Home Office Essentials – How to Stay Connected to Work or School with Battery Backup

More and more people are shifting to work-at-home and online educational scenarios at least part of the time. With that increased reliance on a home-based work or study space comes the requirement for a reliable source of power and connectivity, which translates to the need for an effective battery backup plan.

The Work-From-Home Trend is Growing Quickly

Did you know that in the United States, 5 million employees (3.6% of the workforce) work from home at least half the week? According to Global Workplace Analytics, more than a third of people (36%) work remotely at least once per week, up from 10% in 2010, according to a study by GetApp. And here’s the real kicker, from the Buffer State of Remote Work survey of nearly 2,500 workers around the globe: if they could, 99% say they would choose to work remotely, at least part-time, for the rest of their careers. Once you get a taste of working at home, you can never go back, apparently.

Comparable figures for education are harder to come by, but the trend is nonetheless clear. Consider that a recent report found 87% of higher education institutions relied on a learning management system, such as Blackboard or Canvas, which features e-learning as a core component. Industry analysts expected the market for e-learning tools to reach $107 billion by 2015 – which it did. Now Research and Markets is predicting e-learning revenue will triple from that to $325 billion by 2025.

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Home office productivity linked to an uninterrupted internet connection

With so much invested in remote work and school, employees and students need to pay attention to creating a workspace that promotes productivity. I assume you already have a comfortable chair, functional desk and plenty of light. I’ll focus instead on an element you probably don’t notice until it goes away: clean, reliable power.

You obviously need electricity to power all sorts of devices in your home office: computer, monitors, printer, external hard drive, cell phone, tablets, lights and speakers (for the music many of us can’t do without).

What may not be so obvious is the router that supplies your internet connection. It, too, requires power and without it, you will be stuck with no internet connectivity. (Yes, maybe you can limp along using your mobile phone as a hotspot, but we’re trying to be productive here.) Similarly, many of us now use a mesh network setup like Google Nest Wifi to boost speeds and ensure good connectivity throughout our home or apartment. Those devices, too, will be dead in the water with no electricity.

If you have a fiber-optic internet connection, such as Verizon FIOS, that requires yet another electrical component, an optical network terminal (ONT) – a box full of electronics that’s typically located in your basement or utility closet.

Power surges and outages are more common and destructive than you think

Each of these components needs two levels of power protection from surges and outages.

Power surges are short bursts of power that can damage electrical equipment, essentially by sending more juice than they’re designed to handle. Surges can result from factors inside or outside the home.

Your home will experience power surges no matter where you live according to the National Institute of Standard and Technology report.

Outside sources include lightning strikes, disruptions to power lines (think fallen tree limbs or downed lines in snowstorms) or even rodents and other animals getting into a transformer. Utility companies working on lines following such incidents or during routine maintenance can also cause surges.

But surges are far more likely to be caused by internal sources, from motors and compressors powering on and off, such as in refrigerators and air conditioners. Small appliances like hair dryers and some power tools can likewise do the trick, as can faulty wiring.

Power outages can result from many of the same external sources although now we’re also seeing planned outages in places like California, to protect against wildfires caused by utility equipment. Similarly, during high demand periods some customers may face brownouts, which are intentional reductions in electricity flow.

According to a U.S. Energy Information Administration report, utility customers experienced an average of 1.3 interruptions and went without power for four hours in 2016. Although some customers have backup generators that provide auxiliary power, most customers are without electricity (and without access to the internet) when outages occur.

Simple and fast fixes to protect your home office against power surges and outages

A simple way to protect against surges is with a surge protector. It is designed to absorb various levels of power, measured in joules; the higher the rating, the stronger the protection. You’ll want to invest in higher-end models for any expensive or sensitive electronics, such as computers and external hard drives, where damage may mean lost data.

Many surge protectors today also provide USB ports enabling you to safely charge phones, tablets and other devices – a nice feature for the home office, especially when you consider those devices may be among the most expensive devices that you own.

Another alternative is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), which provides both backup power protection as well as surge protection. A UPS contains a battery that can power your electronics during an outage or brownout. When not in use, the battery is constantly recharged, so it’ll be ready to go when called upon. What’s more, it will kick in instantly as soon as power is disrupted – even during only a minor flicker – so you won’t lose any of that valuable data or prose you were working on.

UPSs likewise come in different sizes, giving you anywhere from a few minutes to several hours of runtime for connected devices. You can choose a model that gives you enough time to safely shut down devices following an outage, or one that allows you to keep working and remain productive for hours. Just remember if your router and/or ONT isn’t in your home office, you’ll also need a UPS to keep them functioning as well.

Resources for Home Office Connectivity

Being aware of and addressing the risks to clean, reliable power is critical to staying connected and avoiding interruptions that impact your productivity from home. To learn more about the best approaches to staying connected in your home office, explore our home solutions page.


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