Whether it’s a family vacation, a romantic summer getaway, or a simple, stress-free “staycation,” taking time off from work for holiday is a chance to relax and recharge. But (despite what your boss might say) the office doesn’t necessarily shut down when you’re out, so it’s important to put in a little extra work to ensure everything keeps humming while you’re out—and, just as importantly, your holiday isn’t interrupted!
Before you clock out and head for the hills, take a few moments to follow a simple out-of-the-office checklist. Your team members—and your future self—will thank you.
Out of Office Checklist Essentials
Following an easy vacation checklist will help ensure everything runs smoothly while you’re gone, and you’re ready to hit the ground running when you come back.
“It’s likely your coworkers will know you’re off on vacation (although that’s not always the case). But your customers and other contacts may not be in the know, so take measures to ensure things keep ticking along in your absence.”
1. Prioritize and Prepare
A week or so before you leave, take a few moments to:
- Draft a to-do list of critically important items that must be completed before you leave (or with assistance from others while you’re out). For example, time-sensitive financial reports, quarterly performance reports, and onboarding approvals for new employees all fall under this category.
- Draft a second list of projects that aren’t time-sensitive but still require your attention. This list will help get you back into “work mode” when you return and prevent projects from slipping through the cracks.
- Collect and print out all the necessary contact numbers for your boss, immediate team members, and anyone else who you might need to reach through unorthodox means if your electronics go toe-up or you’re stuck in the analog hinterlands.
- Schedule an “in-office sabbatical” for the day you return from vacation. Clear your calendar of meetings if possible so you can focus your energy and time on getting your bearings, responding to critical messages, and sorting out your priorities. You’ll be ready to catch up instead of belly-diving into a pool of chaos.
- Tidy up your work area. Give your phone and desk a thorough clean, clear out any old trash and unfiled papers, top up your supplies of pens, paper, notepads, and other everyday essentials, and leave things as clean as possible. It might seem like tidying for the maid, but you’ll have a fresh workspace waiting for you when you come back.
2. Automate to Alleviate Problems
It’s likely your coworkers will know you’re off on vacation (although that’s not always the case). But your customers and other contacts may not be in the know, so take measures to ensure things keep ticking along in your absence.
Create an Email Autoresponder
Taking a few moments to set up an Out of Office message will ensure everyone knows you’re away, and provide information they’ll need to accomplish their goals when you’re out. Be sure your message includes:
- Start and end dates for your absence.
- The team member(s) who will be covering for you while you’re gone.
- How often you’ll be checking your messages, or if you’ll be unplugged for the duration of your absence, that you’ll reply upon your return.
- Emergency contact information in the event they must absolutely, positively reach you and no one else.
If you like, you can inject a little fun and personality with a seasonally appropriate quote, a bit of humor, etc. Just remember to keep your heads up message professional, brief, and useful to folks who aren’t on a leisurely holiday schedule!
Update your Voice Mail
As with your office email, a simple message will ensure phone calls are addressed rather than ignored. Even if your calls are automatically forwarded to the folks covering for you, setting up an out of office message will ensure everyone knows you’re away if the line’s occupied.
Schedule Updates with IT
If your computer, work phones, etc. need software updates, or if your company has a regular update policy in place, talk to your IT staff to ensure your updates are installed if they aren’t already pushed out automatically. If you’ve got a work device with a wonky keypad, a recurring bug, or a frustrating tendency to crash, give IT a crack at it while you’re on vacation. They’ll appreciate having plenty of time to tinker, and you won’t have to stress over using a loaner.
Create and Schedule Regular Messages
If your team is used to receiving regular updates from you about current projects, or reminders to complete essential tasks, you can use your email client to schedule brief messages for these purposes. Don’t forget to remind them you’re gone, too, however, so they don’t expect immediate follow-up from you for questions or concerns and can contact the appropriate party (if any).
Don’t Forget About Approvals
Automation doesn’t have to end with your office suite, however. If you’re part of an approval workflow, using a procurement solution like PurchaseControl gives you access to an automated Out of Office feature. As with your email, Slack, or other communications program, PurchaseControl’s Out of Office feature lets you automatically route approval requests to the person covering for you, either from your desktop client or using the mobile app. Materials arrive on time, everyone meets their important deadlines stress-free, and you don’t have to worry about trying to dial in from your kayak or hang glider or sofa.
Take a Vacation from Out of Office Stress
The first step to enjoying your holiday is knowing the office (or at least your part of it) won’t come crashing down while you’re out. Keep your team in the loop with automation and preparation to make your vacation—and your return to the office—stress-free.
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