Part-time offsite projects: Another perspective

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So much is written about the part-time writer or freelancer being the one who complicates part-time working arrangements – they do this, they do that, part-time freelancing during your off hours is going to melt your brain and turn you into a hermit and so forth. These articles only tell half the story and actually do a disservice to such projects.

I’ve freelanced during my off hours for a large part of my career successfully but with a few bumps in the road along the way. However, as much is written about the freelancer fumbling, the employer/client can also drop the ball and put what should be a simple exercise into the wall. Some ways include:

  • Not sizing up properly whether a project can be done offsite during evening and weekend hours. It can be easy to see such a freelancer as a full-time if you only have minimal experience working with offsite team members or even outside vendors to begin with. Some projects simply cannot be done offsite for political, cultural, or even karmic reasons not to mention technical hurdles.
  • Not properly, accounting for a project team member working during off hours in the overall project schedule can setup that part of the project for failure. It’s up to the client and the part-time freelancer to be very judicious in scheduling since part-time availability can mean that the freelancer cannot always turn on a dime like the other project team members who are full time employees.
  • Poor communications between the part-time freelancer and the client can have the blame fall on both or either side. It is best to include an addendum in the project plan if not even the contract that spells out the turnaround time for communications, document reviews, and any subsequent edits and revisions. None of this might be an issue on project teams that span time zones or in email heavy organizations where team members on the client side check their email in the evenings on their laptops and/or mobile devices.
  • On the subject of document reviews, while a part-time freelancer can nail their deadlines each time, the document can still go back to the client who doesn’t make their deadline.
  • The customer treating the project as out of sight, out of mind because the writer isn’t onsite.
  • Choke the project with all sorts of unnecessary overhead like tracking spreadsheets and multiple status reports that strangle the hours

In our current down economy, part-time freelancing is something for both accomplished professionals and prospective employers to embrace. The freelancer gets to diversify their income and help build a war chest against the next layoff. The prospective employer can get a writer or other freelancer to focus on getting results with little or no downtime to pay for as they might have to with a full-time contractor onsite for 40 hours a week.

How does your company manage part-time freelancers?

Image by stock.xchng user: statianzo

Originally published at on May 5, 2012.

Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. His writing experience also includes writing technology articles for CNET TechRepublic and other sites. Will’s technology interests include collaboration platforms, enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), project management applications, and big data. Follow him on Twitter: @willkelly.


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