Christine Downes vacationed in Chicago, where she had a great time shopping on the Magnificent Mile, visiting museums and watching the Chicago Cubs play at Wrigley Field. To ensure her first day back at work wouldn't suffer from her time off, Downes, an administrative assistant at Deloitte Consulting's Cleveland office, scheduled an extra day off.
"I need to readjust my sleeping habits to get back into the swing of things when I return from a vacation," she says. "I find it much easier to return to the office this way, and I am less likely to feel down or depressed."
Most employees require a day and a half to get back to normal efficiency levels after a vacation, according to OfficeTeam, a global temporary placement firm specializing in administrative and office support. When multiplied by a legion of workers, this transition time can affect a company's overall productivity.
These strategies can help you avoid the lag time.
Before You Take Off
Don't just make a list of loose ends for a backup teammate. Create a list of priorities for you to follow on your first day back, suggests Teresa Cryer, an administrative assistant in the small-business center of RBC Centura Bank, headquartered in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
Cryer also prepares ahead of time so she doesn't have to return to an insurmountable mountain of work. While Cryer does merely set up "out of the office" email and voice-mail messages that state the date of her return and who should be contacted in her absence, she also programs email reminders to send automatically to coworkers while she's gone, and she emails requests for information she'll need once she's back.
A Smooth Landing
On her first day back from vacation, Cryer gets to the office before her coworkers do so she can catch up and compare the priority list she wrote before she left with anything that might have come up from her mail, email and voice mail.
"I note what I must still track down, and I update my projects," Cryer says. "I also note any new issues that have been received and set those for follow-up."
Although she doesn't slack off, Cryer keeps others' expectations low for her first two days back. "I believe in underpromising and overdelivering so I don't have to disappoint my team," she says.
The Nonaccidental Tourist
Vacations can be fertile ground for creative solutions, says Joey Reiman, CEO of Atlanta-based public relations consulting firm BrightHouse and author of Thinking for a Living: Creating Ideas That Revitalize Your Business & Career.
Reiman perceives granting vacation time as a direct investment in his employees' brainpower and believes that daydreaming on the beach may actually bolster the bottom line. Reiman offers the following advice for channeling vacation energy into positive results:
- Do something really fun when you get back.
- Don't just take a vacation; take off a day to contemplate your career. BrightHouse employees get an extra holiday on March 4 to "march forth" on their dreams.
- If you aren't excited about going back to work, take another week off and find a better job.
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