One of the perks of being digital can also be a downfall when you want to plan a vacation but are not sure how to break it to your clients.
Unlike a 9 to 5 job, where you request off and completely walk away from the work (hopefully), as freelancers we tend to always be on "go" mode for a multitude of reasons such as a large number of clients, financial security, or our tendency to always hustle.
But you also need "you" time to decompress, whether it is a staycation or a full-on vacation complete with a tropical drink with a bendy straw.
So, do you tell your clients you are gone? Here are some pros and cons I think you should consider:
It allows you to be transparent with your clients
We can be as close or distant with our clients as we wish. I personally think being transparent has more benefits than drawbacks because it shows you are still a human who needs to relax and sleep. Personally, I have some family illnesses going on, so when I need to book it over to my parents’, I simply tell my clients briefly my situation and all have been understanding.
As clients, they also have families, vacations, and obligations beyond work and the situations have been flipped where they missed a deadline due to a life situation and were grateful.
My transparency opened the doors for theirs.
It sets boundaries
Setting boundaries can be hard when you are virtual. You may work with clients in a different time zone, which conflicts with when they want you to work and when you are working.
The key is to set these boundaries, whether it’s when you plan to work or establishing the idea that you may take vacations at times. You build trust that deadlines will not be missed.
If you do not set these boundaries, you are bound to get a client or two that think you will be working 24/7 and 365 days a year for them (unfortunately, it has happened to many of us).
Being open and saying "I will be gone" or "I do not answer emails after a certain time" can allow you to take those mental breaks during the day or even stretch them out to a longer term vacation escape.
It's personal and time-consuming
On the flip-side, you may deal with a lot of different clients, some you are close with and some who are simply strangers you just happen to work with. Letting them know you are even on vacation seems like you are opening up your personal life to them, even if you are doing so to be professional and open.
It can be awkward dealing with all your clients and having to let each of them know. You may only have three clients or you may have ten or more you need to let know that you will be on vacation. It just can seem like too many people are in the know of your personal business and it takes time to disseminate this information out to them.
Clients may not listen or care
The most frustrating thing that can happen after taking the time and opening yourself up to all your clients is them simply not caring. You sent an email, they responded saying okay, but you still have an inbox overflowing with work. You were willing to tell them you would be gone, but it didn't seem to register.
You now have two options: work through it (but then why did you even go on a vacation) or remind them and risk them taking it the wrong way and you losing a client. This is an unfortunate reality. Sometimes people just don't understand.
Ultimately, there is no real right or wrong answer to letting a client know if you plan to go on vacation. You have to look at your relationships, how many clients you have, and whether you are willing to tolerate a client still sending work while on vacation.
Sarah DeGeorge currently freelances in the content creation and social media marketing realm but dabbles in public relations from time to time as well. When she isn't helping clients she is most likely helping the stray animal population of Philadelphia or traveling somewhere new.