In many industries, things slow down a little bit in the summer. Of course, lifeguards and lawn care experts may be working overtime, but if you’re a corporate clone, chances are long weekends, vacation time (your own and your coworkers’) and the lure of a sunny afternoon combine to create a slower pace at work.
But even if everyone around you is slacking off, you’re not going to make any friends at the office by letting your own work slide. Here are three summer slip-ups you should take care to avoid.
1. Letting vacation schedules derail your work
It seems like there’s always someone on vacation during the summer months. And until U.S. companies realize Europe is right about August and just shut down for the month, summer means you might have to tackle projects without a critical team member or pinch-hit for a co-worker to keep the wheels turning. It’s never easy to operate shorthanded, but with a little planning, you can at least avoid full-fledged chaos.
If your organization doesn’t already have a shared vacation calendar, spearhead the effort to create one. Being able to see when various co-workers are going to be gone can help you plan ahead and create realistic deadlines for projects.
When your own vacation rolls around, minimize disruption by completing essential tasks ahead of time and lining up a back-up plan for work that will need to be covered. Remember, it’s your job — not your boss’ — to make sure your work still gets done. If you’re going have coworkers fill in for you, create short, step-by-step guides to essential tasks, including the location of key files, necessary contact info or critical deadlines.
2. Getting too casual
Plenty of things loosen up a bit in the summer: dress codes, kids’ schedules, house rules. And your office may be one that adapts to summer by loosening up a bit as well. But just because it’s okay to show up for work in flip flops or grab a beer at an office barbecue doesn’t mean you can get casual about your work.
When promotions or raises roll around, your boss’ overall impression of you will be made up by lots of little things: whether your emails were always professional, whether you were regularly just a little late coming back from lunch or whether you let personal issues distract you in the office.
A couple rules of thumb: If you deal with customers or clients, your dress should always be professional. If you’re heading back to the office after a social event, you shouldn’t be drinking. No matter what, your work product should always be polished.
3. Spending the summer stuck in a cubicle
So maybe you just can’t bear the thought of spending a week of sunny, 85 degree days slaving under the fluorescent lights. Maybe you could be just as productive sitting on your back porch with your laptop. Convince your boss, and you just might be able to make summer time equal flex time.
The benefits of flex time are well documented, and your boss doesn’t have to be a business major to recognize that allowing remote work or flexible schedules is an inexpensive way to boost morale. But it’s up to you to put together a plan that shows your boss you’ll spend the day working on something other than your tan. If your job doesn’t lend itself to remote work, you might be able to negotiate a different schedule, such as working four ten-hour days, that allows you to put in your hours and take advantage of summer sun.
In all likelihood, your boss wants to enjoy summer just as much as you do. If you take proactive steps to make sure your productivity doesn’t suffer, you can have the best of both worlds, and enjoy a relaxing summer while getting ahead at work.
Jill Tyndale is a writer and editor who specializes in higher education and career advice. She’s covered topics such as the emergence of executive MBA programs and new technology in online bachelor degree programs.