Guest post by our own Dewey Warner – Director, Business Development
In early September, a mere weeks after Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas, Hurricane Irma came barrelling towards Florida. For a Key West resident who works from home, this type of event can be tricky. With storms that powerful – and I’m talking category 2-5 strength storms – the window you have in which to act is small, and shrinks rapidly by the hour. As I look back to those few days leading up to Irma, there are a couple of things I realized.
A. For the average virtual-office/home-office worker (which now is 40% of the workforce), you must have all of the “big five” in order to do your job. Those five things are:
a safe/clean/secure place to work
a steady supply of water and food and sleeping accommodations
a sanitary sewage/garbage situation
Each of those five things are vital. Without any of these five factors effective work cannot be done. This was proven in thousands of cases recently down here in Key West, where a huge component of residents work remotely for companies located north of Florida.
B. In this type of circumstance, you have two options. Either stay put (as long as it’s safe, of course) and be prepared to take up to a month off of work, or evacuate yourself along with your work materials and replant somewhere else in the country so that you can continue working full-time as usual. As for me? I left Key West and ended up spending four weeks at my brother’s house in New Orleans.
And I never missed a minute of work!
Here is my final warning: If you are in the direct path of a strong storm like Irma and you are planning to evacuate and continue to work elsewhere,
leave early enough! It is a disaster waiting until the last minute — I was almost stranded on the island by waiting too long to get going. On the last days before Irma hit, gas stations were shutting down, grocery stores were closing, lines of cars leaving the lower Keys were stalled for up for 50 miles (a normal three hour drive out of the Keys turned into
15+ hour ordeals!). At that point, my only option was to try and get on one of the last flights off the island, which were cancelling by the minute. I cut it almost too close, but finally was able to get on one of those final flights out, just as the airport was closing. With that was a lesson learned: if a Category 4 storm is heading right towards you – don’t wait to evacuate – leave five days before everyone else starts leaving to ensure a safe departure!