Dear Aunty Entity
The company I am working for are combining staff and clients for their Christmas party this year. All employees, including contract workers are obliged to attend. Do you have any tips for surviving this nightmare without losing my job?
Hmmm. Combining staff and clients can be a recipe for disaster but a lot of companies do it for a number of reasons. Office legends usually begin at such events and there is either kudos or a harassment claim to come following allegations of being caught in a compromising position on the chairman’s desk with their assistant. The ready availability of alcohol can also lead to problems, fuelling confidence in supernatural abilities and lowering inhibitions. However, there are a few rules you can follow to minimise fallout and ensure the only envelope you receive from HR is the one containing your payslip:
- Keep it in your pants:
You might have been playing ‘footsie’ with your client under the table at meetings for the last 3 months, but if you want to take things to the next level a work function may not be the best place to do it. Apart from everyone knowing who both of you are and even, who your partners are (some of them may even be friends), facing an increasingly pissed off queue for the loo which may include senior staff as you both leave a cubicle after a noisy session warrants the appearance of 007, not Kevin from accounts.
I caught Office Space while flipping through channels this weekend and watched the whole thing again … for about the fifth time. Nothing will make you appreciate freelancing more than that movie. Life in a cube may be a distant memory by now or perhaps so fresh it still haunts you in nightmares. But for freelancers who have forgotten, here are five reasons desperation and jealousy appeared in your co-workers’ eyes when they heard you were quitting to work from home:
1. Looks like somebody’s having a case of the Mondays
Every office has one! Ultra-perky and in-your-face, normally the self-appointed Queen of the Coffee Club and unafraid to use baby talk in phone conversations with her significant other. Freelancers don’t see her anymore. Freelancers are the self-appointed rulers of their own Coffee Clubs. When the Monday Blues come calling, freelancers aren’t pressured to act happy. They also don’t need executive privilege to take a two-hour lunch and refresh.
2. The pacer
Just like Bill Lumbergh, everybody has worked at some point for that boss who paces the room occasionally just to make sure the hamster wheel is firmly in motion. It made it darn near impossible to get any freelance work done on the clock (tell me I wasn’t the only guilty one). I still work with a pacer, but it’s my dog and I can tell him to go lay down and he listens.
There are numerous discussions and debates in the world of freelancing–what’s the best website for this, what’s the best software for that, etc. In Switchoff, John and Jack will explore one of these debates in a calm, measured way–that hopefully won’t involve them killing each other in the process.
John Brougher: Welcome, Freelance Switch readers! Today, Jack Knight and I will be facing off against each other, flexing our rhetorical muscles regarding one of the most heated topics in the world: choice of computer platform. Mac or Windows PC? Continue Reading
There’s a lot of articles around about how to make your time more productive. But some days I really don’t want to be productive, and while I should get off my chair and go outside instead I find myself killing time online.
Here are a few of my favourite web addresses for wasting time. (Got your own favourites? Comment them!) Continue Reading
The FSw Get Yourself Fired competition yielded many fantastic entries. In no particular order, here are the highlights:
Keep looking over your shoulder in a paranoid way, like you’re seeing things. When anyone asks if you want a cup of coffee, refuse politely saying coffee doesn’t mix well with amphetamines.
Show up to work hours late — when your boss asks why you’re late, reach into your pocket and pull out a forged note from his “mom” asking to please excuse you because you were spending quality time with her, then tell him that your mom is quite the woman and amazingly is still good in bed with 100% sincerity.
As you are sitting at your desk, working diligently, suddenly stand up at attention, while saluting and scream: “Yes sir! Sh*t, ass, b*tch, sh*t, b*tch, damn!” then do 25 push-ups, then sit back down as if nothing happened. When someone approaches you about it, just say: “Oh that? When I was in Vietnam I acquired a case of turrets syndrome,” even though you’re only in your 20s.
Especially if you work in an IT company…the WiFiphobe…walk around with a tin foil hat screaming “the WiFi is coming! The WiFi is coming!” Extra points if you have an ET-esque voice and can say “ET connect home via BlueTooth…”
We’ve already discussed how to tell if you are charging too little, but what if your prices have gone right the other way? For your amusement here are some signs you may be charging too MUCH!
To justify the price on your quotes, you’ve started writing extra words that usually mean the same thing…
eg. Creation of Concept, Concept Development, Concept Refinement, Tweaking to Concept, Amendments to Concept ….
You’re still living off a job you finished in 2005.
Even large clients ask to pay you in installments.
Clients ask if you are perhaps quoting in Singapore dollars even though you live in Ohio.
Last Sunday we launched a little competition to see which of our readers could come up with the best ways to get fired. The two winners would receive two copies of Tim Ferris’ new book The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich – one for their comedic brilliance and the other at random. So, without further ado, here are our picks:
The funniest entry was by Amber Yount, with:
Grab a portable boombox and loudly play Eye of the Tiger as you walk around the building. When you get to the conference room were your boss is having one of his meetings, jump on the table and proceed to dance erotically. When the song ends, flip off your boss, jump off the table, and leave building immediately.
I really, really hope Amber actually did that!
And the random winner is Nicolai Lønne. Nicolai’s whole post is very long, so here’s a highlight:
You can start sending emails to everyone in the company every time you leave your desk. Example “If anybody needs I’m on the toilet” or “For the next two minutes I’ll be at the water cooler”
You can spice it up by sending out a second email when you return, giving people details about your trip to the toilet or the weird green stuff you fund in the water cooler.
There were many entries that are hysterical, and you can read the other highlights in my column this week.
Thanks Amber and Nicolai – we hope you enjoy the book!
In a quest to find the ultimate way to get yourself fired we’re running a competition for all you FreelanceSwitch readers. To get you thinking here are five to get you started courtesy of thePhatPhree.com’s list of 50 plus nine extras that I came up with this afternoon!
1. The Auctioneer (From PhatPhree)
Sell office items on ebay. “Hey Mr. Jones, I need your chair. Some guy in Boston bought it for 85 bucks… You believe that? Don’t worry; I’ll cut you in. How’s 80/20 sound? It’s only fair since I did the all work.”
2. The Worm (From PhatPhree)
Store live bait in the refrigerator with a price tag. When confronted, ask how much they want. Then when they insist you remove it, deny having put it there, and get angry at the implication.
3. The Material Girl (From PhatPhree)
Tape the paper cones from the water cooler onto your chest and sing “Material Girl” at the top of your lungs into a stapler. Refuse to stop.
Here at FreelanceSwitch, we love to talk about clients and on occasion some of their failings and characteristics, but let’s face it, most freelancers aren’t that perfect themselves. So today we’ve put together 13 Breeds of Freelancer, see if you recognize a bit of yourself in there…
Freelancer Breed #1
The Artiste Freelancer
Is This You?
You are a master of what you do, or at least you think so. Criticism from a client is often met with disbelief or anger and if a client asks for a small change you lament that the whole project is ‘ruined’.
Fulfilling your clients needs isn’t as nearly as important as making it ‘really cool’ and when you talk about your clients, somehow phrases like ‘stifling my creativity’, ‘pleb’, and ‘uneducated buffoon’ keep popping up.
If you’re fiery enough many clients will become too scared to critique you leading to very few revisions. Even if they do ask you for revisions you can always make up reasons why you don’t need to listen anyway. Your portfolio looks exactly the way you want it to.
Your adverse reactions to various client requests mean that often your clients don’t actually get the work they wanted. Plus thanks to your high maintenance you are beginning to develop a reputation – unfortunately it’s probably not the one you were after. If you push them far enough, your clients may refuse to pay you. And because you are unwilling to accept that you may be wrong on things you miss out on opportunities to improve your work.
All of this pales however compared to those horrible situations when after you have finally succumbed to your client’s wishes, the project actually turns out better than it would have if you were left to your own devices!
Picking Up Your Game:
Being an Artiste doesn’t usually mix well with the business of freelancing since most clients want the project to fulfil their needs not yours. When you put a lot of yourself into your work, it’s hard to separate criticism for the work and criticism of you. Unfortunately this is the day-to-day reality of freelancing and you need to grow a thick skin to protect your fragile ego. Try not to expect a first draft or concept to be greeted with congratulations and you won’t feel quite so devastated when you need to revise.
What often works is to think of client requests and revisions as constraints in an elaborate game that you are trying to conquer. Look at them in a positive light and do your best work within those constraints and your clients will be happier, your work will often wind up better and you’ll be a more successful freelancer.
Freelancer Breed #2
The Payin’-The- Bills Freelancer
Is This You?
Although there was a time when you loved what you do, recently it feels like nothing more than a way to support yourself. You don’t really feel any interest in improving your skills and ‘passionate’ or ‘committed’ aren’t adjectives your clients would use to describe you.
This post has been translated into Spanish by Diana at Artegami.
Another week, another useless but amusing top ten for you. This time we ask the question, do you spend more time with your desk than any human should? Here are ten signs you may need to take a break…
“Exercise” has come to mean rolling your neck and focusing your eyes on distant objects.
Strange discolorations have appeared where your arms rest on your chair and desk.
Friends no longer bother calling your mobile, they skype you.
You have RSI in BOTH arms.
Finding that pricing sweet spot where you make a great income without scaring clients away is one of the most asked about issues here on FreelanceSwitch. Today for your amusement, here are ten signs you might have gone the other way are charging waaay too little…
This article has been translated into Spanish by Diana at Artegami. Thanks Diana!
It’s Monday and to lighten your week up, here are the Top 10 reasons you should quit your job today and become a freelancer. Drum roll please …. Continue Reading