Back to Work After a Vacation

5 min. read

Tips and best practices for returning to work after a vacation

Goin on vacation can be a wonderful experience. Going back to work after the vacation can present some unexpected stressors.

Work-life balance has been getting a lot of attention in the media recently. A great place to work shouldn’t leave you drained when you return from your travels, rather it should boost your energy levels and improve your engagement with the company.

While you may have had a great time away, the stress of returning home and confronting any unfinished projects can be concerning and overwhelming, even if you work in an amazing workplace. With a little bit of pre-vacation strategic planning, you can have a great time on your trip and a smooth exit, and calm and fulfilling re-entry to your position. Instead of returning to work stressed and feeling like you need to go and unwind immediately after returning, you could hit the ground running.

Here are some tips and best practices to return to work after a vacation

Make a list of projects before you leave

Being away from your desk or office can throw a spanner in the works. You don’t feel like you have control of any of the tasks or projects at hand and start to feel tense and worried. You can’t relax if your attention is on other things. Making a comprehensive list of all of your projects and their status gives you a point of reference both while you are away and when you return. Once one of the major projects has been looked at, make a short priority list for anything that needs to be done as soon as you return. Priorities can change as time and circumstances alter. Check these when you get back, but this shortlist should be your prioritized list of immediate things to concentrate on. This way you don’t have to come back and worry about trying to get a handle on where you are at. You know where to start.

Out-of-the-office email and voicemail message

Before you leave set up an out-of-the-office email and voicemail message so that anyone trying to get hold of you knows that you will not be checking messages and will be unavailable. If you don’t let them know that you’re not available, they will simply assume you don’t want to answer any of the urgent messages they may be sending you. If you don’t communicate with your clients and team members you are not just leaving a vacuum, you're treating them disrespectfully.


Delegate tasks that have to get done while you are away to trusted team members or hand them over to managers to find the right person or people to pick up any slack. Even if you are away on some sort of adventure or relaxing beach holiday, reports will have to be delivered, deadlines have to be met and clients have to be serviced. Handing over the reins to people that don’t normally do your job may be necessary for certain instances.

Put order into your space

Putting things in order before you leave means that when you get back things are not in chaos. You are walking back in to a confusion.

A buffer day

Plan your return trip so that you have at least one day to acclimatize and sort out any immediate areas that need your attention. Returning to a house that needs chores done and food restocked, takes time. If you have been in a different time zone you need to take into account jetlag. Returning to work without a good night's sleep can make you irritable and drained. The whole point of taking a vacation is to feel recharged and regenerated. You want to feel energized and engaged in the tasks that you’re doing. Engaging in communication with your fellow team members and your clients if you are tired, yawning, and unfocused means your first impressions when you get back are not going to be positive.

Don’t push yourself

When you have been traveling, your immune system can get run down. You’re exposed to many different possibilities where you could get sick. The global pandemic taught us much about cleanliness and dealing with viruses. If you are going to be traveling then consider giving yourself at least a few days once you return from areas where you may have gotten sick. Another thing to think about is keeping healthy and fit. Pushing yourself into a strict diet or exercise regime after traveling or perhaps indulging in good food and wine will put your body under stress. Give yourself a bit of time before you start trying to fight off that tire around your middle. Rather think about what you have to do once you return to work. Waiting a few days to start a strict diet won’t make that much difference and you need to have your energy and your wits about you at work.

Going away on vacation can be a wonderful thing. You look forward to that special time away where you can just relax and forget about your worries and the cares of the world.

However, there are certain responsibilities that need to be considered and taken care of if you want to maintain an amazing workplace culture.