Reliable internet access has become essential for pretty much everyone who works in an office today.
But if your office is like most, the need for WiFi can extend beyond the needs of your employees. People who are just on site for a visit often need WiFi, too, whether they’ve come in for a job interview and need to make a presentation, they’re visiting from another office for the day, or they’re simply waiting in the lobby for an appointment that’s running late.
Most offices just give office guests access to the same network that employees use when it’s necessary.
However, that can be risky. Your business can be investigated for any laws that people break when they’re using your internet connection, for one. Visitors may also be just as likely as employees to expose your network to malware, which can slow down the internet for the entire organization and/or put sensitive information at risk. Plus, depending on the flow of visitors to your office and what they attempt to access while they’re on site, the additional devices and connections using WiFi can slow down service for everyone.
For these reasons, it’s a good idea to follow a few best practices when it comes to offering guest WiFi at your office.
1. Keep guest WiFi separate from the internal network
The easiest way to make sure that the activities of guests don’t affect the inner workings of your office is to limit guests to a separate network.
This separate network can be for more than just guest use. Some companies may also choose to limit employees’ personal internet-connected devices to this separate network, too, as these devices aren’t subject to the security requirements that are typical for company-issued devices. This Kaspersky article even suggests linking your “smart” office devices and “internet of things” hardware to a “guest” network, as well, because these devices are much easier to hack than computers or phones. Keeping them on a separate network is just one more way to keep your most important data safer.
You can separate the guest network physically by investing in equipment dedicated to the guest WiFi, or you could invest in a cloud-based WiFi solution that secures guest Wi-Fi traffic through a third-party, web-based software solution.
However, most offices with minimal visitor traffic can separate the guest WiFi virtually by creating a virtual local area network (VLAN). A VLAN is a kind of subnetwork that can group together collections of devices into their own logical network.
Keep in mind that if you’re using a VLAN, the additional traffic from visitors and personal devices could still affect overall network performance — which is why the next few best practices are important.
2 . Enforce appropriate use rules
Beyond performance issues caused by inappropriate internet use, if guests break the law while they’re using your company’s internet (such as by gambling online, buying illicit materials, or viewing pornography), your organization may be held liable.
Even with legal risks aside, the use of the local WiFi in offensive ways just looks bad — and is something you want to discourage in the office. Plus, allowing users to do things like constantly stream video may throttle the WiFi for more important uses.
Many organizations require guests to agree to an acceptable use policy before they log on to guest WiFi, usually by checking a box to indicate that they’ve reviewed the terms. However, the agreement alone certainly isn’t enough to keep your network secure — plus, a lengthy legal agreement can be a bit inconvenient and off-brand for your guests.
Because of that, it’s a better approach to use software that blocks any illegal or risky use of the internet. The provider you choose should be able enforce your acceptable internet use policy on any type of device or browser, and even on the kind of native apps that are typically installed on smartphones.
3. Make the guest WiFi easy to use
When the guest WiFi isn’t easily accessible, your employees waste valuable time trying to help them connect, and guests start their visit at your office feeling annoyed.
Temporary usernames and passwords may add a bit more security, but they also add a lot of inconvenience. You certainly want to avoid the scenario where employees simply skip the guest WiFi all together and share the internal WiFi with guests.
Thankfully, “smart” wireless local area networks (WLANs) today can automatically throttle bandwidth based on things like the type of application being used or other rules that you establish. (These rules can help with security and also make sure that things like personal smartphone updates don’t take priority over business uses like VOIP calls and document sharing.)
With the right technology in place, the risk from uncredentialed guests “stealing” the WiFi goes way down — and it goes down even further if you take security practices seriously.
4. Follow best security practices
Even if you separate the guest network from the internal network, the network should still be given attention when it comes to security.
Encrypt the guest WiFi network and change the password regularly to prevent people coming back after their visit and using the internet from, say, the parking lot.
As one technology writer puts it in Wireless Networks Solutions Review: “If you have a network performance monitoring (NPM) or network security tool, you should extend it to observe your guest wireless communications as well. Even if the guest is the one who introduces a security hazard to your infrastructure, it’s ultimately on your enterprise to deal with the consequences.”
More on how to improve office guests’ experience
Giving guests access to secure, fast internet while they’re on site is just one way to pave the way for a great first impression.
It also pays to invest in a professional front desk staff, a lobby design and decor that reflects your brand’s values, and a visitor management system that prioritizes safety and security while still being easy to use.Giving guests access to secure, fast internet while they’re on site is just one way to pave the way for a great first impression. Click To Tweet
To learn more about how to improve office guests’ experiences, check out more from our blog:
- Technology vs. People in the Reception Area: Here’s When to Use Each Resource
- User Experience Basics for a Visitor Check-In System
- Impress Office Guests (and Staff) With These Tech Upgrades
- The Case for Hiring a “Director of First Impressions”
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