A 21st century office maintaining productivity for any length of time without the internet seems unimaginable in today’s world. Interoffice communication, research, development, and security are wholly dependent on devices that use the internet to interact with one another. This is true regardless of industry.
The internet has completely revolutionized our work and personal lives to the point that it impacts almost every task we complete throughout the day. But the internet – like any technology – isn’t immune to hiccups and issues. What then? Can an office still find a way to patch together a productive day if its internet servers are out? We think so.
Our office recently went without internet for a day and a half. Not only did we overcome the challenge – we were forced to think outside the box to keep up productivity. Here are some of the field-tested ways we kept ourselves busy that you should try the next time your internet goes out.
1. Clean your office
You spend 40 hours (or more) per week at the office, yet keeping your space clean and tidy is probably one of the last things on your mind. It’s easy to get so caught up in the more important tasks that need to be done that you completely forget about maintaining the place where you actually do your work. However, it’s important to make cleaning your office or desk a priority – for both your physical and mental health.
Taking a few minutes to use disinfectant spray or wipes and organize stacks of papers and other items can go a long way towards boosting your productivity and your mood. And during cold and flu season, taking every precaution to stay healthy and avoid using sick days is essential. After all, the office is basically your home away from home, so you should maintain it that way!
2. Organize your computer’s desktop
When you’re saving an important file to your computer, where does it usually go? Do you have several neatly labeled folders for each category of work, or are you like so many of us that throw documents on the desktop for easy relocating? Chances are that it’s the latter.
At the time, it seems like the simplest way to stay organized. Keeping what’s most important right in front of you is meant to save time, but after weeks and weeks of this habit, you probably aren’t going to be able to see the background image on your desktop anymore. When you have some spare time on your hands, take that time to go through all of these files, sort them into relevant folders, and delete anything you don’t need to save space on your hard drive. It’s not exactly the most fun task to take on, but you’ll probably sigh with relief when you can finally see that picture of your family on your desktop again.
3. Hold meetings with your team
We all love meetings as much as the next person, but they exist for a reason. Whether it’s to follow-up with your team about what they’ve been working on, collaborate on a project, or propose some new ideas, meetings are an essential part of any business.
Scheduling conflicts come up all the time, and increasingly so as your group gets larger. But in order to stay on task, it’s important to try and stick to your meeting schedule, if possible. If you’re faced with a work day sans internet, use this opportunity to follow-up with coworkers you’ve been meaning to meet with. Even though you can’t utilize online programs, you can still access tools like PowerPoint to provide structure and allow for note-taking.
4. Catch up on phone calls
If your voicemail notification is constantly flashing, then now might be a good time to check your messages. Without spontaneous meetings or other tasks to distract you, there’s no excuse but to return the calls you’ve been trying to avoid.
Of course if your phones don’t function without the internet, you’ll have to use your own phone to make these calls. Unfortunately, this will be a challenge if you don’t have access to the client’s contact info without the internet.
5. Meet coworkers in other departments
Whether you’re new to an organization or have been there for a while, you’ve probably developed a certain number of close friendships – many of which are within your own department. Now’s the time to branch out and socialize! Step outside your comfort zone and talk to people you’ve never spoken with before, or learn about what a typical day in another department looks like. It’s not only a great way to build relationships across department lines – it can also help you do your job better by understanding how your role fits into your company’s overall objectives.
6. Bond with your team
Not only is an internet outage the perfect chance to meet a few new faces or talk to someone outside of your department, it’s also a great opportunity to bond with the people you work closely with every day. Taking a few minutes to learn more about your coworkers’ families and interests outside of the office will help you better understand them as people and how that contributes to the professionals they are.
Whether you simply go around the room and share “fun facts” that people probably don’t know about you, play a game, take a walk outside, or go out for lunch, there are endless ways to bring your team together. It’s just as important to connect with your coworkers on a human level as it is on a professional level, and it’s likely to improve your department’s quality of work in the process.
7. Make thorough to-do lists
From company-wide meetings to completing client projects on time, we understand that some of the smaller tasks get overlooked. But if you keep putting off holding meetings or replying to someone’s email, then these items will never get done.
Making a thorough agenda of all the tasks – both large and small – you need to tackle on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis can prevent those smaller projects from slipping through the cracks.
While writing the phrase “reply to emails” on your to-do list every day may seem meticulous, knowing what is and isn’t done can make all the difference in your productivity – especially if the internet outage is disrupting your normal workflow.
8. Brainstorm with your team on a whiteboard
Have a new marketing campaign you’ve been meaning to discuss with your manager? Or a newsletter idea you wanted to run by your content team? Now’s the perfect time to brainstorm those ideas – and whiteboards are a wonderful tool for collaborating. Designate one person to jot down the notes, or get a little creative and give everyone a marker to see what new ideas your team can discover.
Even if you’re lacking a whiteboard, grab a legal pad or Post-It notes and use this impromptu free time to trigger some fresh inspiration.
9. Get on your phone
Permission to use your phone at work? Maybe the internet being down isn’t so bad after all.
If you have data to spare or access to WiFi, you can use your smartphone for more than just returning voicemails. Use this time to test your business’ website, newsletters, blog, and social media pages on mobile devices. It’s easy to notice when something goes askew in your website code on desktop, but oftentimes people fail to check other devices your audience may be viewing your site on.
And don’t just test your social media pages – utilize this time to share some company culture-related content on platforms that only let you post via mobile devices (like Snapchat and Instagram).
10. And, if all else fails, write a post about what you can do at work when the internet is down
Most blog posts require researching statistics, surveys, and other random information you typically use Google to find. But what better time to write a post about what you can still do at work when the internet is down than when the internet is actually down?
Ultimately, a day without the internet will be what you make of it. You’ll be stripped of almost all of the ways you typically fulfill your job responsibilities. Even seemingly small tasks – like coordinating a meeting – will be made far more difficult by the inability to communicate quickly with your coworkers. But out of those difficulties, you can forge some good work. It will force you to actually think about your job and your goals relating to it – as opposed to the blind, day-to-day grind that can sometimes result in uninspired work.
So the next time the internet goes out at your office, remember to breathe deeply, make a list, and get ready to approach your role with a brand new perspective.