When there’s a national holiday, such as Memorial Day in the United States, many people take a vacation day. As a virtual assistant it’s kind of sticky when it comes to the holiday, because of course you want to take time off and spend it with your family just like your clients.
The biggest realization, for me, was in understanding that clients depend on you all of the time. Whether you work on the weekend or not, clients still depend on you as far as completing tasks and completing projects by the said date. Now, we do understand that there will be times where that is not always possible. You want to give advance notice and keep the lines of communication open. But, when it comes to a situation where there’s a major holiday, what do you do? Do you take that day off or do you work?
My very first year in business I discovered that the holidays got busy for me because my clients would hand off projects and then they would be unavailable for any questions because they were taking off on vacation. What it did help me to realize was that those were some really productive times because my e-mail was quiet. I could get things done a lot faster.
I’m tempted to answer e-mail as soon as it comes and you may be like that as well. Sometimes I just have to close it down so I can’t see the e-mails coming in. But, on a holiday the e-mails are very quiet. You can get so much more done, even if you’re a serial e-mail checker!
Now of course, with working on an actual holiday you may see it as a nuisance. You may be coming in to VA work as a way to work from home and have a bit more flexibility. But here’s the thing, you CAN have flexibility and this is where it comes down to what type of projects make it easy for you to take time off.
Let’s say your assignment is to edit an eBook. You know what your deadline is, and during that time frame Memorial Day may come and go. What do you do? Do you tell that client you’re going to be away? No. You don’t have to tell that particular client because you know what the task is, you know what the deadline is, and you know what your regular communication is with this particular client. If a holiday comes in the midst of your editing eBook project, you don’t have to let them know as the nature of your project does not require that.
On the other hand, if you were responsible for answering e-mails for your client every day of the week, and seven days a week you handle their e-mail, how you manage the holidays and notifying your client will be different. That doesn’t mean that you’re tied to your computer seven days a week, 24 hours a day. What that means is you take advantage of technology with a smartphone and have those e-mails set up. They are either forwarding to your e-mail, or you have the client’s e-mail coming in to your phone. You can see them as you’re out and about, but you don’t have to be tied down to your computer all that time. You can take it on the go.
Of course, there may be situations where you don’t have Internet access or a cell phone signal may be in question. If you’re working with a client every single day, such as you’re responsible for doing something on their website, especially with those e-mails, or if you respond to social media for them, you definitely need to let them know if you’re going to be away and completely unavailable to fulfill your commitment.
If you don’t have a Wi-Fi card you might want to look into your local cell phone provider. I take it everywhere I go, when I travel, because hotels will say they have free Wi-Fi, but it may be either in the lobby, poor service, or the “free” Wi-Fi has a fee. Your Wi-Fi card goes with you everywhere you go and can connect up to five devices to it. You won’t ever have to worry about will there be Internet available.
If it’s a holiday and you’re staying home, you could get some things done during the first half of the day and then take what I call a “virtual day off”. What does a virtual day off mean? It means that if most of your projects are just based on a deadline and they have to be done either by a certain time or a certain date, then those things you can tackle in advance. You can use the morning half of the day if you choose, and then be free the rest of the day, still taking your phone with you in case any URGENT things come through.
If you’re answering a phone line, you need to come up with a contingency plan. You may just have to take it with you on the go if there isn’t anyone available to take your place. If there are several members of a team, then the others may be able to pick up the calls that you would have received. You may have to be creative such as taking your phone and computer with you. Be prepared to answer those, or just let them know in advance.
We’ve talked about your vacation, but what happens when your client goes on vacation? Clients may not always tell you when they’re going on vacation. The same rules apply, if they don’t send something to you on a regular basis, you won’t know when they’re going on vacation. If you’re answering a client’s phone line every single day, doing client care for them, you’ll likely be notified in this case.
Now having said that, just because there is a holiday does not mean things stop. The unique thing about working as a virtual assistant and having online business clients is that the Internet never stops, not even for holidays.