How To Prepare Your Office For Vacation
I will be traveling to Australia and New Zealand for a month, starting tomorrow. The past few weeks have been hectic getting ready for the adventure, so I wanted to take a moment to reflect on how I prepared at work and provide a few tips:
Let people know… ahead of time
After getting approved of your time off, make sure to notify your co-workers, clients, students, etc., as far in advance as possible. I know some people who put it on their Google Calendar and then disappear. Maybe that’s what is best for them. But I am, as my co-workers say, “extra,” so I sent out an email to anyone who would be affected by my departure about a month ahead of time. This email provided them with everything that could come up, who to go to instead of me, frequently asked questions, etc. Then I sent them an email today reminding them, because let’s be honest, we are all forgetful and our inboxes can be crazy.
Get shit done
Then, of course you’ll need to figure out what tasks you can complete now so that you will come back to less work when you return. First, make sure to prioritize anything with a deadline before or during your trip. After that, it will depend on the type of work you do, but don’t be afraid to ask for help from your boss or co-workers. My office is great and everyone will be supporting me while I am away – hopefully yours is too!
Out of office response
And finally, it is time to set up your out of office responses in your email and voicemail. Originally, my out of office email was going to have every FAQ that I could think of, but after speaking with some colleagues, everyone seemed to lean towards a shorter message. One person who has been in the workforce for a while said, “the longer that you are away, the less they will read your response.”
So instead, I recommend keeping it short and sweet, as well as providing a few key things:
- When you will be back
- If/how they can make an appointment when you return
- Who people can contact in your absence
- Who should people contact if there is an immediate emergency (if applicable to your job)
- Provide one link to your website, a FAQ document, etc.
- And finally, I will be taking over my company’s Instagram account, so I provided the link as well so people can follow my adventures
As for the subject line in the email, I have seen both quirky and fun ones. But personally, I like the old fashioned: “Out of Office until (date).” That way, they immediately know that you will not be returning their email any time soon without even reading your message.
Your voicemail should also be short and sweet with the same basic information (except the links of course). I know this may sound silly, but be sure to speak slowly, clearly and with a smile. I have some previous experience in sales, and I honestly think that people can tell if you are smiling over the phone. You want to sound happy and kind and provide information for them to contact someone else. Oh, and never apologize for being away! Whether it is business or vacation, you are allowed time out of the office, so don’t feel the need to say that you are sorry.
A few quick reminders:
- Don’t forget to update your Google Calendar, Outlook Calendar, etc.
- Forward your mail if needed.
- If you have snacks or food at your office, don’t forget to remove them. No one wants your moldy leftovers in the refrigerator while you are gone.
- If you have any desk plants, don’t forget to ask someone to water them while you are away.
- Clean your desk. While you are away, your office may have visitors or someone may need to borrow your computer. Don’t leave it looking like you do for the weekends. Plus, when you return, you will have a million things to do already. Having a clean, organized work space will help.
- If you are on vacation, don’t check your email! If you have it on your phone, it helps to temporarily remove it so you are not tempted.
- And finally, enjoy your time out of the office! Whether you are traveling for business or vacation, make the most of your travels. I will be working for three weeks but tacked on a week vacation at the end.