You never can predict when your preschooler will have 101 fever in the middle of the day, or you must unexpectedly attend to a family illness, injury, or other urgent matter. There is never a good time for personal emergency leave, especially when you are at the office. However, if you are prepared in advance, you can make a quick exit and ease the burden on your coworkers.
Get organized today. Keep a detailed schedule with projects, deadlines and meetings. Add in daily tasks, billings and monthly reports that have routine deadlines. Keep an electronic file, and another in hard copy of your calendar or daily planner and make certain it is always available should others need to access it.
Create a workbook. Not to be confused with your daily schedule, a concise workbook of your job description and step by step instructions on how to perform your daily tasks will be a lifesaver for someone temporarily stepping into your position.
Keep your passwords safe, but accessible. Identify a coworker or supervisor who can keep a list of all your office passwords to be easily accessed in case of an emergency. Your client work should not be interrupted while people scramble to figure out how to check your inbox, voice mail or professional social media accounts.
Have a plan of action. Since unexpected emergencies are just that (unexpected), it’s best to speak with your supervisor about who your “backup” should be in the rare event you would need to be out of pocket. After getting the OK, set aside a brief amount of time to bring him or her up-to-speed on where everything is located.
Keep an updated client list. In the event the office needs to follow up with a client, keep a project file with contact information and pertinent details important for maintaining proper communication during your absence.
No surprises. Your office computer should be easily accessible and personal information should be kept to a minimum. Get into the habit of keeping personal files off your computer and delete any non-work related emails. FYI, now is the time to delete resumes you sent out last September when you were job searching on company time. Also be mindful of the websites you visit on your work computer.
Set up your computer to get remote access. If possible, have a system in place where you can easily access important files no matter where you are. While you may not be able to deal with work when facing a personal crisis, it will make your life easier if you can quickly put your hands on an important document or email and forward it to a coworker. Your IT department should be able to help you with this. It also helps to email these remote access instructions to your personal email to save in case of emergencies.
Don’t go radio silent. Check in with the office and let people know how long you anticipate you will be out. Alert them to any pressing tasks or unfinished work that needs attention a.s.a.p. Make sure you reschedule any appointments and make other arrangements as needed. This includes setting up an auto responder as your outgoing email message and updating your office voice mail to indicate your absence as well as contact information for the staff member who can be reached if the matter is urgent.
Express your gratitude. When you return to the office, don’t overlook thanking those who quickly stepped in to fill your role during your absence. A small token of appreciation, such as a surprise cup of their favorite cappuccino and a handwritten thank you note, will go a long way in building office and coworker goodwill.