If you're a business owner, you may worry about going on holiday and leaving your team to cope in your absence. Luckily there is technology you can put in place so that you and your family can take a relaxing break while your business carries on smoothly, writes Gary Young.
It’s important to be clear that we want you to have a proper holiday and not use technology to keeping working while everyone else has fun without you. Here’s a reminder of why having a holiday is essential for you as a business owner:
Having a proper break is like having a car serviced. It’s about maintenance, so that you can continue delivering a great service to your clients.
If you don’t take time off, exhaustion and stress build up. Over time, this will reduce your productivity. Time off will help to revitalise the body and refresh the mind. If you have a micro-business, you have to get used to the idea that there is never a perfect time to go on holiday, but it is still something you need to do.
When you own your own business you make the rules. These should include allocating family-time, especially holidays. Your kids grow up fast, and you don’t want to miss the pre-teen years when they want to spend their holidays with you!
Very often business owners have an issue with delegating. Think of a holiday handover as a chance to check how your team perform without you, and with some new responsibilities. There are tools to help manage this – if your team are facing something they aren’t sure how to deal with, they’ll know how to reach you.
The tools you need
When you’re at home, your phone is probably immediately at hand - always. We hope when you’re on holiday you might occasionally turn it off or decide to check it regularly without letting it dominate your time.
Make clear to your team that you should only be contacted in an emergency. Tell clients when you will be away, and which team member should ideally be their first port of call. You may also choose to say that they can contact you if necessary. However, with your team doing a fabulous job, this shouldn’t prove necessary!
Your phone also gives you an invaluable tether to the internet. You’ll need this if your holiday destination doesn’t have WiFi available (or you are cyber-security conscious). For the time being, data plans travel with you across Europe. They can also be changed easily to include other parts of the world. This usually involves a per-day fee from your mobile provider.
If there is no escape from doing some work while you are away, make sure you organise yourself to have short bursts of concentrated and productive time. Focus tools such as the Quickstarter POD are, effectively, timers to help you concentrate on one thing at a time.
If you feel a need to go cold turkey you can use Cold Turkey Blocker. You can lock yourself out of your PC or Mac for a specific period of time – or, if they catch on, your family might do this for you.
Another app to help maintain productivity when you are doing a burst of work is RescueTime. Once we get online, it’s all too easy to be distracted by blogs, forums and social media sites that then consume time at a rapid rate. RescueTime will keep you focused.
Additionally, products such as Basecamp, Trello, and Microsoft Teams are being used increasingly. At work they are invaluable for keeping you aware of what is happening and what work needs prioritising on a daily basis.
When you’re on holiday, large numbers of notifications and emails from project management systems can become irritating. You can adjust the settings so that you receive notifications, say, twice a day. Or you could switch them off completely!
Some outsourcing options
When you are away, of course, the office phone will keep ringing, and your marketing activities need to continue without a break.
There are companies such as Answer who will cover your phones - charging as little as 90p per call. They text and email you or a member of your team so that one of you can respond as needed. Similarly, virtual marketing companies can keep your marketing activity flowing, unless your business has something like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule activity before you depart.
If it’s time for you to have a holiday, get the tools you need, choose the destination with your family, and talk to you team,. Have a relaxing time and you’ll come back revitalised, and your business will feel the benefit.
Gary Young is a director at independent telecoms brokerage Equinox. Gary works with companies, charities and other organisations to help them choose the right telecoms packages for their needs, and thereby reduce their costs. He is particularly knowledgeable on the integration of IT and telecoms in business.