Katherine Scarff
Katherine Scarff
Senior Associate: Private Practice

Articles From the Team

What to do if you're going on holiday and no one can cover for you

Holidays are so important; both in terms of our wellbeing, as well as our productivity at work. But what should you do – in relation to your workload – before you scurry off to the airport departure lounge?

Up until recently, this isn’t something I’d given much thought to on a personal level, but I’ve just come back from 3 weeks annual leave. Luckily for me, I've got an excellent team that helped me out whilst I was sunning myself, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone.

I recently spoke to a conveyancer who felt unsettled in their job and one of the reasons they shared with me was that they’d returned from annual leave to a messy and chaotic desk; nothing was done to help them whilst they were away. It’s unsurprising they felt unsettled and deflated.

Does it depend on your firm, boss and/or team?

It shouldn’t. Obviously, if you’ve got a helpful team, you’re one step ahead. Some law firms might even have a policy in place around handover procedures so this would be your first port of call. If not, there are steps you can take to mitigate – a return to – chaos.

First and foremost, there’s no point in saying or thinking you can deal with everything when you get back; as tempting as it is to take this “papers and pens down” approach as you start to enter holiday mode, this is impractical and unrealistic and you’ll kick yourself for it when you return.

So, where to start?

Initiate candid meetings

Be honest and upfront about your capabilities

In the past, I’ve taken annual leave for a few days here and there and remained in England, which meant I was able to check and pick up on emails and calls – all manageable (and practical). But what if you’re on annual leave to spend a week sailing around the Med? Not so manageable and practical…

So if you’re boss hasn’t done so already, you need to convene an upfront conversation to communicate where you’re going and clarify who’ll be dealing with your matters whilst you’re away. This sounds very simple but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t ask, and just hope for the best. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable knowing your work is covered. After all, it’s about keeping your clients happy.

Speak to your colleagues

Again, another simple step to take, but you’d be surprised by how many people overlook it! Have a chat with your colleagues to see if anyone has the time capacity to help (not cover), even if this means transferring your calls to a colleague’s direct line, or asking them to open your correspondence. Of course, your colleagues will be busy, and it shouldn’t be their responsibility to manage your workload but it’s likely they’ll want to help with the odd daily task here and there as in the back of their mind, they’ll want the favour returned when they go away!

Actions speak louder than words

Look for a new job

If you undertake the above steps and it makes little difference, then maybe it’s time to consider a new job. As blunt as this sounds, if the benefits of the R&R are erased within a day of being back in the office, was the holiday worth it?

In particular, the conveyancing market is good and a breadth of opportunities are available so you shouldn’t have to compromise. This is your career and it’s got to work both ways so if you’re returning to chaos by no fault of your own, go and search for a team that can help and support you – and each other.

If you’re worried about going away then please get in touch. I can offer support and advice on overcoming any problems associated with taking annual leave.

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