It’s getting increasingly difficult, impossible even, to leave work behind when you’re on holiday. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking just a few days’ leave or an extended break – there’s always pressure to keep up with what’s going on in the office. And a lot of the time, people simply choose to do so because the catching up they have to do when they get back to work is just too massive.
But it doesn’t always have to be like this. Take the following tips from our experts on managing these three main aspects of work in order to enjoy a stress-free holiday.
FOR ONGOING PROJECTS
Assign a point of contact
While it would be ideal to leave work behind completely, some projects may require urgent feedback and approval from you in order to proceed. In such cases, appoint someone on your team to help handle communication, to avoid being flooded with constant updates from multiple sources.
“This individual would provide you with a weekly report on the ongoing projects. If it’s something more urgent, perhaps an alternate-day report,” says Alka Chandiramani, career coach at Alvo Connexions.
“We often like to be in control of things that are within our peripheral arena,” says Alka. However, it’s necessary to offload your work if you intend to truly take a break from the office.
Besides allowing yourself to relax, Alka adds delegating also helps create autonomy within a team, and could motivate your subordinates and peers when they feel they have control over the work you’ve delegated to them.
“Numerous studies have shown that when an individual feels like they have some influence or control over the end results, the dopamine levels in the brain increase significantly, which plays a major role in reward-motivated behaviour,” says Alka.
Identify and minimise issues before they escalate
“Address the concerns of clients before you go on leave, and leave them with the team who is looking after (your projects),” says Cheryl Liew-Chng, work-life trainer and author of The 24-hour Woman. Planning in advance will help fend off 80 per cent of hiccups, she adds.
When people go on holiday, they often switch on their out-of-office automated e-mail response with alternative contact details for work matters. The problem, Alka says, is that in our technologically connected environment and with Wi-Fi everywhere, we are still able to stay in the loop. It’s hard to switch off completely, even though you want to. What you can is structure the day by allocating a particular amount of time to check your e-mails in order to avoid backlog.
Get ready for questions
Prepare for the barrage of questions that may come from clients, partners or bosses while you are away and brief your team on how to handle them. “Develop a set of FAQs that the team who is handling re-directed emails will be able to refer to and use to answer questions,” says Cheryl.
Create a culture that respects leave time
If you’re a supervisor, make it known to your team that time off from work is just that – no exceptions. Discourage them from contacting colleagues who are away and find ways to temporarily divert responsibilities away from the person who is on vacation. This not only allows everyone to enjoy their vacation, it could also create more efficient workers.
“Choose to work with people who respect others. Educate and teach your team and your clients to respect the person who is on leave. When they are back, they are then refreshed and re-energised to do better work,” says Cheryl.
Plan ahead and work backwards
Alka says it is important to be realistic when managing deadlines. “I believe setting smart goals for each project with timelines helps significantly to achieve what is realistic within a specific time frame,” she says Alka. “Holidays are often well-managed if we plan ahead of time and work backwards to manage every aspect.”
Make sure everyone knows what the goals are for each project and what needs to be done at each stage in order to achieve them, says Cheryl. By creating milestones for the team to hit in terms of tasks to complete, you can worry less about constantly tracking progress.
Trust your team
Often, we wind up working on holiday because we’re unable to let go of control. But Cheryl says it is important to make an ongoing effort to train and trust those in your team.
“Build trust and competence before you need it, not just in time for you to go on holiday. If you’ve trained your collaborators and trust them to do the right thing, you’ll have an awesome team where everyone levels up,” she adds.