Want a Peaceful Holiday? Do These 5 Things in Office Before Going on Vacation

27th Jan 2020

Me on my anniversary

Photo of Want a Peaceful Holiday? Do These 5 Things in Office Before Going on Vacation by Shruthi Sundaram

Please don't repeat the mistakes I made

Like many others, I had taken leave for my first anniversary.

After spending the first half of the day on a beautiful sunrise road trip to Nandi hills, I spent the second half (12 noon to 11 pm) glued in front of my laptop. Because I was called in for a defect escalation, I couldn't move away from the screen even when my husband was sick because of the early morning freeze.

What started as a fantastic day meant to be remembered became a day remembered for something else.

After that day, I gradually realized the series of mistakes that led to that situation. Yeah…it wasn't one. I had never been a part of such a hectic project before, so never had I realized the implications of my decisions. But after that day, those mistakes got drilled in my brain, and I made sure never to repeat the same ones ever again.

They say you learn from your falls, and man, I did. So, if you don't want to fall in a similar soup like me, I would advise you to do the below five things to have a peaceful holiday.

Our morning trip to Nandi hills

Photo of Nandi Hills, Karnataka, India by Shruthi Sundaram

1. Put out an "Out-of-office" mail

I know it sounds basic, but I was stupid enough not to do that-big mistake. And I'm assuming that if I did it, there might be a small segment of the population who would do the same thing. And this article is for them.

Make sure to CC everyone, and I mean EVERYONE you work with closely or who you think needs you in the mail, letting them know you'll NOT be available. I had missed cc'ing the onshore folks so that came back to me.

You can mention any 3 of these situations:

#1. You can make it extremely clear that you'll not have a proper internet connection or service(even if you will). This is in case you want no disturbance at all.

#2. If you're okay with taking phone calls in case of emergencies, mention it in the email that people can reach out to you through the phone.

#3. If you're going to log in and log off at particular times, let people know that too.

The point? Set the expectations clear.

2. Send out a "Vacation on XXX" email two weeks before the date

This is, of course, if you're not going on an emergency. But if you know you're going to take leave and have already booked the tickets, two weeks is an appropriate time to inform them.

To be fair, the longer the vacation, the earlier you have to inform.

Because the deliverables will get affected accordingly, and the management needs to take care of your workload. You have to give them time to delegate your work, depending on the number of days, of course. So please provide them with that space. That is our responsibility.

I told my technical lead about my leave a day prior, even though I knew I would be on vacation that day for a week. The sole reason? Procrastination. Which later came to bite me in the ass. Please don't repeat the mistake I made. Now I applied next month's one week vacation 2 days back itself:)

3. Keep everyone you work with informed

Again, this was stupid, but I kept only my technical lead informed of the leave. When I knew that, I was also interacting with a couple of onsite counterparts closely.

So because I never sent out an out-of-office mail nor kept them in the loop, the whole thing blew up together. And I had to accept the work because I knew the mistake was on my end.

Thus make sure to keep everyone you work with informed. That's crucial.

4. Make sure to delegate the tasks before you go

I don't know how it usually goes in other offices, but in my workspace, we divide the development tasks and do them individually before they're combined later. So it's not exactly a team effort, but it is if you know what I mean.

So, it's common for the other person not to know the intricate details of your work. They will, of course, have an overview, but you should schedule a meeting with whomever you want to delegate the tasks to let them know what's exactly going on to the T. If you're working on multiple projects, then various people will be involved.

Again, this depends on the number of days you're going on vacation. If it's just a day or two, I don't think it matters a lot, but you never know. Again, the point is to set up a situation so that you won't be disturbed.

If you're the only person working on the project, bring your tech lead in the loop.

5. Remember, you can always say No

After that incident, I realized that some things are much more important than work.

Now my first anniversary will always leave a bitter taste in my mouth, how much ever I try to compensate with the other ones. The first year with your partner is one of the most memorable ones, and now I'll always be riddled with the guilt of working and not being able to take care of him that day. And that never goes away, whatever you do.

If you have done all the tasks above, then you have every right to say, "I'm sorry, I'm on vacation, can you please contact xxx for the same." So you would have earned that right to tell that since you had no mistake on your part.

I couldn't say No, since I knew I had made the mistake of not informing them. And it wasn't their fault that they approached me when the defect came up. So make sure to keep your slate clean so that you can say no confidently.


Photo of Want a Peaceful Holiday? Do These 5 Things in Office Before Going on Vacation by Shruthi Sundaram

Vacations fill our lives with wonderful, fond memories and denote the dedicated time you spend with your family. You do not want them to be riddled with work calls and interruptions, trust me.

At the same time, it becomes our duty to take care of the work assigned to us since we have taken responsibility. And it becomes our duty to make sure that it gets done and set the expectations around our co-workers right.

Plus, we're living in a world where all of us are trying to save ourselves from dirt thrown at us. So at least to avoid pointing fingers, and to maintain your peace of mind during vacation, make sure to plan things properly much before you take leave.