Every year we have a shutdown for Christmas. We are very lucky to be in an industry where this is possible. I believe it's essential.

We always seem to get busier and busier around Christmas and with busy-ness comes stress. I find the two week shutdown period to be a great break and reset for myself and my team. We get to spend time with friends and family. We have the time to reflect on our achievements and to maybe resolve to change a few things for the next year all done while drinking and eating more than we really should. We used to leave our shutdown procedure to the very last minute and then look at each other in panic: ‘What do we do again?!' I decided to put it out there and show you some of the things we do to shutdown for Christmas.

1. Let your staff know in advance the dates for their leave

I let my staff know well in advance what our shutdown times are. As a rule, I send them the below email in the first quarter of the year. This gives them plenty of time to query me on it and make sure they have enough leave accrued. The email:

This year, as in other years, we will be closing for a set time over the Christmas/New Year period. This is so everyone enjoys a good break over the festive period and we come back relaxed and refreshed. Our office will be closed from Friday 18 December. We will return on Monday 4 January. In this period there are 3 public holidays and 7 working days which will be taken as annual leave.

2. Let your clients know where you're at

We send two emails to our clients. The first is our Christmas email. It is usually something fun and warm and friendly. It thanks our clients for a great year, wishes them a Merry Christmas and lets them know our shutdown times for the Christmas period. This is it here: mettro-christmas-email In the last few weeks leading up to our break we also send all of our clients who are on a support plan an email which explains our shutdown period and how we will be supporting them over that time. It must be personalised, warm and friendly. Here is an example: mettro-support-shutdown

3. Set up your phone answering service

We have two numbers: our general number and our support number. Setting up our answering service is paramount to us providing the best support we possibly can for our clients over the Christmas period. Writing the script can often be a challenge so here are the two scripts we use: Our general phone number +61 7 3334 8320:

Hi, you’ve reached Mettro. We are taking a break over the Christmas period. Our office will be closed Friday 18 December 2015, returning Monday 4 January 2016. To find out more about our out of hours support please phone +61 7 3334 8325. Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

Our support phone number +61 7 3334 8325:

Hi, you've reached Mettro support. Our office is closed, and we'll be returning Monday 4 January 2016. While our team won't be around for general updates and additions during this period, we understand that sometimes things happen. To cover this, we are offering our support for urgent work that requires our technical team. To leave a request for support please follow the voicemail prompts and leave a detailed message including your email and telephone contact details and a full description of the support required. A Mettro support member will contact you once they have looked into the issue. Just a reminder this is for urgent work only and will require us to take our staff away from their friends, family and champagne. Therefore depending on the nature of the issue you may incur additional costs (not for champagne of course). Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

Tip: Oh and don't forget to read the manual on how to setup your answering service well and truly before the last day!

4. Clean out, shutdown and unplug

Ever come back from Chrissy holidays only to see a desk piled with papers and a revolting rubbish bin overflowing with garbage? Here are our last day chores we do before relaxing with a quiet beer/champagne:
  1. Empty all the bins and put the wheelie bin out ready to go
  2. Clean up all the desks
  3. Clean up our computer desktops
  4. Clean the coffee machine
  5. Clean the fridge, throw it ALL out!
  6. Turn off your machines
  7. Pull the plugs out at the wall
Well that's it. My list of things to do to make your Christmas shutdown more pleasurable. I hope that helps you put your own procedure together.
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Raels Robertson
Raels Robertson

Raels is managing director of Mettro. She is a highly experienced business strategist and design visionary.