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Poll: Do you think freelancers generally work longer or shorter hours than translators who work in house?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 20:57
SITE STAFF
Jul 3, 2013

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you think freelancers generally work longer or shorter hours than translators who work in house?".

This poll was originally submitted by DianeGM. View the poll results »



 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Longer Jul 3, 2013

I think that based on my own experience, they/we/I generally work longer hours. But the important thing is that (in my case anyway) it's because I want to, not because it's imposed on me.

 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:57
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Define work Jul 3, 2013

I once had a job which I attended for eight hours a day, but there was only about half an hour of work to do. The rest of the time was just trying to look busy somehow. Fortunately it only lasted a couple of months.

 

Koen Speetjens  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:57
English to Dutch
+ ...
I don't know Jul 3, 2013

It seems to me that the PM's I talk to at agencies are there "all the time", but I'm not sure whether a PM is the same as an in-house translator.

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 04:57
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I don't know Jul 3, 2013

but when I worked in-house I did work longer uninterrupted hours...

 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 12:57
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
I don't know Jul 3, 2013

about working as an in-house translator. But in the very few stints where I was a paid employee doing non-translation related things, my employee got what he wanted and no more -- like all the other employees/workers there.

Now, however, as Neilmac says, if I work like the wrong end of a chain gang icon_eek.gif it's of my own choosing.


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Been there, done that Jul 3, 2013

Jack Doughty wrote:

I once had a job which I attended for eight hours a day, but there was only about half an hour of work to do. The rest of the time was just trying to look busy somehow. Fortunately it only lasted a couple of months.


I've had jobs like that too, although not in translation, thank goodness!


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:57
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My experience from both sides of the picture Jul 3, 2013

I said "Other" based on my experience translating in-house for more than 25 years and freelancing for 20.

In my experience, I have worked longer hours freelancing, but I've also had more time off. With my desk job, I rarely took work home, but the work was constant. My only days off were official holidays and annual leave. As a freelance, I've been able to schedule free time whenever I wanted it.

That said, my in-house job involved translating at conferences, and often I would get stuck with a night shift, and that wasn't pleasant. The conference shifts were 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; 4:00 p.m. to midnight, and midnight to 8:00 a.m. Sometimes I'd work a midnight shift for a week or 10 days. It was still an 8-hour day, but working a graveyard shift is hard on the body.

Recently I'm finding that I'm not productive when I work longer than 8 hours--even though I often do it.


 

Catherine Winzer  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:57
German to English
+ ...
Other Jul 3, 2013

I've never worked in-house, but I imagine the situation to be as Muriel describes. Some days I am working long after in-house translators will have gone home. Other days I can take time off during office hours.

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

In my experience, I have worked longer hours freelancing, but I've also had more time off. With my desk job, I rarely took work home, but the work was constant. My only days off were official holidays and annual leave. As a freelance, I've been able to schedule free time whenever I wanted it.



 

Tatty  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:57
Spanish to English
+ ...
Longer hours Jul 3, 2013

I work much longer hours as a freelancer. I do it to make money. If I could work faster however, I wouldn't be working such long hours. I can also take time off, naturally I don't earn any money in that time...

I did two in-house stints and they were awful experiences. In one place, they piled the work on. The boss wanted me to do 5,000 words a day in my 7.5 hours, and the other place timed me, which was very unpleasant, then there were weeks on end when I had nothing to do. And pay was extremely low.

Although I work longer hours as a freelancer, I'm not nearly anywhere as tired because I don't have the stress of a boss breathing down my neck or timing me.


 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:57
Member (2006)
German to English
Longer Jul 3, 2013

I recon, never been an in-house translator. But that does not matter because we can also plan our time as we want.

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Depends Jul 3, 2013

My impression (and my own experience) is that freelance translators tend to work much longer hours for the first year or two until they are established, and work shorter hours after that.

Although I now work shorter hours, I get more done. It's tempting to see how far I could take this!


 

DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:57
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Don't know Jul 3, 2013

I do remember writing a poll something like this ... but not quite ...

Just a thought - but I think if your poll is edited - it would be curteous if you were re-asked if you would still like to have it credited to you.

This poll was inspired by a conversation I had with friends who think that most freelancers/self-employed [and not just translators] are over-charging, tax evaders living 'da vida loca' at the expense of the honest tax-paing employee. and I started wondering ...

Actually, I don't know in a scientifically testable manner but I think, overall, I work longer hours, but I chose to be freelance and the market allows me to. There are HUGE fringe benefits which balance it all out - I can live in a location of my choosing, not dictated by work and I can fit my hours around my family and my interests. In peak periods I can work many hours per day to get everything done and at other times I can go sailing or surfing, do my shoping on a Tuesday morning to miss the crowds and to coincide with the town market, I never have to miss any event my children particpate in ... so if freelancing hours are longer I'll gladly take it as part of the package.

PS and I pay my taxes .....

[Edited at 2013-07-03 12:11 GMT]


 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Good point Jul 3, 2013

Teresa Borges wrote:

but when I worked in-house I did work longer uninterrupted hours...


I worked as an in-house translator for some years at different companies. Independent translators work longer hours, but with more coffee breaks, so to speak. Neither translator is in a better position necessarily. A 40-hour workweek may or may not yield the same output as the 40 hours of independent translating does.

I don't believe in nonstop working hours. For example, I don't have to be typing away nonstop for an hour to claim one hour of work, because:

a) The mind is always at work
b) Typing the translation is just one portion of the process
c) The pauses in between help refresh the mind and help it focus and reconsider previous answers

Americans pride themselves in being so productive and working longer hours than the rest...and taking fewer vacation days. But it took me a while to stop trying to be busy 100% of the time while working at American companies and actually work, even if I didn't look like working.

Hope this makes senseicon_smile.gif


 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:57
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
It depends Jul 3, 2013

This, again, depends on the workload, both as an in-house and as a freelance translator.

I remember several occasions when we, as in-house translators, were required to even work on Saturdays after several hours of overtime during the preceding week.

The same happens as a freelancer. When there are many or large jobs with relatively tight deadlines, working 10 or 14 hours a day is required. When the job flow is slower, then there'll be less hours of work. The main difference is, as an in-house translator you can't just go home or go shopping when there's little work. As a freelancer you can do whatever you please...as long as your customers are pleased.icon_wink.gif


 
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