OfferZen Updates: How We’re Setting Our Team Up with Reliable Internet Access for Remote Work

How We’re Setting Our Team Up with Reliable Internet Access for Remote Work

By Louise Bailey Tait

At OfferZen, we’ve been doing remote days once a week for about a year now. Now that remote is likely going to be the new norm, it’s becoming particularly important to help set us up to work productively from home. In the South African context, having reliable access to the internet during load shedding is particularly important. Here are a few things we’ve done to help our team stay online.

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Reliable internet access is key

As a team, we believe that visibility is important for effective collaboration on our missions. To make this happen, we need to ensure that everyone has access to a solid internet connection, so that it’s easy to communicate, ask for help and generally keep each other in the loop. In South Africa, this is of course affected by load shedding.

After doing a bit of research, we were quickly able to establish what the best option is – a fibre line with a UPS battery.

LTE and other mobile data options, whilst quick to spin up, are not effective during load shedding as the surrounding cell towers typically go down as well, making connectivity spotty and inconsistent.

To set up our team with the best available internet connection, we did the following:

  1. We sent out a survey to everyone on the team to find out what their internet packages at home look like and whether or not they have access to a UPS.
  2. For everyone who doesn’t have a fibre connection, we’ve encouraged them to get one installed ASAP, and are providing them with a R500 supplement to help cover the monthly costs.
  3. For everyone who doesn’t yet own one, we’ve also organised UPS units.

A quick crash course on UPS batteries

Trying to understand battery options can be quite daunting, especially when you’ve never faced a problem like this before. Here are a few things we’ve learned when sourcing units for our team:

  • If you’re just looking to run your fibre and a router, a 1000va UPS should be sufficient. To be safe and give yourself a bit of extra power for charging your phone occasionally, a 1500va or even 2000va is your best bet.
  • Brands like Mecer and RCT are well known and trusted in the UPS space. We’ve been using the Mecer 2000VA Line Interactive UPS in the office, which cost R1 800 on takealot.com and have been very happy with it.
  • Almost all UPS have a built-in beep that goes off every five seconds or so. This can quickly get frustrating, but luckily you can remove it. You can do this by physically opening the casing and removing the speaker, or through the software, which is likely a slightly trickier option. You can also get an electrician to remove the speaker – we got Pieter Van Aswegen (+27 82 5771415) to help us. He has a small IT company in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, and was very happy to help us, even over the weekend.
  • Don’t forget the kettle plug! UPS batteries do not come standard with a kettle plug, so you’ll have to buy these separately. We’ve found Wootware to be the most reasonable place to buy these – they charge R49, compared to R80 on takealot.com.

How to set up your UPS battery

  1. Use the kettle plug to plug the UPS into a power source.
  2. Plug the multiplug into the back of the UPS.
  3. Plug your wifi router and fibre box into the multiplug. Even when there’s no load shedding, it’ll still provide a constant stream of electricity.

Here’s a very non-technical image of what this looks like:

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