On Saturday night, October 26th, the power to the Hybridge offices was cut by PG&E as part of their Public Safety Power Shutoff program. This was a surprise since we are in a large Class A office building at 92 and Hillsdale, so thoroughly suburban, and in fact the next building over in our complex still had power. But through the complexities of grid cabling we were indeed offline. PG&E estimated Monday noon at the earliest for power restoration.
While this did disrupt our normal mode of going into the office, we were well prepared, and our cloud-based solutions allowed us to work from home while maintaining normal operations and providing uninterrupted service to our clients. The biggest disruption was probably colleagues having to get lunch at home, instead of having it provided at the office.
Here’s how we did it, and how you can do it as well:
- Team communication - On Sunday when it because clear that power was still going to be off on Monday we used Slack and text for immediate alerting to our team, and email for more detailed communication to alert everyone to the issue, and to provide details about what to do. Since we use Cisco Meraki networking equipment everyone checked on Monday morning once they got up to see if the office was back online, and when it was clear the office network was offline, they signed into our support systems with their laptops and worked from home.
- Cloud-based email – with cloud-based email, you can access critical information whether you are in the office or not: your email will sync to your computer and/or phone wherever you are, and if you don’t have access to your personal device, you can access it from a web portal anywhere.
- Voice over IP phones – In addition to the many features our VoIP phone service provides, if your office does not have power, you can simply unplug the phone and take it with you, or use the included soft phone app on computer or cellphone. As long as you have Internet, you are all set to go – same number and functionality as if you were in the office. Our incoming support call queue rings to all technicians’ phones simultaneously, and this continued to work on our softphones from our laptops, so we could support our clients no matter where our team was.
- Cloud file sharing – moving your shared files to the cloud (Google Drive, Box, Dropbox) means that you can access them from anywhere and, collaborate with colleagues even if you are not sitting together in the office or connected to a local file server. Our document management systems are hosted in Google Drive and Box, both of which work wherever we are.
- Slack – need a quick answer and your colleague is not next to you? Slack them! Hybridge relies on Slack for instant messaging, file sharing, and group discussion. It is much faster and more secure than email. This is a great tool that can augment and enhance communication for your teams, provide a one-to-many communication alternative, and connect people, especially when they are not together. Google Hangouts and Zoom have similar functionality.
- Other cloud-based apps – need a quick answer and your colleague is not next to you? Slack them! Hybridge relies on Slack for instant messaging, file sharing, and group discussion. It is much faster and more secure than email. This is a great tool that can augment and enhance communication for your teams, provide a one-to-many communication alternative, and connect people, especially when they are not together. Google Hangouts and Zoom have similar functionality.
While we still did have to send someone to the office to empty our snack fridge, water the plants, and pick up a few computers that needed to be delivered, we were still able to continue working as normal, only from home. And, as far as we know, none of our clients noticed that our office was totally powered down.
One important thing to check in your office is whether the doors fail open or closed, i.e. when power goes out and the batteries in your door entry system run out, are your doors left locked or unlocked? If the former, how do you get in? If the latter, then better plan on a security guard. Ours are fail-closed, but we had a security guard anyway for when anyone needed access since our security cameras also went down after 12 hours.
With all the outages happening recently around Northern California, and forecasted to continue, it’s crucial to think about how to keep operations going if your normal workflow is disrupted and going to the office is not an option. If you want to make sure you’re ready, or have any questions at all, do not hesitate to email us at support @ hybridge.com or call us at 888-353-1763.