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It is December, and some of the frequent questions being asked around are; When are you going on leave? When is your company closing for the year? Are we going to close for Christmas?

The year 2021 moved pretty fast, in the aftermath of the disruption caused by Covid-19 in 2020. Since people have been working at an indescribable pace with various levels of stress, arrays of unpleasant tidings, and other unforeseen incidents, the importance of unplugging cannot be over-emphasized.

Imagine this: you are on a boat at Tarkwa Bay or Labadi Pleasure Beach in Ghana, and while you are about to bask in the serenity of the sea-waves, your phone beeps with a Slack notification or an email pop-up from a client who didn’t know you were on leave, or a manager (or another colleague) who accidentally reaches out. You might close your phone and decide to respond later, but at that point, your right to unplug is lost because although you took a leave from work, work didn’t leave you. How do you manage to stay unplugged or help your employees stay unplugged during the holidays? The following might be of help.

Have a plan

Going on leave unplanned, especially in the middle of a major project, or just going for leave abruptly because you “are now due” for leave is an ill-advised decision to take, as it might lead to disconcerting repercussions.

Whether it is a holiday or leave, it is very important to plan ahead. From writing detailed hand-over notes, to preparing whoever would be relieving you while you are away and giving necessary updates to the team, putting a plan in place enables you enjoy your leave.

Explore asynchronous communication

As managers, sometimes, it might be inevitable that you need information or insight from an employee who is on leave or on holiday. When reaching out, always put disclaimers that indicate the fact that the employee isn’t obligated to reply immediately.

Prefixing openings like:

“This isn’t very urgent, but when you are free…”
“Feel free to respond to this message at your leisure…”
“I know you are on leave, so respond at your most convenient time…”

These send a resonating message to the employee and calm whatever nerves might have been rattled because of the unexpected messages. This might sound minor, but it has a major impact on the reaction and response of the employee.

Respect vacation time

This point is as important as the first one; it is very important to respect your colleagues’ vacation time. A time off isn’t just another perk, it actually does help avoid productivity slump. According to a

2018 survey from LinkedIn, employees who don’t take vacation end up feeling overwhelmed, disorganized and less creative at work, hence vacation isn’t just another box to be ticked; it is a tool to enhance productivity at the workplace.

Update your calendars

This might sound minute, but updating your calendar (or Slack) to indicate that you are out of office and setting your email to an automatic response is part of the things that give you a breather. This is assuming that you followed the first point above and created a plan with proper handing-over for your leave. Whoever is trying to reach you would be rational enough to follow the information in your mail and hopefully not be persistent enough to disrupt your schedule. Either way, still update your calendar. This information is also helpful for those who are on a work-related trip. It is always helpful to update your calendar to the current time zone you are in, as this gives people insights into what you are doing everyday.

Schedule in place of send

A recent lesson I have learnt is to schedule mails, calls, Slack messages and other things that might come across as triggering. Sometimes, scheduling messages instead of sending them at a wrong time also depicts that you respect your colleague’s space. Holidays and Leave are times to unplug, and every stakeholder should take necessary steps to make this moment beneficial for everyone.

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