“We won’t see each other for almost a month!” I said to our Director of Education. I was leaving for vacation and upon my return, he will leave for vacation. He replied, “Rest and Recharge! Hey, that should be your next article.”
Taking a vacation and the concept of resting and recharging in the fast-paced world of restoration may seem impossible. There is a lot of information and articles about the importance of taking vacation, spending quality time with family and friends, and what some call rest and recharge (the other R & R). The reality is that many in the world of restoration think it is impossible. Whether you are an owner, manager, or a crew chief, with a little thought and preparation, you can enjoy a little of the other R & R, too. And honestly, you really should. Taking time off and taking care of YOU will make you a better boss, significant other, parent, coworker, friend, etc.  
Here are some tips and things to consider before vacation to help you leave with a little peace of mind. 
  1. Communicate:  “We communicate a lot” is shared value #11 for my organization and it is critical during vacation season.
    1. Everyone should hand off all critical information and works in progress to the appropriate person. In today’s world, this is made easy with the software and tools available to us. However, a word of caution: do not assume all documentation is in place. Job-related files should be complete, whether paper or digital, and allow for anyone in the organization to facilitate moving forward. The same applies to operational and administrative functions. Supervisors should take the initiative to review assignments and job functions to ensure everything is in place to move forward before the person leaves for vacation. There is nothing worse than having to call someone that is trying to enjoy a well-deserved vacation with their family because you did not have access to a customer’s paint selection to move the job forward.  
    2. Customers and partners: The world is still moving at a rapid pace, even when we go on vacation. Make it a best practice to communicate with those outside of your organization that you will be on vacation and communicate relevant information to them. If you are the point person for a customer, it is appropriate to let them know that you will be on vacation and what you have lined up to keep these moving while you are away. 
    3. Internally, especially for larger organizations, make sure there is a mechanism in place for others to know the vacation/time off plans of co-workers. Because most of us in organizations work as a team and have some kind of dependency on others, it is helpful for others to know the plans.  
    4. Utilize technology: Program your email accounts and phone messages to let those contacting you know that you are on vacation and give alternative contacts in case they need immediate assistance. (When you return, don’t forget to change/update and/or turn off – this is one of my pet peeves.)
  2. Planning:  Both office and field staff need to plan ahead of time. In the world of restoration, it is not acceptable for anything to stop because of someone’s vacation. This makes planning critical. Everything must be laid out in advance and get done. Plan and reassign as much as possible while you are away so you do not come back to a stressful work load.  
  3. Small and Family Businesses: It is definitely more challenging to get away and completely unplug for your summer relaxation when you organization is small or you vacation with half the company who is your family (a common challenge in the world of restoration). In addition to the basics of communicating and planning, consider:
    1. Your flow and structure. Evaluate your team, roles and responsibilities, procedures, processes, and tools used. Consider ways you could develop your organization that would allow you to take a week off without your company being set back. If you can’t leave or you think everything will stop if a company vehicle gets a flat tire, I encourage you to take a big picture look at things and set some goals for next year’s vacation.  
    2. Partnering and subcontractors: Reach out to a restoration friend, perhaps there is a company you could trust that is just outside your service area, to help keep things going for a week. Consider a subcontractor that you work closely with and how they may be able to assist you.  
    3. Consider temporary staffing that can help during the vacation season. College students on summer break can be great to supplement your organization during the summer months.  
    4. Lastly, organizational buy-in of the team is critical. Summer can be hectic for restoration companies regardless of loss volume because of vacation plans. Make it part of your culture that everyone will work together to let each other rest and recharge and get their quality time with family and friends.
As I left for a two week vacation, I proudly sent an email to my co-workers (with a big smile that nobody could see), it said, “I am grateful that I am going on vacation and have nothing to worry about because of all of you.” When the intention is to help everyone maintain some life-work balance, everyone will follow the lead and not only make sure they are doing their part before they leave for vacation, but also help fill the void when other team members go away.  
I am grateful and proud of the fact that I can go on vacation and know that no matter how many floods, fires, hurricanes, and whatever our world throws at us, it will be handled in accordance with our company's procedures and values. In today’s fast-paced world of being plugged in all the time combined with the demands of the restoration industry, it is more important than ever to rest and recharge.  
Remember, you have to work for it just like everything else that we enjoy.  
Have a great summer and vacation.