Coming back to work after taking some time off is never fun, especially if you’re coming back after a fabulous vacation. But, as sure as the morning sun rises each day, going back to work is inevitable. What you do before you go on your paid time off however, will be the difference between coming back to a mountain of work and sliding back into your normal work routine with ease.
Recently, I had to take some time off for a tonsillectomy. I know, not necessarily a stay at the beach, but still a planned event that required a number of necessary days off from work. So, I made a plan ahead of time to get as much work done as possible so I wouldn’t be bombarded with projects when I came back and my co-workers didn’t hate me for pushing work onto their already full plates. When you have a scheduled vacation or any other upcoming event that requires time off from work, try following these tips to help your transition be an easy one.
Work ahead. If you work in a job where you are able to work ahead on tasks, do so. Don’t procrastinate and wait until the last minute to complete them. Figure out task deadlines that need to be completed while you’re out and those that are due when you first come back, then make sure they are done before you leave. This will ensure that your co-workers don’t have to add your additional work to their heavy workloads. If you can’t work ahead on job assignments, make sure you keep your scheduled paid time off on your boss’s radar and co-workers’ minds so they aren’t surprised when it’s time for you to leave.
Create points of contact. It’s always good to assign someone to be the point person on specific tasks in case anyone outside your department has questions while you’re away. Create a cheat sheet for the project officers you’ve assigned tasks to help them easily access information. A cheat sheet should include background information on tasks, where they can find file folders if necessary, deadlines on tasks you were unable to meet prior to your leave, and important phone numbers.
Inform those who need to know. Make sure you let your department and contacts know the dates you will be unavailable. This will help keep the lines of communication open and allow questions or concerns to be addressed prior to your time away from work. Also, create an assigned task list with the name of the project officer to give to your supervisor to keep them apprised of who is working on what. If you work with people outside of your department, let them know who will be able to help them on specific items in your absence. Always remember to leave an out-of-office message on your e-mail and voice mail so you don’t leave people wondering why you haven’t responded.
Leave an emergency number. It’s always a good idea to leave an emergency number in case something comes up. Most times, your co-workers will value your time away from the office and will not bother you. But, if a crisis happens in your absence, it shows great consideration and dedication to your team if they can contact you if needed. If you’re concerned about being contacted often, set expectations that have been approved by your supervisor on when co-workers can call.
Preparing a plan before you go on your scheduled leave from work and completing the necessary steps outlined above will help ensure your transition back to work is a smooth one. Not to mention a smooth work environment for your co-workers who have to help you in your absence. Plus, when it’s time for your co-workers to take time off from work, they may follow your example and remember how you prepared.