I’ve been talking to a few people about this lately. With the new working from home norm .. are employers expecting their staff to be ‘on tap’ more and available outside hours ? Is there a greater feeling of guilt if you don’t respond to something out of hours as everyone knows you are there ! Are freelancers feeling more obliged to work outside their pre-arranged hours because they know there is a shortage of work?
As someone who has worked independently for the last 3 years – predominantly from home, I’ve had an insight into this prior to the circumstances we have been living in for the last few months.
On the one hand its good to set boundaries. Have a set time (give or take) that you switch off the computer and you are now in your time. This is imperative to your mental health and most employers and employees will understand this. However does this actually work in practise? One of the recurring compliments I get from my clients and candidates is my responsiveness…
That candidate I replied to on a Saturday night as my email had gone into their junk box, we corresponded over the weekend and were able to get his details for a job before the closing deadline… (yes he did get it !)
The candidate who texted me to say they had sprained their wrist, couldn’t work on Monday so I could line up an alternative freelancer meaning the client wasn’t left short handed.
The client who urgently needed those figures for the 9 am budget meeting – a 10 minute email the night before made that meeting easier.
The client texting over the weekend as an urgent pitch has come in and they need someone to start working on it before Monday.
All of these things wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t have an element of being ‘on call’ that’s my job! I accept and embrace that and my clients and candidates know I will do my best to respond asap to any request. Most of the requests I receive outside hours take a minimal response but puts me and my clients and candidates a step ahead for the next working day. Equally, my valued and trusted clients also know and understand if they call me at 5pm on a weekday you may have me juggling the conversation with a screaming 3 year old demanding a different sized plate/cup/chair/carrot…
For me, It’s a pay off, that seems to pay off!
So don’t be surprised if you see a mail from me at 5.30 am (my daughter is a rubbish sleeper!!!) or a response at 10 pm. That’s not to say I advocate working 24/7, for anyone in any industry , simply you have to find a framework that works for you.
Working remotely can bring increased flexibility for both client and candidate, the ability to prioritise your work load to the hours that suit and you are able to work to fulfil your responsibilities. But its important to set the boundaries of that working framework to the people that need to know it, so expectations are met and we try to reduce the frustration or feelings of guilt if you are unable to respond as quickly as anticipated.