When you have to cover another PA who is on holiday, you may find it very demanding as you will be seeing to the needs of your manager, the PA’s manager, her daily tasks and, of course, your daily tasks. There are also the two departments needing instructions, information etc. It is beginning to look as if you should be on roller skates.

Most important, you need to know how long you will be covering the PA. One day or one week would not be too difficult to handle but anything longer will need planning and preparation. Covering another PA would be a lot easier if you work as a team with other PAs or you cover each other from time to time. You may be able to enlist assistance from another member of staff to take over small tasks e.g. managing the diary.

Obviously, your boss needs to be prepared for you to divide your time between him and the other boss. This means he may need to take over some tasks himself. If it is a quiet period, then he or she would be happier to let you assist.

You need to prepare before the handover so, ideally, you should meet with the PA and have a list of questions you need to ask in order to have a full understanding of the role and her boss’s likes and dislikes. You need to know if you are expected to be a full-time PA or you need to just keep her department ticking over until her return.

Effectively cover another PA

She will need to give you honest answers regarding her boss’s work habits. It could be he/she is well organised and reads the diary; he may have weaknesses that you need to note; he can be demanding and relies on you getting things done instantaneously. You may have already had dealings with him but this can be quite different to when you are working closely with him.

You also need to make sure you have access to her diary and emails; ask questions as she can give you further insight into the entries. There could be recurring jobs that are not in the diary but you need to know these. In this way, you will be able to prioritise effectively. There could also be the likelihood of an unexpected meeting or a certain client dropping in, on the off chance, to see the boss.

Although your workload will be heavy, you may find it interesting as you will be exposed to a different area of the business. This can also mean that you will be learning new skills and meeting new people.