Picking up holiday cover is an odious task, but it needn’t be entirely miserable. Here is how to survive your time on the skeleton crew.
So, I take it that you drew the short straw? While your peers gear up to spend the holidays relaxing at home, you have just been informed that you will make up part of the skeleton crew that must keep your place of work chugging along.
It’s difficult to spin this turn of events in a positive light. No need to sugarcoat it – doing holiday cover is pretty awful. Yet it doesn’t have to be entirely awful. There are a few things you can do to make your situation a little more bearable.
Stay off social media
People’s minds wander on even the best of days, and often procrastination takes the form of mindless social media scrolling. It can be a struggle to maintain focus during holiday cover, yet succumbing to the urge to scroll through Instagram may only serve to make your situation worse.
The fact that you are in work while your peers are off celebrating with friends and family will be weighing on your mind to begin with. These celebrations are likely to be fastidiously documented on social media. You can already probably visualise what is happening outside while you’re tapping away at your computer – the visual reminders will add salt to the wound.
If you need a break, it might be better to go for a walk, get a snack or even watch something short on Netflix.
Cut a deal
Your boss is bound to sympathise with your plight, making this the ideal opportunity to negotiate. You could, for example, ask if you could work from home. Many organisations offer this flexible working option already, so it could help keep you near your loved ones while still fulfilling your obligations.
You will probably be offered some form of incentive for working on public holidays such as Christmas Day anyway, be it in the form of double-time pay or an extra annual leave day offered in lieu. Enquire about the conditions of working over the holidays, and try to focus on that slight benefit.
Bond with your fellow crew
You may be working on your own in the office over the holidays (in which case, I strongly recommend you take the opportunity to blare music and enjoy having the run of the place) but, if not, you should bond with your fellow skeleton crew. They’ll be dealing with the same emotions as you are.
It could even be nice to plan a tiny holiday celebration among yourselves by bringing food in or even exchanging gifts. It may provide an opportunity to bond with a colleague you haven’t spent a lot of time getting to know, which is very much in keeping with the holiday spirit.