According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2023 16% of UK workers were based at home. An additional 28% worked on a hybrid model, splitting their time up between the office and home. All of these workers need to rely on a solid broadband connection to perform well.
So, what’s the best broadband for working from home? In this guide, we'll explain what to look out for when choosing a broadband deal, and how you can get the most out of your home office internet.
Home office broadband: the key points
What’s the best broadband for working from home?
In most cases, you don’t need anything other than a regular home broadband plan to seamlessly work from home.
If you're looking for a broadband package that’s suitable for both work and leisure, and you don't have any special requirements, you should go with a fibre optic broadband service. This will be fast enough for most people, and there are lots of great value deals available.
Here are a few of the top offers currently available:
High-speed internet for your home office
Is the broadband service fast enough for you? The right minimum speed will depend on how you use your connection. Here are some examples of the type of internet package you'd need for common tasks:
- Email and web browsing. These are usually very lightweight activities. Web browsing doesn't need very fast broadband, and most emails you exchange will likely be mostly text.
Unless you're frequently sending or receiving large email attachments, a cheap ADSL broadband connection is more than capable of handling email and websites.
- VOIP and video conferencing. If you use Skype or other VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) tools for voice calls, they don’t actually use much of your bandwidth. You don’t need a superfast connection.
But video calling is a lot more demanding. The bandwidth requirements also increase when more people are involved in the call. So if you do a lot of group conference calls for work, you’ll probably need faster speeds. This is where a cheap ADSL connection will struggle.
Fibre optic broadband is far better suited to video calls, as this technology can provide much quicker upload speeds.
- File downloads and uploads. Depending on how often you're transferring files and how big they are, this might be the best reason to get a superfast fibre connection.
Small files don't take long to download or upload on a basic broadband package. But large amounts of data can leave you waiting a lot longer. If your job requires regular large downloads or uploads, you’ll need fibre broadband to make sure your internet can handle everything.
Fast download and upload speeds may be particularly important if you use cloud storage for file synchronising or backup. This could involve handling lots of data very frequently, as you’ll be using your broadband regularly just to access files.
What does ADSL mean?
ADSL stands for ‘Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line’. It’s broadband technology that allows the transfer data across regular telephone lines. You can make calls at the same time as being connected to the internet.
An ADSL line will, at minimum, allow for a broadband connection of up to 8Mb. These days, that’s pretty slow and won’t allow you to do much other than emailing or basic web searches.
ADSL2+ is now available at nearly all exchanges across the UK with slightly faster data transfer rates of around 10-11Mb.
Is my broadband fast enough to work from home?
You can check your current broadband speed right now using our free broadband speed test.
Here are a few ways you can make sure you get accurate results:
- Connect your Wi-Fi router with an Ethernet cable.
- Shut down or disable all over devices connected to the internet in your home.
- Run a few tests with the tasks and tools you'll need for work.
- Make some video calls, send or download files and make sure your software works correctly.
If you suspect your broadband isn’t up to scratch, it might be time to find a new broadband deal. Here are some of the current fast deals on the market, that won't cost you a fortune:
Usage limits and traffic management
All of the deals listed on Broadband Genie offer unlimited data. But watch out for a traffic management policy. Most of the time, this isn’t a problem for the average user as it's often used to slow down file sharing, but some providers can apply it in other ways.
Check the terms and conditions before signing up to ensure the traffic management policy is not going to interfere. For further help, read our guide to traffic management.
Sharing the connection
Think about how many people will be online at once at your home.
Sharing broadband during working hours will cause considerable extra strain on the connection. While one person might be okay working on a cheap ADSL service, things might crawl to a halt when everyone tries to download files at the same time.
If you have a family at home during working hours, or live in a house or flat-share, then a fibre optic broadband connection is a must.
If fibre isn’t available in your area, you can get a second phone line installed, so you can have a dedicated broadband connection for work. Alternatively, you could get a 4G or 5G home broadband deal for your home office.
Can I upgrade to fast fibre optic broadband?
If you have to suddenly and unexpectedly work from home, then you might find that your current broadband isn't quite up to the task.
Upgrading to a faster connection is usually possible. You’ll find more than 97% of the country now has access to broadband speeds of 30Mb+. But it's not something you can do instantly.
If you're upgrading an existing superfast fibre connection and sticking with the same provider, this can be completed in a couple of days.
But if you move to a different type of broadband (ie, BT Broadband to BT Fibre), it can take around 14 days to activate the new service.
It’ll also take about 14 days if you decide to upgrade by switching broadband providers.
To find out what kind of speeds you might be able to get, enter your address into our broadband availability checker:
Broadband Genie deals checker
What happens if my broadband goes down when I'm working from home?
If your home working is dependent on an internet connection, then it's a good idea to have a backup plan in place in case of a problem.
Mobile broadband can be a useful substitute, especially if you get a 4G or 5G connection, which can provide very fast speeds.
But you don't always have to pay for a mobile broadband dongle and SIM plan that you might not use. Instead, you can tether a smart mobile phone over Wi-Fi. Our guide to tethering iPhone and Android devices has more information.
For a premium price, there are dedicated home broadband packages that offer "unbreakable Wi-Fi". This means, if your broadband line goes down for any reason, a 4G mobile broadband back-up router kicks into action.
The catch with this is that a hybrid internet connection is only as good as the 4G coverage you receive at home.
Unbreakable broadband deals are currently on offer from BT and Vodafone Pro II packages.
For more details, you can check out our 'what is hybrid broadband?' guide.
- 35Mb download speed
- £0 set-up cost
- 4G back-up
£39 per month
- 67Mb download speed
- £0 set-up cost
- 4G back-up
£40 per month
Another option could be a public Wi-Fi hotspot, though you'll probably have to spend some money to use those. Fortunately, that’s usually just paying for a few cups of coffee throughout the day.
In some cases, the broadband may not be completely offline, but could become slower. This might happen if there's a sudden increase in demand that puts more strain on networks. However, there's no reason that this should result in widespread outages.
Broadband providers may implement stricter traffic management to ensure a reasonable level of service for everybody during work hours. It shouldn’t cause a great deal of disruption, though you may notice some activities are slower and there's more lag in real-time communications, like Zoom or Google Meet calls.
If you need to check whether your broadband is faulty, you'll find links and information for online status checks, including telephone numbers and other contact details, you can find them in our ISP customer service guides:
Business broadband - is it required to work from home?
You probably don’t need business broadband for your home office.
The broadband service offered by many business ISPs is the same kind of connection as you'd get with a regular home broadband deal. You might not even experience significantly better performance.
The main advantages of business broadband are:
- Dedicated business support teams.
- Static IP address.
- Better Wi-Fi router.
- Service Level Agreements and compensation.
- Prioritised traffic.
While these features may be useful for some people and companies, they’re not something that would really benefit most home workers. Not to mention, you can still get some of these extras — such as a static IP address, or better router, with a home connection.
If you think business broadband and landline are something you need, then our guide to business broadband services has more information.
Homeworking hardware: routers, Wi-Fi boosters and networking
In addition to selecting the right type of broadband, home workers need to think about the hardware they use.
Just about every internet package will include a free wireless router, and some may also offer free setup. Some home workers may want to buy their own router to get more advanced features and improved Wi-Fi speed and range.
However, not every ISP allows you to choose your own hardware. You should check before signing up if this is something you might want to do.
In some cases, you might be able to replace the ISP router completely. In other cases, the hardware may have to be retained and set to "modem mode" to access the internet while your device handles the network.
Whatever type of router you use, security is vital. Firmware updates should be applied when available. Make sure your Wi-Fi is protected, and default passwords should be changed to prevent unauthorised access.
For more information, see our guide to router security.
You can also read through the routers you'll get bundled with a broadband deal when you sign up with these round-ups:
Weak Wi-Fi can drastically impact broadband speed and reliability. It's vital to ensure you have a strong signal wherever you're working.
If the signal in your home office is weak, it can be easily solved with a Wi-Fi booster. These are inexpensive and straightforward to set up. Your Wi-Fi performance might not be as strong as you’re used to on a boosted signal compared to a direct connection to the router. But this isn’t usually a problem for typical home use.
Upgrading the router can also noticeably improve Wi-Fi range. Many mid-to-high-end routers offer multiple antennas and various other tricks to provide better speed and signal.
Another option is a mesh Wi-Fi kit. These use multiple ‘nodes’ to deliver fast Wi-Fi around your home. They’re much quicker than boosters but also more expensive.
We also recommend you read our guide to 'using a second router as a Wi-Fi extender'.
Powerline adapters are a clever bit of tech that uses your home's electrical circuits as a network. Plug one adapter in next to the router, and add other adapters anywhere on the same circuit, which will likely be any other socket in your home. This extends your network without needing to install any new cables. That’s pretty practical.
Powerline adapters are an easy and cost-effective method to bring wired networking to your home office. Powerline Wi-Fi boosters are also available to extend wireless coverage.
When purchasing powerline adapters, it is best to stick to the same brand and speed, and avoid using them on surge protectors or multi-socket adapters.
For further help see our guide to powerline networking.
Homeworking broadband in rural areas
Those of you setting up a home office in a town or city should have a wide choice of broadband providers and technology. But for those in rural areas, there may be a more limited selection. Fibre optic broadband might not be available, and even ADSL broadband could be very slow.
If you're finding it tricky to get decent broadband, here are some alternatives:
4G or 5G mobile broadband can be very fast. It's also portable, which may be helpful if you often travel for work.
But mobile internet relies on a strong network signal. Data usage caps may also be low, so you'll either need to be careful about usage and avoid very demanding tasks like large file transfers, or accept the cost of additional data.
However, a few providers are offering unlimited mobile broadband deals. There's also a growing number of 4G and 5G home broadband services that are aimed at home use and include more powerful routers and much higher data usage limits.
A few ISPs deliver broadband to homes and offices with long-range Wi-Fi networking. For the end user, all that's required is an external antenna connected to a modem.
These are usually faster than ADSL, and the cost isn’t often too bad.
Availability is limited, though. Only a handful of companies provide Wi-Fi broadband in a few select locations. You can also experience speed and reliability issues when the weather is poor.
If all else fails, there's always satellite internet.
As long as you can install a dish with a clear view of the sky, satellite ISPs can deliver reasonable speeds. These are typically around 30Mb down/6Mb up to any location in the UK.
But it does have its drawbacks. For starters, the installation cost is relatively high. The kit will set you back several hundred pounds, though you can hire them for a slightly reduced cost. Either way, you'll need an engineer to set it up if the DIY route seems daunting.
Many packages have a data usage cap too, though some unlimited options are available.
Perhaps the biggest problem is the very high latency or lag. This won’t affect web browsing, email or file transfers but it’s restrictive for services such as VOIP and video chat, remote desktop access, and online gaming.
The new SpaceX Starlink service does offer much lower latency, but at this time, availability is limited and it's expensive.
With working from home now being so much more common, a decent home broadband set-up is vital.
If you have an ADSL connection, you might want to look into getting fibre optic broadband. Specifically, a truly unlimited broadband package. This way, you’ll have no problems with data caps or traffic management policies. You’ll be able to handle anything your work requires of your broadband, and then you can still stream or browse however much you like after.
If you can’t change your provider, or don’t want to, there's hardware you can invest in instead. You can buy Wi-Fi boosters or powerline adapters to help improve your signal. You can also replace your router, but double-check with your provider whether this is allowed or not.
When working from home, you need your broadband to work for you. So if you’re not happy with your speeds, then you can use our deals checker to find a new deal in your area.
Why do we need your address?
We need your address to show you the broadband deals available at your home. This information is gathered in partnership with thinkbroadband.