It’s typhoon season again in the Philippines, and just this week I was left with no electricity and no running water for a little over 24 hours. But the ordeal isn’t over. I will be experiencing several power outages within the next few months. While it’s not as bad as it was in the 90’s (there were several days where I had to study by candle light) it can still be disruptive, especially since web work relies on both power and internet access. I can’t just shut down my business during this time every year.
So what do you do when you encounter these interruptions? While you can’t control the weather, there are still ways to prevent it from affecting your work too much.
Before you proceed executing the following tips, remember that your primary concern should be your safety. If your home is secure against flooding and strong winds, then that’s the only time you should be thinking about continuing your work.
With that said, here are some things you should consider if you want to keep working through power outages:
The first thing you should consider is to increase your laptop and mobile phone’s battery capacity. You can do this by having an extra battery and keeping it charged, or by upgrading to a larger capacity battery. You can also get an external battery for your laptop, which can give you more hours of usage. You should also practice power-saving habits when you’re using batteries. TheAppleBlog compiled some power-saving tips in a previous post. Keep these in mind when you’re running your laptop on batteries only so that you can use it for as long as possible.
If you can, invest in a reliable uninterruptible power supply (UPS), especially when you’re using a desktop computer. It’ll give you the opportunity to turn off your equipment properly or wrap up your tasks. Remember to have your modem and Wi-Fi router plugged in too, so that you don’t lose your internet connection in case you’re working on something online.
When a storm seems like it’s calming down and the weather predictions are optimistic, you can give yourself the option to work in a nearby location that still has electricity. Many establishments such as coffee shops, malls, and restaurants have generators that provide electricity when the rest of the city is off the grid. Some of them will even have Wi-Fi access too. Just make sure that they are “laptop friendly,” and that you are polite to the staff.
It’s also important to have a backup internet connection. Apart from my DSL connection, I also have a 3G USB modem that I use during trips and emergencies. When my DSL connection is down, I can still have internet access.
When your high-tech tools are powerless, it’s also a good opportunity to revisit the power of good ol’ pen and paper. Apart from storing critical contact information in your phone and laptop, you should also have it in an address book. Finish as much work as you can with pen and paper, whether it’s drawing mockups of a design or writing your latest blog post. In case your hardware becomes completely unusable, you can turn to these options to communicate with clients and stay productive.
Also, when you get the chance, let everyone know you’re safe — especially if the storm is bad enough that it’s covered by international news. When Typhoon Ketsana hit us last year, the city I lived in was mostly under water. My foreign friends, colleagues, and clients saw this on the news and sent me messages about how worried they were about me. My mistake was that I should have sent word earlier, saving them from worry since I live in one of the few elevated areas of the city.
Though I live in an area that’s susceptible to typhoons, the regular theft of phone and electric cables, and a variety of other service interruptions, this doesn’t mean that I can’t be a successful web worker. It just means that I need to have a solid contingency plan so that clients can still receive consistent work from me.
Do you live in an area that experiences regular internet and power outages? How do you cope as a web worker?
Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Enabling the Web Work Revolution