Holidays come fast that first year
Time moves swiftly during the first year in your new job, your new city. You feel acclimated in your new neighborhood and comfortable in your role at work.
And then you realize that the Holidays are closing in. You hadn’t even thought about the Holidays until your Mom mentions them on the phone—for me it’s Christmas and my family assumes I’m coming home. I’ve been in Seattle for over six months, so I’ve accrued vacation time, but I’m not sure how the boss handles vacation time or how he views taking time off. Work colleagues pretty much all took time off in the summer, and he seemed mildly annoyed when they weren’t around to handle tasks and even more annoyed if he called them and they weren’t able to provide a quick answer to a question about status or relevant update.
So what is the right way forward?
I did want to travel to my hometown for Christmas, so I headed to the Office Manager to get a feel for how to manage vacation.
She was a bit surprised. I hadn’t put in a vacation request, yet Christmas was six weeks away!?!
I had accrued time, but I failed to recognize that much of the staff would want days off around Christmas, and the boss doesn’t want an empty office.
My friendly Office Manager said. “Put in your days, speak to (request!) the boss, adjust your days accordingly.” Good recommendation. I did as she suggested. Of course it was fine, even expected—the boss wants you to be happy, see your family, and come back ready to work. So don’t worry so much. Like everything else in your career, try to get out in front of any potential issue.
That’s how it works on paper, but there’s a lot more to it, of course.
Holidays may actually bring out the best in people.
You have your days off now prepare
Plan ahead, plan thoroughly. There’s a lot more to do when you get into it.
First, remember that relative to most of the office, you’re new to work. Regardless of where you “rank” in terms of position, the others have been around longer—they expect time off too. So to the extent it’s reasonable or possible, speak to your immediate colleagues and see if you can schedule your time so as not to make it more difficult for them to take time off around the Holidays — it likely won’t matter, but your colleagues will appreciate the courtesy, which will be a huge help when you’re out of the office and some of them are not.
Second, Get your plane tickets. Wait too long and the Holiday travel will be twice as expensive. I cut it a bit closer than I should and my round trip to New Jersey tickets cost $400 more than they should have — after that I learned to schedule the Holiday flight in late September.
Third, remember to give your main clients or customers, and the ancillary groups or vendors that rely on you, a few weeks heads-up so they can prepare as well — people expect to have certain things done by years end in business, and you’re not going to be there for a chunk of that year end. You can be available by phone, but you’re not going to be available full time (and shouldn’t be. It’s your vacation).
Important: Prepare your Clients and Customers
So do what you can to help your clients prepare for your holiday in advance. Make sure they can reach you and be prepared to check your email, remotely, while you’re away to stay on top of the status of your clients and the team. If you don’t have a remote email system, lucky you! JK!
Give your clients a personal email in case of an urgent matter, PROVIDED, however, there’s no regulatory or office policy against using a remote email. This is when career minded young pros ask the Office Manager and the boss to confirm, if necessary.
It’s not all in the Office Cloud….so
Make sure to bring a list (paper or digital) of your contacts in case you need to reach them. Review everything you’re working on before you leave. Write a brief summary of the status of each client or other matters INCLUDING the next expected steps. This way, when the office calls, they’ll get the information they seek, you’ll be on top of things and even though you’re not working at the time you’re remote information will truly be appreciated — you’ll look good, too. Professional. Copy your summary list and send/hand them to your work colleagues (maybe not the boss—you don’t just hand the boss a task list).
Before you close down your Desktop / Laptop for the Holidays
During your last hour in the office before vacation, set an Out-of-the-Office notification for your mail, including how people can get in touch with you when you’re away. If somehow you forget this, and remember in a pre-flight panic with spotty internet connectivity – call a trusted work colleague and ask them to change it for you. But don’t forget. Not only is it a bit rude l to ask, having a colleague write an Out-of-Office response for you is too easy a target for some serious (and hilarious) pranking of you. You can imagine. Remote email is actually a blessing for this. A quick daily review allows you to stay current on your inbox so that you’re not swamped on your return after vacation. Less stress for you. Seriously.
Don’t forget to temporarily change your voicemail greeting as well.
Shop for presents early and send them ahead, if possible. (Amazon and Wirecutter actually solve most of this now). Plan ahead and cut down on the stress. Tell your buddies when you’ll be home—they’ll be busy too, so carve out some time in advance. Same with your family. They’re expecting you and want to see you, but they’ll be busy during the Holidays as well. Pack your clothes a bit in advance as well—plan for a smooth trip. Suspend your mail, if necessary. Tip your Apartment Manager and or Receptionist in advance. Plan, in advance, for how you’re getting to the airport. Uber can be in major delay mode when you want to travel. Keep this in mind.
Everything is taken care of. You are on the plane.
You’ve thought of everything, I proudly told myself. . . oh s#*Q! The cat! I have a cat! Do I just leave her with a bunch of food and close the door? Trixie is tough, she can handle it! But she’s also seriously ornery! The noise she would make would drive my apartment floor neighbors insane, not to mention the shame I would receive for leaving her by herself. If you have a pet, you have options.
Do you have a neighbor who might help (if so, get them a gift). Most places have pet sitting services that will visit, feed and walk the pet—just do some research and find one that’s reputable. If not available, there are multiple kennels where you can board your pet, but they’re usually more expensive and probably more traumatizing for your pet. That’s what I had to do because I hadn’t planned ahead enough. Trixie was furious.
But I was on a plane for an awesome trip “home”. I had the best time with my family, my friends, my old neighborhood haunts. Hopped into New York City a few times. Christmas was amazing—my best ever up to that time. Wow, I loved my old “home”. But even more, I couldn’t wait to return to my new home and life, in Seattle.
Have a great Holiday Season CareerNet Nation! – Mark