Transitioning Your Work

Transitioning from work to leave and then back to work can be eased by planning and preparation. In partnership with your manager, it is important to consider your job tasks and responsibilities and how these will be covered during your absence, if possible. Smooth transitions benefit everyone involved – you, your manager, and your colleagues. Depending on your particular situation, you may or may not be able to help your department prepare for your leave.

Consider your work responsibilities, and how they will be covered.

As far as possible before your leave, or at a time you and your manager agree upon, develop a list of what you do, including day-to-day responsibilities and tasks specific to current projects and those that you expect to arise during your leave. You may find this Work Responsibilities Coverage Form to be a helpful tool for you to summarize your job responsibilities that will require coverage.

1. Recurring Tasks

  • List your recurring job tasks, including those you do daily, weekly, and/or monthly.
  • Think about how the tasks are accomplished now and how they will be accomplished while you are on leave.
  • Include small tasks that you may assume someone else will know to do – it’s better to be overly inclusive.
  • Consider potential challenges for colleagues, your team or department, your manager(s), and external contacts that may arise while you are on leave, and solutions to these potential challenges.
  • Check your calendar for the past few months and for the period last year that corresponds to your STD leave for reminders of tasks that may need to be addressed.
  • For a week or two, throughout your work day, check your list of tasks as you do them and add to it as necessary.

2. Project Work

  • Think about how tasks are accomplished now and how they will be accomplished while you are on leave.
  • Consider potential challenges for colleagues, your team or department, your manager(s), and external contacts while you are on leave, and solutions to these potential challenges.
  • Be clear about what your role is and the expectations of the team for the person covering for you during your STD leave.
  • Include timelines, deadlines, and descriptions of all aspects of project responsibilities.

For both types of work – recurring and project work - jot down names of colleagues who might be approached to cover your work on each task.

Consider your email, telephone, and other work communications, and how they will be covered.

  • Will someone have access to your email or voice-mail while you are out of the office? If not, how often (if at all) will you check email and voice-mail?
  • Should your mail be forwarded to someone for response?

Meet with your manager.

  • Arrange a specific time to speak with your manager about your upcoming STD leave. (Avoid only informal conversations about coverage of your job responsibilities).
  • Prepare for your meeting. You may want to use your completed Work Responsibilities Coverage Form as a starting point for your conversation.
  • Discuss current projects – status, expectations of developments during your leave, and what will be required of the person(s) covering for you.
  • Ask your manager about projects that may begin while you’re out.

Meet with the person(s) who will be covering your work while you are on leave.

  • Include co-workers and contacts (internal and external to FAS), as well as managers in these meetings.
  • Be clear about your expectations regarding your access while on leave – do you plan to check email or voice-mail while on leave? And if so, how often? Understand and make it clear to your colleagues that this may change once you are on leave, as your actual availability and accessibility may differ from what you anticipate now.
  • Establish appropriate boundaries, making it clear that you are on leave from your position, not working from a different location.
  • What should be done with your non-work related mail? Do you want it sent to your home, opened by someone else, or held for you until you return?

Shortly before your leave

  • Update your outgoing voice-mail and activate your “out of office” email.
  • Be specific about whom to contact for what purpose or indicate the person who will address all issues that need immediate attention. In either case, include name, phone number and email address.

Transitioning back to work after your leave

Prior to your return, start planning for the transition back to work.

  • If you are returning on an approved reduced STD schedule, a part-time basis or other Flexible Work Arrangement, be sure that the necessary documentation has been completed, submitted, and approved prior to your return.
  • Schedule a call or an in-person meeting with your manager to get briefed on the status of your projects.
  • Schedule a call or an in-person meeting with each person who has been covering your work during your leave.