Guide to Optimizing an Onboard Office

17 June 2021 By Jeff St. Pierre, By Steve Gorman
office with desk, chair, laptop, and shelves of books

Steve Gorman is KVH’s regional sales manager and field service expert for KVH Superyacht Group. Gorman has more than 25 years of experience in marine electronics.

Now more than ever, superyacht owners and guests may want to work on board. With many of today’s remote office requirements tied to data speed, bandwidth, and Internet access, captains and crew do well to work with the yacht’s connectivity provider to get the most out of the onboard setup.

In recent years, there’s been a steady increase in people using their yachts as remote offices. That trend accelerated during lockdown; some owners brought their families on board during lockdown, and school-age children needed good connectivity for distance learning.

These tips can help everyone get the connectivity they need:

Category Controls: Use category controls to help prioritize the needs for the onboard home office. Work with a connectivity service provider who makes data management tools easy to use. You should be able to manage your data plan and ensure your data is being utilized for the activities that matter most. During hours when people on board need to work remotely, captains may want to suggest that gaming and real-time entertainment be cut back to make sure remote-work functions get the best connectivity possible. With a high throughput satellite service, it’s possible to do video meetings and teleconferencing just like on land, but you’ll want to ensure priority is given to the data needs that are most important. Service providers that offer controls for application categories including email, real-time communications, real-time entertainment, social networking, network storage, bulk transfer, and more make it quite straightforward to manage data utilization.

Hard Wire: Make sure there’s a location on the yacht where users can hard wire (via ethernet cable) their devices into the system. This will eliminate any radio frequency or atmospheric interference with the Wi-Fi connection. Having a hardwire connection somewhere allows the best and most reliable connection when needed. It also helps when support is trying to work with the yacht to resolve issues. With everything wireless today, some vessels don’t have one device on board that can be used to plug in for testing.

Before leaving the dock: If new guests are on board, double-check the types of connectors, dongles, and adapters they may need, and ensure there’s a supply on board. Many superyachts only have Apple or Mac devices, which now require a special adapter to use an ethernet connection.

Ensure the bandwidth plan the yacht has subscribed to is adequate to run all programs needed, from Zoom to Netflix. KVH offers some basic guides on “Understanding Data Usage” that help cover this info.

Assessing the equipment ahead of time and consulting with your connectivity provider can make all the difference in taking an onboard office from good to great.

This article originally ran in the June 2021 issue of Dockwalk.


More from Dockwalk