Agency Vacation: Stress-Less Time Off

By | June 29, 2012
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OBXThe day I returned to the office from this year’s family vacation at the beach, PR Daily (@PRDaily) happened to repost an article that caught my eye: Your summer vacation, unplugged: Is it even possible?

The post’s author experiments with a completely unplugged vacation by locking away all of his connected devices in the hotel safe. (Yes, extreme.) The final lesson he learned was to work toward “connectivity balance” — being in the moment with family and friends, without being a slave to social updates, emails and projects back at the office.

Achieving this Zen-like connectivity balance on vacation was pretty easy for me. (Thank you to the awesome PR 20/20 team and clients for making it that way!)

It took preparation before the trip, a few check-ins during the trip, then catching up post-vacation to ensure we didn’t miss a beat. This post dives into a few lessons learned in hopes of helping other agency pros enjoy vacation and achieve connectivity balance.

Before Vacation: Set Expectations & Prepare Others for Success

The tone and expectations set before vacation certainly impact how much you’ll be able to relax and let go. Consider the following:

One month before:

  • Let clients know that you’ll be out of the office on vacation at least a few weeks, but preferably a month, in advance. Remind your agency team too, especially if others rely on you to review work, move projects forward or maintain agency operations.

The week before:

  • Ensure others on your account teams have projects to work on and are clear on expectations for those projects. Update the team on anything that may come up while you’re away, and an appropriate action plan. 
  • Remind clients you’ll be away. Give them a way to either contact you directly or to contact somebody in your place (often someone else on the account team or a manager who will be able to provide consultation if needed). Use your discretion on a client-by-client basis.
  • Update tasks and deadlines to account for vacation. Hint: you should not have to-dos while you’re away, and the list should be realistic and manageable upon your return.
  • Work ahead. If you know that certain weekly tasks are due Monday and you can squeeze them into your day Friday, it’s appreciated by clients and account teams.

During Vacation: Check In (As Needed)

Personally, I appreciate knowing what’s going on at the agency. My colleagues knew to text me if anything was really important. Then, each morning, I’d check-in on the last day’s emails—grabbing a pulse on what’s happening and forwarding any important items as needed.

Ultimately, the routine helped me relax. It brought the number of emails showing on my iPhone down to a manageable amount each day, and it was nice to come home from vacation to a fresh inbox.

Post Vacation: Catch Up & Enjoy

If you’ve set yourself up with projects and deliverables before leaving, the transition back should not be too overwhelming. Ensure you don’t miss a beat with the following:

  • Run through emails, social business updates (like Yammer) and project management software (we use Basecamp) to gauge project movement while you were away. 
  • Sit down with account teams for a status meeting, and to catch up on anything that might not be showing in email or to-do lists.
  • Check in with your account teams and clients. Sharing vacation stories and photos is a great way to build those relationships.
  • Enjoy the perspective. For me, time away helps refresh the passion I have for my career. Use this refresh and momentum to rejuvenate account teams and client campaigns, and make time for projects you’ve been putting to the side.

How do you unwind on vacation, and what steps do you take to ensure agency and client responsibilities are handled while you’re away? Share your tips, challenges and favorite vacation spots in the comments below.

Image Note: A sunrise view over the Atlantic, taken at the Outer Banks of North Carolina—my favorite vacation spot.