Survey Shows Employees May Need a Jump-Start When Returning to Work

MENLO PARK, CA -- While many workers are focusing on what they need to accomplish before taking time off during the upcoming holiday season, their bosses may be thinking of ways to get them back on track once they return. In a recent survey, executives said it takes the average employee a day and a half to return to normal productivity levels following a vacation. 

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals, and conducted by an independent research firm. The poll includes responses from 150 executives with the nation's 1,000 largest companies. 

Survey respondents were asked, "On average, how many days does it take a typical employee to return to normal productivity levels following a vacation?" The mean response was 1.5 days

"Employees returning to work after even a short period of time off are often met with overflowing inboxes and an abundance of unread e-mail," said Liz Hughes, executive director of OfficeTeam. "In addition, new projects requiring their immediate attention can make the first day back seem overwhelming." 

Hughes noted that organizing yourself before a vacation can minimize the time spent playing catch-up upon your return. She offers these tips: 

  • Use out-of-office features - Before you leave, change your voice- and e-mail greetings to indicate you are on vacation. Offer contact information for a colleague who can assist with urgent issues. People are less likely to leave more than one message for someone who cannot respond right away.
  • Plan your first day back - In addition to wrapping up projects before you leave, make a schedule for the date you return. Plan to meet with key staff, get an update on projects, even plan for a lunch out. The added structure will help you readjust.
  • Minimize chitchat - Colleagues will likely stop by and ask about your holiday. Give a quick synopsis and offer to provide more detail after work or during a lunch break. Focusing more on work and less on reliving your vacation will help you get up to speed more quickly.
  • Take an extra day - If your vacation includes out-of-town travel, resist the urge to fly home Sunday night and return to work Monday morning. Give yourself a day to adjust, especially if you're changing time zones. This will enable you to catch up on errands, housework and sleep so you're better focused when you return to the office.

OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at

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