Freelancer rules of job
How to create a comfortable environment to make the world a better place
Clients often set their own set of rules and policies for a freelancer. Actually, it’s a really good situation when a client is transparent about the rules before.
You can apply for them or not. This makes your working environment predictable. You can agree or not at the beginning. The cheapest issue is the issue solved as early as possible. A worse scenario is discovering rules in the process.
A freelancer could and should set own rules for the client too. This transparency creates a good basement for future relations and helps you to pick up the right project.
The real story from my practice.
All interviews with a potential client are passed. The client makes me an offer. I really like the project itself. Sadly, the client and I discuss the work process at the last moment.
They want to work with a time tracker provided by Upwork. It is an hourly project. I always have been against any trackers. I didn’t discuss an acceptable workflow for me with the client before. It was my mistake as a freelancer. This could cost a lot of time for a non-fruitful hiring process for both sides. I had to set my personal job rules before such a critical moment.
To be clear, I am against trackers for two major reasons.
The first is data privacy.
All kinds of tracking applications require a huge amount of highest level permissions. This gives such apps total access to your local machine. That, in turn, puts your other clients’ private projects and documents in a dangerous position of leakage. I have a strong opinion that freelancers should do all the best to keep clients’ data secured. Signed NDAs are not just a paper. It’s your reputation.
The second reason is the comfort of your work environment.
I strongly prefer a project which requires solid knowledge, complex solutions, creativity, learning, responsibility, and wide view (including users’ and technical points). Trackers are not part of such a project.
Harvard Business Review separates management into two big groups. One is called “command and control”, another is “trust and track”. I prefer to work with clients who trust me. From my side, I have to make a tracking part clearer for them.
Returning to the story. The client accepted my offer to drop trackers and use transparent status reports. The client relied on trackers since they didn’t know how to build the process in another way.
Such conflicts should be solved as early as possible.
You have to build your own rules before the first client and update them after each new one. The rules could contain your schedule, tracking approaches, open hours for chatting, response time for regular and urgent issues, vacation requirements, payment periods and ways.
Rules setting up
I recommend preparing a list of your rules with a short description. You should make them understandable for the client. Provide rules with a context and brief explanation. You can have a weird schedule, you can be against trackers, etc. It’s ok if you clarify your position. Rather than just using “black box” rules without any reason. The good approach is setting yourself in a potential client position on preparing a list stage.
You can start your working day at 12 o’clock. This could be a marker of a lazy person for a client. Most of us are thinking about the worst possible scenario. You can write to a client that you have learning hours in the morning, you switched your schedule to fit the different timezone, or you spend time with children. Any of these additional clarifications would make you more transparent for the client. It removes blind spots that could be filled in with unpredictable assumptions.
Mention your rules on the interview step, send the copy by email, make an accent in the profile description.
This will make your life easier, your client happier, and build up your professional look.
Work with Shardik.