What to do before you leave the office on holiday

Holiday breaks like Christmas, New Year or the middle of summer can leave an office looking rather sparse. It’s a blessing to be able to take some time off, but you don’t want to come back to chaos in the workplace, with piles of unread emails and unhappy customers.

Here are a few essential things to do before you leave to make sure things don’t fall apart while you’re away.

Make sure someone else can do your job

Not to the extent that you could be replaced, of course. But someone has to keep the ship sailing while you’re gone.

Whatever the most important thing you do is (or whatever would cost the most money if you didn’t do it) needs to be handed over to a competent and willing colleague.

To do that, you need to make sure they understand it fully. So if it's software based, give them screenshots - you can use Chrome plugins to capture entire web pages, then annotate the important bits. Adding big red arrows helps.

Or if it's a bit more complicated, record it! You could make a gif or record a video with a voiceover.

Failing that, sit your coworker down next to you and walk them through it, having them take notes along the way. Make sure any systems that need accessing are available, too: Privnote is useful for sharing passwords securely.

A show of appreciation is nice, too, for keeping everyone happy - maybe a small gift, or a promise to cover them in future.

Let coworkers know when you’ll be gone

It’s important to remind your coworkers that you’ll be away. Not just that you’ll be out of the office, but also that you’ll be unavailable and not checking emails (if you’re using Timetastic manage staff absence, your managers and colleagues can simply check the wall chart to see if you’re around or not).

A friendly email or Slack message with a festive greeting is a nice way to do it. Try not to leave it until the day you’re going, though, in case someone has something outstanding they need your help with.  

As well as these, your email out-of-office auto-response is important - make sure to include the date you'll be back and an emergency contact too.

Automate what you can

It might be a good time to investigate automation. There’s a load of affordable tools out there that can make your life easier throughout the year, and especially when you're away from the office.

Both IFTTT (‘if this then that’) and Zapier are services that connect different tools and help them work together and share information.

As an example, you could set up a Zapier action (a Zap) for receiving leads through your website. So you might currently have a contact form for new customers, which you could replace with a Typeform. When someone fills it in with a query, it can email you the query, and Zapier can automatically file it into a CRM system (eg. Salesforce or a Google Sheet), tagging it appropriately. Then, when you return, you have a nice neat ordered spreadsheet to work from.

Then if you combine this with an auto-response from your email program, the prospective customer can have their expectations set for when you might reply. Everyone's a winner.

As well as these, you can look at automating website visitor reports (using Google Analytics), cleaning email lists (with Mailchimp), or scheduling social media posts (Buffer or Edgar). The choice is endless.

Clean your desk

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

Before you leave your office, it's nice to do a bit of housekeeping. File away the paperwork, sweep up the biscuit crumbs and clean out the coffee mugs. Not only will this keep your colleagues happy, it'll give you a pleasant work environment to return to and help you get back into the swing of things.

And if there’s a fridge in your office, make sure you empty out your stuff. Nobody wants to come back to a pork pie that’s festered so badly it’s almost grown legs.

Finally, remember to actually go on leave. Relax, turn your phone off, spend some time with your loved ones. As I’ve mentioned before, rest is more important than we give it credit for, and you’ll come back refreshed and ready to rock. Enjoy it!  

Cover Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash