Don’t Annoy Your Employer

I learned this early into my first contract.

I was new to contracting and had to learn the hard way.

It turns out that because you are being paid to do a job you should do that job while you are on site. If you have any personal admin to do then leave it for your break time, or after work or book a day off. Don’t use work time for non-work activities.

I ran a guitar business on the side for a while and sometimes I had to take calls to deal with customer service issues. I often had to get up from my desk to sort them out and sometimes they took around 10 minutes to sort out.

Luckily I was given a friendly warning from a colleague that the team leader was getting very annoyed and was thinking about terminating my contract. I really needed the money at the time and so losing the contract would have been a big problem for me.

At that point I immediately forwarded all my calls to a call taking company and used my lunch break to deal with any personal issues. I also stopped openly surfing the internet or spending more than a few minutes away from my desk.

I learned that I had less flexibility as a contractor as compared to permanent employees. We are actually held to a higher standard of behaviour and can also be let go a lot easier. While they are paying you they own you I’m afraid.

Paul Browning

8 Responses to “Don’t Annoy Your Employer”

  1. I get it.

    I thought you could get away with making some personal calls and doing some photocopying but I had better think twice!

  2. I think your absolutely correct. When your a contractor you are expected to be the “best.” Unfortunately, this becomes quite exhausting. Though, I feel that in the long run being a contractor is worth it. I know that personally I feel a lot more accomplished than when I was a permanent employee.

  3. True, being a subcontractor has its pros and cons. But the beauty lies in those disadvantages. An employer cannot really be angry if we all finished the required task for that day. This means if we were required to finish 10% that day and suddenly we’re 3 hours early, we can actually leave the job site!, I’ve had seminars on success, and really it is true, we must present our best to the point that our boss can’t hold a grudge about our work since we did do the task for that day, it is by doing more work than the task at hand do we say that we have overworked. Overwork can be costly, remember that. Success comes to those who love discipline. =)

    • No matter what you’ve actually accomplished, you also must be aware of the perception of those around you, and how they (especially the person signing the check!) see your actions. If leaving early because the task is completed will make others question your commitment or work ethic, then somehow you must address that, especially if you hope to be called back for future jobs. Do you agree?

  4. Whether you’re a “permanent” employee or a contractor or subcontractor, the person or organisation paying the wage expects you to keep your attention solely on the job you’ve been hired to do.

    Iincidental time for handling personal business (an appointment with your physician perhaps, or a telephone call to check on a family matter) is seldom if ever intended for running a business on the side.

    Tp maintain your reputation for both aspects of your business life, the best rule of thumb is to engage in the side business strictly on your own time, engaging tools or other services (such as the call taking company Paul mentioned) to help.

  5. LOL – reminds me of all the TV news stories in the US about “Cyber Monday” (the first Monday back at work for most people after the Thanksgiving holiday. Stores offer lost of sales, and apparently so may people go online to shop (while at work) that it’s earned the name “Cyber Monday” and “everyone” knows it’s happening. I didn’t have the nerve to try it though – no worth annoying the boss 🙂

    • .] I don’t have the nerve for much of that either. And given Paul’s point that contractors are held to a higher standard, a very good reason to keep job and personal business separate!

  6. Interesting point about having less flexibility as a contractor. I hadn’t thought about it much, but it makes sense. As a contractor you are hired to solve a specific problem. If you’re doing other than that, it can become obvious, and employers don’t have the same requirements as they do for employees to issue warnings and provide counseling and so forth. They can just let you go and hire someone else.

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