How To Have a Smooth First Day Back At Work After Time Off

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 30 November 2021

Taking time off from work can have a positive impact on your mental and physical health. It often feels difficult to return to work after a period of leave. If you have had time off work for a holiday or an illness, consider taking some time to understand the best practices that may help make your return to work smoother. In this article, we discuss some of the ways you can prepare for your return to the workplace so that you can have a productive first day back at work.

Why is it helpful to prepare for your first day back at work?

Your transition to your first day back at work after a holiday may feel difficult. This is normal for many people, and it can often harm mood and productivity. Fortunately, there are some easy ways that you can make the transition back to work simpler. The more you prepare, the easier you may find your return is going to be. Here are some of the main reasons why you may want to consider preparing for your first day back after you have had a period of time off:

  • Productivity**:** If you feel prepared and have caught up on what has happened while you've been away, you're less likely to feel worried about missing out on any important information. The more prepared you are, the more productive you're going to be on your first day back.

  • Confidence: Returning to work can be daunting, especially if you've been gone for a significant amount of time. The more prepared you are, the more confident you're likely to feel about returning to work.

  • Positive attitude: If you've been on holiday, you might feel a little disheartened about returning to work. Preparations can allow you to have an easy and relaxed return, which can make the experience more positive for you.

  • Reduces feelings of overwhelm: Work can be daunting and overwhelming at times, especially if you have been away for a while. Thorough preparation can help you to feel more relaxed about the prospect of returning, which may make it easier for you to get back into your daily work routine once you return.

Related: How To Stop Overthinking and Increase Productivity at Work

Tips on how to have a smooth first day back

Once you're ready to take a holiday or require time off work for medical reasons, there are various steps you can take to make sure that you have a smooth transition when you return to work. It's a good idea to begin preparing before you leave. Here are some ways you can prepare for your return before you leave work:

Set an out-of-office email alert

If you have a long list of regular work contacts, it would take a significant amount of time to personally reach out to everyone separately to let them know that you're going to be out of the office. It's still important to inform colleagues, clients and other professional contacts that they aren't going to be able to reach you during your time off. One easy way to do this is to set up an out-of-office email that is sent automatically to anyone who sends you an email while you're away. Here is an example of how you can write an out-of-office email:

Example: Thank you for your message. I am currently out of the office from [start date] until [end date]. For emergencies, please contact me on [insert phone number]. Alternatively, please send an email to my colleague [enter name] via [enter email address], who is going to be more than happy to help with any queries you might have.

Related: How To Write a Professional Email: A Complete Guide With Examples

Write a list of things to do

Preparation is key to ensuring that you have a smooth return to work after your time away. One of the easiest ways to prepare is to make sure that you understand all of the tasks that you're currently responsible for and whether it's best to complete them now or after your break. This list can also help you remember what needs your attention once you have returned to work, and might even allow you to decrease your eventual workload by finishing some work in advance.

Delegate tasks that can't be postponed

While making a list of the tasks that need tending to, you may notice that there are some tasks that can't be left undone while you're away. If you can't manage these during your time off, it's a good idea to ask a coworker if they would be able to complete this task for you while you're gone. Alternatively, you can ask your manager if they're able to assign someone else to the project. This can also help you avoid a backlog of work upon returning after your break.

Related: How To Prepare for a Career Break (With Tips and Guidance)

Tips on how to prepare for your return to work

After a holiday or time away from work, it can often feel daunting to return back to your workplace, especially if you have been away for a significant amount of time. You may feel as though you have a severe case of ‘Sunday night dread'. There are some easy things you can do to have a smooth return to work. Here are some tips on how to prepare for an easy return to work:

Ask your manager to update you before you return

One easy way to facilitate a smooth transition back to work is by making sure that you're aware of all the tasks you're responsible for and any changes that have occurred while you've been away. You can do this by sending an email to your manager asking them to update you on any necessary information that you may need when you get back to your role.

Alternatively, if you have a coworker who has been covering for you or a colleague who is working on the same projects as you, consider emailing them to ask for updates on the current working situation. Knowing as much as you can about what has been happening while you've been away can help to ensure that you have a smooth return, as you can begin working on tasks as soon as you arrive. This also ensures that you don't encounter any unnecessary surprises when you get back.

Start early on your first day back

To ensure that you have a great start to your workday after you have been away, it's important that you do everything you can to stay updated and informed. Therefore, an early start on the day you're returning to work is a good way to get yourself back into your working routine and can further help ensure that you're up-to-date on everything before the day starts.

Arriving early may also give you the time to catch up with your friends and colleagues, settle back into your place of work and catch up on any emails that need your attention before the workday begins. Also, if you are able to finish work early, you're more likely to feel relaxed at the end of the day.

Give yourself time to relax and take breaks

Returning to work after a break can be a difficult transition in terms of focus and productivity. Whether you've taken time off to relax or had a medical reason for being away, it's tough to get back into an effective and efficient mindset. While you may want to get started on your tasks immediately and spend the entire day trying to catch up, it's important that you take time to relax, talk to your colleagues and resettle. This way, you are less likely to burn yourself out on your first day, and it may also help to keep you focused.

Plan out your day

To help you make a smoother transition back into work, it can be a good idea to set out a plan for your first day back. Once you know the various things that you're going to be doing on your first day, what you can delegate and who you want to meet, you can set out a plan for completing these tasks over the course of the day. Plan out other parts of your day as well, such as your lunch break and time for catching up with your colleagues.

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