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How to handle the holiday rush

From May to September and around Christmas, running a small business is like spinning plates as staff disappear on their holidays. But with a bit of planning, you can ride out the holiday rush without any drops in productivity.

Workers need their holidays – especially at bustling small businesses – otherwise they face the possibility of burn out.

But balancing their need for time off with company workloads can be difficult, as getting someone to cover the work might not be viable.

BE 13 Aug a

Here are a few tips on managing the high-demand holiday periods.

Organise the calendar

The first step should be to have an organised and visible holiday calendar that everyone uses and can easily access.

When someone books time off, the whole office should be notified.

An old-fashioned wall calendar is a great way of doing it, as people can see holidays at a glance and will notice when someone books more time off.

Set deadlines for holidays

People plan their holidays in advance, so informing the office in advanced shouldn’t be an issue.

Ask for all holidays of over a week to be in the diary at least 3 weeks beforehand. For days off, suggest a week’s notice. This gives you time to plan and prepare.

It’s also worth asking all major holidays are in the diary before the end of September. This stops the mad rush towards the end of the year as everyone tries to use up their remaining days off over Christmas. Speaking of which….

Create yearly rotas

Organising the Christmas period can be a nightmare. And while first-come, first-served works well during the summer rush, at Christmas it might not be so viable.

Work out how many people you actually need to cover the work. Then create a rota of who needs to be in.

You could have everyone doing a day, or a few people covering the whole period one year and then having the following year off.

Get work done ahead of time
If holidays are planned well in advance, it gives your employees the chance to get as much of their work done as they can before they jet off.

Not only will this help out their colleagues, but it’ll also mean the co-workers are more likely to help them out by doing the same when they go away on their holidays.

Let your clients know

If clients are expecting work, let them know when your key staff are away and who will be handling their contract.

It could be the client is happy for work to either be delayed until they return or delivered in advance, so the workload doesn’t increase while people are on holiday.

Handover properly

Make sure your staff provide full and detailed handover documents when going away.

This should include:
• any tasks that need completing
• possible enquires and how to deal with them
• key contacts from clients to contractors
• dates and deadlines they should be aware of
• their emergency contact details