Running Your Business

Out of Office: How to Prepare for Your Next Vacation


  • Vacation time is important, but it's also imperative to know your business is prepared for your absence

  • In order to prepare your business, be sure to give ample notice, get ahead and assign tasks, coverage and points of contact before leaving

  • If you take these precautions to prepare your team and clients, you can enjoy your vacation knowing your business is in good hands

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Posted by October 9, 2017

Everyone deserves a vacation. But when you’re heading out of office, you want to know that business will go on without you.

In a recent study completed by Project: Time Off, researchers found that, “The inability to take time off has become one of America’s greatest work culture failings.” While downtime is important to feel refreshed and recharged, for many, it’s often nerve-racking to plan time off and ensure that responsibilities are taken care of while away.

Now, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t take a vacation; you should! Just follow these preparation tips before leaving to make sure your business is well-equipped for your absence.

Give Notice

You can’t just spring a big vacation on your employees or clients at the last minute. Instead, let them know your plans long before you will be out of office and unavailable. Send an email or pick up the phone at least a month in advance to let them know when you’ll be gone, and make sure to note how much access they will have to you during that time, if at all. Then, change your email signature to indicate the days you’ll be away. A simple, “Will be away from the office June 1 through the 10th” under your email signature will remind anyone you do business with to contact you in advance of your vacation.

Get Ahead

You can assign some of your responsibilities to your employees while you’re away, but try to complete as much as possible before you leave. Don’t push too much forward on your calendar or plan to handle things when you return. Not only will you be thinking about what needs to get done during your time off, but you’ll also be transitioning out of a vacation state of mind. It will be much harder to jump back into a previous project than to check new work off of your to-do list.

Assign Tasks and Coverage

If you’re already a good delegator, assigning your day-to-day responsibilities to key members of your team will be easy. However, if you have a hard time letting go, start practicing now. Make a list of the most important tasks that need to be accomplished, and then parcel them out. Remember you don’t need to assign all of your work to just one person.

Establish a chain of command for when you’ll be gone and decide who will be able to reach you in the case of an emergency. Meet with this individual to go over what is considered a “true emergency” and exactly when you should be contacted. Explain to them what other types of mini-emergencies happen from time to time, and advise them on how you want these situations to be handled in your absence. Make sure all of your employees know exactly who is in charge while you’re away.

Assign Points of Contact

If your company doesn’t currently use an on-call cellphone, consider buying one to use while you’re away. Then, whoever is in charge can keep the phone with them during off-hours as assigned. This way, a true emergency won’t go undealt with because no one knew how to access the managing supervisor in your absence.

Planning your schedule so someone is always covering your responsibilities is just one step in preparing for a vacation as a business owner. It’s also vital to let your work relations and customers know who they should reach out to if they need something while you are gone. The easiest way to go about something like this is to change your voicemail and use an out of office email responder. In both, state the date range you’ll be on vacation, what day you’ll respond once you return and who specifically should be contacted in your absence.

Give Yourself a Buffer

To ensure that you don’t get overwhelmed with last-minute requests or deadlines on the day you return to work, build an extra day or two into your schedule to accommodate for your vacation. For example, if you’re traveling from Dec. 24 to Jan. 2, consider notifying clients or changing your email responder to state you’ll be away from the 23rd to the 3rd. This will give you more time to finish projects before leaving and handle anything that needs your attention immediately upon returning.

Once you’ve taken the time to really prepare your business for your absence, you’ll be able to leave for vacation feeling stress-free and relaxed. There should be no last-minute concerns looming over your head, as you’ve taken all precautions to prepare yourself—and your team and clients—for your time off. Enjoy!

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