As we batten down the hatches here on the east coast for Hurricane Sandy, I thought I would write a quick post on how to handle interruptions to your work schedule without it affecting your workflow and your relationship with your boss.
1. Get a feel how your boss and company reacts.
When you first start at a company, in your HR packet you'll find basic rules and regulations for missing work, closures, etc. Take these with a grain of salt — nothing is ever 'locked in stone' in business.
Get a better idea by watching your boss and see what they do (and say) when someone else is absent or when something happens (snowstorm, inclement weather, emergency). If they're normal, they are usually lenient and let the person (or persons) off the hook pretty quickly. But sometimes you have one of two types of bosses:
a. Workaholic - will never miss work, work ridiculous hours, and constantly compares their work performance with their people. They're the only one at work during a blizzard, a hurricane or a blackout. It seems they like work more than life — they do. If you speak reasonably to them, they usually understand (they are not unreasonable people - like B below).
b. Killjoy - someone who takes pleasure in making other people's lives hell when they need an accommodation. If your kid is sick and you have to stay home that one day out of 365 — they give you grief — you get the idea. Usually standing firm with these jerks tend to scare them away (recite the HR rules), but you're never going to win the war. If it becomes a problem, you need to change bosses or your company.
2. Pre-plan by communicating.
Let your boss (after speaking with them), your peers, your team and your clients know each eventuality and what will happen.
Especially your team. The better you communicate EXACTLY what to do, the less calls and confusion you'll receive during a storm or event. If you're going to be sick, pre-plan it with your boss that you'll leave a voicemail on their cell and follow up with an email. It's that simple. For your team, ensure by communicating for them to bring home their laptops and any work they might need.
3. Let key people know about your plans.
During the event, let people know what you're doing and what is expected of them.
Keep the communication flowing, expectations regularly committed, and deadlines met (or extended). A daily 15 minute follow-up via phone can ensure most items are accounted for and moving. Conference calls are the norm — it allows people to feel that they are still connected.
Let your customers know via email and if there is a problem or deadline missed, pick up the phone (also - ask them for direct cell lines prior to the emergency — I have it built into my welcome packet).
4. Back up your absence the best that you can.
If you have a team and you're sick or taking care of an emergency, specify who will handle your workload when you are absent. A little pre-planning here will go a LONG way.
Pick the person or persons who will ensure your work flows without interruption and will keep you in the loop in case something happens.
If you take a little time and observe, pre-plan, communicate, and act — any absence — long or short — will not be a big deal.