Thursday, July 25, 2013

Vacation Expectations: Six Tips to Help You Manage a Pleasant Time Away

By Kim Tarasiewicz

Summer months tend to be a time of vacations for many. The weather is better in most parts of the country and those who have children find it easier to travel while school is out. Several newer studies suggest that employees who take vacation are less likely to be stressed and more productive. In fact, some companies are even paying employees to take vacation. While that seems a little extreme, it does make sense that when planned properly, most people will return from a break with renewed energy.

Vacations are needed to relax and decompress, but what happens to office workload while employees are out? With a little planning, companies both large and small can keep productivity up and even increase it as employees return from time off full of vigor and new ideas. When preparing to be out, don’t wait until your last day in the office to get everything ready. Assign yourself tasks such as checking in with each client during the week prior to being out so that the last day in the office can be spent on work, status updates with colleagues and tying up loose ends.

Planning ahead can be the key to leaving for vacation stress free. Here are some ideas on how to prepare for and enjoy your vacation - most can be done in advance:
  • Schedule ahead. Most companies have policies around the number of people allowed out each week so there is coverage; look at the schedule and plan to take vacation when there is plenty of coverage in the office.  
  • Assign tasks. Make a list of current projects, status and contact information and then assign each to a team member to handle. Begin this well in advance and you will only need to quickly update the list before you walk out the door.
  • Alert clients. Let your clients know your schedule and give them ample opportunity to address any questions before your leave. Most will respect your time off and either push through a project early or be content waiting until you return.
  • Use your out-of-office. Be sure to set your out-of-office for email, giving exact dates and most importantly contact information for urgent questions. If possible, change your voicemail as well for those clients who may call after hours or if you have a direct dial telephone.
  • Let technology help. Set your email so that external and internal messages are automatically saved in specific folders. Begin copying colleagues who are covering your work on any email correspondence the week before and request that clients do the same. This will allow a much smoother return after vacation.
  • Try to unplug. If at all possible, don’t check emails while out of the office. For those who need to check emails, assign yourself a time to check in and only check at that time each day. When you absolutely must do some work while away, be sure to set aside a limited amount of time and check Wi-Fi or accessibility before travelling to save yourself time once you are on vacation.

Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into work after vacation and know that things were taken care of while you were out? When planning ahead, you may actually be able to enjoy every moment of your vacation.

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