A recent episode of the Comedy Central TV series South Park focused on the Internet going down. Masses of people panicked in the streets, others packed up to go west to “Californee” in search of Internet, and even the news was only able to report, “There is no Internet.”
This is probably the feeling any small or medium-sized business has when the Internet goes down, and productivity along with it. But at least small and medium business users can still get some work done — provided the business isn’t Web-based. This can be a time when workers catch up on paperwork, clean out files, and take care of other tasks.
While the home-based worker can do these same things, no Internet can actually be a worse disaster. When my ISP had service outages recently — which brought to mind the instant classic episode of South Park — I felt nearly cut-off from the outside world, despite the fact that my home office overlooks Broadway in New York City. Yet in one of the largest cities in the United States I felt alone and somewhat isolated.
Fortunately, being an anal-retentive control freak, I am typically prepared for minor disasters such as this one. Here are some pointers to make sure that your small office/home office is ready when the Internet goes down.
*Tech Support Numbers – Keep this handy in a Rolodex or PDA. If you don’t have an Internet connection you certainly can’t look up the tech support number on the Web site.
*Calendar of Events – Google Calendar is great, but consider keeping a low-tech Filofax-style personal organizer or offline digital calendar with events, schedules, tasks to do and other important information. Not being able to get online to access your calendar to remind you of a conference call is not an excuse for missing the call.
*Online File Sharing – Consider keeping any important files that you might need in digital form on your PC rather than a server that can only be accessed online. If you must share documents with other workers, possibly keep the latest version, just so someone has access to it should the outage last more than an hour or two.
*Alternative Connections – Despite the plot in South Park, the Internet doesn’t go down. So even if your co-workers are yelling, “the Web is down,” or “the Internet is down,” you can be the voice of reason and calmly point out, “the sky isn’t falling, the Internet is still there.” What does go down is your connection to the Internet. So plan ahead. Can you dash over to Starbucks with a laptop? Do you have a dial-up connection just in case? Consider a back up if you absolutely must get online.
*Eat Lunch, take a break, go for a walk – Remember that the Internet going down (for you anyway, as I just said the Internet doesn’t really go down) isn’t the end of the world. Use that time to get lunch, take a break or worse case catch up on phone calls you need to make.