Long gone are the years when the summer months, and August in particular, were swept by a general slumber, a certain idleness that was regarded as justified. Almost as if the year was granting us a break from our duties, giving us the freedom to spend a few days on the beach, or in the countryside or, to just stay at home and break the routine. It was normal that majority of companies would come to a halt, public services would operate at minimum levels and the notion that the business community would not run at 100% capacity during those months was widely accepted.
This concept is a long way from the business scenario today, and even further from the reality of the self-employed. Nowadays, the possibility of being able to manage (almost) everything online, and with more people taking advantage of shorter, more frequent holidays, means that companies need to adopt even more rigorous and methodical planning to ensure that client communication and management runs smoothly.
Let's focus of the self-employed, who themselves, represent an entire micro business structure, and the communication necessary to best deal with clients during holiday periods.
First of all, one question needs to be answered: To what extent will your involvement with your inbox, or with the digital world be limited?
- Do you want to completely disconnect, switch to digital detox mode? If so, you should warn regular clients in advance that you will be unavailable and could, for example, redirect work to a colleague who could substitute you during your absence. Setting up an automatic out of office response for your email account is a must, indicating that you are unavailable, and when you will return.
- Can you spare a few hours a day to check your emails and deal with any issues? If this is a reasonable option, you can allocate one hour in the morning and another at the end of the day, for example, to schedule arising projects for your return to work, or redirect any urgent projects to your colleagues. In this case, you're out of office response could inform of your reduced availability.
Whichever solution you decide on, the most important thing is that you never leave your client without an answer or a viable alternative. Ensure that your client feels that their needs have been taken into consideration, that you have a system in place to serve them and that you value your long-standing relationship.
Now go and enjoy your holidays!
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