Ghost Office: how to keep colleagues safe while everyone’s on holiday

It’s that time of year where it seems like many workplaces are operating on a skeleton crew. Emails sent come back with auto-replies that mark a return in August, and many businesses slip into the predictable late Summer lull. 

It’s a challenging time for business managers, who need to maintain a safe and efficient work environment while some team members are away. 

In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the ways you can ensure employee safety and productivity when colleagues find themselves holding the fort during holiday season.

Keep up the communication

For some, the opportunity to catch up on work alone is a welcome prospect. But do they know who to contact in the absence of their manager or colleagues? Is there another branch or point of contact they could check in with regularly instead?

Holidays for many doesn’t mean a total shutdown in communication for all, and it’s important to keep those lines of communication open for those still at work, even if it involves changing this up a bit. They say a change is as good as a rest!

Have a holiday safety plan

If you know your workplace becomes a ghost town at certain times of the year, make a note of this and incorporate holiday-specific safety protocols into your existing procedures. Encourage employees to familiarise themselves with emergency exits, first aid kits, and safety guidelines. You might host a brief refresher on safety measures to prepare those who are going to be working alone. 

Address time management in advance

Employees working solo may need to juggle additional responsibilities. And people under pressure are more likely to make mistakes. Whether these errors affect the bottom line of the business, or compromise safety, you can plan ahead with your team to avoid them.

Encourage employees to organise their tasks by prioritising critical assignments. To-do lists and time management apps can help them stay focused and reduce the risk of overlooking important jobs.

Promote well-being and comfort

Working alone can sometimes lead to overexertion, especially if employees are tackling tasks typically managed by multiple team members. Remind your employees to check their posture and take regular breaks to prevent burnout. Encourage them to stretch it out and go for a walk now and them to keep their stress levels in check. 

Cross-Training and Skill Sharing

Do you have one team member who is the only person who can do one thing? It might not be realistic to train others in that skill, but there might be the odd job that you can distribute across the group to avoid bottlenecks when others return.

By prompting employees to share knowledge and expertise, your team can fill in for each other more effectively, reducing potential risks associated with a reduced workforce.

Leverage Technology

Whether it’s an aid for maintaining safety of boosting productivity, there a plenty of ways technology can lend a helping hand. Look at using project management tools, chat apps, and collaboration platforms if you’re not already. They’ll help your team stay connected and informed, even when they’re working alone.

Emergency Contact Information

Do all your employees have access to up-to-date emergency contact information? If they’re being left to their own devices, even for a day or two, they should have contact details for colleagues, managers, and relevant support staff. In case of any unexpected situations, having quick access to appropriate contacts can make a significant difference.

Acknowledge someone’s increased efforts

Foster a supportive team culture where employees readily assist each other, especially during times of increased workload due to colleagues’ absence. Recognise and appreciate the extra effort put in by team members who are “minding the shop” during this period.

Review and Learn

It’s September, and everyone is in “back-to-School mode”. This is a good time to gather feedback from employees about their experiences working alone if they have been. Having a review process can provide valuable insights into what went well and what could be improved for future instances of reduced staffing.

Managing a team when colleagues are on holiday requires a thoughtful and proactive approach to ensure employee safety and productivity.

By emphasising communication, safety protocols, time management, skill sharing, and well-being, you can create an environment where employees can effectively navigate their responsibilities, even when working on their own.

With the right strategies in place, your team can maintain its momentum and achieve success, no matter the staffing circumstances.


Need help? 

If you’re frequently finding that you have team members who are working on their own, talk to us about a flexible lone worker solution that can be adapted to your organisation and workforce.