Do you need to stay connected to your business while you’re away? Are you anxious about closing up shop just because you need some time off? Do you fight the impulse to babysit your business from the beach?
Smart business owners know the key to success is to build a smart system. One that allows their online services and e-commerce to run smoothly even when they’re enjoying personal time. Here are a few tips to help you stay connected with an out-of-office system of your own.
A few key preparations will mean fewer headaches when it comes to taking time off. Before you leave on vacation or a trip:
- Communicate your travel itinerary with your team. Specify when you’ll be gone, how and when they can reach you (if at all), and when you’ll be back.
- Discuss the regular tasks and events that will happen during your absence (payroll, recurring mailings and communications, regular project status reports, etc.). Decide which team member(s) will cover them while you’re away.
- Create an emergency plan in the event of a worst-case-scenario and you’re not reachable.
- If you’re a sole proprietor, consider hiring a virtual assistant. They can handle communication and perform other routine tasks like pay bills, answer emails, open mail, and other office chores that can’t be ignored while you’re away.
Making simple, temporary chain-of-command adjustments ahead of time will prevent the kind of stress, confusion, and unwanted downtime that can ruin your vacation.
Are you the key master or the gatekeeper? Don’t disappear before making sure someone else is able to go everywhere you can go. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Entrust critical login and password credentials (and instructions) to an assistant or colleague (or even a competent friend or family member). For added security, change these credentials before you leave and again when you return.
- Be sure your webmaster has access to your site management tools so they’re not locked out in case something goes wrong while you’re away.
- Assign a proxy to make decisions on the spot for your business or home. Ask yourself, “who can be ‘me’ when I’m not here?”
We know how helpful and freeing the auto-respond feature in our email can be. But don’t just set it and forget it.
Your away message should include names and contact info of the people that are responsible for your work while you’re away (obviously those people should be ready to field those queries in your absence. See the ‘Plan Ahead’ section above).
If you don’t have an auto-respond feature in your email, allow an assistant or colleague access to your inbox so they can respond on your behalf.
Also, be sure to set the correct start and end dates of your auto-response message. It’s important to be gone when you say you’ll be gone and back when you say you’ll be back.
Stay Safe While You Stay Connected
While you’re traveling, you probably won’t want (or be able) to go off the grid completely. Be sure to keep your information safe while you’re on the road.
- Be sure to back up your critical data on your business network or drives before you leave, or create a cloud backup solution.
- Use Dropbox or Google Drive to access essential files that you need to stay connected on the road.
- Enable the remote data wipe feature on your devices (you did back everything up, right?). That way, if your mobile devices do get lost, stolen, or damaged, your data can’t be accessed.
- Don’t trust hotel room security. If you don’t want to be lugging your laptop with you every time you leave your bungalow, lock it up in the hotel safe or ask the concierge to hold it for you in a secured area.
- Taking a road trip? Always lock your gear out of sight (and direct sunlight) in the trunk of your vehicle if you’re not able to secure it elsewhere.
- If you’re traveling internationally, be prepared for border security personnel who need to perform security checks. If you keep proprietary or personal documents on your devices that you don’t wish to share with others, remove those files before traveling.
For all the hard work you do, you need to take time away every once in a while to stay sane and balanced. But you don’t need to sacrifice peace of mind to enjoy a bit peace and quiet. Bon voyage!
Basil Harris is a Senior Content Writer for Namecheap.com. He is currently out of the office.