Keeping in Touch With Your Colleagues
Even if you are having a whale of a time on sabbatical and cannot bear to give the world of work one second's thought, it is worth making a little time available to keep in touch with your colleagues.
If you have kept in touch, however infrequently, while you are on sabbatical, it will make the transition so much easier when you return, both for you and your colleagues.
One of the key issues faced by people returning to work after taking a sabbatical is the feeling that they are out of touch with their colleagues and have been 'left behind' on some projects or events. The best way to ensure this does not happen is to stay in touch with your workplace, keeping them informed of your progress and asking questions about what is happening in the office.
How you stay in touch can take many forms and indeed there is no reason for you to call or email daily, or even weekly. What you do need to do is commit to maintaining a friendly, positive and professional contact by whatever means you think are most appropriate and times that suit you, your colleagues and your workplace.
How to Keep in TouchEmail has made staying in touch easier than ever before. Emailing is also less 'formal' than sending a letter and more convenient than making a phone call, when you may have time differences and meetings that are not conducive to a good chat.
Postcards are a good way to stay in touch with your colleagues because they can be passed around for everyone to read. Even if you write to one colleague directly, it is likely that your postcard will be put on a notice board or somewhere public, so choose a scenic card rather than a funny or rude one and keep the message upbeat and positive.
When to Keep in TouchPlan to email at least once a month with updates of your adventures. By all means attach a couple of photos but be careful not to overload the server. Zip them as small as possible and keep them clean - bear in mind that people other than who you send them to will see the photos, so drunken photos in bars will likely find their way to your boss's inbox.
In addition to the emails of your sabbatical, make sure you keep in touch about what is important in your workplace. If there is a key project going live, or an event that will happen while you are away, send them your best wishes. This will encourage your colleagues to tell you about workplace developments, too, so you will feel more involved both while you are away and when you return.
Before you return to work after your sabbatical, you should contact your colleagues and let them know your return date. You can ask for any updates on projects or clients and generally see how everyone is getting on. This can be done in an email or phone call. The benefit of doing this the week or so before you return is that your first day will be more relaxed for you and your colleagues and you will be more informed of any workplace developments.