Your how-to guide: Disconnecting from work for real when you're on vacay
A true vacay away from work
Bosses and colleagues won’t leave you alone even when you’re on holiday? Arm yourself with our how-to guide to make sure vacation e-mails and calls don’t spoil your well-earned break.
2 weeks before
Choose a colleague (or two) to stand in for you while you’re away (like make necessary decisions for you). When giving them the heads-up, offer to cover for them the next time they are on leave, suggests a consultant from a recruitment firm. You scratch their backs, they’ll scratch yours.
Create a cheat sheet. What goes in it depends on your job scope, but you should include important contact information of your clients and any other relevant parties, clear instructions and key deadlines. The consultant adds that you should mention any problems that may pop up while you’re away and explain how to troubleshoot them.
Broadcast your absence to colleagues and clients via e-mail. Stress any time difference (to dissuade them from contacting you) and make sure that everyone knows who will be covering for you. The countdown begins.
Switch on your out-of-office auto-reply. Make it descriptive: list the period you’ll be away and the contact details of the colleagues covering for you. Say goodbye to your boss in person. It’ll help if you look exhausted and stressed out (little sleep the night before – cue eyebags – and dishevelled hair will help).
Don’t forget to come back bearing gifts, especially for your boss and the colleagues who covered for you while you were enjoying yourself. Chocolates are always a crowdpleaser – who can resist them? And don’t forget a tacky souvenir or two.
…I work for a small company and no one can cover for me while I’m away? Do all that you can before you leave. Check with your colleagues if there’s anything urgent that must be done before you go and do it, says the consultant. A founder of a consulting group puts things more bluntly. “In this situation, your boss has to bite the bullet and do without you or pay for a temp. After all, you’re entitled to use your annual leave.”
…I’m on leave but on a staycation? Should I fib and say I’ll be overseas so they won’t call me back to the office? Don’t lie. It can backfire and reflect badly on you if you run into someone from work while you’re on leave. There isn’t a reason for your colleagues to call you if you’ve already given them a detailed handover list, says the consultant. They should be able to handle everything without you.
…I hold a senior position and really need to keep an eye on things? Set aside an hour or two each day to do work. Tell co-workers you’ll be checking e-mails or calling in at that time and stick to it. It’ll also save you from a potential heart attack when you get back to work and see 3,000 e-mails in your inbox.
This story was originally published in the September 2011 issue of Her World.