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Out of Office: A Pre-Vacation Checklist

Out of Office: A Pre-Vacation Checklist

No one goes on vacation with the intention of working the entire time—at least we hope not! Taking time away from the office in any capacity, whether at home or on the beach, is proven to increase productivity and elevate workplace morale. But there are some things at the office you should take care of before you leave so you can truly disconnect.

Keep your coworkers informed. Everyone is busy, but chances are your job can’t be left undone while you’re out. Leaving a status report of your projects for your coworkers to review helps them stay on track, especially if deadlines will pass while you’re out. Marketing Account Manager Kali Eskew assigns projects on her status reports to specific people, so everyone knows who is in charge of what. Deb Munoz, mailing and fulfillment manager at YGS’ Seattle Location, says keeping managers informed of delegated tasks is important to maintain workflow, too. “Review with your peers, your reports, and your manager who is covering what while you are gone, and make sure your manager knows how to contact you in the event of an urgent issue,” she suggests.

Plan ahead. Even though you’re leaving, you need to think about what it will be like when you return, too. Our VP of editorial services evaluates her schedule the week before and the week after her vacation, to balance the workload on either end. Getting back into the groove can be an adjustment immediately after returning, so don’t plan too much on your first day back, says Kelly. “I move some meetings to the day after I return so I have some time to get ramped up again,” she explains. Another detail to consider: Cancel recurring meetings in your shared calendars if you’re the host, or coordinate coverage otherwise.

Really, truly, hang it up. Both Kali and Kelly commit to staying unplugged while they’re out. “I trust the people who are covering for me, and they know they can always reach me by cell if absolutely needed,” says Kali. Kelly echoes a similar sentiment, saying “Vacation means just that: you have vacated. If you’ve built a strong enough team around you, they should be able to cover you while you are gone.” Kali prepares a day or so before her return by previewing the emails in her inbox, so she can ease back into the workload.

Don’t forget external communications. Of course you’ll set up your out of office reply on email, but update your voicemail, too! In both places, Deb recommends detailed information about alternative points of contact, including emails and phone numbers. You can even set up your emails to be redirected to someone else’s inbox entirely while you’re out, but that can probably be reserved for longer term absences. It’s helpful to link email addresses in your out of office replies so recipients don’t need to copy-paste or type out the address of another person.

Enjoying your vacation shouldn’t mean taking 10 minutes here or there to catch up at the office. Leaving explicit instructions and well-rounded information allows other capable hands to take it from here. Aloha!