Service Spotlight: Holiday Cover

Get Ahead VA offers a wide range of business and marketing services. In our Service Spotlight, we take a closer look at one of these, and show you how our virtual assistants can help you and your business. This month, with Christmas on the way, we’re looking at holiday cover.

 Why do you need holiday cover?

When you run your own business, it can be easy to think that it will simply fall apart without you, which is probably why nearly 1.5 million (about one-third) of the UK’s sole traders didn’t take a day’s holiday at all last year. Even when small business owners do take a break, it often isn’t proper time off – over 90% check work emails and do work admin during their holidays.

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How to strike a good work–life balance

This week is National Work Life Week, a campaign run by the UK charity Working Families to “give employers the chance to showcase how they provide work life balance for their staff.”

Finding a good work–life balance can be difficult, especially in the UK, where a culture of long working hours often tips the scales in favour of ‘work’. Research by Eurostat has revealed the UK has on average the longest working week for full-time workers compared to the rest of Europe, at around 41 hours per week. Evidence has shown that a skewed work–life balance can be unhealthy, leading to stress, burnout and physical health issues.

So how can we redress the balance and make sure that we get enough time for ourselves? Here are four things you can do to help find that all-important work–life balance.

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Prep your business for summer

Prep your business for summer

The longest day of the year was last week, and that means summer is officially upon us. But what does that mean for your business?

For many businesses, the good weather and longer days can mean a slump in productivity as everybody turns their attention to leisure rather than work. But summer doesn’t need to spell disaster for the savvy business owner.

If you want to know how to avoid the dreaded summer slow-down, here are four useful ways to prep your business for summer.

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Should you work between Christmas and New Year?

Between the indulgence of Christmas and the celebration of New Year, there’s a strange week that has been given a number of names – Twixtmas, the Fallow, Romjul (meaning ‘half holy’ in Norwegian) – and it can often feel like limbo.

When it comes to working during this week, different businesses take different approaches. Some close down for the entirety of the festive season, while others expect their employees to be back at work as soon as the Christmas bank holidays are over.

If you’re not sure whether to keep your business open for Twixtmas, here are some of the main pros and cons to help you decide.

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5 ways to manage the school holidays

The school holidays are fast approaching – and have already started for some.  Whilst the sun might be shining (we hope!) this can feel like dark days for business owners.  For working parents, the juggle of working and managing the children can be even harder – or more expensive.  For business owners, maintaining output levels whilst staff have time off can also be a real challenge.

Here are our 5 top tips to turn any holiday headaches into halcyon days:

  1. It may sound simple but breaking down tasks into what is both ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ can be a really worthwhile exercise.  You may discover that some tasks can actually be left until September as, whilst nice to do, they are neither urgent or important.  For other tasks you can see clearly what needs to be done and when.
  2. Work as a team. Talk to your team about who needs help covering which tasks over the holiday period.  Try and engender a sense of shared ownership.  Though a particular task might not usually be an employee’s area of responsibility, would he or she have the skills to cover it on a short-term basis?  What support would they need to do it?  Can training be given before holidays begin, or handover notes issued to help whilst staff are away?
  3. Plan ahead. It is never too late to plan ahead – even if the holidays have already started.  Look at what work you have coming up and when you are likely to be on holiday or short of staff.  Consider if any orders or events can be rescheduled.  Identify any pinch points where business requirements may not match staffing or availability levels and define appropriate plans of action.
  4. Talk to your customers.  They may understand about the ‘summer squeeze’ and be prepared to wait, or work with you to address only urgent requirements.  Advise customers in advance if there will be longer delivery times or delays.  People get frustrated when situations are forced upon them with no warning, or when they feel that they don’t know what is going on.  Be open and honest about any potential issues so that you can work together in a positive manner.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This could be from family members if you work for yourself, or outsourcing to external agencies for holiday cover.  Services may be more affordable than you think and don’t always tie you in to long-term contracts.  Find the right solution to enable you to put customer service first and maintain standards for your clients – whilst taking the break you need.

Our team of highly experienced virtual assistants are perfectly placed to assist in any aspect of your holiday cover – from admin to social media management and more.  We love to take on the tasks you don’t have time to do, don’t have the skills to do, or simply don’t want to do.  Please give us a call on 01483 332220 or email [email protected] to find out how we can help.  We pride ourselves on being the staff you don’t see, but the difference you do.

5 top tips on managing the summer holidays!

For many working parents this Friday is a critical day as it marks the start of the school holidays.  Some parents will be looking forward to taking time off work and spending it with their children, whilst others may be busy organising summer camps and childcare. 

Particularly for those who are self-employed or small business owners, managing the summer holidays can be a real juggling act.  Your business and your clients depend on you, yet your family need you too.  

Here are our top tips to strike the right balance and look after your business as well as spend time with your family this year:

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