Dec. 17, 2009

Be prepared for the extended winter break

by Paula Van Brocklin

Before you leave the office for winter break, imitate Santa Claus by making a list (and checking it twice).

Special hours

Check winter break hours for athletics events, museums, recreation facilities, Reiman Gardens and more.

A partial university-wide shutdown Dec. 24 through Jan. 3 to help alleviate a state-mandated 10 percent budget reduction means employees should take extra steps to prepare for their absence. The following checklist is a start, but there may be additional tasks necessary for your particular work environment. Contact your supervisor with questions specific to your unit.

Energy-saving suggestions

  • Shut down all computers, printers and other accessories, such as speakers. Leave your office computer on if you need remote access from home. However, still power off the monitor, printer, speakers, etc.
    A computer's sleep mode uses less energy than full power, but information technology services recommends shutting down computers completely to protect data. A machine may be left on during break if it's providing access to a critical application.
    If possible, plug computers and printers into a power strip and then shut off the power strip before you leave.
  • Turn off and unplug copiers.
  • Shut off and unplug small appliances, like coffeepots.
  • Unplug all cell phone, MP3 and personal digital assistant chargers.
  • Check faucets in bathrooms and break rooms to make sure they are completely turned off and not dripping. If you notice a dripping faucet, contact your building's maintenance team.
  • Facilities planning and management staff will adjust building temperatures centrally upon request. If you can manually adjust the thermostat in your office, turn it down to 65 degrees.
  • Close fume hood sashes completely or open them only minimally.
  • Shut down unnecessary climate-controlled plant growth chambers.
  • Shut down cooling water systems to eliminate potential flooding issues.
  • Remember to turn off your office lights and as much public lighting (hallways, bathrooms, conference rooms) as possible before you leave.
  • Check windows to make sure they're shut tight.

Communication considerations

  • If your department is closing over break, discuss how to handle incoming phone calls. One option is to funnel all departmental calls to one voicemail box, which will be checked periodically by designated employees during the break. Employees also should change their personal voicemail messages. Following are some guidelines for both departmental and personal voicemail messages:
    a. Indicate that due to the holidays and severe budget conditions, your office is closed from (date) to (date).
    b. Mention when you will return calls or if you plan to check messages while you are away.
    c. If necessary, include an off-campus number where you can be reached.
  • Put an out-of-office reply on your e-mail, indicating that you are out of the office until a certain date. Indicate whether or not you plan to check e-mail while you are away.

And if there's time

  • Clean out and defrost community refrigerators.
  • Move live plants accustomed to artificial office lighting to a nearby window.