Friday 16 August 2019 4:14 am

How to keep cool while covering for colleagues during holiday season

Emma Long is commercial director of BizSpace

August can be a stressful time for remainers. No, not people anxious about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, but those left in the office during the holiday period while their colleagues are sunning and Instagramming themselves on the beach.

A study by OnePoll last year found that covering for co-workers generally results in a workload increase of nearly a third, with over half of employees finding it significantly stressful.

Stress and feelings of resentment can impact on morale, but there are ways to ensure that workers stay motivated and productive during the holiday season.

A clean getaway

First, staggering holidays and encouraging teams to plan them well in advance can help reduce stress for those left in the office. 

Good handovers from departing staff to those covering their work can prevent things being missed or misunderstood. Face-to-face briefings as well as written handover notes will help ensure that things run smoothly.

Making the office a happier and more relaxed place to be over the summer months can also help to create a holiday vibe, reducing resentment for those not going away.

Despite bouts of the British monsoon, August weather can provide an opportunity for working outdoors. 

A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research found that spending just 20 minutes in a park is enough to improve wellbeing, and technology means that it is now possible to remain connected almost anywhere, whether a park, cafe terrace, or garden patio. So encourage a more flexible approach to workplace location.


Organising a summer social can also make working through the holiday months a more positive experience. And introducing a charitable element is  an effective way to improve team spirit, whether a sporting endeavour or a quiz. 

For organisations that have a quiet August, why not give staff the option of finishing early on Fridays to enjoy the sunshine?

Our decision to give our own staff additional free time at the end of the week has been met very positively, with staff reporting that it makes a big difference to their happiness. 

Where this isn’t possible, consider allowing more flexible working patterns, such as early starts and finishes so staff can make the most of the hopefully warm and sunny afternoons.

Do not underestimate the power of surprises. Boosting employee morale does not have to involve introducing new policies; it could be as simple as a mid-afternoon ice-cream run or an al fresco Aperol spritz.

Relax, don’t do it

Finally, encourage staff to think differently about both going away and covering for co-workers. A staggering 41 per cent of workers said that they had been made to feel guilty by their colleagues for taking time off, according to an Alamo Rent a Car survey. 

Having a holiday should be something we all enjoy – in fact, it’s essential for business success, providing time to relax, refocus and re-energise. 

Highlight to your colleagues that taking a break is essential for the health and happiness of the team. Also point out that covering for others can give them an opportunity to learn new things and demonstrate their ability to cope with extra responsibility. 

Adding some fun and a positive attitude to summer in the office can help turn remoaners into motivated workers, who may even enjoy improved career progression in the long run.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.