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Off topic: How do you deal with friends that like to visit in office hours?
Thread poster: Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 12:50
Member (2012)
English to Indonesian
Feb 4, 2015

Dear colleagues,

You've probably experienced this in one way or another: you're in the middle of a job, maybe the deadline is approaching, and then your friend calls or knocks at your door, wanting to meet you for a chit-chat. Being a good friend that you are, you can't help but allow him/her to come. In the end your work suffers. So how do you handle this thing? Do you go as far as lying like pretending to be sick or not home?icon_biggrin.gif


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 11:20
English to Hindi
+ ...
Interesting question Feb 4, 2015

Particularly when seen in the context of the fact that few people understand what freelancing is. They think you are out of job or something and hence have all the time in the world. In fact, they think they are doing you a favour by dropping in and helping you while away your idle time!

I have found no easy solution to this. I wriggle out of this by making a token presence and then disappearing into my work room, but often determined visitors trail me into my sanctum sanctorum!

Try asking them for a loan of money, that might make them scarce!


 

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 12:50
Member (2012)
English to Indonesian
TOPIC STARTER
Lonely Feb 4, 2015

In fact, they think they are doing you a favour by dropping in and helping you while away your idle time!



Interesting that you say this because just yesterday a friend came and said something in the essence of wanting to accompany me so that I'm not lonely. Us translators are lonely creatures, poor us! Ha!


 

Clarisa Moraña  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 02:50
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I wouldn't lie Feb 4, 2015

I will offer him or her a cup of tea, (after all, we all need a break!), let him/her know that I'm on a tight deadline, and arrange a new meeting for another moment.
Also: I have informed all my friends and relatives that to be/work at home does not mean to be available in every moment. Sure, our work time is flexible, but we also have deadlines.

Regards

Clarisa


 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
I have a secretary... Feb 4, 2015

... that looks exactly like my wifeicon_smile.gif

She intercepts people for me, letting them know that I'm either working on an urgent project or meeting with a client. Eventually people realized that I'm a busy person and they stopped bugging me.


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not an issue in Europe Feb 4, 2015

Nobody just drops by without warning. Now, if they appeared “out of the blue”, they would “disappear in the thin air”icon_smile.gif

It just does not happen. You plan your time together.


 

Susana E. Cano Méndez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:50
Member
French to Spanish
+ ...
Agree Feb 4, 2015

Merab Dekano wrote:

Nobody just drops by without warning. Now, if they appeared “out of the blue”, they would “disappear in the thin air”icon_smile.gif

It just does not happen. You plan your time together.


Even in Spain this doesn't happen, or at least I never let it happenicon_smile.gif All my family and friends (and neighbours) know this is a job and I should not be disturbed. My partner and my mom: different issue ==> I say "not now, I'm working". They have finally understood (more or less).

My advice: we have to learn to say "no".


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:50
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
I had a friend who used to phone me ... Feb 4, 2015

These people can be a plague, even in Europe! But don't lie. It is far better to let people know that this is a real profession, and it is how you earn your living. You are at work, just like anyone else in offices, wherever.

One of my friends used to phone and talk for an hour. I listened, but I kept my side of the converstion to a minimum, and got back to work as soon as I could.
After a while, I told her directly that I did actually have work to do - and I had to fob her off quite firmly with a deadline once or twice.

I simply listened long enough to hear whether there was any new crisis, or whether it was simply her chronic problem, and then I said 'Look, I'll call you back this evening...'
I did so, every time she called me, and it was not always so convenient for her in the evening, so it worked! She was and still is a good friend, but it finally dawned on her - this is real work like everybody else's work.

It is easier in a way with the phone - you can put it down, while if people are sitting in your house they are not always easy to drive out. Putting the phone down is a deadly insult, but if they are real friends, then you must be able to explain either way.

Ultimately, we need to make the profession more visible and make people realise we are just as busy as doctors, lawyers, anyone else who 'works from home'.

Hang up your degree certificate or something professional-looking like a psychiatrist, set up a corner that looks like an office, dress neatly for work (it always makes me feel more businesslike), and sit up, at least when visitors come - so they can see you are not just surfing about on the Net.

Without breaching professional secrecy, make your work sound important - as it is.
"I have to work now. I have a contract to finish - can we talk another time?"
"Look, I have a client waiting for this...."

We really need our friends to spread the message, so at some point it IS a good idea to tell them what we actually do. Taking work seriously enough to ask them not to disturb you is a good first step.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Tell them in advance Feb 4, 2015

All my friends, family and acquaintances - and even my landlord - know not to bother me when I'm working (which is most of the time). They call me first if they want or need to see me.

 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:50
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
What if you had a steady office job? Feb 4, 2015

Would they also drop by? I don't think so. The fact that I as freelancer work from home doesn't change the principle.

Friends are allways welcome, but when I am working, I am working, and I will tell them so. Make an appointment for later that day, maybe that is the solution.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:50
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Just passing Feb 4, 2015

Thanks for reminding me of a problem that caused me great annoyance for a while!

I used to live in a ground floor apartment that faced directly on to a busy street. I had an Italian friend who used to pass by, and who would stand waving at me through the window until I went to the door and let him in.

He had nothing much to do, and assumed that neither would I, so of course I had to offer him a cup of coffee and a chat (in Italian, of course, even though we were in the middle of London).

It was the devil of a job to get rid of him. In the end I had to put up net curtains, which had the advantage of letting me see who was outside but preventing anyone outside from seeing in.

Problem solved!

[Edited at 2015-02-04 09:22 GMT]


 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:50
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Not only it doesn't happen, Feb 4, 2015

it's impossible, as they are at work themselves. Where do these friends of yours find the time to come during office hours?

 

Aditya Ikhsan Prasiddha  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 12:50
Member (2012)
English to Indonesian
TOPIC STARTER
Jobless Feb 4, 2015

EvaVer wrote:

it's impossible, as they are at work themselves. Where do these friends of yours find the time to come during office hours?


Well I have some friends who also don't work 9 to 5.


 

Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:50
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
A welcome break Feb 4, 2015

I guess it happened a lot more in the distant past when time was ticking a lot slower.

Personally, I don't see it as much of a problem (probably because it hardly ever happens to me). And if it a friend ever drops in unanounced I am quite happy to take a break - of course only if I have the time (and if I don't have the time then I will certainly say so). It's actually a lot more difficult when they visit outside of office hours and you are still busy with work.

I would imagine that anyone working in a public place might have to deal with 'friends that like to visit in office hours' a lot more than freelancers working from home.


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:50
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
My friend worked shifts Feb 4, 2015

Part of my friend's problem was that she worked unsocial hours. It played havoc with her social life, and she needed company.

These days a lot of my local friends are pensioners, but at least they remember that work is work, and now I have a retired husband to field them off if necessary.


 
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