Getting away from it all

As school holidays begin for most of the UK, many families are contemplating their annual getaway, but it seems numerous small business owners are putting their escape on ice.

Research from business software and services company Sage UK suggests entrepreneurs will not be slowing down over the next few months, with nearly half (44 per cent) admitting they will struggle to find the time to go away this season.

The summer months can be unkind to small business owners. While employees are busy bronzing themselves in foreign climes, the entrepreneur can find himself confined to a sticky office, concerned with cash flow and strategy over recharging the battery.

I’ve spoken to a lot of managers who have given me the impression that the office will surely crumble minus their influence. Others say it’s the much-maligned squeeze on finances that has meant they are abstaining from a break, or at most replacing foreign holidays with UK ‘staycations’.

No matter Bognor or Biarritz, almost a third say that the lack of available funds has forced them to take fewer holidays over the year as a whole.

It may be somewhat of a platitude, but while trading conditions and financial constraints may be making it hard for many SME owners to take a traditional week or two week break, it’s important to remember that to remain productive, everyone needs to switch off at some point.

For those managers lucky enough to feel able to get away, it’s important to remember to brief staff fully on areas of responsibility while you are gone. Check the emails once or twice in the week only, but ask a colleague to check them for you every day and forward messages to other staff who can respond on your behalf. Peter Gradwell, managing director of internet services provider Gradwell, advises to give your phone number to just one colleague, who can then contact you about any emergencies or urgent approvals. Also, it’s best to agree on approval procedures for spending decisions. He adds, ‘If a colleague is regularly monitoring your emails, then don’t put an out of office message on your emails. This gives the illusion you’re still in control, despite not being in the office.’

Also, it may be worth it to set the parameters for making contact with you; eg staff are only to inform you of crises.

Related Topics

Work-life balance

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