users on the consumption of bandwidth and how this affects others in the organization.
Working With Your Team
While some workplaces expressly forbid the use of data-intensive apps, and use enhanced security and firewalls to block employee access to related content, this approach should be carefully balanced against the cultural and open workplace policies of the company. The last thing you want is to create friction between the IT department and the rest of the office.
It may be more effective to call a meeting and educate your office mates about how their behavior affects network performance, offering suggestions about how they can ensure everyone has access to the speed they need to complete their most critical tasks without restricting the rest of the Web. If initial collaborative efforts are unsuccessful though, try working with the “heaviest” users to figure out a usage strategy that works for you without being too restrictive.
Planning for the Future
Alas, despite a concerned effort from your employees to curb unnecessary usage, your network may still incur issues during heavy traffic periods. In this case, it may be time to look ahead and start planning for increased bandwidth capacity. Although such a progressive measure will undoubtedly require budget modifications, planning in advance to improve network capacity before it grinds the business to a halt will help keep things running smoothly and prevent even bigger speedbumps down the road.
Discovering which data employees access at work can be a touchy undertaking, but you don’t have to risk pitting the IT department against other employees. With a little advance planning, special software and an eye toward cooperation, your office doesn’t have to be so divisive. Curb undesired network usage and ensure everyone is able to enjoy a fast, reliable network connection without the office drama.