26 October 2007

The Replacement Assistant (or the Floater Assistant)

We all take holidays and when we are gone someone needs to fill in for us. One of my pet peeves when I have used a replacement assistant is when I come back nothing looks the same as before I left; my toolbars no longer look the same; my Outlook has a different look; documents are saved in a way I would never think to find them again and none of the filing is done. Help!

I thought putting together a few Do's and Don'ts would help.

Do's and Don'ts for the Assistant and Floater Assistant:

Do meet with the floater assistant before you leave on vacation.

Do fill out a form for your replacement with any information she might need, computer passwords, upcoming events she will have to handle in your absence etc.

Don't change the computer settings or the workspace of the assistant you are replacing. If you must change the settings, take a printscreen of the settings and restore it back to the original settings before you leave that assignment.

If you are using the assistant's Outlook, do change the signature line to indicate you are sending the email on their behalf.

Do change the initials on correspondence you type to your initials.

Do as much filing as you can, but if you are unsure, leave it in a folder for the assistant to do on their return.

Do leave a short note or email to the returning assistant to give a summary of what you did while they were away and if there is anything that needs attention on their return.

If you are appreciative of the work the floater assistant has done for you in your absence, do send a thank you email (I always copy the HR manager as well). I think a job well done needs to be acknowledged and recognized.

In summary, we cannot expect the floater to do our job exactly the way we do it, but we can expect it to be done in a professional manner with the information we provide to them.

I have asked someone who was a floater assistant to write an article from the floater's point of view and will print that in the next few weeks. I hope both articles will give us a better appreciation of each of our roles and will make our jobs a little bit easier.

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