Whether you’re moving to a new role within the company, changing jobs, or simply going on holiday, it’s important to create a comprehensive handover document so that someone can cover your duties in your absence. And while it may sound like an easy thing to do, the last thing you want is to realise that you’ve missed out a key task when you’re relaxing on a beach somewhere sunny! 

To help ensure you don’t leave anything off your list of duties, we’ve created an easy guide to writing a brilliant handover below!

What is a Handover?

A handover is essentially a written document that outlines all the duties that need to be covered while a member of staff is away or leaving the business. Usually, this will be written by the individual taking time off, though they may get help from their manager or members of their team, especially if they’ve worked closely together on ongoing projects.

A handover is designed to help the person or team taking on the day-to-day tasks of whoever is absent, and help them understand their duties. It’s basically a ‘how to guide’, written by an individual with first-hand experience.

Why Do You Need a Handover?

A handover can help the smooth running of a business, or ensure that there is an easy transition process when a job changes hands. It’s not only useful for the person covering the extra tasks, it’s also helpful for the wider business to know what’s going on, and where additional resources need to be allocated.

Overally, a good handover is about maintaining productivity levels, and causing as little disruption as possible. Even if the handover is just for a short period of time, writing up a document listing the tasks that need to be completed can prevent mistakes from being made or work to be overlooked. So how do you write a handover document? 

1. Create a Weekly Overview

The first thing you’ll need to do when writing a handover document is to think about your daily and weekly tasks. For some people, this is a straightforward process, while others have a varied schedule that’s hard to document. But as long as you give this enough time, you shouldn’t miss anything out. Try to start the process at least a few weeks in advance - that way you can ensure that you record every recurring task you undertake.

It can also be helpful to record the level of priority each task has. Your colleagues probably won’t be able to cover your entire workload, so try to limit your handover list to things that have to be completed while you’re away. Anything that can wait until you’re back you should have on a separate list, ready for you when you return. 

2. Ongoing Projects

As mentioned above, you should prioritise your task list, making sure your team understands which things are urgent. Alongside this, it can be sensible to include things like the name and details of anyone you’ve been communicating with externally about a project. Try and think of any issues you foresee happening too, and provide solutions where possible. 

If you’re expecting particular emails, calls or paperwork, make sure your team is made aware of this too, as well as details of how to respond and where to find any additional information. Bullet points are your friend here - you don’t want to overwhelm your colleagues with big blocks of text outlining the details they need!

work handover

3. Go Into Detail

While you don’t want to be condescending - there is no point explaining how to do something simple, or something that the person covering you has to do as part of their own job - a few things will need clarification. There are bound to be at least a couple of complicated processes that you’ll need to explain, though hopefully not too many!

To help your colleagues as much as possible, try to use screengrabs or even a recording of your screen as you go through a process yourself. Written instructions, no matter how thorough, are never as easy to follow as images or videos. 

4. Give Enough Warning

Even if you’ve had your holiday booked for months, and your colleagues can see this on the rota, there’s no guarantee that they’ll check. That’s why it’s a good idea to speak to your team in person. Let them know when you’ll be away, and how long for, then give them the opportunity to ask any questions about the handover while you’re still in the office. 

You should also use this meeting as an opportunity to let your team know what will be expected of them while you’re not there. This will not only help clarify which tasks belong to which team members, it will also alleviate any fears or stress about the amount of work that needs completing.

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