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Tips When Preparing for Time Off

Posted on August 11, 2010 by Arianna

Taking time off of work requires more than just filling out a vacation request form. This is especially true when you have a team that depends on you to organize their daily tasks. When I found out I was pregnant, I thought “nine months is an eternity!” but I soon realized that time goes by faster than you think. As a result, I have spent the last three months preparing for my maternity leave. Whether you’re going on maternity leave or taking a week long vacation, it is important that you provide your office with the tools necessary to function while you’re away. Here are a few tips that that will help you make preparations, in advance, to be ready for your day of departure.

First you have to prepare instructions. Think of this step as a manual guide for your team to know what it is you do and how it is you do it. Start by creating a list of all your tasks and provide instruction on how to complete each task. Be as detailed as possible! Give a step by step process that is both thorough and easy to follow. I recommend that you take your process to a co-worker outside of your department who is not familiar with your job, and see if they could follow your processes and complete the task themselves. This way you know if you gave them enough information to complete the task. If they are not clear on how to complete the task then revise the instructions until they are. Lastly, make a folder of instructions on the company intranet for employees to refrence.

Next, make sure that you sit with each team member to discuss any outstanding or open issues that need to be completed before your departure. Often times people leave outstanding issues which can create havoc when you’re not available to discuss the issue, or to give insight on what is going on with a specific project. Remember to allow yourself time for team members to tell you what tasks they need you to complete before you leave. If at all possible, provide your team with a contact number where they can reach you, or call in from time to time to make sure that everything is running smoothly.

In the weeks prior to your departure do a “test run” to ensure that there are no outstanding questions from anyone covering your duties while you’re away. During this time, act as if you are not in the office and shadow your replacement as they complete your tasks. Any mistakes or hiccups will reveal if more detailed training is needed.

Creating a manual for your team will not only show your boss and team members that you care about the success of the company, but ultimately that you care about them. Any anxieties your boss may have prior to your departure will fade as you provide everyone with the tools necessary to function while you’re away.  If you begin preparing for your time off early these tips should be stress free and easy to accomplish.


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