Prepare for Home Office Emergencies: Tips for the Home Worker

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Be Prepared

If you have ever been the victim of a home office emergency, you know how frustrating it is for things to go wrong when you are in a crunch. Unlike the normal 9 to 5 hours of a brick and mortar business, home offices are essentially open 24 hours a day. Sometimes a late night project consumes you to the point where you become oblivious to the time of day. And when something goes wrong that needs correction, you soon realize its impact: your local office supply store is closed and you need to finish printing that report.

Some emergencies can be handled with grace, when properly prepared. In the same manner in which you stock standard office supplies such as paper, pens, pencils, folders, labels, binders, and other similar supplies, it is important to stock office technology supplies. Sometimes a very minimal investment in additional basic hardware can become a life saver during crunch time when things can and will go wrong. So where do we start?

Accessing Your Needs

If you live in moderately to heavily populated towns, chances are that a local general store might be open 24 hours a day and carry some of the most essential supplies. But depending on this is a gamble because there may be times that the item you saw there last week may be sold out when you need it the most. So start by keeping at least one spare piece of the most critical supplies you may need. Look at your home office setup and inventory your technological needs.

  • Do you have a wireless keyboard or mouse?
  • Do you use your CD-RW or DVD-RW frequently?
  • Is printing an important part of your daily work?

These 3 simple questions are the start for gathering the essential supplies that may save you in the near future.

The Emergency Kit

Creating a home office emergency kit is quite simple. Start with a small to medium sized bin that will be able to accommodate your emergency supplies and keep them in a cool dry and easily accessible place.

Wireless Mouse and/or Keyboard

We take wireless technology for granted, that is, until the batteries die and then realize there are no spare batteries. Wireless mouse/keyboard combos come in various configurations and use different types of batteries such as “AA” versus “AAA” sizes and alkaline versus rechargeable. You need to identify the type and size of batteries both of your devices use and keep one extra set in your emergency kit.

For added protection, you may want to invest on a standard wired keyboard and mouse as a secure backup to your battery operated devices. And a standard budget mouse and keyboard can be purchased for less than $20 on-line.

CDs and DVDs

Another overlooked supply that has caused grief many nights in my past are CDs and DVDs. If you tend to work with such media on a regular basis, it is important to have plenty in stock… of both. In more than one occasion, I have encountered a rough night when what I thought was a DVD disk turned out to be a CD instead, bringing my late night work to s screeching halt. Don’t let this happen to you.

Printing Supplies

Printers are a must have in every home office. Whether it is an inkjet, monochrome or color laserjet, or even a thermal printer, having the proper supplies is essential for every home office based on their particular needs. Some printer makes and models are easier to obtain replacement ink for than others, so make sure that you have at least one of each necessary cartridge in your home office emergency kit. Keep in mind that some high-end printers may have more than 3 cartridges.

And when it comes to paper, make sure that your kit has sufficient replacement paper, especially if your use any kind of specialty finish paper.


One final part of your emergency home office kit involves connectivity. While some home offices can do without an Internet connection for one night, others have a high dependency on its connectivity to the outside world. This is most critical with any home based business involved with anything of a time sensitive nature. This type of home office has no choice but to have an alternative means of connecting to the outside world.

If your home office is primarily dependent on a notebook PC or other portable computer platform, it is much easier to find a solution to this problem. With today’s wide range of Wi-Fi hot spots and wireless alternatives, laptops find easier accommodations than a desktop PC. make sure you do have some sort of Wi-Fi enabled or capable device, or subscribe to a wireless carrier that provides data services as a backup, as long as you can justify the added cost for your business. But what to do if you are tied down by a large desktop PC? You must go “old school”.

Make sure that your desktop PC has a modem and subscribe to a discounted or free dial-up ISP service. Because this is for emergency use only, you will not need to subscribe to any high-end service with all the bells and whistles, just a standard dial-up for Internet access, such as NetZero or EarthLink.