The recent storms and power outages in the DC and northern Virginia area over the last week got my wheels turning about how dependent we are on technology. Don’t get me wrong, I am attached at the hip to my smartphone, iPad, and laptop as much as the next person; the questions only arose during my forced reflection over my own two days without power. And this contemplation led me to some interesting observations.
Without power, even teleworkers are hindered from doing their jobs. There’s no wifi, which means no email (except perhaps on your smartphone), and no connection to the secure server or cloud. Thankfully, the worst storm we experienced here hit on a Friday night, so it didn’t affect the standard work week. And while many were told by local power companies that they might not get power back until as late as Friday, government facilities were up and running for Monday morning. It just goes to show how imperative it is that these organizations remain functional and also how vital their technological resources are to that functionality. Some organizations simply shut down all their branches until power was restored to their DC hub. I spoke with several government workers who were grateful to go in to work just to get a break from the heat, since many were still without power leading up to the holiday on Wednesday.
So, without electricity, how productive can we be at our jobs? Is there anything we are able to do without the use of a computer or internet? I suppose we can do a little reading or make phone calls by candlelight, but not much else. I am the last person who will ever boycott electricity; I enjoy my air conditioning and computer way too much for that. But I do wonder if our virtual survival in the workplace would be jeopardized if, say, power companies went on strike in the midst of a blackout. I guess those are the types of things that come to mind when I’m forced to sit in the heat and the dark without any cable for a weekend.
How did last weekend’s power outage affect you? Were you able to do your job as usual or were you forced to take unscheduled leave?