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Everyone looks forward to their holidays, whether it’s 2 weeks on the beach in Mauritius, a hiking tour across the Fjords, a weekend party in Ibiza or a week in Cornwall, it’s a well deserved change from work, school and the day-to-day routine.
But social media, smartphones and blackberries have made it harder to truly switch off and get away from it all. Increasingly staff are choosing (rather than being required) to receive work emails on their own device and the majority do not suspend this during holidays.
However, there is a massive benefit to all in having the holidaymaker enjoy their holiday and those at work handle the workload in their absence. The holidaymaker gets to truly relax and enjoy their non-work time; their colleagues meanwhile benefit from "walking in their shoes", perhaps learning new skills and taking on new responsibilities. It can create greater understanding or empathy between colleagues as they have a better understanding of what they are doing on a day-to-day basis.
Here are 6 top tips to ensure you or your employees really benefit from their time off and return to work refreshed and revitalized.
Get Outlook (or other email system) to do the leg work
There is nothing worse than coming back to work to find a zillion emails in your inbox, the majority of which are now irrelevant or have been resolved. Make sure you use the rules to direct emails to the relevant colleague(s). Depending on the likely traffic it may be worth taking extra time before you go to make specific rules for handling internal emails or from particular individuals, sending them to different folders to be dealt with on your return.
Keep people informed
With a week or longer time of leave, it’s worth giving colleagues and clients the heads up that you will be off. It's amazing what can get resolved before you go away when you present people with a deadline! Also, make sure that an email automated message states the date when you are back (not just "back in a week"), who to contact in your absence and what will have happened to their email in the meantime. Later versions of Outlook enable you to send different messages to colleagues and to those externally so you can tailor your message accordingly.
Plan your handover
Nothing creates a bit of pre-holiday tension than writing handover notes in the last hour in the office before you go. Start on your handover notes at least a week before a long holiday so that all that is required is a few final tweaks or updates on your final day in the office. If your role involves a database shared by all, make sure you are particularly diligent in updating information in the preceding weeks and avoid short hand or jargon that only you understand!
Put your own holiday in your diary!
It might sound silly, but if you don't block out the time you are away you or others may be populating it with meetings and events you are unable to attend.
Check your diary for random events
Online calendar systems are great at enabling regular recurring events, but do check for these before you go. It could be a monthly update, a quarterly review or annual appraisal is due at exactly the time you are supposed to be lazing on a beach. Either re-arrange these before you leave, or delegate to a colleague.
Turn off email alerts
This is actually a good opportunity to do a bit of housekeeping anyhow. Those alerts for services, products or discount codes that were once so interesting can either be suspended before you go (you'll have missed the deadline anyway!) or removed altogether.
Planning your work as carefully as you plan your holiday can make a massive difference to that first day back in the office and ensure that you don't need another holiday straight away!
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