5 Easy Ways to Set Expectations While You’re on Vacation

Krista Gray
June 7, 2018

You’ve been crushing it at work and feel like you have the best job ever. Now you’re ready to cash in your hard-earned PTO to take an epic vacation. Good for you! Research shows that those who travel tend to be happier both in their professional and personal lives. Before you take off, do everyone a favor and prep your team so things will run as smoothly as they do when you’re sailing through the day at your desk. Not sure where to start? Scroll on for a few quick tips that will help you set expectations while making sure no one misses a beat.

1. Give as much notice as possible. Check in with your manager to score permission before you plan your getaway, and then give your team as much heads’ up as you can — especially if you’ll be relying on your co-workers to help you keep things humming along, or plan to ask them to stand in on your behalf. Communicating your travel plans at least six weeks in advance is ideal when possible, particularly if you’ll take PTO during a typically hectic time like the holiday season.

2. Put together a visual plan. You have regular responsibilities that are vital to your company’s success. To ensure nothing slips through the cracks, put together a simple visual plan that will help your teammates understand and remember the tasks you’ll ask for help with. We love using a smart tool like Google Spreadsheets that makes it easy for everyone to see what needs to get done; use the tool to assign tasks, portions of projects, set reminders, and note deadlines. To be ultra-organized, consider color-coding specific people or types of asks — all it takes is a quick scan to see exactly what’s on tap for the day or week. Keep your plan or dashboard simple and clutter-free so you don’t overwhelm.

3. Set your team up for success. If you’ve ever had to pick up slack or lend a hand when your work bestie or deskmate was on vacation, you know there’s nothing worse than trying to complete a task without the permissions, programs, or info you need to do it. To spare your colleagues from the same stress, make a short list of what’s needed and double check that you’ve given each person the credentials, access, phone numbers, specific instructions, and anything else required to complete a task. Prep your crew for meetings and calls they might need to take on your behalf with a short one-on-one and documented notes they can reference to make it happen.

4. Update your external contacts. Do you work with third-party solution providers, vendors, or receive deliveries on the regular? Keep your point of contact in the loop to avoid confusion and mistakes. If you’re responsible for invoices and billing, comb through recent receipts and statements so you can rest assured that the company is up to date. Last (but certainly not least), set your OOO email response. The best OOO messages include the timeframe you’ll be away for and who a person can contact while you’re gone. Here’s some sample language our team uses:

Thanks for your note! I’m out of the country until Sunday, 12/10. Here are a few people who can help you while I’m away:

Have an emergency or anything else? Please contact Joe, joe@eden.io

Our team will be happy to help you, and I’ll loop back when I return.

Thank you!

5. Create (and stick with) offline expectations. Does going off the grid give you anxiety? Don’t let your worries about being away from work make you feel sick. Instead, communicate where you’ll be and set realistic expectations about when you will (or won’t) be available or check in. Will you be in another timezone? Do you plan to read and respond to email twice a day? Will you be completely unavailable for days at a time? Keep your colleagues in the know and stick with what you say; you’ll build trust while saving everyone stress. Plus, you deserve the time to really unplug. You’ve got this!

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