How to have a stress-free holiday this summer: prepare a great handover!

The summer is well and truly upon us and no doubt many of us will be planning to get away for a week or maybe more. Unfortunately, one of the pitfalls of adult life is that it’s all too easy to worry about what’s going wrong back at work whilst you’re not there…And it’s even worse when your colleagues feel the need to call or email you in order to get solutions to problems, ask your advice or simply tell you what they’re up to.

Going on holiday without completing a handover and thus leaving your colleagues in the lurch isn’t just a jerk move – it may even endanger your career if your superiors find out that you’ve left your work in a chaotic state and it certainly won’t do your progression chances any good. So here’s our handy guide to preparing work for your absence…

Tell people you’re going and for how long

Make sure that you remind your superiors and inform any colleagues who might be affected by your absence. It’s best to do it by email so everyone has a record to refer back to of exactly when you’re going to be out of the workplace. If you can, also inform people who will be covering any ongoing work.

Get yourself organized

Make a list of everything you have on and the deadlines you’re working to. Do this at least a week before you go to make sure you have time to think about every project. Remember that if you don’t remember what you have on, you can’t expect your colleagues to know!

Put in some extra time

Whilst you shouldn’t have to work through the night before your holiday, putting in a little more time before you go away will pay off – every loose end you tie up now will be one less thing to worry about when you’re away and one less potential problem to come back to. Plus, it will look good for you if your boss sees you putting in a little extra effort before you go.

Don’t overload your colleagues

Remember that any work you’re handing over will be on the list of a colleague who already has a full-time job to do. The more jobs you give someone, the less likely they are to know which ones are important and the more likely they are to fall between the cracks. Prioritise your workload and try to make sure you only hand over jobs that absolutely must be done before you get back. Make sure that your colleagues know the importance/urgency of each job you give them.

Give people time to ask questions

In a good handover, you should email around a written handover document to whoever will be involved with managing your jobs, in the week leading up to your holiday. Don’t just send it round the day before, or even worse, the day you leave. Give your colleagues time to read your notes and come back with questions if they need to.

Leave an appropriate ‘out of office’

As you set your out of office autoreply, just before heading to the airport, make sure that it is professional and clear with no spelling mistakes.

Come back stress-free

Congratulations! If you’ve done a great handover, you should have had a relaxing holiday in which you felt able to forget all about work bar any unforeseen emergencies. When you come back, remember that a few local treats for the office to show your appreciation to your colleagues always goes down well and will make them a lot more willing to help you out next time!

Sophie MacIntyre

Thursday, 23 July 2015 at 5:07pm

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