It’s summer—vacation time is here. If you’re one of the lucky ones with flip-flops and sunglasses in your future, before you close up that file, shut down your computer, or put away your equipment, it’s not enough just to clock out and say, “See you in two weeks.” Your coworkers have enough to do without having to take on your work as well or be left in the lurch because you didn’t finish what was on your plate. Be considerate of them before you leave, and you’ll return to an office happy to see you. Before you pack your sunscreen, swimsuit, racquet and clubs, arrange for plant/cat/dog care, and start an affair on your Kindle with Fifty Shades of Grey, take some time to leave your office affairs in order.
Here are ten tips to make your vacation as pleasant for your colleagues as it is for you.
- Pick your vacation time in advance. Many companies ask employees to schedule vacation time early to make sure that everyone isn’t out of the office at the same time. In addition, the more senior you are, the more lead-time necessary to prepare your staff for your absence.
- Leave your desk cleared and your assignments completed. It’s not fair to expect a coworker to take on your workload in addition to theirs.
- Use the buddy system. Ask a colleague to stand in for you, and then be sure to offer to return the favor when she goes on vacation.
- Brief your buddy on outstanding items, or next steps that may come up during your absence. Share contact information for clients or vendors who may need assistance while you’re gone.
- Create an auto-reply for your email and change your voicemail message, too. “This is Lucy Clark at ABC Communications. I will be out of the office, returning on Monday, August 13th.”
- Make sure you include an alternate contact person. “If you need immediate assistance, please contact Terry Briggs at extension 22 or email Terry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Discuss who should contact you in the event of a real work emergency. Be sure to leave that person your contact information and a copy of your itinerary.
- Clean up your office: wash your coffee cups, empty your trash, and clean out your food from the refrigerator. Enough said.
- When you return, say thanks to the office – a box of salt water taffy can do wonders, and consider bringing the coworker who covered for you a small gift along with your thanks.
- Finally, when you return, remember to turn off the auto-reply on your email and rerecord the message on your voice mail.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
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