After spending what seems like infinite days and endless weeks complying with the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, you may be envisioning a summer getaway—even if only for a short weekend.
Whether you have set your sights on feeling the sand between your toes at the seashore, pitching a tent amid majestic pine trees, or some other escape, your business will need to prepare (especially given the pandemic situation at hand) for your temporary absence.
Here are some tips to help make sure your company can carry on while you’re getting some much-needed time away from it all:
1. Give your clients and vendors a heads up
If you have customers or suppliers who are accustomed to dealing directly with you, give them plenty of notice before you depart for your excursion.
Let them know:
When you will be gone
Updates on any current issues or projects you’re working on with them
Whom they should contact while you’re gone
Communicating with clients and vendors about your planned time out of the office is not only polite and professional, but it can also prevent confusion and misunderstandings.
2. Delegate responsibilities
Identify if any of the tasks you handle personally will need attention during your absence. Then, delegate those responsibilities to team members who have the necessary skill set or experience to do them well.
This can provide an excellent professional development opportunity for your employees. Besides giving you the peace of mind that your business is in good hands while you’re gone, you will enable your staff to learn and grow in their abilities.
3. Make sure your staff understands and respects all COVID-19 safety protocols
No matter what type of business you run, you have likely had to make some modifications to your work processes to ensure employee and customer health safety during the coronavirus pandemic. Review your social distancing, personal protective equipment, and cleaning procedures with your team before you leave for vacation so that both you and they feel confident in their understanding of the rules.
With COVID-19 an ongoing threat, your diligence in reinforcing the new rules of engagement will ensure a safer environment for everyone who interacts with your business.
4. Work ahead of schedule
We have all done it at one time or another—go on vacation with a pile of work awaiting us upon our return. My heart races and my blood pressure rises at the mere mention of it. To alleviate that stress, put in some extra hours in the weeks before you leave and get some work done ahead of schedule.
For example, think about any recurring responsibilities that are due the week of and directly after your vacation. Can you front-load your schedule so that you can finish things before you leave? Yes, you may find yourself extra busy leading up to vacation. However, while on vacation, you can relax knowing that you’ve taken measures to keep your post-vacation workload under control.
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5. Keep a lifeline handy
When unplugging from the hectic hustle and bustle, consider maintaining options for connecting with your business while you’re on vacation. Download business apps on your smartphone, just in case you need to review work-related information or address a critical issue—especially if it’s pandemic related. Also, before you travel, find out what access you’ll have to Wi-Fi and your mobile carrier’s network.
Even if you don’t intend to do work when away, you can feel more at ease about taking time off if you have ways to stay informed and empowered to take action if necessary.
6. Set clear boundaries
Naturally, you will want your team to contact you in the event of emergencies. But make sure you provide a clear definition of “emergency” before you leave. Inform your staff of what you consider urgent so they don’t interrupt you about minor issues that could wait until you return home.
Also, let them know the best way to reach you if an emergency arises. While on vacation, you may not be checking emails, so perhaps text messages will reach you most quickly. Or, if you’re in an area with Wi-Fi but poor cell signal, maybe Facebook Messenger will be the surest method to connect with you immediately. Consider both your preferences and accessibility when setting your vacation communication protocol.
7. Remember to set up your email auto-response
Despite your best efforts to notify everyone about your upcoming out-of-office time, some people will forget or miss the memo. Create an autoresponder email message to inform senders that you’re out of the office and direct them to whom they should contact. Also, update your voice mail greeting (in the office and on your mobile phone) with the same information. That way, anyone who wasn’t aware of your time away, will be in the know if they try to contact you.
“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.”—Earl Wilson, journalist
You’ve worked hard and navigated some unprecedented challenges these past few months; you deserve a break! I hope the tips I’ve shared will help you keep your business from missing a beat while you enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
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