How to Work at Home When the Power's Out

I had quite the situation here the other day – a scheduled power outage. It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal – 10 pm to 6 am, but naturally it went 3 hours over. Thank goodness being overnight meant no one needed to open the fridge at all during most of that time. But it did impact some of my usual working hours, and got me thinking about plans for working at home with no power.

A power outage can be a huge deal for those of us who work at home, even if you have a charged up laptop. No power means no internet except maybe through a cellphone, and for some jobs, that’s not enough. There are jobs where you must have wired internet, not wireless, for privacy and data protection reasons, in which case any wireless solution won’t be enough.

If you need to know how long things are likely to be out, you can contact your power company. I was quickly able to find out with our outage that it was expected to run about four hours over the schedule (so obviously I was happy when it “only” ran 3 hours over). This is really helpful if you have people wondering when you’ll be back to work, as well as for deciding what you’re going to do while you wait.

If you can’t do anything else during a power outage, you can at least contact anyone impacted by your inability to work. That’s your employer if you have a job and are scheduled to work at the time, or if it goes on long enough that you know you’ll be running behind.

If you’re like me, however, and can work on your own schedule and have a laptop, you can probably still work. You have some choices, even.

You can work at home with no internet, writing or something like that. I do a lot of my writing in Google Docs, so my work is available on whichever computer I’m using, but I can work on just my laptop.

If you need internet, you can tether your laptop to your cell phone or use it as a mobile hotspot if you have that service available. Alternatively, you can go to a coffee shop or library that offers WiFi and work from there.

You may even be able to work at a family member’s or friend’s home if you need something a little quieter or more private than a public place.

Of course, there’s always the fun option. Go play. Take any kids not in school to the park, a museum, whatever sounds good. A little spontaneous family fun can be one of the great parts of working at home. Do what you can to make up for lost productivity later.