Last week the inevitable happened. It happens to all small businesses, at one time or another: sickness and holiday combined to leave us with slightly fewer people than we normally have here at OggaDoon HQ.

It’s something that owners and managers at small businesses dread, because we simply don’t have innumerable people to draw from, and in the summer it’s a particularly potent combination, as school holidays, parental cover, and planned time off can easily collide with childhood sickness, bereavement, compassionate leave, or just a plain old tummy bug to leave desks worryingly empty.

Thankfully here at OggaDoon, even with more than normal out of the office for one day…nothing went wrong. Everything essential was delivered to our clients, we spoke to clients about meetings that could sadly not be attended – and the world did not end.

How did we do it? Here are the secrets (spoiler alert: not really secrets, just hacks):

1.      Always be prepared

Whether you were a Scout/Girl Guide or not, being prepared should not be something that is new to you – but when it comes to management of people, being prepared actually becomes more valuable when it comes to administration. The more prepared your processes are, the easier it is for someone else to take up the reins.

2.      Always be aware

Here at OggaDoon, we have a Skype call every Monday to go through each client and make sure that we all understand the key deliverables for that week. Caroline, our founder, and I also work closely with everyone within the team to ensure that we know what each client needs, and perhaps more importantly, how each of our team is doing that week. Being aware of the requirements for a specific client means that covering for a few days is just that much easier.

3.      Always be ready

Any parent will know this: watch out for the sticky spots! When summer holidays and planned time off combine, you need to be even more aware that unexpected time off could leave you in a sticky situation. I’d recommend checking in with your team every few days and keeping your ears and eyes open for personal challenges – because real life comes first – and indications of sickness.

4.      Never get complacent

Let’s be honest: none of us have crystal balls, and even if we did, we probably wouldn’t end up using their power for seeing the future of staffing levels (hello, lottery numbers). It is simply not possible to avoid some lower staffing levels in a smaller business, especially over the summer, but by having processes in place, communicating clearly about clients, and keeping a tab on the ‘sneezles’ around you, you’ll find it much easier to keep things ticking over until the schools go back, the rain arrives, and you can relax.