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Do agencies generally expect freelancers to work weekends?
Thread poster: Wendy Cummings

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:06
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 20, 2005

I am just starting out on the tricky path of freelancing, and the learning curve to becoming a fully fledged, successful translator is steep...so here goes with another question, in the hope of being able to pick your brains once more!!

Regardless of whether you like to work weekends, whether you feel you need to for money/other reasons, my question is this:

An agency sends a text for a quote and deadline estimate. Are they *expecting* you to work weekends?

If you say 'about 7 days' (and do not specify 'working days') do agencies tend to assume that you work weekends too? Or is it up to the translator to pencil in their weekends and try to schedule jobs accordingly so as not to impinge too much on sacred time off???

Many many thanks


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shfranke  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:06
English to Arabic
+ ...
Normal Business Days vs. Weekends / Holiday / "Overnighter" Work Sep 20, 2005

Greetings.

Customary practice is to quote a rate for your professional services provided during "ordinary and customary business days" (i.e., M-F here in the US) and to stipulate a percentage of that rate to be added to billing to that M-F daily rate for services provided during:

o weekend days/holidays

and/or

o "overnighters" (as typified by some requesting agencies as "this project is super-urgent, we gotta have that translation in our hands first thing **tomorrow morning**, so hang the cost!")

One wonders if such firms request and expect attorneys in their servicing legal firms to operate on a flat rate when producing and delivering competent legal documents to them as clients.

PS1: Never undertake and start work on a project until you have -- in your hands -- an approved and signed job order or PO provided by the requestor.

PS2: When coordinating delivery dates and times (there), always ascertain in which time zone of the world the requestor (or ultimate recipient) is located, and adjust your schedule to fit.

HTH.

Regards,

Stephen H. Franke
English Arabic,
Kurdish and Persian)
San Pedro, California USA


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Trudy Peters  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:06
German to English
+ ...
In the case you mentioned, Wendy, Sep 20, 2005

instead of saying "7 days," give the agency a specific date. Then it's up to you how you distribute the work over that period.

If you don't like to work weekends and get an offer on Friday afternoon to be done by Monday morning, you won't have a choice and can either accept or decline.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
your decision...your lifestyle:-) Sep 20, 2005

As it happens, 2 agencies I work for have confirmed jobs for delivery next Tuesday - not Monday first thing. To my mind that's respectful, as it's almost as if they assume that I won't be 'available' at the weekend.

For me weekends and weekdays are pretty much the same, I prefer to go shopping during the week etc, go out Thurs or Fri nights, but like working at weekends, as the phone doesn't ring and I don't have to deal with mails... that said, although occasionally I might work flat out, I generally work at half the rhythm at weekends (I'm in fact more productive!).

On a weekly basis, I very rarely take on a 7-day workload equivalent, I build in my 2 weekend days as my 'margin' should things get sticky. I calculate on teh basis of a 5-day week for bigger jobs.

I won't necessarily accept jobs Fri sfternoon for Mon first thing, and I dislike people assuming that I will be available...for me it's MY personal choice whether I work weekends....


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Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:06
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
not a question of choice, but expectation Sep 20, 2005

Lia Fail wrote:

I won't necessarily accept jobs Fri sfternoon for Mon first thing, and I dislike people assuming that I will be available...for me it's MY personal choice whether I work weekends....



I know its a question of personal choice whether you actually do work weekends or not, but I'm trying more to find out what agencies expect of you, when its up to you to decide your deadline.

If you are sent a document on Thursday, and both parties know that it will take, say, 5 days to complete, but you are asked to suggest your deadline, is the agency *expecting* you to say Tuesday, or next Thursday.

If you say 'next Thursday', do agencies see that as being too slow, out of the ordinary, 'not what our other translators would say'...

or if you say Tuesday, would they be pleasantly surprised that you can do it that fast, or even surprised that you are offering to work weekends?


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Klaus Urban  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:06
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
Yes! Sep 20, 2005

Dear Wendy,
in your situation of "just starting out at freelancing" I suppose that you have by far not yet reached being busy 100 percent. In such a situation any assignment should be welcome whether it be Mo-Fr or even over week-ends. Maybe availability over week-ends turns out to be your competitive advantage. Otherwise you might not feel particularly happy as a freelancer.
Best regards
Klaus


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:06
English to Czech
+ ...
They don't, but you should :) Sep 20, 2005

From my experience, agencies don't expect you to work weekends. But another thing is that it's usually the agency who sets the deadline, not you, so you either accept or decline the job. There might be urgent jobs that have to be done during the weekend, but in that case you can charge more (which, in turn, sometimes helps the client realise that the job is not that urgent).

Still, working weekends is nothing unusual - have a look at a recent poll.


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Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:06
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
no poll for me Sep 20, 2005

Hynek Palatin wrote:

have a look at a recent poll.


As i'm not platinum, I cannot unfortunatley see the results of the polls, as that is where I had originally checked for advice on this one.


I get the impression that agencies often do stipulate the deadline, and it is entirely my lack of experience, and probably confidence if i'm being honest, that makes me unsure about how to quote my own deadlines.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:06
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I don't work weekends Sep 20, 2005

but there are justified emergencies. (The client is a good one with a good excuse, the client is a new one who specified "urgent", meaning he won't buck the surcharge, etc.).

I have a pretty straightforward way of calculating: X words/3,000 words/5 working days. If there is an excess that has to be done on a weekend, that pays 150%. Anything in excess of 3,000/24 hours carries the surcharge. Hope it helps.


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Heike Behl, Ph.D.  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:06
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
on the contrary Sep 20, 2005

Wendy Leech wrote:

If you are sent a document on Thursday, and both parties know that it will take, say, 5 days to complete, but you are asked to suggest your deadline, is the agency *expecting* you to say Tuesday, or next Thursday.

If you say 'next Thursday', do agencies see that as being too slow, out of the ordinary, 'not what our other translators would say'...

or if you say Tuesday, would they be pleasantly surprised that you can do it that fast, or even surprised that you are offering to work weekends?



When I get asked by a client by what date I could deliver, I usually give a date that allows me ample time for additional projects (I'm already working on or that might come in), technical issues, time off etc. If possible, I also explicitly state that if they need the translation earlier, I have some flexibility in my schedule and an earlier date would be possible. In many cases, they accept my deadlines. And in those cases they need the translation earlier, they appreciate that I'm willing to arrange my schedule to accommodate them.

Also, most (at least of my) clients are fully aware that they're not the only one you work for. I.e. if you give them an 8-workday period for a translation that by itself takes only 4 days, they most likely won't think that you're slow but that you have other projects to do.

One could even turn this around and say: If you always give them the shortest possible deadline (and deliver accordingly) and never have to tell them you won't be able to make it by a specific date, they might think that you're not in high demand and therefore not that good.


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 10:06
English to Czech
+ ...
The poll Sep 20, 2005

I cannot unfortunatley see the results of the polls...


Here you go:

Do you work on weekends?
Poll by Cecilia Civetta

Very often: 44.4%
Sometimes: 31.7%
Always: 19.0%
Seldom: 4.6%
Never: 0.3%

Total votes: 347


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:06
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
With Lia... Sep 20, 2005

Hi Wendy,
I actually LIKE working weekends... just like Lia. No phone, no distractions. My hobbies happen to require weekday time where I live, so I have to set time aside for them during the week. However, the fact that I might prefer to work weekends doesn't mean that customers should expect me to do so.
That said, when a customer asks for a deadline I try to leave room for other things. I have good customers who end up asking me to fit in half a page "immediately" and it's good to have enough room to accommodate that.
I've found that it's never a good idea to time your job down to the wire. As they say, stuff happens (OK, we all know what the real phrase is...). The first things I ask a customer are how long the job is and how soon they need it. I think you'll find that "I need it tomorrow" tends to translate into "actually, the day after tomorrow is fine". You just need to stand your ground.
I've also found that telling customers there will be a hefty surcharge on what they term "urgent" jobs suddenly -- and mysteriously -- makes them a lot less urgent.
Hope this helps your learning curve!
Catherine


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 09:06
healthy balance Sep 20, 2005

Like Catherine, I have no hesitation in telling a customer that there will be a surcharge on weekend work. Besides, you can be certain the agency won't be open for business at the weekends!
Bad enough that one has sometimes to work late during the week.

**ALWAYS** estimate your project deadlines and turnarounds in working days, so there is no confusion on either side.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:06
Spanish to English
+ ...
ASAP Sep 20, 2005

Wendy Leech wrote:

Lia Fail wrote:

I won't necessarily accept jobs Fri sfternoon for Mon first thing, and I dislike people assuming that I will be available...for me it's MY personal choice whether I work weekends....



I know its a question of personal choice whether you actually do work weekends or not, but I'm trying more to find out what agencies expect of you, when its up to you to decide your deadline.

If you are sent a document on Thursday, and both parties know that it will take, say, 5 days to complete, but you are asked to suggest your deadline, is the agency *expecting* you to say Tuesday, or next Thursday.

If you say 'next Thursday', do agencies see that as being too slow, out of the ordinary, 'not what our other translators would say'...

or if you say Tuesday, would they be pleasantly surprised that you can do it that fast, or even surprised that you are offering to work weekends?



Ultimately I think agencies don't 'expect' specific deadlines that operate strictly according to 'standard' workload counts. They simply may ignore the issue of weekends when negotiating with THEIR client, if the client is pressurising them for a rpaid turnaround. They will just choose the person who will do it within the negotiated deadline, and the issue of a weekend becomes irrelevant.

I don't FEEL generally that agencies expect translators to work weekends, but I am sure they know which translators tend to/would be willing to help out etc., and may offer them a rush job first. For example, they may happen to know that one of their best translators, Joe Brown, has 5 kids and consequently rarely accepts work at weekends, so they would hardly offer such a job to him.

Another issue is job size. For a large job (say 10000 plus, maybe up to 15000 depending on complexity) weekends are hardly an issue. Many translators simply wouldn't commit to more than 10000-15000 a week anyway.

Another thing is your productivity. I let the work expand to fill the time available sometimes, especially if non-complex, so might do 3000-4000 at a leisurely pace over Sat and Sun...or do it all Fri night/Sat so I get to have Sunday free. Or leave it to Sun, so I can go out Fri and sleep in Sat:-)

Finally, as Klaus pointed out, as a beginner, you may want to accept weekend work, but possibly as time goes by, and depending on what your personal circumstances are, you may choose not to work weekends.

And ... some people have 3-day weekends (e.g. English teachers in Barcelona), some people 2 days (the standard Mon-Fri worker), and maybe the reality for most translators is that we often find it hard to avoid doing at least some work at weekends 8even if it's admin, which we do when we happen to find a moment).

Hope all that helps clarify things a bit. Basically, what it comes down to is your need for the work and your willingness to do it ASAP - becuase most clients want the work ASAP. Good luck!


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xxxNicolette Ri
Local time: 10:06
French to Dutch
+ ...
Yes Sep 21, 2005

Wendy Leech wrote:
An agency sends a text for a quote and deadline estimate. Are they *expecting* you to work weekends?

Agencies have lists of translators who are willing to work on weekends / overnight / 25th December and of those who are willing to accept everything in order to have a job. If you agree, they will call you back later and again and again, and again and again, while other translators have "normal" conditions. It's up to you.


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