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Power Play: What Do You Do When the Air Stops Working?

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on April 16, 2013 10:38 AM

Have you identified the closest WiFi-accessible coffee shop to your office? Do you have a backup location where you can meet with clients? You might want to think of one.

As spring sets in for part of the country -- many condolences to those of you shivering through snow storms in April -- businesses are preparing to send their power bills surging by turning up the air conditioning. But, as the mercury rises, what happens when your air conditioner stops working?

Our office is enjoying sunshine and warm temperatures outside right now, but the temperatures inside have become a little too warm. Our office air conditioner has apparently decided that spring came too soon, or it was working too hard, and it is staging a protest. When similar circumstances arise in a law firm, there are two concerns: Employees and clients.

Lawyers can become awfully grumpy when forced to sweat through the work day. Why not head off the diva behavior and tell your staff that they can work from home if they don't have meetings in the office?

Granted, in April, no one's really sweating. Or even glistening. But people will drink more water and complain about being clammy. If you think your staff would be more productive while happy and working remotely -- instead of surly and sitting in a warm office -- give them the option of working elsewhere until the air is restored.

You also need to consider how clients will respond to the conditions in your office. Unlike legal professionals with laptops, you can't just relocate client meetings to a coffee shop. If the temperatures in your office are actually uncomfortable, give your client the options of keeping the original appointment at your office, relocating the meeting, or rescheduling.

Air conditioning outages are inconvenient for offices, but at least they're better than total blackouts.

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