Summer is here, and most people are finalizing vacation plans. For many new planners, this is the first time they have had to schedule a vacation with an employer. As such, one of the questions we get often from new planners is how to navigate taking a vacation or scheduling time away from the office. Most firms encourage their employees to take time off but there are procedures that need to be adhered to.
-Communicate your intentions well in advance
One of the biggest mistakes we see new planners making regarding time out of the office is a failure to communicate their plans in a timely manner. For instance, if you are a college senior interviewing for a role in March that you would begin in July, be sure to disclose your summer vacation plans during the interview process. Nothing will frustrate a firm owner more than having an employee start on July 1st only to be blindsided by the news that their new employee will be traveling for 2 weeks starting on July 15th. Similarly, the earlier you can inform your teammates and superiors of a pending trip the more easily the team can prepare. Be sure to review the company's vacation policy and follow their guidelines closely.
-Prepare, document, and disseminate
Once you’ve successfully scheduled your time off, it’s important to prepare your teammates for your absence. It’s generally expected that you will try to complete as many of your tasks beforehand. Whenever this isn’t possible, we highly suggest that you leave your teammates with a list of items that will need to be completed. Furthermore, if you can provide a list of potential issues, and subsequent solutions, for any issues that might arise while you are away. Perhaps most importantly, processes or procedures that fall solely under your purview should have well documented instructions that are easily accessible to your teammates. If you can, leverage a screen recording solution such as Loom to document every step in your process. This makes it much easier for your teammates to assist you in your absence.
-Set your out of office
This may sound a bit silly, but make sure you set your “out of office” for your phone and email. This message should be professional, cordial, provide acute details about your availability and date of return, along with specific contact information for the team member designation to handle responsibilities in your absence.
Consider something like this for your phone, “ Hello this is [insert name]. Thank you for your call. I am going to be out of the office from [insert dates] and will return all voicemails when I return. If you need immediate help, please dial [insert extension] for [insert co-workers name]. Thanks again for calling.”
And something like this for your email inbox, “ Hi. Thanks for your message. I will be out of the office [insert dates]. I will return your email as soon as I return
In the meantime, please feel free to reach out to [any name] below for immediate assistance:
[any name] at x [any phone number] or [any email address]
Have a terrific day!
Not only will this afford you a more relaxing vacation with the knowledge that nothing is falling through the cracks in your absence, but it will also show your teammates and the firm’s clients how prepared and thoughtful you are. If you have client facing/relationship management responsibilities, it is also helpful to let your clients know beforehand when you will be gone and who will serve as their point of contact.
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