How to go on holiday without your colleagues hating you

By Sarah

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – holidays are SO important. Not only am I more productive after a break, but I’ve just got a lot more bandwidth when it comes to solving problems. I feel like I could tackle anything. Whereas, when I need a holiday badly, dropping my pen lid into my tea can sometimes feel like a bit too much to cope with.

This morning, Carla was talking about the leave she’s going to be taking later in the year and she said, “It’s just going to be summer in my soul.”

I know the feeling.


The thing is, I remember booking leave at previous jobs and seeing the panic in the eyes of my bosses. Especially when it’s a small company, when one person isn’t there, it can be tricky for everyone else to keep rowing the boat and not drop any balls, or mix metaphors.

So, if taking leave is so important but it’s scary for everyone left behind (shem), how do you make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible?

You do these five things:

1) Book it early. (This is a rule I have not honoured lately, so I’m well aware of the irony of my number one rule as I type this.)

The more time you have to plan ahead, the easier things will be for everyone involved.

2) Take care of as much as you can ahead of time so that your handover list is as short as possible. People are usually happy to help out, but they should only have to chip in when it comes to things you couldn’t have done in advance. Fair’s fair.

3) Write a detailed handover document with a column indicating who is responsible for each task. We usually do this on Google Drive so everyone can see what’s potting at a glance. Make sure you go through this in detail with each person who is assigned a task. You really don’t want to be receiving panicked messages asking for explanations while you’re three cocktails into I’ve-never-been-this-relaxed.

4) While you’re away, ask your colleagues to create their own Google spreadsheet for you, listing everything that comes in, and how/if it’s resolved. It’s great to be able to read through this before you tackle your dreaded inbox on your return, because, as you go through all your emails, you’ll know what’s been sorted and what you still need to attend to, keeping extreme anxiety at a healthy distance, rather than on your lap.

If you’re lucky, you’ll find this spreadsheet sprinkled with gems about office life too.

5) When the time comes, set your out of office saying how long you’ll be away and who people should contact instead, and then ask a colleague to test it by sending you a mail. Not having a working auto-response to incoming mails is an actual nightmare. It’s happened to us before and it’s not the sort of adventure I’d like to repeat.

Do these things and I can guarantee that your colleagues will be much more likely to oooh and aaah over your holiday pictures with something approaching genuine delight, and accept the token island friendship bracelets they’ll never wear with grace.