The following is a guest article by Catherine Ahern, Web editor of Briefings Media Group.
On the evening of June 29, my city was hit by a huge storm. If you were among the millions of people affected by storms in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions of the United States, you know what I’m talking about. Some people were without power or Internet service for a week—in 100° heat, no less. I was luckier. My power came back on after about 36 hours (never have I appreciated air conditioning more!), but my Internet connection was off for more than four days. Because I telecommute and wasn’t prepared for the outage, my workplace productivity took a hit. Fortunately, you can learn from my mistakes. Follow these tips to ensure that downed trees—or other disasters—don’t render you “powerless” at work:
- Have a portable back-up plan. I have a work-issued desktop computer with all the files and programs I need, but I can’t exactly lug it around with me if I need to work elsewhere. I do have a personal laptop, but it doesn’t have all the programs I use for work. Most programs I can do without, but some—like Microsoft Office and Adobe—I missed quite a bit on those days without an Internet connection. If travel or an emergency could force you to work on something other than your normal work computer, make sure your portable alternative—be it a laptop, a notebook or a smartphone—has the features you need to stay productive. Another tip: Keep a flash drive on hand. I haven’t had to use a flash drive in years, because I typically email myself files that I’ll need to access from another computer. But without Internet service, that’s not an option. I wasted a good 45 minutes to an hour searching for a flash drive one day. Now I keep it in a safe place.
- Organize your Internet files. Whether you’re storing important files in your email or the cloud, make sure that they’re organized, logically named and regularly purged. I have an email folder called “Account info” that has login information for the work-related sites I need to access. Many of my passwords are saved on my work computer, so I don’t usually have to remember them. Needless to say, that folder was a lifesaver when I had to work from my laptop. However, it would have been even more useful if I had cleaned it out in the past six months. At least half of the emails in the folder were out-of-date, and many more were saved with useless subject lines. The time it took to track down the necessary passwords through trial and error was a huge waste of workplace productivity. Best bet: Save important files in the cloud instead. That way you can still access them even if you’re work email is down.
- Know whom you can go to for help. I hate asking for favors, but sometimes you really can’t do everything on your own. Luckily, I was surrounded by supportive people. A friend invited me to camp out in her condo while she was at work, my dad let me use his office computer to email a PDF, and my editorial teammates were quick to offer assistance. Ensure that someone—or even multiple people—can cover for you at work should an emergency strike. Cross-train employees so that workplace productivity doesn’t plummet because of a weather, health or family emergency.
How do you maintain high workplace productivity when disaster strikes?
[Image Source: TreeStewards]