5 Ways Blazing Internet Speeds Can Save You Money

by Carlos Portocarrero on 14 February 2012 (14 comments)
Photo: Andres

This technology article is sponsored by Comcast Business Class, the nation's leading communication services provider.

Benjamin Franklin said it best — time is money.

This is especially true today, when the speed of your internet connection can directly impact your bottom line. There are many ways employees, entrepreneurs, and business owners can benefit financially from blazing fast internet connections.          

1. Knowledge

If you want to thrive in today’s world, you need to know everything you possibly can about your competition, your industry, and your reputation. That means keeping up with the latest research, news, and trends.

The average American consumes 34 gigabytes of data per day. That’s a lot of presentations, video feeds, emails, and documents. Wouldn’t you rather spend time digesting that information instead of waiting around for them to download?

Imagine if faster internet saved you 1 minute per hour. If you worked 8 hours days, you would save 40 minutes a week, which adds up to 2,080 minutes (34.6 hours) a year. That’s 4.3 work days saved per year for just one person.

Faster internet speeds also help you look ahead and grow.

For example, iTunes lets you take entire college-level courses in a bunch of different subjects. MIT’s business school also offers all of their course materials online free of charge. If you run a business, you can add more talent to your team and employees get to develop their skill sets without spending a fortune.

2. Telecommuting and Communication

High speed internet is needed to power high-quality video conferencing and VoIP — two key tools for improving employee collaboration, reducing travel costs, and making your company appear more professional to clients.

If you look at the gas prices lately, telecommuting should be a no-brainer. Having one employee work half of his time from home saves his company about $10,000 per year, and the employee up to $6,800 per year, according to the Telework Research Network.

A drawback of telecommuting is that you get cut off from coworkers. This is why quality high speed video conferencing is so important. Studies show that only 7% of communication involves actual words;  55% of communication is visual (body language, eye contact), and 38% is vocal (pitch, tone of voice).

There’s a world of difference between a pixelated version of you chopping in and out of a video conference versus an HD version that’s crystal clear. The right connection correctly projects your body language and tone of voice — fully bringing you into a meeting. On the other hand, a slow connection can create disastrous misunderstandings (Cartwright!) that will inevitably cost you money.

3. Efficiency and Happiness

Slow internet speed creates distractions that lower your efficiency. Think about it — you’re trying to complete a task, and then you run into a speed bump. Say the large PDF you’re downloading has stalled or the training video you’re watching stops streaming. So you switch over to your email or Facebook to see what’s going on there. You’ve just distracted yourself and become inefficient.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal right? Well, those seconds add up. The average worker switches tasks every three minutes, and, once distracted, that worker takes nearly a half-hour to get back to work, reports the New York Times. Interruptions and the time it takes to recover from them consume 28% of a worker’s day.

Aside from distracting you, slow internet speed can also frustrate you to the point of throwing things. Nobody likes to wait for downloads, especially when it’s crunch time and things need to get done. Frustrations at work are not only annoying, but they also affect an employer’s bottom line. Unhappy workers are less engaged with their work, and are generally 10% less productive.

On the other hand, happier workers are 12% more productive. Studies show that when websites loads faster, the users experience less frustration, lower blood pressure, higher engagement, and deeper flow states. All these positive effects can lead to higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and a general sense of well-being around the office.

4. The Cloud

Productivity and morale are important, but every business knows that without data, nothing gets done. Whether it’s your database or your research, you need to have fast, immediate access to all your data if you’re going to make educated decisions.

The last thing you want to worry about is losing all your precious data, and that’s why cloud technology has been such a boon. Storing your data in the cloud ensures it’s safe no matter what happens to your hardware.

Cloud storage also saves you money. When files are stored on remote servers, your local computer spends less energy storing and processing data. According to recent reports, cloud technology will save the global business community $12.3 billion on energy bills, and save the planet from 87 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

Of course, there’s a catch to backing up to the cloud — it’s not going to be convenient unless you have a fast internet connection. Storing everything in the cloud would be a huge mistake if you can’t get to your data quickly. Implementing cloud computing without upgrading your internet connection is like putting rocket fuel into a Model T.

5. The Future

If your goal is to grow and maintain your business indefinitely, you have to be prepared to adapt to new technologies and new ways of doing business. Who knew ten years ago that Facebook and Twitter would play such an important role in everyday life?

Nobody did — and that’s the point.

There are going to be new technologies that are going to kick ass…if you have the speed for it. YouTube would’ve been useless to most people back in the day of slow, screeching modems. But today’s speeds mean HD video is available to most of us.

I wish I could tell you I know which new technology is going to take the world by storm, but I don’t. I do know this — it’s going to be neat for most people and killer for businesses with fast Internet. Maybe it’s 3D videoconferencing that actually looks good or virtual reality or a better way of cooperating with people across the world.

Who knows...but if you want in, you’d better step on the gas.

Personally, having faster internet has made me smarter (I’m taking a programming course on iTunes) and more inspired (TED talks, anyone?). What has speed done for you?

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Guest's picture
Young

The internet is so useful and opens up so many opportunities. It has connected an entire planet with endless possibilities. Long live the internet!

Will Chen's picture

I'm also a big fan of Ted talks. A 10 minute video from that site can literally change your life. I've been trying out the tips from this Ted talk about the Secret of Happiness. I'm definitely feeling happier, calmer, and more appreciative of how lucky I am. I highly recommend it!

Guest's picture
RothIndiana

No offense but sites like WiseBread is the worst kind of distraction online. Hold on hold on let me explain. Sites like WiseBread, Lifehacker, and various DIY or How-To sites are not blocked at work like Facebook or Twitter. And you don't feel too guilty surfing these sites because technically you're learning something. So you end up reading and reading and then half of the day is gone.

Ashley Jacobs's picture

I completely agree with the efficiency and happiness section. I can't tell you how much my productivity goes down (and how much my blood pressure goes up) when I have to wait for something to load! I am a much happier camper when things move along quickly.

Will Chen's picture

The worst thing about graduating from college was giving up that sweet sweet T3 connection.

Meg Favreau's picture

I've definitely experienced the distraction thing before when I've had bad internet connections. I'll be waiting for an article to load, think "Okay, I'll read something else while I wait!" and get totally caught up.

Greg Go's picture
Greg Go

Yes!! Every time the internet or site makes me wait, my mind starts to wander. This is the biggest productivity hit I take from slow internet.

Guest's picture
Rhonda

I'll take extra minutes any day, and anything technology can do to help me save time and frustration is worth it. 4 days a year is a mini-vacation!

Guest's picture

I can't even remember how many times I've had to wait for a download while working and gotten distracted, and consequently lose valuable time waiting. Not to mention my frustration with the waiting. I miss the T3 connection of my college! Thanks for the article, Carlos!

Carlos Portocarrero's picture

You're welcome John! I think most of us take it for granted but good to hear so many people are with me on this.

Guest's picture
Valeriu

The only thing about the internet is that it has SOOOO much information - it allows you to be productive if only you know which tools to use and are disciplined enough not to waste your time with games, random browsing, etc. I like the fact that I can pay my bills online, it saves so much time of useless walks to the banks and standing in line, etc.

Amy Lu's picture
Amy Lu

I used to be content with slower connections at home because, well, it was still faster than the old modem days, right? But now that work at home, with all of said work on the Internet...there's no going back. (With that said, I'm actually okay if the speed decreases during my non-work hours as the rest of my family gets home and starts watching videos on their own computers. I just remind myself that I've been on the computer for 8 hours that day. And then I grab a book.)

Guest's picture
Carl Lassegue

Sold! I'm buying myself a 4G phone. I can definitely relate to point #3. Whenever a page is loading slowing, I get distracted and find something else to occupy my mind with. It never fails!

Guest's picture
Guest GloryB

Thank you for mentioning TEDtalks in this article! I've not heard about it before and now I've fallen in love. WOW what a remarkable site. I had to tear myself away from (at last) interesting thought provoking comments made by intelligent people. How wonderful and refreshing not to be sifting through "Jerry Springer" show participants' remarks. I will be making this a favorite site from now on.
Thanks once again.