Guest Author - Violette DeSantis
Running a small business of one requires a bit of planning when you are away for extended periods of time. Creating an out of office checklist helps with productivity and at best, serves the needs of your clients and important business contacts.
Be efficient and courteous by organizing these items before leaving your small office or home office for business or pleasure.
Notify important contacts
Client relations are important to large and small businesses. Tag contacts in your CRM that should be notified when you are away. Decide what level of communication is necessary and share the particulars of when or how to reach you if you desire to be contacted while away. Be specific about what issues are important and require notification.
Update shared calendars
If you are in constant contact with others and share calendars, publish that you will be out of the office and when it is best to contact you on your return. Only do so in a secure environment where calendars are private and seen by a relevant group of business professionals.
Set up an email automatic response
Even if you plan to check your incoming business emails on a regular basis it is a good idea to set up an automatic response. Clearly indicate the response is automated and that you are out of the office and explain the possibility of delays in personally responding. If you have limited email space and do not plan on responding to emails while you are away, take the time to manage old emails now.
Plan for incoming phone calls
Record an alternate voicemail message or set up call forwarding to your cell phone or phone number where you can be reached. If space is limited, periodically check voicemail and manage low-priority calls that take little time to complete, or high-priority calls that require immediate attention.
Manage social media accounts
If your business relies heavily on communications via social media accounts or professional forums, make space in your private message or inbox areas. Space is usually limited at some sites to a specified number of messages.
Hold home office deliveries
Put a hold on mail and newspaper deliveries to your home office until your designated return. Anything being shipped to your office can be scheduled for pickup.
On your return, update any automated response messages and schedule time to review phone calls, emails and private messages as soon as possible. Create a task list and order pending business by importance and priority level. If you can rush through a number of low-priority items to clear space for new communication, handle those items first.