Setting Your Team Up For Success When You Are Out Of The Office

Setting Your Team Up For Success When You Are Out Of The Office

How comfortable are you being out of the office? Between conferences, sick days, vacations or family emergencies—there are several reasons why you might need to be unreachable for a period of time. When you are absent, are you nervous that disaster is imminent? Are you thinking about the daunting number of emails and phone calls you’ll have to respond to upon your return?

You’re not alone. Leaders can be pulled in a lot of directions and feel the need to put out every single fire. However, good managers know how to set up an office environment that won’t break down every time they step out of the building.

Setting Up The Office Machine

The first step to setting your team up for success when you are out of the office is to prepare them while you are present. Think of your team as a sleek well-oiled machine. There are lots of cogs and pieces that need to be put in the right place to be at their most effective. There may be bugs to iron out. Team members may require occasional maintenance and an instruction manual—documents and guidelines to consult when troubleshooting unexpected issues.

Delegation and efficient problem-solving are major aspects of getting the machine up and running. Many team leaders feel the need to solve every problem themselves, but they are setting themselves up for failure because it simply can’t be one person’s job. Therefore, many of the minor difficulties should be delegated.

Discuss different types of problems that may arise on a day-to-day basis. Define them and practice problem-solving on all levels so that you can leave with confidence knowing that less-significant issues will be dealt with in the correct way.


When it is time for you to leave, make sure that you communicate your absence to the right people—preferably everyone that you may interact with on a day-to-day basis. If it’s a sudden absence, an OOO automatic email response may be sufficient, but try to include when you expect to be back. Your team will be less nervous about your departure and less likely to bother you if they have a date in mind when they know they’ll be able to reach you.

When taking a vacation, do your best to time it so that important team projects are not at a crucial stage when your input is most needed. While that may not always be possible, settle as much as you can before you leave. Let your team know that any other major decisions can be discussed when you get back and lay out parameters for decisions that you feel confident they can make themselves.

Always clearly communicate the team’s work priorities and expectations while you are away. While arranging for a leave of absence can require some preparation, training your team to be more self-sufficient can make your time both in and out of the office more manageable.

This article has previously been featured on Forbes