The real impact of hybrid work on your network

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Last year we looked at network traffic at our London HQ from before the pandemic and made some predictions about what it might look like when offices reopen. We’ve now got real data from 2022 and it’s clear that the impact of hybrid work was even more profound than we anticipated.

Video traffic takes the lion’s share  

Pre-pandemic, video and collaboration software traffic accounted for around 3% of our office bandwidth. The majority, 34%, was for general internet browsing followed by 30% on SaaS applications and platforms.

In 2022, traffic for Zoom and Teams accounted for 35% of our bandwidth needs – a massive increase.

This is just for traffic at our office in London, showing that even when people are in the office, Teams and Zoom play a big part in the working day as others join remotely. The data also indicated that 81% of bandwidth was consumed by cloud applications as Colt, like many others,  moved to accommodate remote users during the pandemic.

The bandwidth impact

We also looked at the impact of this traffic on bandwidth in terms of daily average utilisation and, post-pandemic, how that changes over the week. We found that even with just 15% of pre-pandemic utilisation the average daily peak bandwidth was 32MBps higher!

Pre-pandemic we had around 720 clients on our network at Colt House – we have space for around 600 people and the office was usually full so this data also includes mobile devices. The average peak bandwidth across the month of February 2020  was 120MBps.

Compare this to February 2022 when we had 110 clients on the network. This time the average peak bandwidth jumped to 152MBps – a significant increase considering just 15% of the devices were on the network compared to 2020.

The weekly change

Hybrid work means that many people are choosing to come into the office just a couple of  days a week and this is what we’re seeing. With this in mind, we wanted to find out what this means for the daily peak bandwidth and how that changes across the week.

We found that peak bandwidth varies by over 232% across the week, with the lowest peaks on Monday (91MBps) and Friday (55Mbps), but the middle of the week seeing much more use. Tuesday and Thursday had a peak bandwidth around 200Mbps but Wednesday saw a peak of just over 300Mbps.

What to ask yourself

This data has shown us the significant impact of video, even with just 15% of the people in the office.

  • Could your network cope with peaks that could be significantly higher when a large-scale meeting is held in the hybrid workspace?
  • Do you know how much traffic is taken up by video and collaboration tools?
  • Do you have the network set up to provide the best user experience?
  • Do you still want to design your network based on the peak bandwidth usage even if the average is much lower?

Take a look at our hybrid work toolkit or get in touch to find out how to build a network ready for hybrid work and whatever the future brings.

Andrew Edison

22 June 2022

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