You know what it’s like – when you first wake up in bed on your day off you can’t help but bask in the snuggly wonderfulness of it. You check your phone and remind yourself that on a normal day you’d be halfway to work by now, probably with your head irretrievably lodged into the armpit of a stranger on the tube. But you’re not there. You’re in bed. And it’s bloody lovely.
But then that paranoia begins to creep in. Are your colleagues talking about you right now? Are they saying that you’ve left them in the lurch? That you haven’t tied up all the loose ends? That this is just typical of you to leave that pile of work on your desk? That they never really liked you much anyway? That they should probably just FIRE you when you get back?
Everyone has to take the occasional day off, whether it’s because you’re ill, on holiday, going to another interview or just (eek!) pulling a sickie – but is there any way of doing it without annoying everyone in your office?
We were (obviously) clueless on this matter, so we got in an expert. So here’s Tamar Kasriel, the author of Futurescaping, Using Business Insight to Plan Your Life’s ultimate guide to taking time off work.
For a holiday
“Everyone benefits from time away from the office. Not just the individual, who’s allowed a moment to relax and recharge, but also the business. It’s all about acting professionally and remembering that while you may be going on holiday, someone else will be holding the fort. A clear and thorough handover of tasks (remember to schedule some time in the diary before the last packed afternoon), telling as many people as you need to whom they can go to in your absence, and ideally an email out to a key list of your colleagues to remind them of what/when/how they can deal with issues you would normally be dealing with. But remember when you come back hopefully all tanned/rested that your colleagues have been hard at it, and may not want to be reminded of what they have been missing!”
When you’re ill
“Definitely don’t put on a fake ‘groggy’ accent – people can spot those a mile off. Everyone gets sick from time to time, but if you think you’re coming down with something, try and tie up as many loose ends as possible before you actually call in sick. Try and give as thorough handover notes as you can manage as well. But remember, it’s better to take time off to recover properly rather than suffer through it and take even more time off further down the line. On your return, why not pick up something up for the office to share as a thank you for covering for you? And when you get back, just see how you can get stuck in again.”
When you’re going to an interview for another job
“Definitely don’t pretend you have an afternoon dentist appointment – most bosses aren’t stupid and they’ll spot your smart clothes and portfolio a mile off. If you have multiple interviews to go to, I’d recommend scheduling them all on one day (where possible) and taking the whole day off as holiday. You shouldn’t be using company time to seek work elsewhere.
Also, check out the culture in your office – is your boss relatively reasonable and down-to-earth? This should be approached with caution but it might be worth coming clean and admitting that you’ve been looking for work elsewhere. Most bosses are reasonable people and accept that you probably don’t intend to work at one company for the rest of your life! And you never know – if they think you might be leaving they might work hard to keep you by offering you more money or perks…!”
But what if you’ve called in sick for none of the above? What if you’re (Heaven forbid!) totally faking it? Well here’s how NOT to do it:
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