De-stress: Cover for an Absent Team Member

A while back we gave you tips to help you prepare for and recover from vacation, but what do you do when someone else is out of the office and you’re the one holding down the fort? Take a deep breath and read through these strategies to help you endure the onslaught of work without getting behind on your own tasks.

Determine each day’s top priorities. Can that memo wait until your co-worker returns? Does the final budget need to be submitted today? Low-priority activities should be noted so they aren’t forgotten, and then rescheduled for a time when resource levels are back to normal. By focusing on must-do activities, you’ll keep the work flowing without becoming buried.

Delegate. Look for ways to shuffle activities so the entire Project Team stays on track. If another team member is already planning to attend the next vendor meeting, can they also cover the facilitator role so you don’t have to? Is another senior-level person in the group available to review and approve your team’s invoices, leaving you more time to focus on urgent issues?
Ask for outside help. A temp or vendor may be an option, but if not, look to the other groups in your organization for short-term support. It might be possible to enlist HR to phone screen the latest candidates or ask Accounting to distribute this week’s paychecks.

Monitor your energy levels. Skipping lunch or working late to keep up with an abnormally high workload is OK once in a while, but don’t plan to do it every day during a team member’s two-week vacation. Your energy will quickly flag if you don’t allow yourself time to rest and recharge. Take lunch, get up from your desk for a brief stretch, and get outside for a quick walk if possible.

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