From now until fall, you will have team members who will need to take time off and vacation time. This happens in every business — and leaders must have a strategy for covering this important business occurrence.

As a tech leader, you will need to cover the vacations of your IT crew at some time during the year, and summertime is usually “the time.” However, the goal is to keep your company’s systems working well regardless of the season or workforce levels. Therefore, making their time and your time productive is the name of the game.

1. Re-evaluate your vacation planning skill

An abilities matrix can help your managers determine who can support and help during other team members’ downtime. The ability matrix will also help you plan employee development throughout the coming months. You will want a Calendar that indicates the permitted timeframes for time off for all employees. With a team Calendar, you will always have coverage when your team self-manages their own schedules. Often, self-direction will bind the team.

2. Keep meticulous records.

Your records will help make sure that all time off is recorded. In addition, having a record helps everyone adhere to a protocol and ensures that no one in the company (including leadership) takes advantage of the generous leave policy.

Make sure to have all the steps outlined and how many days before the absence the individual needs to give notice. Procedures are never entirely in one person’s brain, and this method empowers the business to keep track of employees and their days off.

3. Use a leave Calendar

It helps to use a leave management tool like a shared Calendar. A clear “leave” policy allows team members maximum autonomy, and flexibility works best. For example, a clear set of guidelines like, No department may go on vacation at the same time, will ensure all teams are covered at any one time.

Cross-training (added to your Calendar) enables team members to wear many hats and cover for each other.

4. Create and follow a procedure.

It feels good to be a hero for your team — someone who is much needed. However, a process and its components can only operate as a function of the whole organization. Leaders must first define the process before operating, enhancing, and trusting in vacation procedures to work in the company’s best interest and its employees. Vacation time plays an essential part in keeping the company systems, and checks and balances in order.

5. Use outside services.

The ideal answer for time off and work-life balance is a combination of internal and external personnel. This duel company usage assures coverage and continuity. In addition, service contracts frequently include extra coverage to handle the summer’s uptick in work and time off — accompanied by a slump in productivity.

6. Create an accountability culture.

If someone takes time off, they must be responsible and guarantee their work is done and accounted for ahead of time. In addition, the employee must be in charge of the training of their replacement. Using a broader picture of vacation and work and assigning more than one person to handle duties may help. Succession planning, risk management, and career promotions in the works sometimes help employees keep an eye on the company ball.

7. Make a backup time off plan.

Prepare for an unexpected backup surge in the workload. Make a list of pros who can fill in while others are on vacation. Remember to have this choice available — but only use it if necessary. Then, you may relax knowing that the team’s holidays won’t affect the complete company operation or company strategy.

8. Share a calendar to communicate.

A successful approach includes implementing and curating a collaborative platform like Microsoft SharePoint or Google Suite. Using such a platform allows team members to communicate efficiently via a shared Calendar — enabling IT directors to prepare appropriately when there are absent staff members.

9. Revert to fundamentals.

Revert to basics: Coordinate and calculate what will occur when team members are on vacation. Have employees inform colleagues of their job description and duties — and the current initiatives as early as feasible. Coordinate any required training sessions to ensure teams are ready.

Prepare for obstacles and be ready to respond if a crisis arises.

10. Add redundancies.

Building a team requires some skill, knowledge, and experience redundancy. This facilitates handoffs when someone is absent and helps your team avoid unneeded stress situations. In case of emergency, have a list of those who can fill in and keep in touch with professional freelancers.

11. Assign teammates.

Form support groups of two to three people. Communication is crucial. Encourage individuals in your small group to be accessible during your off time by sharing vacation plans as soon as you know about them. Discuss with your team/leader/supervisor who can (and will) fill in for you and your small group. How you manage vacation leave time makes all the difference in the vacation experience and how refreshed your team returns to work.

12. Don’t abandon teammates.

It is part of our culture not to leave any team members hanging when a bad situation or time off is required and wanted. However, don’t keep people in the dark about what you’re up to, your progress, and who will take over after you’re gone. Making your work situation part of the organizational culture builds resiliency in the entire team.

13. Use task-based software.

Companies may plan product development by using systems like Jira and Zendesk. Assigning continuing scope to a team with a limited talent pool and skill set is more straightforward when using task-based planning. Staff may take time off without impacting the current workload. The first question to ask each employee is, “Can you manage this?”

14. Plan ahead for responsibility.

When an employee leaves, you or the rest of your team must assume their tasks. Having someone to fill in during times of need gives employees peace of mind and keeps your operations and systems running smoothly.

15. Consider better communication.

Before taking time off, it is critical to prepare ahead of time and communicate with your team. The change from being present to absent can be smooth with a little extra preparation and communication. To avoid misunderstandings, ensure everyone knows their obligations while they are gone. However, vacation planning is more of a challenge with hybrid work teams and may require a little better communication than with the in-office team member who sees each other daily.

16. Establish a work-sharing scheme.

We’ve learned a lot from Covid-19 — that it is more necessary than ever to establish a workshare program in both the service and tech teams. Assuring that work is split between teams and continual knowledge transfer will allow employees to cycle, work, and take time off without interruption.

Image Credit: Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!