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How to manage workflows of skeleton staff over the Christmas period

While many people are saying ‘yay!’ that 2021 is coming to a close and are looking forward to 2022, many business owners and CEOs are currently worrying about managing workflows with a skeleton staff over the Christmas period. 

As with most things, planning and communication are key for staff and the festive season. At the top of the list is planning, sharing your plans with staff and customers, being upfront early with staff around leave expectations, assessing customer demand and knowing your minimum staffing requirements.

Another factor to consider is if you’ll be shut down totally or just closed to the public/customers and if a hybrid workplace model will work better over the festive season. 

When maintaining a business with a skeleton staff, you’re assessing what you can achieve with the least amount of resources available for a set period.

While many businesses are already running lean, the festive season can be a time of year where technology and time management becomes crucial.

During this period, you need to be realistic about deadlines and set those expectations with your customers and staff.

For example, if your customer’s expectations are your standard two-day turnaround, but your turnaround gets pushed out to a week or more without any prior notice, you’re going to end up with some unhappy customers.

Most people know and understand that Christmas is a busy period, so they expect a small delay. Still, if running a skeleton staff is going to blow out your usual turnaround times, you need to reassess your staffing levels and notify your customers well in advance, as they’ll also have timelines they need to meet. 

Meeting deadlines also means you need to look at the time management of yourself and your staff, including prioritising tasks during this period. Perhaps during the Christmas period, some tasks don’t get completed until all staff are back from leave; also, look to see if any tasks can be pre-completed before team members go on leave. Managing time efficiently can be the difference between a stressful and not-so stressful festive season. 

If your business currently runs the traditional office-based workplace model, switching to a hybrid workplace model or hyper-flexible model may be beneficial over the Christmas period.

The hyper-flexible model gives workers the most flexibility and choice as it allows for a personalised and tailored approach for each worker.

The hyper-flexible model also includes flexibility not just in when and where workers come into the office, if it all, it also includes a flexible work schedule that doesn’t revolve around the traditional nine to five.

The hyper-flexible model can benefit staff whose kids are on school holidays and where their role doesn’t require a nine to five approaches. 

Depending on your workplace model, utilising office mapping technology to track and keep staff safe and accountable over the Christmas period is another way to utilise technology over the busy period.

Office mapping technology can help staff see who’s working, who’s on leave, when they’re working, where they’re working from – including from single or multiple sites, manage car parking bookings, and it can also encompass bookings for desk hoteling. 

No matter your workplace model, or the technology being used, remember communication is key between your team. Let everyone know who is covering who’s the role and make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to time management and meeting customer expectations. 

If you find you don’t quite get it right this year, remember to make notes of what worked and what didn’t work so that you can change your processes for next year.

This could include putting policies in place around leave at Christmas time, especially if there needs to be a better balance between seniority of roles and management/executive staff, or implementing the much needed CRM and project management system.

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Robert Wilkinson

Robert Wilkinson

Robert Wilkinson is the CXO of <a href="https://www.officemaps.com/">OfficeMaps</a>, an interactive office map and visual staff directory. OfficeMaps helps you keep track of who and what is where in your organisation with a visual representation on an interactive map of your business locations. It has social distancing technology to help you run a safe workforce during COVID-19. 

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