Remote Worker Disaster Response Checklist

Just as organizations need to create plans for how they will respond to extreme weather and other disasters that can disrupt their business, individuals need to give thought to their own response.

This is especially important if you already work remotely on a regular basis, or if your organization’s business continuity plan includes having you telework for a period of time.

How will you continue to work when an unforeseen event strikes? The key considerations for every remote worker are power, connectivity, access to information and security. Here is a checklist to help you prepare your own remote worker disaster response plan:

Power: If you lose power, how will you continue to charge your computer, mobile phone and maintain internet access? Options to consider:

  • Get a backup generator (to defray the cost, have a group of local friends or neighbors agree to share the cost of one generator for a specific location). The day before a storm or other event is not the time to buy a generator.
  • Identify potential co-working space alternatives. Check in advance if your employer will reimburse you for any costs you incur working in an alternative space.
  • Research the details of your town’s backup power-response plan. Will it open power and warming stations in which you can work?
  • Which local restaurants and merchants have back up power systems and WiFi?
  • Identify a friend or family member that lives in another town who would be willing to have you work in their home during the day.
Connectivity: How will you stay connected to work via phone and the internet in case of a disaster?
  • Calculate the cost/benefit of maintaining one landline. As we become more reliant on our mobile devices, fewer people have a landline. However, in the event of a natural disaster, keeping your phone charged can be difficult and cell phone towers can be compromised. Landlines, on the other hand, continue to operate even without power.
  • Consider investing in a backup internet system such as a mobile WiFi card. Again, it depends upon the cost/benefit to you; however, if the power goes out in your house, chances are you will lose internet connectivity. You can charge a mobile WiFi card and maintain an Internet connection. Because four or five people can be on some cards at one time, have a group of friends or neighbors pitch in and buy the card together.
  • Check in advance which costs related to connectivity your employer will or will not cover.
Access to Information: Power and connectivity will only get you so far if you don’t have access to your company's email and essential files.
  • Test the remote access to your organization’s server and email system BEFORE a disaster.
  • If you don’t have a company server that gives you access files and email and you have time to plan for a pending disaster, upload key files your laptop or to the cloud.
  • Keep a hardcopy of the contact information of colleagues and important clients in case remote access to the company servers goes down. You will still be able to keep in touch.
Security: In a disaster, people make due and use what they have available to get the job done. And that includes using personal mobile devices and computers; however, you need to address potential security issues your employer may have if you use your own devices to work remotely.
  • Check your employer's security policy related to personal devices. Can you use your personal mobile phone and computer to work remotely in a disaster?
  • If you can, is there software you need to download in order to have access to the company’s servers?
  • If you can’t, will the company provide you with a mobile device or laptop?
As more people work remotely on a regular basis, and employers start to make flexible work part of their business continuity plans, remote workers also need to prepare for how they will deal with unexpected events.

What would you add to the checklist above so that you are ready to stay as connected as possible when disaster strikes?

Read more: 8 Steps To Make Telework and Flexible Hours Part of Your Disaster Response Plan

Cali Williams Yost, CEO and founder, of the Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit, Inc., has been a pioneering expert on managing work and life in the new economy for more nearly two decades. She has shown hundreds of organizations, like BDO USA, Novo Nordisk, and the United Nations, and tens of thousands of individuals how to partner for award-winning flexible work success. Cali's second book, TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen Every Day, will be released in January, 2013 (Center Street/Hachette). Connect with her on Twitter @caliyost, Google+ and Facebook.

[Image: Flick user Donovan Hand]

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