digital diversity

Coping with a Power Outage

We talk a lot about mobile devices and even offices. But we have a lot to learn as we experienced when our downtown Portland office went off the grid for more than three days because of a major power outage.

Ironically at our annual staff retreat last Friday, we discussed what operating in a mobile office environment would involve. Little did we know that we would get an object lesson over the weekend and into the middle of this week.

Without power, our server was rendered useless, which meant we had no internal email. It took awhile for staff members enjoying their pre-holiday weekend to realize something more serious was going on than a server burp interrupting email service.

Our firm has used Yammer for several years as an enterprise-wide, closed group internal communication tool. It turned out to be invaluable as an alternate way to exchange information, initially about the status of the outage and our powerless building.

Yammer was augmented by text messaging, especially for staffers who tune out from company communication channels over the weekend. By Sunday night, everyone was paying attention to Yammer and we were able to alert everyone to Monday as a "work-in-your-virtual-office" day. It turned out we had to tell staff members to work at home Tuesday and Wednesday, too.