We all know the dream of a work-free vacation is just that… a dream.
You can try to bury your head in the beach sand, but no matter how many miles away you get from the office, or how many devices you set to Do Not Disturb, the world of business keeps turning.
Yes, most of it is easily ignored while you enjoy your trip. But some problems really do require your attention whether you’re in the office or not. Some questions really are ones only you can answer. We’re not saying you should spend all of your vacation time on-call or glued to your laptop, just that it’s prudent to leave a few lines of communication open just in case.
Because trust us, the last thing you want to do the moment you step back in the office is deal with all the accumulated “just in case” scenarios you missed while you were away.
For this list, we tried to strike a good balance between keeping you available for emergencies while also having as little impact as possible on your vacation. So without further ado, here are our top 5 Ways to Get Important Messages on Vacation.
1. Good Old-Fashioned Text Messages
There’s a reason text messaging is already the primary way most of us communicate. It’s quick, convenient, doesn’t cause a whole fuss each time it happens. Those strengths are also what makes text messaging the obvious frontrunner for discreetly getting work done while you’re at the beach, or trapped alone in a room with your in-laws.
The obvious downside is that you have to give your personal phone number to every coworker and customer you think you might need to stay in touch with while you’re away.
Oh wait… it’s the 21st century! You don’t need to do that at all!
Just download your phone system’s mobile app and text directly from your work number, on your personal cell phone.
The app will already have all your work contacts and previous text conversations saved so you never have to scramble to remember what you’ve already said. Plus, if your texts turn into the need for a call, you’re already on the app to dial directly from your work extension.
If you like to stay up to date on what’s happening in the office, even when you’re hundreds of miles away from the office, text messaging is your go-to.
2. Have Voicemails Sent Right to Your Email
Allow me to set the scene: You’re at the pool with your spouse and kids, everyone having fun, about to gleefully hurl your youngest child into the water. And then your phone rings.
You immediately panic.
What if that new deal you’ve been working on for months fell through? What if half your team is sick and hold times are getting out of control?
However, what if it’s just Brenda asking why you’re not at your desk since she forgot you’re on vacation? What if it’s that annoying customer who calls you directly about every little issue anyone could solve?
You know it’s probably one of those second options, but you can’t take the risk. Sweating from the heat of the glare your spouse casts your way, you race over and pick up your phone.
Spoiler Alert: It’s Brenda. Because of course it’s Brenda.
When you’re out of the office, you can feel pressured to answer every work call that comes your way. It’s a natural response when you care about what you do. Fortunately though, there’s a better option!
With Voicemail-to-Email, you can safely let calls ring to voicemail without worrying you’ll miss something critical. Just check your email when it’s convenient, and if the transcribed message looks important, step away for a minute to return the call.
Having voicemails sent to your email is also the best practice for those who want to distance themselves from work as much as possible without fully cutting the cord. No need to answer texts. No need to even take your phone off silent.
Just check your email every once in a while to make sure you don’t go back to the office completely out of the loop.
3. Follow Me Forwarding from Your Desk Phone
Work plans rarely line up with our personal lives, especially when it comes to vacations planned months in advance. Sometimes you’re forced to leave without finishing an important project, or right when you’re about to close a huge sale. Maybe you’re in the midst of an “emergency” with your most important account and “sorry I’m on vacation” isn’t going to cut it.
Setting your desk phone to Follow Me allows your callers to do exactly that, follow you across the world and ring your cell phone as well.
Don’t worry, you’ll be able to tell it’s a work call, giving you precious seconds to put your drink down and warm up your polite business voice. Or, if it’s from a number you know you can safely ignore, just let it ring and focus on enjoying yourself.
4. Automatic Alerts When Something Goes Wrong
For managers and executives, especially those that work in sales or support, quick responses are everything.
Honestly the stress of not knowing if something goes wrong is far worse than the annoyance of dealing with it. That’s why any phone system worth its salt is packed with features that will automatically let you know when things go sideways:
Receive an angry voicemail from a customer? Boom! Notification texted to your cell phone so you can call them back ASAP.
Callers being left on hold too long? Boom! Report sent to your email so you can review what went wrong with your team.
Receive a call from your most important account? BOOM! Have it ring straight to your cell phone because some customers really are more important than enjoying your vacation.
Here at FluentStream, we call them Notification Workflows. However, any modern phone system should have the ability to send you automatic alerts when your attention truly is needed.
4. Download Your Extension onto All Your Devices
Inevitably, at some point during your vacation, one of your customers or coworkers is going to ask for help only you can provide. And yes, that means you’ll have to begrudgingly pull out your laptop and pretend your hotel room is an office. It’s annoying, but it happens to all of us.
The good news is, with modern phone systems, you really can turn your hotel room into an office using nothing but your laptop. Download your system’s softphone app (or any free alternative) and you’ll be able to make or receive calls from your extension just like you can at your desk.
Jane in Sales needs you to walk her through some SalesForce numbers? No problem! Just pop in your headphones, give her a call, and do both show and tell on the same screen.
Does that new account you signed right before leaving have loads of questions that can’t wait or be satisfactorily answered over text? Also no problem! Pull up their account on your laptop, give them a ring, and talk them through all their concerns.
No laptop? Also, also no problem! The same mobile app that lets you use your cell phone to text from your business number also lets you make calls from your extension.
Yes, taking a full work break from your break from work may result in a glare or two from your family. But hey, how else do they expect you to afford these vacations in the first place?
6. BONUS: Send and Receive Internet Faxes from Anywhere
Situations where you desperately need to fax from outside the office are rare, but they do happen.
For instance, earlier this year, one of our salespeople faxed a proposal to one of his prospects and then left work early to visit his parents for a week. The fax failed to go through, and the proposal was only saved on his laptop.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… who can go visit their parents for an entire week without going insane?
Okay, all joking aside, you’re probably thinking that he didn’t realize the fax failed until he got back to the office and by that point the prospect had already gone with a competitor.
Because our FluentStream salesperson was using FluentStream, he received an email as soon as his plane landed letting him know the fax had failed. No need to panic. No need to call someone back at the office. He simply opened a new internet fax right there at the airport, re-attached the proposal document, and sent it again.
Shortly after, he received a second email letting him know the fax was confirmed as sent.
Yes, sometimes life really is that easy. Especially when you have a modern phone system that lets you send and receive faxes anywhere, on any device.