I’m sure many of you have noticed that I have been next to impossible to get a hold of the last 8 weeks. While I would love to say that it is because business is so great that my standard routine of replying by end of day has been impossible, it is because I have been sick multiple times since January 1. I have been through a couple colds, the flu, and most recently I have been blessed with a double ear infection. I’m sure your wondering where the heck this could possibly be going and why I feel the need to share such yucky personal details with you. While it seems that it may be me explaining away my absence and lack of response, it is to share with you some of the things I have learned in the last 2 months about running a business while your sick, and some things I am going to implement to better serve my customers when things like this happen in the future…. Even though I’d love to never be sick again!!
LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION
So, if you were to run into an old friend in the grocery store and they mentioned to you that you were sick, what you say to them? Would you tell them they better push through their sickness because their clients are depending on them, or that if they don’t show up their employees are going to ruin their businesses. No!! You would tell them to go home, rest, drink plenty of liquids and make sure they take plenty of [insert your favorite home remedy here]. So why don’t we do that? We as business owners are so convinced the sun wouldn’t rise if we weren’t at work. I’m here to be the old friend in the grocery store!!! Listen to your body… you know that it knows what is right for you!! Go home!!! Get some rest!!! The emails and the checklists will be there when you get back; or maybe not, maybe your employees and your business can actually survive without you!
LETS MAKE IT EASIER ON YOU WHEN YOU ARE SICK
So, here are some suggestions that may make things a bit easier:
- Put on your “out of office assistant”. Every person sending you an email will automatically be notified of your untimely condition. Be honest, let people know you are under the weather. Explain to them you will have a team member monitoring your emails looking out for emergency that need to be handled. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be checking emails, but it lets your customers know not to expect an immediate email from you. I know for a fact that you will be checking your email… so when they do get an email back from you, they know how special they are because YOU responded, and they will appreciate that immensely.
- Let your employees know that you are out and set aside some time for a remote meeting or phone call to discuss what’s happening in the office and guide them to a resolution on any issues. You don’t have to do everything!! You hired them…. Let them work!! Encourage them to do their best and they will. If they screw up, explain to them what they did and then help them resolve it. Nobody is perfect, but if you let people fail and help them resolve their issues, they will appreciate your knowledge that much more.
- During the time that you are able to sit at your computer, or maybe even your phone or tablet, set up a catch-up plan. Allocate time each day (it may even be over the weekend) to get caught up on the items you missed while you were out. I’m going to leave it to you to decide what you want to focus on first, but document it. Get it on your calendar and don’t push yourself to hard.
YOUR TRANSITION BACK TO YOUR BUSINESS LIFE
When you are finally feeling better, make sure you are truly 100%. Take it slow!!! Maybe the first few days are half days, maybe you start by working only from home for the first week (you don’t want to share any sickness that may still be lingering). Take your time getting your body back to your regular routine. If your body wants to lie down, then you should listen to it. Better to take a nap here and there on the final phase of your sickness than to fall right back into full blown sickness (or double ear infection in my case).
IS IT POSSIBLE TO PLAN FOR SICKNESS AT THE OFFICE?
So, during the summer and fall months and before the dreaded cold/flu season returns, you may want to take some time to plan for the cold season. Document your companies most critical processes and designate who is the person that will help you “run the show” while you are out resting. Some of those tasks may be: letting the clients know that you are out, delegating your day to day tasks, designating who will be reviewing your emails, who will pay the bills, who will process payroll… and who is going to do the client work on your calendar. You may also want to set aside a rainy-day fund in case your employees need to get some temporary help to do the mundane stuff while they are working on your tasks. You may use that money for payroll too depending on how long you are out of the office. If your unable to bill your customers for your work, you may not have the funds to cover payroll…. Better to be safe than sorry. For the business as a whole, you may want to have this setup for each person on your team, if Sally is out who is working on her tasks. I’m sure at the moment it all falls on your shoulder’s, but it doesn’t have too. Plan ahead and you and your team will know exactly what to do and when.
NOW FOR EVERYBODY’S GOAL …. HOW TO STAT HEALTHY
The office is an accumulation of people who will most likely push through the onset of any sickness they feel coming on. Let’s face it; We all need to pay the bills and missing too much work makes that difficult. There are only so many sick days provided, and rent is always due on the 1st. So, here are a few things that can help you stay healthy throughout the year. Take breaks from your desk. Take a walk around the office or even better, head outside for a walk and get yourself some fresh air. I know these are always a goal for many reasons but eat healthy and drink plenty of water too. When you forget your lunch, or don’t have time for a healthy one, be sure you have some healthy snacks stashed in your desk. We all have our office buddy’s, but friends don’t get friends sick! Avoid mingling with people who are sick, even if they do provide the office comic relief. Lastly remember getting the job done now isn’t more important than getting the job done right, so if you feel something coming on, don’t go to the office!!! If you’re up for it work, do it from home and get yourself better. Nobody likes when we share our germs.