When The Lights Go Out (or Staying Mobile)

Storm 2010
This weekend’s storm has put a lot of things in perspective.  Let me first say that if your house is intact and you have your health, then all is good.

When you work primarily from home and several trees knock out your electricity, internet, and telephone…you are going to be slightly inconvenienced.

I can’t even remember or fathom what folks did when these kinds of things happened 20 years ago.

But in these new times, many consultants travel light. And we’re even more connected now than ever. Let’s go over the checklist:

No electricity:  Not to fret.  My laptop has a battery.  And I can bring it to a relative’s house or the library to plug in and connect. Up until this weekend, I preferred desktops as my main computer.  That has now changed. “What about your fax machine,” my father asks. “I need to fax you the bracket for March Madness.” Go ahead, I tell him, I’ll get it as an email (courtesy of TrustFax).

No phone: I have Google Voice, so my biz landline number was already set up to receive these calls.  So for now, I will be using my cell phone to make and receive calls, but at least I don’t have to give folks a new number to reach me.  If you’re confused about Google Voice, read this).

No internet:  I’m still very nomadic on that one.  I have been using my sister in law’s DSL connection.  I did use a colleague’s ethernet in their conference room for most of the day on Monday, and you’d be surprised at how many folks do not lock up their wireless network (many thanks).  But this situation calls for a MiFi, a wireless card, or the reactivation of my Boingo account in the very near future.  And of course, the Blackberry is in overdrive.

I didn’t set out to travel this light.  But technology keeps offering these tools that are both effective and less than a handful.  Let me also add, that even if I had most of my stuff on a desktop, I backup to a very light external drive every day.  I could have grabbed that and brought with me to use on whoever’s computer. And I’ve been using the cloud a lot more (GMail, Google Docs). But back in the day, when this sort of thing happened, it would have been extremely difficult to stay in communication with colleagues and loved ones, not to mention how hard it would have been to keep working.

Ironic, huh? Having no tethers, makes it easier to stay connected much better.

How mobile are you?