With the summer already fast approaching, getaways and vacations have already become buzz words. Whether you’re heading to a colder climate or to fabulous beaches in Boracay or Palawan, make sure you’ve done all your necessary preparations, like settling matters at work, before you go on a vacation leave, or VL. You don’t want to come back to work only to be asked to leave for good, do you?
So before you get excited about donning that new bikini, here are some tips to smooth things out before you dive into your much-awaited summer vacation:
Properly notify your boss of your vacation leave.
Nothing can irk your boss more than cases of staff members going on AWOL or MIA. Likewise, it is discourteous and unprofessional to just inform your boss of your vacation just a day or two before you are scheduled to leave. Know your company’s procedures for filing vacation leaves and follow them—many companies require you to file for leaves at least two weeks in advance. Also, inform your boss about the duration of your leave, how much work you are leaving behind, and who will take charge of them while you’re away—he or she will ask for this information anyway, so offering this up front will earn you plus points in the professionalism column.
List the tasks that need to be accomplished while you’re away, and delegate them to your colleagues.
Discuss the work you’re leaving behind with your staff or colleagues, and agree on who will take charge of which responsibility. Your task list should be organized and complete, with deadlines and brief descriptions of how the results should turn out. Mark D Hansen of SafetyXchange, an online community for professionals, provides a strategy for effective delegation. Don’t forget to leave the contact details of your key clients and assets with your coworkers so they can reach them if this is needed to accomplish the tasks.
Inform your clients and other key contacts of your upcoming vacation leave.
This way, they can settle matters they prefer to be settled with you before you leave. Also, inform them of the duration of your vacation leave and who they can contact in the office in your stead, and give them your colleagues’ email addresses and work phone numbers.
Activate your email auto-response.
This will tell your clients and contacts that you are away and that you won’t be able to get back to them until you get back. As when informing your contacts about your VL, include how long you’ll be away, when are you going to be back, and who they can contact in the office. If you are clueless on how to activate it, don’t fret. You can learn how to set up your auto-reply in Microsoft Outlook from this article on About.com.
Have a second phone (work line) that you can check only once or twice a day.
Even when you’re gone, your colleagues may still need to contact you for urgent matters. Stay in touch for questions and updates from your colleagues. But remember to set limits, as you wouldn’t want to take too much work with you on your vacation. Rosemary Heather, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder.com writes that having cell phones and other electronic communication devices with you on vacation can create an “e-leash,” and suggests setting a specific time to check up on your co-workers and attend to work-related matters and sticking to your schedule.
Clean up your desk before leaving.
You wouldn’t want to return to a cluttered desk after your vacation. Get rid of clutter and organize your desk. Separate files you are currently using from those you’re done with. Same goes for the files in your office computer. Place them in different folders so your colleagues can locate them easily when they need them.
Don't slack off before you take your vacation leave.
Lance Haun, author of the human resources blog Rehaul, writes that unless you’re working while on your holiday, you have no reason to complain and slack off when your vacation is nearing. That means no going on vacation mode before your vacation has a chance to take off. Likewise, CC Holland of Bnet, an online resource tool for managers, warns that “nothing makes a sendoff more sour than slacking off before you take off.”
Don’t cram your tasks into the last few days before you leave.
You should add more work hours in the weeks before you leave to spread out tasks you need to finish before going on your VL, suggests Monte Enbysk of Microsoft.com. “But put yourself in a position where you don't have to pull any all-nighters,” he writes.
Now, having done all these, you’re on for a hassle-free vacation. While you’re enjoying your out-of-town or out-of-the-country escapades, remember that you’ll be going back to work after everything, so a few days before you do so, it’s better to tone down your vacation hype and condition yourself to allow for a smooth transition from vacation to work mode. After all, you did have your well-deserved break, didn’t you?
(Busy woman photo by Rene Mejia; cluttered desk photo source: sxc.hu)