Whether your virtual office is in the heart of New York City or the shores of Belize, taking a vacation is critical to keeping a work-life balance and staying refreshed for your entire team -- no matter where your office is located.
That said, getting away from the day-to-day routine is often easier said than done for the workaholic entrepreneurs.
Here are five steps to ensure your vacation time will be one of relaxation, not stress.
Related: Take a Break From Your Business
1. Communicate your schedule in advance.
Make sure the dates you will be away are shared with your direct reports as soon as you know them. It will give everyone a time frame to get projects buttoned up or deliverables ready for approval before your absence -- and maybe even light a fire under procrastinators. It will also help you focus on what you need to focus your time on now, what items can be delegated and handled while you are away, and what will need your immediate attention upon your return.
2. Communicate the decision-making process.
Not only should you clearly identify who should contact you for important matters but also the ways they should do it. Limit your communication to only one or two people at your company to ensure you actually get a break. Then those select few need to know how you would like them to reach you -- and what types of situations warrant immediate communication.
For example, if a new client is signed that would be welcome news on your vacation, but it certainly can wait until you return. However, if an important client has decided that you are the only one to solve their problem and insists on speaking with you, then that information should be sent as quickly as possible. But how? Create communication systems for urgent news requiring action (text, cell, personal email or even hotel room phone).
3. Make sure every project has a proxy.
While you are away, every project should have a designated leader who is responsible for ensuring deadlines are met, deliverables are on-target and quality is high. That being said, if you know you’ll be out of town, don’t launch a project that you’ll know you want to input on heavily. Obviously, projects will be ongoing and everything can’t (and shouldn’t) be put on hold -- but save the biggies for when you get back.
4. Know yourself.
You may be completely comfortable with the team running all the normal day-to-day operations while you are out, but where do you draw the line with big decisions? Don’t hand over the reins without clearing explaining what your team members can -- and cannot -- do.
At Greenback, we have SOPs (standard operating procedures) that include a specific escalation process outlining when something should be shared with us for a decision and when the team member is authorized to make the decision themselves. This is a great tool to have in place for when you are on holiday.
5. Build an excellent team.
This probably goes without saying, but if you don't have an outstanding team you can trust, none of our other tips will matter. We recently took a 2-week vacation and felt such a sense of peace leaving our team to steer the ship in our absence. Without such a dynamic and dedicated group, we wouldn’t have been able to fully relax and recharge our batteries. So we can’t emphasize enough the importance of this tip.
Even though you run the company, that doesn’t mean the company can’t run without you. Virtual entrepreneurs need vacations just like everybody else and most often come back refreshed, with a renewed energy for their business. Plan carefully, put the right systems in place, trust your team and then…enjoy your vacation.