1. Determine the key activities that will need to be accomplished in your absence. Delegate these and include a follow-up process. Have the person who's responsible for the activity leave you a voicemail or e-mail to communicate outcomes.
2. Compare calendars with key people. Anticipate any decision-making needs that are likely to arise when you're traveling and determine a plan of action.
3. Discuss with key staff how they'll handle emergency decisions and key decisions if they can't contact you. Figure out ways to keep projects moving forward in the event that you're out of contact.
4. Be sure key members of the team always know how to contact you.
5. Don't call the office just to check in. According to Larry Senechal of Seattle-based Priority Management Systems, this gives your staff the unspoken message that you expect they'll have problems they won't be able to solve without you.
6. Make it clear to key clients-internal and external-that you're going to be away and may not be able to return calls as quickly as you normally do. Inform them before the trip so they won't be surprised.
7. Change your voicemail greeting.
8. Senechal says, the biggest problem is that people carry too much information with them. Empty your briefcase and only carry what you'll need on the road. If you need to send clients follow-up material, do it when you return or have someone in your office do it. "Travel is too exhausting to pack an extra desk with you," he says. "Look at the appointments you're going to have and [bring only] what you need for them."
9. Establish a company policy, written or unwritten, stating that key appointments and meetings aren't scheduled on the day of your return from an extended trip.
Workforce, May 1997, Vol. 76, No. 5, p. 70.