Know what to do and not when you're on vacation.

Dos and Don’ts of Taking Time Off When You Work for a Small Team

Posted September 10, 2015 by Caroline Whitney in Benefits and Perks
Vacation is important for your health, but also your business. We've laid out the dos and don'ts of taking time off when you work for a small team.

Our work lives are busy, busy, busy.  With long hours and packed schedules, it’s easy to get burnt out. Taking time off from work is crucial to preventing burn out and helping us recharge.

This is somewhat obvious, right?  Well, it’s proven.  Studies show that vacation and time off has positive effects on your health. And if you have been missing out on your vacations, you are twice as likely  to have problems balancing your work and personal life.  Don’t we all come back from vacations rejuvenated and ready to work?  

All of this reinforces the idea that we really should be taking a break from our work and using our vacation time effectively.  This can be difficult; especially on a small or one-man team where taking paid time off could interrupt business.  

But since this time off to recharge and avoid burnout is so important, we must figure out a way!  And it’s possible. Here are the dos and don’ts of taking vacation from your small business.

Vacationing on a Small Team

Don’t...

  1. ...forget to set up your out-of-office messages.  Your automatic replies for email and voicemail will let those outside the company know that you are away - and you won’t be responding until you return.

  2. ...wing it.  Consider a test run at your office in anticipation of your vacation: let others run the show while you’re still in the office to ensure that your duties can and will be covered.

  3. ...plan big meetings or events for the first few days that you’ll be back from vacation.  You need time to ease back into work and get up to speed on what you missed.

  4. ...allow employees or coworkers to contact you while on vacation (absent an emergency- make sure they have emergency numbers and know emergency protocol in case of one!).  And don’t forget to define what an emergency really is.  “We ran out of printer toner!” Um, no.

  5. ....stay too close to home.  The closer you are, the more you’ll be tempted to check in unnecessarily.  Consider taking that vacation two or more hours from home.

  6. ...check your email.  Or work phone.  Perhaps you should even.. GASP... turn it off.

  7. ... forget to bring a notebook for writing down ideas.  When you’re relaxed, you just might come up with your next big idea.  Come prepared, but avoid actually doing work and don’t bring your laptop.  You need to relax!

  8. ...make your vacation schedule jam-packed.  Sure, do a little sight-seeing, but leave yourself some downtime in which to really relax and recharge.

  9. ...guilt trip yourself.  Remember: you need this time off to recharge and come back ready to work.  Science says so!

  10. ...keep it to yourself.  When you get back, share your memories with your coworkers! They will share their own experiences, and it will build morale.

Do...

  1. ...plan for time off.  Make it a priority, or it won’t happen.

  2. ...determine what time of year would be best for your vacation.  This is super important if you work for a small team, so really think about it.  For instance, it might stress you out more (and be harder on the company) to leave in September than in August.

  3. ...identify what can wait until you’re back from vacation.  Finish up your most important business before your trip.

  4. ...pass on projects that need to keep going while you are out.  If that new deal your company acquired needs team members to be vigorously working, but you plan on leaving for a week, have some foresight and let others handle that one.  You won’t hold the company back, and also, you don’t have to worry about the work you’re not doing while you are out.

  5. ...delegate!  Whether you assign some of your duties to appropriate members of your staff or hire a freelancer, it’s okay to give up the reins while are away.  

  6. ... work a little harder in the few days before your vacation starts.  You’ll feel good about what you accomplished and will worry less about the work you may be missing.

  7. ...tell clients who is covering for you while you are away.  You don’t want them attempting to contact you, and Mary can handle it.  She’s a pro!

  8. ...draw up your disaster plan protocol.  It will give your coworkers directions in case the worst happens, and dispel a little bit of your worry.

  9. ...set aside time each vacation day during which to work, if absolutely necessary. Okay, okay. We know we said not to work and to lay off the email, but tons of people still do it.  So if you really must do a little work on your vacation, plan beforehand when you will do it, and let your family or travel companions know.  If your fellow vacationers know that you’ll be writing a few emails from 8:30- 9:00 every morning before the beach, it won’t put a damper on things - and you’ll also give yourself a time limit!

  10.  ...embrace your time off! You need it, and you deserve it.

Alright, so where to next? I’m ready to plan my next vacation.  It’s good for business!

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.