How to help your team return from holiday and hit the ground running

It is estimated 60% of UK employees will take five or more days of their holiday entitlement in August.  However, a third say they plan to work or be available during their time off.

Every employee needs time off. Studies show overwork leads to health problems like insomnia and depression. In turn, these issues impact workers’ ability to focus, innovate, and perform.

So how do you prevent employee burnout and ensure your team gets the time off they need, whilst minimising the impact on your business?

The secret is in the planning. Preparing your team for a relaxing, disconnected holiday will help them return to work with a fresh mindset. Instead of feeling the pressure to “check in” for work when they should be “checked out” on holiday, here are some ways your team can remain unplugged and un-bugged while on holiday.

1. Appoint a go-to

As soon as a team member requests a holiday, appoint another team member to act as their backup while they’re away. Announce the plan to the team and clients ahead of time so they’re kept in the loop.

Appointing a go-to keeps work on track while project owners are away. It also provides a smooth transition for holidaying team members and gives them the confidence to enjoy their time off.

2. Communicate constantly

Announcing an upcoming holiday to the team well in advance is always a good idea, but be prepared for it go in one ear and out the other. Consistently remind your team they’ll be down a head, especially when discussing upcoming deadlines and workload. This will help with planning and distributing upcoming projects and tasks.

3. Ensure visibility into your team’s work

Unwelcome pings start where team visibility ends. Out of office team members will be interrupted if others can’t find what they need and know their holidaying colleague holds the key.

Adopt a reliable work management solution to serve as a single source of truth for all project-related information. Integrations with other tools your team uses, like Gmail and Slack, help to further centralise key information. Features like easily navigable folder structures and robust search functionality ensure nothing slips through the cracks.

Having a single source of truth for the entire team also makes it easy for holidaying team members to ensure project details are up to date and accurate before they set their away message. Those left behind will have everything they need upfront—no last-minute pings required.

4. Tie up loose ends

Although you’ve appointed other people to cover in their absence, have holidaying team members complete as much work as possible before they depart. Any unanswered emails, pending approvals, or open action items in their queue should be closed out or marked with a clear status.

5. Plan for their return

Don’t make returning to work harder than it needs to be. Give post holiday workers plenty of time to catch up, and try not to schedule any tight deadlines immediately following their return. Instruct go tos to handle any urgent requests that come up during holidayers’ first day or two back in the office.

6. Lead by example

Practice what you preach: If you pack your laptop on holiday, expect your team to do the same. According to a recent survey, 45% of millennials agree to working on holiday if their boss does.

If you’re worried about the avalanche of emails in your inbox while you’re away, follow in the footsteps of a client mine who sets an away message to tell recipients exactly what will happen to their message while he’s on holiday:

“I will not be reading this email. When I return, I’m archiving everything and starting with an empty inbox.

If this is urgent and needs to be dealt with by someone before X [date], please send it to my assistant YYYY ( She’ll make sure it gets to the right person.

If you want me to see it, please send it again after X [date).”


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