In the summer of 2019, if someone predicted that in three years, many businesses will have to adopt adjust their network infrastructure for hybrid work and work from home and that no one needs to go to an office to work every day anymore, you will think that person is out of his mind. Funnily enough, even during the early stage of the pandemic, many people thought we would return to office and back to pre-pandemic normal soon. Well, this seems becoming less of a case now. There is continued tension between employers and employees about returning to the office. Sadly, some employers won't hesitate to terminate the employment of top talents if they refuse to return to their offices. In fact, some would rather quit their jobs before they consider returning to their offices. Network infrastructure for hybrid work is becoming the new normal that we need to embrace.


So, what does this mean to your office network infrastructure? Do you think your IT department can just stay the way it has been since before the pandemic? The short answer: absolutely not! Depending on the size and the type of businesses, all your networks require a certain amount of upgrade or alternation to ensure your business can still operate normally when there are certainly a percentage of your employees work from home. Even if employers force their employees to return to office, they still need to deal with vendors or customers who still work from home virtually. This article will walk you through different hybrid work scenarios and what factors you need to consider upgrading for your network.


Network infrastructure for fully Remote Offices

Personally, as someone who has been working in an office for years but is now fully home-based, I bet most people would prefer the freedom of choosing work from home. If your business or job function does not require you to handle physical products or equipment, or not require you to provide in-person services, then there is no need for you to go to an office. This type of work model is a fully or near fully remote. It requires a strong and secure network connection between employees’ homes and the office.



In general, fully remote work requires your business to have a strong virtual private network (VPN) setup. From a security standpoint, businesses strongly prefer their employees to login to their own secure VPN before their employees do anything on the internet. Depending on the type of business, not using a company VPN is usually a serious violation for most businesses these days. Additionally, VPN setup usually requires dedicated hardware, wiring and software.



From a bandwidth standpoint, a fast network connection is equally important as security. When you have a video meeting with many others from their own homes over the internet, people usually think their home internet is the key to a smooth video conference. They do not really think about all the infrastructure working hard behind the scenes at your old office.


For example, for companies using their own networks, their employees attending meetings using company computers must also use company authorized software. This means that all data communication happens between your home network and your company networks servers. From the hardware layer, it requires both your home network connection and your company network setup to be fast enough to experience a smooth video conference. If your current network system fails to achieve a fast and secure connection, your employees will not be happy as they work from home.


Network infrastructure for hybrid work

Amix of both in-office and out of office, network infrastructure for hybrid work requires different variables. Assume a company wants its employees to work 3 days from home and 2 days in the office. Naturally, the work from home days still operates as a fully remote model. They require a strong network setup to ensure secure and fast connection. However, what about the in-person portion of week?


Usually, most companies require wired network access when employees are in office. In this case, security and connection speed are still critical concerns, but not as serious as remote wireless connections. The reason being is that all computers have direct links to the network infrastructure through wired connection, like ethernet, without third party interference. The main concern for this model is how to divide your network resources to handle both connections for in-office employees and for off-site employees.


Comparatively, wired connections are easier to set up and have faster speeds than wireless connections. Plus, wireless connections are more complicated to install since there are multiple components involved. In fact, there are only a handful of reputable wireless vendors in the world who offer hardware and software for wireless network setup. You can imagine the difficulty of this use case. On the other hand, when you want to build a strong wireless network at your office, it means you need to have more backend wired connections to link between the access points to your central server. Then, you will need additional equipment like routers, switches, hubs, wireless access points with ethernet cable connections to satisfy wireless connection for all your in-person employees.


Shared Offices Model

Another situation business owners need to consider are shared offices. Moving forward, small, and medium-sized companies may not need their own dedicated office space. In fact, some businesses and commercial real estate owners are already thriving using the shared-office model. On certain days of the week, one company’s employees would use the office space, as well as the network connection access ports. For the rest of the week, another company’s employees would use the same space. Similarly, two or more companies can also share the office space at the same time.


Incidentally, this means we need more than double the amount of network access ports and cables to accommodate all the in-person workers from different companies using the same space. To achieve this, the two companies’ IT departments need to install two separate networks, each with their own access points. Moreover, they also need to make sure all the cables from each company are not interfering with each other. Fortunately, one simple solution is using wireless access signals which do not have interference with each other. Thus, when one company wants to make changes to their network, it should not mess up the other company’s network.


Of course, both companies that are sharing the office space may still have many employees choosing to work from home. As a result, their office networks need to install enough on-site infrastructures to handle remote traffic access. Once again, security, reliability and fast speed are the top concerns. Based on the individual business, as well as the exiting wiring layout of the business building, the actual network setup requires experienced systems integrator working with your IT manager to find a future-proof plan for your business to embrace a network infrastructure for hybrid work.


What makes office network set up so complicated?

As mentioned earlier, how many updates your current network system needs depends on the business type, size, and functionalities, existing wiring, and ports, how many people are using the network, and preference on wired or wireless.  And so, each company will have different requirements in their office network set up, therefore requiring custom maintenance and upgrade strategy. However, there are additional challenges that can make setting up an office network more difficult and complicated.


Hardware and software complexity

Imagine a scenario where you want to continue using your existing network setup, but you also want to accommodate your employees in your network infrastructure for hybrid work. There are so many different hardware options involved like modems, switches, routers, access points, servers, storage, cables, the list goes on. Plus, there are also other network-enabled devices to consider other than your computers, such as printers, voice over IP phones (VoIP), surveillance cameras, and point of sale (POS) machines. On the software layer, each one of these network-enabled equipment requires its own program. On top of that of that, there is software for your entire network as well, such as cloud, VPN, firewall, server management. Here is another article that explains further about different network components: Networks 101.


So, how do you choose the best product for your network among hundreds or thousands of different vendors to build your network? Different vendors’ products will have different price tags, features, advantages, and disadvantages. How can you choose the best combinations to meet your network performance benchmark? Of course, this is a much bigger topic. Unfortunately, we are unable to cover everything in this article, but I will share a few high-level fundamental tips for you to consider when you upgrade your network infrastructure.


Fundamental tips for upgrading your network 

First Tip

For starters, network infrastructure for hybrid work requires investment in business grade switches and routers. It may seem that there are endless options switches, modems, and routers in the market, but you will find that are mostly for average household use. No matter how powerful they are, a business requires a higher level of features and reliability not found or needed for typical household networks. Furthermore, business grade products have different footprints than household products for mounting purposes. You want to have all your office gear on one rack for easier cabling and hardware management. When you need to do network diagnostic or upgrade, you will really appreciate the benefits of a well-sorted network rack.


Second Tip

Secondly, expansion and growth should always in mind when you are upgrading your network. Consider whether your office will eventually need to add video surveillance, VoIP phones, or integrated messaging. Planning in advance and investing in flexibility for growth now might be a daunting project now but ultimately benefits you in the long run. Instead of scrambling to create room for a new server, integrating the hardware to your network should be as easy as plugging into an empty port. We will talk more about this in more details in another section.


Third Tip

Additionally, he third tip is about bandwidth and how it determines the overall speed for your network. If your internet is slow, your first instinct might be to go to your internet service provider and upgrade the speed. However, many factors other than speed can also negatively impact on your internet speed, bandwidth being one of them.


Normally, for an office setting, 10 megabits or 100 megabits per second is adequate. So, if you experience a slowdown in your network, it is worth checking your office’s network cabling. Issues can range from: the cable not supporting the speed you want, the wired distance being too long, or data loss due to a faulty wire. It is a wise investment to use faster Ethernet cables with signal amplifier to avoid these issues. Likewise, advanced routing solutions can also help you to maximize your bandwidth resources. We will also talk more about using Wi-Fi 6 that has an advanced routing protocol in another section.


Last Tip

Finally, the last tip is that you need to make sure your network infrastructure is easy to manage. It sounds simple, but it is easily one of the most crucial factors for your network. For example, you need to find a proper place in your office where you have the short wiring distance to reach the maximum number of wireless access points or network wall jacks to cover all your office space. When your business grows, it is always easier to deploy additional wiring to cover new space rather than moving your entire network infrastructure or server.

At the same time, you also want a space with a cooling solution nearby to place your network so that your network does not overheat. It also needs sufficient power supply and space for backup power. Now, do you see why you cannot just pick a random corner or room to place your network infrastructure?


Good network can benefit your business in many ways

Unsurprisingly, there are many benefits for businesses to upgrade a network infrastructure for hybrid work or adopt a work from home work model. As mentioned before, responsive servers allow smooth teleconference experience for your work from home employees and clients. However, the benefits do not stop there.


Fast and reliable cloud access

Nowadays, modern businesses rely heavily on cloud solutions to share engineering design files, marketing videos, or collaborative documents. Employees, customers, and suppliers all use networks to share many important files at every moment of the day. These documents and files could be large to transmit digitally. As a result, this requires sufficient bandwidth and responsive servers to handle uploads and downloads.


If your server has a brief outage or even a slowdown, it will lead to delivery delays, mistakes, system failures or even business losses. On the other hand, if your server is responsive and fast, it will set your business apart from your competition. As a whole, faster and reliable internal communication within your technical team and business team allows you to have a faster response than your competitors when an emergency occurs.


Worst Case Scenario

On July 8th, 2022, there was nation-wide network outage in Canada causing issues from no cell service, no internet even preventing debit payments from being processed. According to Dan Kelly, president and chief executive of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, this outage caused many small businesses to lose thousands of dollars in revenue in one day. Likewise, larger companies can expect even bigger losses during an outage.


Besides technical failures, like network and power outages, natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, can also lead to major outages. Additionally, emergencies like those happen more often if your business covers larger territories. Thus, when outages happen, they always come at a significant cost to your business and could take hours or days to recover. Do you have a contingency plan for your business if another outage like this happens? Do you think your network cabling is up to date and will not leave your workforce stranded? How much will losing one day of network connectivity


Always have a backup plan

Lastly, you need to consider your data backup strategy. For instance, you not only need to constantly backup all your essential data but also have a backup plan when there is a network outage or power outage. Currently, when there are so many people who work from home, you need to ensure your company network is reliable enough to provide secure data storage. Unsurprisingly, if the company central network is down, all employees working from home will lose their connection and whatever files on which they are working. Therefore, it is especially important for your company network to have a data backup protocol.


For power or network outage, people who work from home might not have immediate access to your office network. Having backup power and physical ports for direct access might come very handy in some extreme circumstances. When an outage happens and you do not have a good backup plan in place, you can lose more than just money. For instance, you can lose information and even opportunities, leading to degraded client trust adding to your overall business loss. Having a bad network system is not a good excuse to be unreliable to clients or workers.


Naturally, an intelligent backup infrastructure requires careful and detailed analysis for different businesses. For example, more important data needs to have a higher priority during the backup process. More important data also needs more than one backup copy in case the first backup also fails. On top of that, backups need to be reliable, and they also need to be secure as well. So, encryption is always necessary for backups. Setting up a reliable network backup plan requires a significant amount of hardware and software efforts. Nevertheless, they will always benefit you in the long run, minimizing time and data loss.


Are you using Wi-Fi 6 in your office?

You may have heard of Wi-Fi 6 by now. However, what does it mean from a technical standpoint? You may think your Wi-Fi from 5 years ago works fine, so why bother with Wi-Fi 6? Most importantly, what does it have to do with a network infrastructure for hybrid work? In this section, we will answer all those questions.


What is Wi-Fi 6?

To better understand Wi-Fi 6, it is helpful to understand what Wi-Fi is first. Wi-Fi is a wireless access protocol that allows devices to connect to the internet through wireless access rather than wired access. As you already know, there is usually at least one Wi-Fi router in every household these days. As for small business, they usually have a guest Wi-Fi and a staff Wi-Fi. Regardless of use case, your Wi-Fi router will manage all the network and spectrum resources for all the devices that are on your local network.


Benefits of Wi-Fi 6

With that said, you may also have experienced what happens when there are too many devices on one Wi-Fi router. You can experience slowdowns on your device or even lose your Wi-Fi connection altogether. In that case, Wi-Fi router needs a hard reset. This is done by unplugging it for 30 seconds before powering it back on. This can happen often in busy offices or homes, but Wi-Fi 6 technology aims to alleviate this issue. Simply put, Wi-Fi 6 implements more intelligent protocols to manage the traffic through your network, allowing the router to use the bandwidth resources more efficiently. By prioritizing bandwidth use, Wi-Fi 6 allows the same network to carry more devices and traffic whilst providing a smoother and faster experience to each device.


Accelerating the Implementation of Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6 technology has become increasingly popular in the past 2 years, thanks to the work from home model. The pandemic and work from home policies accelerated industries to adopting these new network innovations. Before the pandemic, people spent most of their time working in an office where they had dedicated network service. They never needed to worry about traffic congestion issues. Even when there was a network connection issue, it would be the IT manager’s job to fix it. At home, people would only need their devices for home entertainment. Plus, at the time, there were not as much 4K content available. There also were not as many streaming platforms as there are today. Our mobile devices did not have the processing power as they do today. Overall, the amount of data we used to consume is much less than today’s demand.


Older Wi-Fi technology that was adequate just a few years ago will soon be struggling to keep up with our network requirements. In fact, we were already on the verge of transitioning newer technology to meet our increasing demand. Essentially, the pandemic just made Wi-Fi 6 arrive even sooner. During the pandemic, both spouses needed to use their home network for work. Many kids needed to use the home internet to attend school online. Traditional home Wi-Fi technology is no longer sufficient for average household data consumption. Therefore, Wi-Fi 6 became the most obvious solution. It allowed employees who work from home to have an uninterrupted experience during their work hours. No one in the family needed to compromise their work or school for others in their home.


Future-proof your business with Wi-Fi 6

In an office space, you need to build a future-proof wireless network to accommodate the increasing network traffic. That requires you to update all your access points, cables, and routers to support Wi-Fi 6. If your business is a restaurant, café, hotel, museum, gym, or clinic where your customers and employee would often need the public Wi-Fi, it is important for your network to support Wi-Fi 6. It also offers higher reliability when it comes to business transaction. Obviously, you do not want your internet connection to lose connection when your customers are in the middle of paying their bills, or you are in the middle of sending documents to your vendors.


On the other hand, for those people who work in an office building, Wi-Fi 6 allows employees to move between different meeting rooms without losing their internet connection. While the speed might not be as fast as a wired connection, your connection should still be smooth and consistent. On top of that, in-person employees will not need to worry about tripping on temporary ethernet cables. Plus, your IT manager will have less wiring issues to deal with when your business network infrastructure supports a flexible wireless access.


Don’t Get Stuck with Old Wi-Fi Technology

If you want to upgrade your network towards a wireless solution, Wi-Fi 6 is a long-term future-proof solution that you must consider. Unfortunately, traditional Wi-Fi routers will soon not be able to carry the amount of traffic we are generating today. You would not want to be stuck with a terribly slow and inconsistent connection. An inexperienced advisor may simply suggest you pay more money for faster internet connection, but the real issue is that your old router is unable to use all the bandwidth and spectrum resources efficiently.


As mentioned earlier, Wi-Fi 6 is becoming more popular in the last 2 years because of the pandemic. Behind the scenes, the industry has been working hard to produce wireless access points and devices that support Wi-Fi 6 technology. As a result, deploying Wi-Fi 6 routers is becoming easier. Any new mobile phones and laptops these days are compatible with Wi-Fi 6. And so, it is wise to invest in upgrading your network wireless access with Wi-Fi 6 capability.


Network Infrastructure and Multiple Business Locations

Incidentally, your office network infrastructure not only supports the amount of workload you have today, but also needs to handle expansions in the future. Today, businesses constantly hire new employees and acquire many new computers and devices. Plus, there are always updates on software offering more services. A good question to ask yourself: Is your network dynamic enough to handle these constant changes?


If you want to develop your business in other cities or even another country, you need to build your internal networks so that your employees in different cities can still use your internal tools to communicate and share documents. Your network security needs to be consistent between different offices. For example, encrypted data from your Toronto office should be accessible by your team members in Vancouver, but not outside of your company.


Growing Your Business to Accommodate Network Infrastructure for Hybrid Work

If your business is adopting the hybrid work model, you may want to consider building dedicated conference rooms for internal meetings or external meetings with your customers. In that case, you need to use specialized web cameras and microphones for an optimal conference experience. These special purpose cameras and VoIP phones will require their own network and cable connections. As a result, the connection speed in those rooms needs to factor in higher than usual demand for bandwidth.


When you have a video conference with one of your top clients’ executives, having a presentable room with high-definition audio and video quality will help your conversation go smoothly and give confidence to your clients. By contrast, a poor internet connection will lead to the opposite.


Other factors to consider for your network to embrace the new normal

During the pandemic, many businesses strategically installed contactless access controls, such as a non-touch door access. Many businesses have installed more security cameras instead of deploying security guards. Like Wi-Fi 6, the pandemic pushed these modern technologies to a much larger scale. It forces these technologies to get much better in all aspects.


Fool-Proof Backend

To deploy these modern technologies, businesses need a strong and robust back-end network to support them. For instance, if a non-touch door does not open due to sensor failure, your company employees should be able to use a master switch to grant someone access using a security camera remotely. Comparatively, another example is that an updated security system usually means a larger quantity of security cameras with many advanced features and higher resolution. As a result, this means higher bandwidth requirements for transmitting these data and more storage space for storing these data. Expectedly, your network infrastructure is the central unit that needs to manage all these functions and communications.


All in all, your network will not only need to store as much data as possible but also should allow users to access and analyze the data from those security cameras. For example, if a warehouse wants to count and record the number of trucks coming through, it is far less efficient to have someone staring at a screen and counting trucks from security camera footage frame by frame. Fortunately, we have modern technology can capture and record this information automatically. In order to bring your company to the next level, you will need a more secure and intelligent system to support your business for years.



Consider adding these innovative technologies to your business, so that your employees will have an easier time to adapt to a new network infrastructure for hybrid work. Furthermore, your network needs to be secure so that no one outside of your company can have access to your data. Lastly, you also need to have a strong backup plan so that you will never lose data or the control of your equipment during power or network outage. Luckily, Panopticon Solution can design a custom network installation specific for your business’ needs. The business landscape is continually evolving, and we want to make sure your network and security systems are up to date. Think you need an update? Book your consultation with Panopticon today at 416-613-8828 or