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From epic snowstorms to earthquakes and hurricanes, the Washington D.C. metro region – and much of the country for that matter – has been dealing with weather patterns of epic proportions.  And, according to NASA climate scientists, extreme weather will continue to be the norm over the next couple of years.

While weather can cause major disruptions to our daily lives, the show must always go on when it comes to business.  Two to three days of business down time, due to a natural disaster, can cause a major loss in productivity and negatively impact the bottom-line.

Beyond offering employees the ability to telework during times of bad weather, there are also a number of other simple tactics that can be used to ensure business continuity for the small businesses employee:

  • Use The Yellow Pages: When power goes out, so does the ability to connect to the Internet.  As such, you should always keep an old-fashioned copy of Yellow Pages handy so you can call around and see what cafes, coffee shops or restaurants have power as well as a working Wi-Fi connection.  This may sound archaic, but I actually had to use mine during Hurricane Irene. 
  • Back Up Your Files: Always be sure that your files are fully backed up either on an external hard drive, or on some of the new cloud-based back up services like Mozy. This way, you will be immune to a power surge that could short your desktop or laptop computer.  
  • Remote Access/VPN Solutions: Along the lines of backing up your files, we encourage employers to invest in a remote VPN solution that will provide 24/7 access to key files for employees on the road, or working from a Wi-Fi hot spot.  
  • Have Cash On Hand: Getting access to an ATM machine can be very difficult in stormy conditions.  As such, it is recommended that you have a reserve of cash on you, or in your office, at all times.  
  • Be a “Good Customer” at WiFi Locations: While many restaurants and cafes offer courtesy WiFi to their customers, some locations are trying to boot those who abuse this luxury.  Some Starbucks locations in New York City have covered up their power outlets to discourage those who use them as their home offices.  So, when using a free WiFi at a café or restaurant, do the right thing and actually purchase your food and beverages from them.  Also, use common sense and try not to abuse the privilege by over staying your welcome. 
  • Bring an Extra Power Strip: Since open power outlets are hard to find at restaurants and cafes that offer free WiFi, always be sure to have an extra power strip with you.   You will be able to plug in and share your extra power connections with those around you – in case you were looking to build up some good karma.  

As the recent flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee became a major productivity killer for the D.C. area, it underscored that extreme weather can catch us off guard at any time.  The key is to take the right steps and be prepared to keep all of the trains running when it comes to getting your work done remotely.

Posted by: Diann Turner, Director, Business Development, NetLink Resource Group