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5 Tips for Vacationing Without Neglecting Work

Thursday, August 18, 2016 - 10:15
Vacation Work

How to Unplug on Vacation without Hurting Your Performance

Summer is here, and for some of us that means vacation time! Winding down and taking a break from work is a great way to revitalize physical and mental health, and  research shows that taking vacation time can encourage employees to be more productive. Despite these benefits,  more than half of Americans (55%) chose not to take their paid time off in 2015 – adding up to a grand total of 658 million unused vacation days, according to a recent Project Time Off report.

For those individuals who have trouble stepping away from the laptop, we have good news for you - enjoying time off and maintaining productivity do not have to be mutually exclusive. By creating a clear communication plan and taking advantage of the benefits of UC tools, employees can disconnect from work without hurting their performance.

Here are five suggestions to help you unplug during your next vacation:

1. Set Up a pre- and post- Vacation Meeting

Before heading out, schedule a time to talk with your supervisor and/or support staff about the state of any projects you’re involved in. Communicate what to-do’s need to be completed while you’re out, and if possible, who else they can go to with questions. For any projects or tasks you can’t delegate, make sure to let all stakeholders know you’ll be taking time off but haven’t forgotten about the work. This keeps expectations in-line and reduces miscommunication.

Similarly, before you leave, schedule a post-vacation meeting for the morning when you’re back in the office. This allows you to quickly get up to speed on what you missed, the state of projects and any immediate action items you might have.

2. Set Up a Check-in Schedule

Let your colleagues know if and how they can reach you while you’re away. Since it’s not always possible to fully disconnect from work, set up a designated time that works best for colleagues to check in with you while you’re on vacation. This check-in could be once a day or once a week, depending on your situation. Having a set check-in time not only mitigates the chance that colleagues will disrupt your downtime with constant calls or texts, it can reduce communication anxiety between everyone.

If you feel like miscommunications are still happening, suggest a quick video meeting as a way to have a “face-to-face” check-in. This can provide quick reassurance that everything is on track, and ultimately, prevent the 24/7 checking of emails. If you feel colleagues are reaching out to you too much, make a specific list of items that constitute a genuine emergency.

3. Postpone Meetings You Typically Lead

If having a colleague lead a specific meeting leaves you feeling uneasy, postpone it. Be sure to reach out to all members involved in the meeting prior to departure and ask to reschedule. This will not only save you the time you needed to brief the employee who would take your place, but also lower your stress level while you’re out.  

4. Designate a Meeting Note Taker

For important meetings you can’t postpone, ask another attendee to take and share their meeting agenda and notes with you. Ask them to specifically flag any to-do’s assigned to you. And if the important meeting is a conference call, ask that the call leader create a recording that can be made available afterwards. Taking these simple actions will make it easier to catch up and prioritize when you’re back in the office.

5.Prioritize Voicemails with UC

With Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), you can manage and redirect the routing of your incoming calls while you’re out. This allows you to visually manage voicemail and gives you access to your call logs. Before heading out for vacation, you can configure several call-handling settings pertaining to your individual extension. For instance, incoming calls can be redirected based on time, day, or the number – without assistance from support staff. The ‘Find Me’ or ‘Urgent Call’ feature of West UC’s Phone Control tool, for instance, allows important calls to get right through.

West UC users also have the ability to enable email notifications for new voicemail messages. This way, users are able to better prioritize incoming calls with just at a quick glance at their email.

In today’s state of constant connectivity, truly unplugging can feel impossible. But by following these communication best practices, you can enjoy vacation while still ensuring all necessary tasks are completed in your absence.

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