We skied in Little Cottonwood Canyon the other day.  It was amazing.  15″ of new snow, a storm, backcountry, being out with my son…all the ingredients for an adventure.

The unexpected piece of the adventure was the traffic.

Oh sure, traffic is super common on a powder day, but we left at 2pm.  Traffic doesn’t usually start until 3 or 4. 

We knew what we were getting in to. 

What we didn’t know was they closed the canyon road down so they could do avalanche control work to prevent a future avalanche from coming across and covering the road. 

It was closed until 5:30!

Fortunately for us, we weren’t skiing in the resort. We had our backcountry gear with us.  So rather than sitting in the car we put our skis and skins on again and went out and climbed another mountain and skied again!

The road closure was uncontrollable. There was nothing we could do about it.
How we handled the situation was something we COULD control.

How do you handle the uncontrollable situations in the Philippines?

Kevin H asked this week:
“My experience hiring virtual assistants has been phenomenal…
Do you have any suggestions for managing against the uncontrollables when hiring VAs like weather, electricity, and internet?”

Suggestions, yes.
Solutions, not really.

1. Typhoons are random.  I’ve seen them hit all different parts of the Philippines. It happens every year. There’s nothing I know of that you can do to prevent this. When it happens to your VAs, try to help them rebuild their lives.

2. Internet is tied to electricity.  If the electricity is down, so is the internet.  Buying a generator for your VA doesn’t solve internet outages.
If slow internet is an issue, often they can pay more to upgrade their speed.  Ask them if this is a possibility, then offer to pay for the upgrade.

3. The Philippines often has options for wireless internet access.  If your VA is having internet problems at their house, maybe offer to pay for a wireless carrier. It’s not that expensive.

4. The infrastructure for power generation in the Philippines isn’t keeping up with the demand (they’re working on it).  So the temporary solution is “rolling brown outs”.  They’ll schedule time for the power to go out in different areas to deal with the difference between supply and demand.  I’ve never seen a pattern for this, and have never seen it go on for more than a few months in a specific location.

5. You’re less likely to have power/internet outages in a major city like Metro Manila or Cebu.
Wages are also more expensive in those places.

So how do you deal with it if this is happening to you?

First, recognize that it’s worse for them than it is for you.
Often the power goes out at the hottest times, because that’s when everyone is running their air conditioning. And it’s HOT in the Philippines.
They want to get their work done.  If electricity or internet is preventing it, they’re super worried about losing their job because of forces that are out of their control.

Second, most VAs will plan their work schedules around the “brown  outs”.  If you have timing critical work, considering hiring someone in a different part of the country so they can back each other up when brown outs happen.  They could be part-time.

Third, talk with your VA about it.  Make a plan together.

My VAs have always said “I couldn’t finish this work today because the power went out.  I’ll make up for it tonight and on Saturday.” (Or something like that).  
When this happens, figure out what your policy will be.

My policy is to allow them to make it up, but sometimes I tell them not to make it up.

Your policy might be more strict or more lenient.