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Friday, August 22, 2008

Common Courtesies When Taking Time Off

We've addressed professionalism with contracts in the past, but this is an important topic that we felt should be discussed again, especially with many people still taking time off with vacations, back to school, and the holidays looming in the very near future.

I was shocked a few months ago when someone mentioned on a transcription forum that she didn't feel like she needed to give any notice when she took some time off for a vacation. While I can understand the perspective that we are independent contractors and have no obligation to accept work from our contracts at any given time, I still hold the personal belief that the same common courtesies that we would afford our employers in a brick-and-mortar job should be extended to our transcription contracts. After all, they still have workloads to plan and deadlines to meet even as we're off sunning ourselves on a beach.

To this effect, I would encourage you to take the following steps if you are not going to be accepting work for an extended period of time.

  • Give your contact some advance notice of your plans. I'd say a week before you're leaving is sufficient, but I usually mention it sooner and follow up with a reminder about a week before.

  • Set up an autoresponse on your email noting that you are out of the office. Keeping in mind that your contact may be dealing with hundreds of independent contractors, and he or she may forget you're out, even if you've reminded them recently. It happens to the best of us! Just to cover all your bases, configure your email to respond to incoming messages with a note detailing that you're out of the office, whether you will be checking email, and when you will return.

  • Email your contacts upon your return with your availability. If you're a little slow getting back into a usual routine just say that, but communication is key. I'm usually not ready to jump back in full time immediately, so I'll state that I'm available for shorter files and should have increasing availability as the week goes on.

No, none of this is brain surgery, but as business owners (which is essentially what an independent contractor is), keeping the lines of communication open with your contracts in such a manner will certainly keep you in high regard.

1 Comment:

margi said...

Sounds like that "no notice" is a good way to lose a contract. With no notice, of course.