Setting Expectations for Your Holiday Vacation

setting-expectations-for-your-holiday-vacation

With Thanksgiving behind us, the holiday season has officially commenced, and with it time away from the office. The only way to ensure that your time away from the office (as well as your return) is stress-free is to plan ahead. Waiting until the last minute to decide and communicate your holiday plans to the office is a recipe for disaster. Whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur, leaving the office guilt-free for the holidays starts with setting expectations around your capacity and availability as soon as possible. There’s no reason to fear derailing workplace goals by taking some time off if you do it correctly. 

The worst possible outcome of your failure to plan is that you end up working during time you should be spending with family or responding to email when you should be unplugged. Or your colleagues are forced to pick up your slack to see your projects to completion in order to keep stakeholders happy. The good news is that all of that can be avoided with a little planning so that you can enjoy your time off in peace. 

For employees: 

  • Start cataloging projects: Now is a great time to think about all of the projects you have on your plate and organize them by priority level. Take additional details into consideration, such as important stakeholders and constituents for each project.  
  • Note what can be done after the New Year: There will be some projects that cannot be put off and must be completed before you leave. Identify which ones are which to help with your planning.  
  • Communicate with project stakeholders: The most important part of planning is setting expectations for stakeholders by communicating effectively. Communicate clearly defined project timelines that incorporate everyone’s time away from the office.
  • Prepare a transition document: In the case that the work must continue in your absence, properly prep anyone who will be covering your work. Put together a document that includes deadlines, contact information, and any other pertinent information for your project. 
  • Make files/instructions easily accessible: The worst thing is to be on vacation and get a call from the office asking where something is. Make all documents, files, or instructions easily accessible for anyone still working on projects in your absence.

For entrepreneurs/managers: 

  • Let your clients know that you’ll be out of the office: Every client has different expectations of your level of responsiveness. Hopefully you’ve outlined communication frequency in your contracts, but the holidays can put added pressure on responsiveness. Be up front with your clients about what access they’ll have to you during your vacation.
  • Ask employees what their holiday plans are: You can wait for your employees to come to you with time-off requests, or you can initiate the conversation as far in advance as possible. With the latter, you can make any necessary arrangements for your office. 
  • Plan for coverage: During the holidays, multiple people will likely take additional time away from the office. If there’s time-sensitive work, make sure there will be enough employees around to cover the work.
  • Start saying no to projects: We don’t always have this option, but if you do, consider your current workload and turn down any projects that need to be done before your vacation commences. Taking on additional projects with tight deadlines may put you in a position to have to work when you should be spending time with your family. If possible, push off any additional projects until after the New Year.
  • Collect any deliverables before employees leave the office: No employee wants to be contacted by work during a vacation, and part of creating a healthy work-life balance means being able to disconnect. That can’t happen if you’re contacting employees for deliverables and other work-related information. Try to get all information related to any projects before they leave the office. 

Having a relaxing vacation is vital to workplace success and can prevent burnout. Doing these simple acts before you leave will help you stay stress-free throughout your vacation while providing the best experience for your colleagues and business stakeholders.

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