The modern workplace has become so reliant on information technology, that when systems go down, so too can your productivity.
You won’t always get a system outage notification email letting you know that one is imminent, so it can take you by surprise.
While your IT department expects that there will be outages – both planned and unplanned - and has a job to get on with during that time, for the rest of the organization it can cause havoc.
The cost to your business will depend on the size of the organization and the ways in which you are reliant on technology to deliver your products or services to clients.
Research from Dunn & Bradstreet in 2012 found that 59% of Fortune 500 companies were experiencing a minimum of 1.6 hours in down time every week at a cost of around $46 million a year.
Salaries, wages and benefits are still being paid to staff regardless of whether or not they have access to their IT systems. As well as hurting your bottom line, system outages can cause you reputational damage.
Whether the system outage was a planned outage, such as for system upgrades or repairs, or the IT outage was something unexpected, there are some things that you can do to remain productive even without access to your computers.
- Relocate offsite if possible
Depending on the nature of your work and the nature of the outage, if you can relocate and work in a coffee shop, library or similar place with wifi, you might be able to continue to do some, if not all, of your work.
Allowing employees to telecommute and work from home might be an option here as well, for example, if you have a power outage that’s caused your systems to go offline (along with your heating, cooling and lighting!)
- Finish offline tasks
If you have tasks such as filing or clearing up work areas that always seem to fall down your to-do list, this can be a great opportunity to get those things done.
You can use the local outage time to plan for projects. It can be an opportunity to come together as a team and brainstorm ideas.
If you have work that requires you to read documents, reports, manuscripts and so on, this is an opportunity for you to do that work without email and other tech interruptions. You may have professional texts, journals and other literature that you are always trying to make time to get around to reading - this is also a good time to do that.
- Team meeting time
If you have a regular staff meeting, if it's possible to reschedule it this can be a time to do it – particularly if you’ve had the heads up via an IT outage notification. Or use the time to meet as a group more informally outside of a structured team meeting – perhaps over coffee – to bond and share ideas.