I am writing this post while I wait for the local telecom company to arrive at my house to fix the internet cable. It was damaged during an enormous electrical storm six days ago, along with several phone lines across the upper half of New Zealand. Because I live in the middle of the country the phone company tends to place us at the bottom of the priority list. So, I am waiting.
But while I wait for my lifeline to the world to be restored, I need to find work to do. At first, I was a little stuck for ideas. How could I access my files when they’re all stored on the cloud? Where could I look up essential facts now that Wikipedia is no longer within easy reach? I couldn’t even access my usual Spotify motivation playlist. It was dire.
But, surprisingly, even for someone like me who does the majority of work online, there is a lot that can be done without being connected to a cable. If your internet goes out in a freak lightning storm or other disaster, here are some things you can get on with.
1. Get Filing Up-to-date
Even though most companies find the cloud a much easier way to operate and store files, many businesses still need to keep certain parts of their process in hard copy. This means paper files, which have a tendency to get stuck on desks and tables and not in their proper place.
Now is the time to go through those stacks of accumulated files and put them back in their proper places. Doesn’t it feel nice to have all of that cleared away?
2. Return those phone calls
Your voicemail is beeping so much you think your phone has switched to communicating with you in Morse Code. But who has the time to talk on the phone when email is so easy and there's real work to be done?
Right now, you do. So flex those dialling fingers and get on to it. Return those client calls, chat with your accountant, and get back to your mother-in-law.
3. Take the team out to lunch
If you're frustrated with the lack of connectivity, then chances are everyone else in the team is as well. So why not focus on making some actual human connections?
Head out to a great local restaurant or take your packed lunches for a picnic by the beach. Get to know each other without the haze of a screen lighting up the room.
4. Clean Your Desk
If you're anything like me, your desk is a dumping ground for unpaid invoices, discarded lunch containers, cables you’ve forgotten the use for, and joke gift items that you’re not allowed to throw away.
We talk all the time about the elusive "inbox zero." Why not get desk zero? When I clean my desk I dump everything on the floor and make 3 piles: stuff to throw away. Stuff to keep that needs to be put away somewhere else. And stuff to put back on the desk to deal with immediately.
And who knows, you might just uncover a secret stash of pens ...
5. Update your coverage.
Call your utility companies and insurance providers and ask them if they can get you a better deal on your business costs. These companies frequently run specials or change their pricing and as a regular customer you should be able to reap the benefits.
If you can save of couple of hundred dollars off your company’s monthly bills, then all that downtime might actually be worth it.
6. Call a Strategy Meeting
Sometimes we spend too much time sifting through the day-to-day stuff in the business, we aren't able to focus on the bigger picture. Well, now the day-to-day has ground to a halt, it’s time to think about what the future might hold.
Get the whole team together to strategize ideas for the coming year. Keep everything relatively high level, so think about how to bring in more revenue, perhaps other income streams, as well as improving processes and starting new projects.
7. Shift the furniture around
Otherwise known as, Zen and the art of office feng shui.
Do you like the way your office is arranged? Do you want a change? Are you looking to move away from the photocopier or closer to the coffee machine? Now you’ve got the time to shuffle the whole office around and come up with
Before you start moving desks, it can be useful to make a floorplan of the office, cut out scale boxes representing the furniture, and fiddle with the configuration until you get a layout everyone agrees is an improvement.
For bonus points, while you’re in the middle of moving, push all the desks together and build a fort. You can even invite your best clients to join you inside for fairy bread and chocolate biscuits.
8. Get out on site
If you're in a role where you're usually in the office while other members of the team are on site with the clients, maybe you could join them on their rounds today. Even if your role doesn’t involve interacting with clients, it can be extremely valuable to meet them in person and experience their pain points. You will gain an understanding of how your product/service helps them, which is a vital tool to help you succeed at your job.
9. Get a makeover
On the other hand, if you are someone who regularly liaises with clients, the media, or other people on the public face of the company, you know how important first impressions are. But have you taken the time recently to really put the effort you know you should into your appearance?
Treat yourself to a little pampering at the salon. A new haircut, some smart new threads or a manicure can make you feel a million bucks and give you that extra jolt of confidence you need to win friends and influence people.
10. Go home and forget about it
(which is kind of what I'd like to do).
Accidents happen, things go wrong, and sometimes it can take a long time to get back on track again (you don’t have to tell me!). When these things happen I tend to look at it as the universe telling me to step back and chill. So maybe that's what you should do.
If you truly can't be productive without the internet, then don't waste time trying. Get everything urgent sorted, and let the team go home early. Everyone can see their families, enjoy some time at the beach, and come back the next day when everything's working again, refreshed and ready to go.
Have you ever had to spend a few days without internet access at your company? What did you do while you waited to get back online?