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When Technology Fails, and Remote Team Collaboration Falls

Have you ever considered what might happen if the technology that supports your remote team collaboration suddenly fails?

According to a 2023 survey by Gartner, 74% of companies plan to shift to more remote work post-COVID-19 permanently. Yet, only 32% have comprehensive contingency plans for potential technology failure. 

This article provides insights and practical advice on contingency planning for technology disruptions in remote team collaboration.

Understanding the Need for Contingency Planning

Remote work and collaboration have become the new normal for many organizations. While technology is crucial in enabling seamless communication and cooperation among remote teams, its failure could be disastrous. 

Imagine having a crucial project deadline, and suddenly, your collaboration software crashes. Without a well-devised contingency plan, this could lead to severe disruptions in workflow, missed deadlines, and increased stress levels.

We recommend the following:

  1. Develop a comprehensive list of tools your team relies on for remote work. 
  2. Determine the potential impact of each tool’s failure on your operations. 
  3. Create a prioritized action plan addressing each potential failure.

Remote Team Collaboration heavily relies on Google’s G Suite

In December 2020, Google experienced a massive outage affecting its services worldwide, including Gmail, YouTube, and Google Drive – critical tools for many businesses. 

Amidst the chaos, some companies stood out for their preparedness. One such company was Twitter.

They quickly switched to backup communication and collaboration tools, minimizing the impact of the outage on their operations. 

How did they manage this?

  1. Twitter had a well-planned technology contingency strategy in place.
  2. They identified alternative tools and ensured all team members were familiar with them.
  3. Regular “dry runs” of their contingency plan had been carried out, enabling a swift transition when the real crisis hit.

As Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, famously said, “In a startup, you’re always on the edge of chaos. The only thing keeping you from going over the edge is the team and the culture you have in place.” 

Twitter’s proactive approach exemplifies this sentiment.

Common Misconceptions About Contingency Planning

Many organizations resist contingency planning, believing it to be a time-consuming, unnecessary task. Others feel they can navigate a technology failure without prior planning.

These misconceptions can leave teams unprepared when a crisis hits:

  1. Contingency planning is not about predicting every possible disaster but preparing your team to handle unexpected situations effectively.
  2. Even small technology glitches can cause significant disruption if teams are unprepared.
  3. Managing a crisis in real time without a plan is far more time-consuming and costly.

As Elon Musk rightly puts it, “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” Hence, planning for potential failures should be integral to the innovation process.

Practical Steps Towards Effective Contingency Planning

Now that we’ve debunked some common misconceptions let’s dive into some actionable steps to create an effective contingency plan.

  1. Identify critical technology: Prioritize tools essential for remote team collaboration.
  2. Choose reliable backup tools: Ensure your team knows these alternatives.
  3. Regular testing: Carry out regular “dry runs” to ensure your team can smoothly transition during a crisis.
  4. Keep your plan dynamic: Regularly update your contingency plan as your technology or team changes.


In conclusion, planning for potential technology failures is equally crucial as we embrace the benefits of remote team collaboration. 

As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg once said, “The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.” 

Learning from past technology failures and proactively planning for future ones can be the difference between chaos and seamless continuity during a crisis. 

Don’t wait for the crisis to hit before devising your plan; start your contingency planning today.


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