Surviving The Vacation Gauntlet

Summertime at Pure Adapt is a lot like summertime at any other business. Everyone takes a vacation. A lot of people take long weekends. The office is less full.

The difference with us and other businesses our size is that someone being gone is actually kind of a big deal. In my experience, large offices barely notice when someone is gone for a week. With us, every single owner and employee has important day-to-day responsibilities that need to be covered. In addition, our part-time employees play a big role in fulfilling orders so when one of them takes time off we still end up shuffling responsibilities or adjusting our schedules to ensure the warehouse doesn’t fall behind.

With six of us full-time, and two really good part-timers, we’re navigating our way through eight people’s vacations this year. Our vacation calendar has been full since June and it doesn’t clear up until the end of September.

Over the years we’ve pieced together policies that enable us to survive vacation season and keep the company moving forward. The key components:

  • Roles & Responsibilities Wiki – each person has a page on our internal wiki that outlines all of their roles & responsibilities, assigns them to a back-up person, and links to relevant documentation. This page also serves as an emergency page should someone miss unplanned time.
  • Roles & Responsibilities Email – about a week before leaving for vacation, we copy and paste the wiki page into an email that gets sent out company-wide. Tasks are adjusted and removed depending upon the length of the vacation. A week gives everyone else enough time to ask questions or clarification.
  • Email Coverage – each of us has someone managing our inbox while we’re gone
  • Planning – by having our shared company-wide vacation calendar, everyone can plan in advance and do the best they can to avoid overlapping vacations when possible.
  • Return “Dossier” – when an owner is on vacation, we keep a Google Doc with updates to review upon return. This confines everything to one page instead of flooding their inbox, and allows for editing as things change throughout the time off.

It’s taken a lot of trial and error, but this is the first year where I feel like we’ve finally put the whole puzzle together…at least for now. I’m sure that will change as time goes on and we’ll need to evolve our policies some more, but for the time being I think we’re in a pretty good place.