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        Annual leave: How to organise yourself

        Annual leave: How to organise yourself

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          Employees will be looking forward to taking a well-earned break as the holiday season approaches, but preparing for annual leave is something no-one relishes.

          Summer is traditionally the most popular time for workers to take a long holiday: more than half of UK employees took a break of one week or more during the summer of 2023.

          While a weekend break might suffice at other times, a longer holiday is the only solution to fully recharge and switch off from work, but it’s important to be organised at the office to avoid issues for colleagues and clients in your absence – and you won’t want to come back to chaos, will you?

          If you’ve not tied up loose ends before jetting off, a lack of organisation at work could spoil your break, because you may worry about what awaits you on your return.

          Worker deadline

          Time management

          In the run-up to your holiday, time management at work is the key to a smooth departure. An important skill all year round, it becomes particularly relevant in the weeks leading up to annual leave.

          Managing time efficiently can improve your workplace wellbeing and reduce stress. It will actually be a weight off your shoulders if you know you’ve managed to resolve any issues.

          A study by YouGov of 1,250 workers in the UK revealed 24% of respondents had received a phone call from their employer while on holiday.

          Only 50% of employees said their boss respected the fact they had a life outside the office, while 36% felt apprehensive and worried the night before returning to work, because they didn’t know what to expect.

          Make sure your work is up to date before you leave, as this can help to calm these fears.

          Completing small jobs that you’re familiar with will be much easier and less time-consuming than trying to brief colleagues about them.

          If you need to organise any meetings, never book one for the last day before your break, or the first day of your return. The last day should be spent finalising loose ends. Then, when you return, you’ll need to check emails and catch up with paperwork, so having a meeting right away can be counterproductive.


          Prioritise tasks by making a to-do list containing everything that must be completed before your break.

          Go through the list and check which jobs have the most urgent deadlines or are projects that require your personal input. Determine if any tasks can be postponed until your return.

          Then, reorder your list with the most important jobs at the top and check them off as soon as you have completed them.

          Always meet deadlines before you leave, because if you don’t, this will cause problems for colleagues while you’re away and may lead to an unhappy return to work. 

          Why is communication important at work?

          Good communication is important to ensure a smooth handover.

          If you do need to host any important meetings, do so at least a week before you go away, letting colleagues and clients know the dates you’ll be absent.

          Set aside enough time to brief colleagues on what they may need to know about your tasks. Everything will be fine while you’re away as long as you’ve explained everything to the relevant people. Interaction between co-workers means collaborating on projects and writing down anything you need to pass on to them.

          Many offices use a wall planner so everyone can see at a glance when workmates will be on holiday. A whiteboard in your office can also help to communicate the required information in a way that can be updated quickly.

          Updating working documents

          Devising a plan on how to be organised at work means updating all documents constantly, including the collaborative ones online.

          Make sure records of meetings, activity reports, databases and spreadsheets are all up to date, before you leave. Appoint a colleague who can keep them updated while you’re on holiday.

          Briefly train this person in the specific details of the projects so they can answer other colleagues’ queries if required. If you use online collaboration tools, share access to the relevant files with the person deputising for you.

          Smooth handover

          A smooth handover to ensure your team doesn’t experience problems in your absence is essential.

          Arrange a handover meeting in good time with everyone providing cover for your projects, other work and daily tasks that must be continued while you’re away. An informal group discussion, should be followed up with written instructions for each individual action.

          Share your contacts’ details with colleagues so they can find any information easily if required.

          Anticipate your return

          When you’ve left a responsible person to update your documents and manage your work while you’re away, returning to the office shouldn’t be a traumatic experience. It can be tough psychologically returning to work after a two-week break, but knowing you’ve left everything in order will soften the blow.

          Leave your first day free to catch up on what you’ve missed such as reports, emails, minutes of meetings and any new projects. This will ensure the workflow isn’t interrupted.

          Arrange a meeting for day two of your return to discuss in more detail what’s been happening during your absence. Collect colleague feedback on how they have managed and if anything has caused an issue. Make a note of this so you can approach it differently next time you go away.

          Embrace workspace techniques

          Embrace any organisation techniques in your workplace that can help. This will reduce stress on yourself and other employees, while making sure everything runs smoothly, both in your absence and on your return.

          Being based in a bespoke workplace, such as BE Offices’ serviced offices in London, offers flexibility and an environment that encourages collaboration. This makes it easier to coordinate with colleagues to plan cover while you’re on holiday and to delegate work before you take annual leave.


          © Studio Romantic / & © Ridkous Mykhail /

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