Planning to step away from the office for any given amount of time can feel overwhelming, especially when things at work are really busy. Depending on our responsibilities and current demands, it can sometimes even feel impossible to step away. We often remind our leaders that by investing in their own vacations, they are providing their teams and companies with a much better version of themselves upon their return. Time away gives us the opportunity to renew, refresh, and reset! At the same time, it gives your team the freedom to “show their stuff” while you are away. When employees are given the runway to display how well they can do their jobs, and even take on additional tasks in your absence, they are taking care of business while building their skills and confidence. We know it’s counterintuitive, but everybody wins when you step away. Where to start? We have a few suggestions here!
Start by scheduling as far ahead as possible
Put a meeting on your calendar with yourself to think carefully about the timing of your absence. Sometimes, we choose the date ourselves, but other times we step away for a wedding or other special occasion. If you know with plenty of time that you are going to be away, you can have the important conversations necessary to put the best support in place before you go. As soon as you have a date pegged, prioritize how you will plan for your absence. Don’t wait!
Organize all the tasks that need to be completed while you’re away, and delegate, delegate, delegate
We like to say that delegation is an art; we truly believe it is! Once you have a clear task list of all the things you would do if you were present, delegate those tasks to your team clearly. If you take time and put some thought into this, your team will be happy to hold the fort down. If you have meetings on your calendar that you can push to a later time, move things around. Be bold with your guests, vendors, or potential new hires by giving them a clear idea of when you will return so they can see you then, and not during your vacation.
Do not, and we repeat, do not step away with the expectation that you need to be available
This is a tricky subject. We want to support our team, our guests, our vendors, our bosses. The best way to do this is to organize a plan for the time you are gone, and not during your vacation. We have had great success delegating the most important tasks to one strong team member, letting them know that if something urgent needs to be addressed, they can certainly call. Outline what urgent really is, and provide your team with the information they need in case something comes up.
Set a reminder for yourself to put up an automatic out of office reply
The goal for any vacation is to really have some time when you just don’t deal with anything work-related. We totally get that this is a tall order sometimes, but this is so important for your mind, body, and business! We regularly encourage our clients to put together a thoughtful out of office reply that fits their needs and gives senders the information they will need to adjust their communication. Here are some ideas for your out of office reply:
Formal - if your company is asking that you are “buttoned up”:
Thank you for your email. I will be out of the office from September 1st through September 4th. Please reach out to Stephanie Miller in my absence with any urgent matters. I look forward to hearing from you upon my return.
Informational - if you are in charge of specific departments or duties:
Hello, and thank you for your email. I am away from the office Monday, September 1st through Friday, September 5th, returning Monday, September 8th with limited access to email. In my absence, please call the restaurant at (917) 222-2222 between the hours of 9:00 AM and 11:00 PM. For reservations, please dial (917) 555-5555 or visit www.resy.com. For any accounting-related questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to connecting with you when I return.
Creative - if you have the freedom to be casual:
Hi, thanks for your email.
I’m on vacation. The bad news is that I’m out of office. The good news is that I’ll be back on the third, let’s chat then.
Enjoy your week,
European - if you are truly able to step away and stay away:
Thank you for your email.
I will not be back in the office until September 7th. Please email again at that time.
Have a great day,
Trust that your hard work will shine in your absence
When you have worked hard to train, support and foster your team, you will see the fruits of your labor when you are out of the office. Assume that there will be very little to “clean up” upon your return. One sign of a great team is how they care for you, the business, and each other when you are not present. Have a wonderful time on your vacay!