5 Things to Do Before Leaving the Office for Vacation

The key to a relaxing summer vacation is taking the time to leave your work life in order. The ultimate goal is to have systems in place so business continues smoothly in your absence, your vacation won't be interrupted unnecessarily, and you can return from your trip and back to the office without skipping a beat. Follow these 5 business etiquette tips to assist your colleagues and clients while you are away.

  1. Let people know when you will be gone. Remind your regular contacts of your vacation schedule a few weeks ahead of time so they can plan projects accordingly. Prior to leaving, create an auto-reply for your email that gives the dates you will be out of the office and also lets others know if (or how often) you will be checking emails. Include the name, phone number and email of an alternate point of contact for those who require immediate assistance. Update your voicemail to reflect your time off and create an outlook reminder to change your greeting upon your return.

  • Identify a "vacation backup buddy." Determine which colleague (or colleagues) are best able to cover for you while you are out. Make sure they are comfortable with various situations that might come up. In the days before you go, hold a pre-vacation briefing to update your boss, or coworkers, on the status of important projects they will be handling on your behalf. Use the meeting as an opportunity to thank them in advance, and bring them a small token of gratitude upon your return. Everyone appreciates an acknowledgement of their efforts.
  • Update your work manual. Step-by-step instruction serves an important purpose when someone not familiar with your job must temporarily handle your tasks. It's helpful to have concise directions easily accessible for each duty you perform. Keeping the manual ready will ensure you are ahead of the curve when it comes time to put it into use.
  • Leave a list of important passwords. It's crucial for someone to know how to get into your computer to manage ongoing to-do's. If they are unable to open an email, or review a status update saved on your desktop, it becomes an issue for your client and the company, as well as a potential vacation disruption.
  • Clean your office before you go. Not only will your colleagues thank you, you'll also be returning to a more pleasant work space. Check desk drawers and cabinets for perishable foods and toss your leftovers from the office refrigerator. Clear off the top of your desk and discard clutter. Look at your office from the eyes of an associate, or a client passing by your cubicle or space. Save energy while you are out by unplugging your electronics, such as lamps, chargers, portable sound systems and anything else that pulls energy from an outlet. Thorough preparation before you leave is the best way to fully unwind on your much-needed break.
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