The other day I was working away happily sitting in my usual spot in my house. I was typing up some notes when my son hollered at me.
“Are you having Internet issues too?”
Well, I checked and sure enough, I could not access any site. The usual troubleshooting ensued. Restart the modem via the web interface, followed by the ever classic unplug power / wait / reconnect power. None of this worked. I grabbed my phone, which has independent access to the Internet via the mobile networks and pulled up the providers contact info. To my delight there was a form to check on issues. That site validated that indeed there was an outage and so I entered my email to notify me when service was restored.
This wasn’t a big deal. Since my phone is connected to a 4G network and I have a reasonable amount of bandwidth I could at least limp along. I enabled the hotspot feature and connected my laptop to it. Voilà. Back up and running. Good enough.
Then I thought “Wait, I can work from anywhere and so why use up my phone data plan?”
There are a couple of coffee shops nearby and so I grabbed the laptop and headed out to one of them. After buying a Latte I opened up the laptop and was off to the races.
It took about 45 minutes before I received the email regarding service restoration. Since my son was at home, I sent him a text to confirm, which he was happy to do via some online video games. I wrapped up and headed back home.
I find this to be very powerful. I remember a few times in the past when the office lost connectivity. During most of those times I was working from at home. The couple of times I was in the office, I observed a lot of my colleagues walking around and collaboratively lamenting the lack of Internet. It appeared to be a collective helplessness and very little got done during this time.
When you’re working from home a sudden Internet outage has a different effect. Suddenly dropping off even for good reasons like an Internet outage seems to shine the wrong kind of spotlight. Perhaps it’s a feeling of “I’m the only one not working” or perhaps a lack of social encouragement to “just sit back and wait”. In the office you just expect that the network is available. When it’s not, it somehow it becomes acceptable to just wait until it recovers. Regardless of the exact reason, for me it just drives the need to find alternative ways to get back online and to work. Working remote encourages improvisation.
It has become so much easier to find an alternative. Only a few years ago the choices were limited and frequently came at a cost. Nowadays, many phones have a data plan and a hotspot feature that will work in a pinch. It’s especially useful in rural areas where wifi hotspots may not be so common. In many areas it’s quite easy to find a coffee shop, library, or other public wifi to get back to work.
All that being said, if you need a remote spot because of an outage or just to get out of the house every now and then you might find workfrom useful. I just came across this site after returning from the coffee shop and it seems to list a few nice places near me.
I don’t frequently venture out, but this recent visit to the coffee shop was an excellent bit of variety. It might not be something I want to do all day, but I think I’ll start breaking up my weeks a bit more.
I love working from anywhere.