Severe Weather Making an Uninterruptible Power Supply a “Must” for the Home Office

uninterruptible power supply

Yes, in case you’ve been wondering, the weather has gotten worse. Over the past four decades, hurricanes have become stronger and more frequent, according to a 2020 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Meanwhile, the number of employees working from home (WFH) has increased significantly, adding pressure on organizations to take steps to protect home office environments. Any protection and a backup plan should include an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for power outages.

Just in the last 10 years, the list of catastrophic hurricanes has steadily increased. In August 2021, Henri delivered a direct blow to New England. Days later, one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the United States – Ida – punished the Louisiana coast, flooding communities and knocking out power to over a million people. Ida then caused massive floods along the Atlantic Coast, from Maryland to New York City to New England.

But hurricanes are only part of the story in what appears to be a never-ending cycle of extreme weather events. In California, firefighters battle massive wildfires through large parts of each year. Europe hasn’t been spared severe weather, either. Arctic blasts during the winter of 2021 were followed in the summer by massive flooding in central European countries, including Germany, Italy, and France, causing widespread damage and some loss of life. In China, extreme heat and flooding caused major damage and disruptions in July.

 

IT Departments must help minimize the effect of power outages for remote workers

Power disruptions are common with severe weather events, especially storms with high winds. It’s a risk homeowners traditionally have had to address. But now with so many people working from home currently, it’s now also the responsibility of the IT department. About one-quarter of Americans now work from home, and globally, 16% of companies are fully remote.

So how can IT professionals help remote workers minimize the effects of power outages? First, explain to workers the types of power anomalies that can occur and the risks they pose to computers, routers, printers, and other home office equipment. Second, prepare a backup plan that includes a UPS to help remote workers weather power outages and avoid being disconnected from the outside world.

Step 1:  Understand how bad power shortens the life of sensitive devices

Weather-driven power problems are commonly caused by high winds as power lines get knocked down by falling tree branches or lightning. When lightning strikes a tree or other object, much of the energy travels outward from the strike, in and along the ground surface. This can result in damage to internal components in computing devices even without a direct lightning strike to a house.

A sudden power loss can generate different problems. Power interruptions can be instantaneous (less than a second), momentary (up to two seconds), temporary (two seconds to two minutes), or sustained (greater than two minutes). A power interruption could cause a WFH employee to lose valuable data.

Long power outages can cut off communications to the outside world. If smartphone batteries run out and the employee is using an IP telephone, both will be down simultaneously. Most of us (especially millennials) feel lost when cell phones aren’t usable.

Step 2: Implement a backup plan with a uninterruptible power supply

UPSs are frontline devices that provide power protection. Devices are equipped with batteries that offer protection from lightning surges, power sags, swells, and blackouts. As such, UPSs can safeguard investments in computing and networking equipment. The battery keeps the device running when the electrical supply is cut.

When discussing UPS protection with WFH workers, IT needs to assess how much capacity each worker needs. This is done by identifying the equipment the person is using to do his or her work and connect to the corporate network. Based on the findings, IT then can recommend which UPS model makes the most sense for the WFH worker’s needs. In many cases, the same devices recommended for home office use may suffice. Power users with more complex computing setups may require UPSs with higher capacity.

Explore UPS Options

To learn more about how to protect WFH employees from extreme weather-related power issues, access the UPS Buying Guide. It will walk you through various criteria and questions you should consider when evaluating a UPS for your WFH employees.

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