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Who has clients that expect working weekends?

My soon-to-be-ex client of 18 months seems to have real issues with the existence of weekends. I have quite a collection of emails from him sent on Sundays asking why I haven't replied to his emails or Monday morning emails expressing dismay at a lack of progress since, say, Thursday night.

[yes, this is one of the main reasons he's soon to be ex]

I'm curious if anyone else has seen this kind of expectation of 24/7 availability from contract clients?


Monday, November 10, 2003

Generally no, at least in my experience, which includes my contracting on my own directly with clients, or via 3d parties (body shops), or with clients of my various employers when I've been straight w-2.

My current employer has a stipulation in our contract boilerplate that work will be done at our facilities and during normal business hours, from monday through friday, inclusive. This at least gives us something concrete to fall back on if client requests should start getting out of hand.

That's not to say there isn't some message traffic from time to time with clients over the weekends, but it's not common, and I don't recall any instances of them getting hacked at us for not responding before monday morning.

The only significant exceptions have been an occasional pre-launch or pre-delivery push that happens over a weekend, and more than one of these has happened while the entire team was physically at home doing everything over vpn, including final deployment to production.

If anything, I'd say that I can't recall a single client I've dealt with during the past 10 years or so that wasn't routinely working more regular and **shorter** hours than either I was or than folks at my company were.

Guess we've been luckier than you, Philo. Though we do have one client right now who seems to like to wait till the end of the day to call asking to have changes deployed right away. A bit of a PITA for the project team sometimes, but hey, the client pays their bills on time, and their checks clear the bank, which is what counts in the end.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Sunday is a holiday in any part of the world - for anyone from a plumber to an IT consultant. 24/7 availability is a farce.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Last Saturday, I took my cat to the vet; I was charged 15% extra because it was weekend. Try to get a medical practitioner, lawyer, electrician or plumber during a weekend. Why would people have a different expectation of programmers? People need to have a rest to start the new week fresh and productive. Maybe you should mention the X% overcharge for bothering during weekends.

Monday, November 10, 2003

[[ Sunday is a holiday in any part of the world ]]

Except Israel. Here, the weekened is Friday-Saturday.

Regarding working weekends - no, it's not common even here, where people usually work 10-12 hours a day. I've heard stories of bad manages making their people to come on Friday but nothing more than that.

And except of pre-launch days, of course.

Evgeny Goldin
Monday, November 10, 2003

>Sunday is a holiday in any part of the world

I'll beat Stephen Jones to the punch here.  Sunday isn't a holiday in Saudi Arabia, it's the second day of the standard work week.

Matt Foley
Monday, November 10, 2003

Nextel requested to work Fridays (not working day in Israel) during production months.

Evgeny Gesin /Javadesk/
Monday, November 10, 2003

I would have thought that contractors would be relatively immune to this sort of thing. Wouldn't the existence of an hourly rate kind of dissuade poor managers from pestering contractors on off hours?

Monday, November 10, 2003

My single client (i.e. employer) expects me to be on call 24/7.  Wouldn't bother me a bit if I wasn't salary.

windows hacker
Monday, November 10, 2003

  Programmers are viewed differently because we're "Professionals."  I refer the reader to the Peopleware definition of "Professional" - that behavior that helps managers get their bonuses.  (paraphrased, of course - but that's the base idea) 

Remember, you're supposed to be Professional about requests to contribute to the company that which is yours, and Passionate when the concept is for you to volenteer said resources of yours to the "greater good."

Unfocused Focused
Monday, November 10, 2003

The issue is persistance. If an employer expects an off-hours response from time to time it is part of the "professional" designation. That is why the law defines such employees as "exempt", i.e. exempt from the work rules regarding overtime pay etc.

In my opinion, most companies declare far too many empoyees as exempt in order to skirt labor laws, but that's a matter for labor lawyers.

It is when the demands for extra hours or weekend hours becomes persistant and unreasonable that it becomes problematic. What is unreasonable is a judgement call. When you are an exempt employee you should expect it to happen sometime. To expect never is unreasonable on your part. To expect always is unreasonable on the employer's part. Reality is somewhere inbetween rarely and often.

Now, if you are a consultant and quote an hourly rate, there has to be some contractual stipulation of what "normal" working hours and days are and what rate would be applied to off-hours. Otherwise the client can demand that you apply it to whatever day he wants. The contract didn't exclude weekends or didn't include a price penalty for off-hours, so he is going to extend his range to his benefit.

As always, if you don't like it, you are free to terminate the relationship.

Monday, November 10, 2003

old timer said it best.

I don't mind occasional off hours work, they'll pay for it though, because I get paid by the hour.

Half-hour charge anytime I check my email on the weekends :)

Monday, November 10, 2003

Most places I've worked (hourly) don't want me working on weekends, because they have to pay me another $1600.

If you are hourly / contractor, just sock it to them if you work weekends.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Yes, charging them for the time they take up is definitely a good way to go. If a client makes me do 10 minutes work out of the normal work schedule, then that is automatically a 1/2 hour of billing time.

If I have to leave the house unexpectedly for the client, then it is a 1/2 day that I will charge (within reason of course).  This happened to me when I was not on a full-time schedule and was called out for a meeting about 30 minutes away. The meeting took about 1 1/2 hours, so I charged a 1/2 day.

Remember when you are a contracter your client is dealing with as another company, not as an employee. They just need to be reminded with the bill sometimes.

Monday, November 10, 2003


Remember the old consultant's options for his/her client:
Cost, Schedule & Features: Pick any two.

Have you asked your client what the rush is?
Perhaps there's an alternative to working on the weekend which will still deliver what he wants.  (I.e., unless he just ENJOYS knowing you're workig on the weekend).

Is your weekday-only schedule slowing down OTHER aspects of the project (i.e., he sends you a function spec on Fri and he needs a response on Sat so that he can continue working)?

OR... is it just that this is a x day project and he wants it done as fast as possible (so 7 days a week finishes it in x/7 weeks vs. a human schedule of x/5 weeks (working 5 days a week).

Have you tried raising your rate for the weekend?  If you raise it enough, it could be a win-win. (You make more money per hour and he gets the speed he wants).

Monday, November 10, 2003

OR - I could get a salaried job that pays better and where I don't have to put up with it. So I did. [grin]


Monday, November 10, 2003


Now I understand. If Philo were a real Professional (with capital P), he would understand the commitment required to move-forward and become a paradigmatic employee. In that way, his company would be able to provide world's best practice, zone-off competition and be a good corporate citizen. This would enhace outcomes and increase Philo's social value.

Monday, November 10, 2003

You off to work for FogCreek Philo ?

Monday, November 10, 2003

I'm unofficially on call 24/7.  I am responsible for the supporting production systems, and if they fail someone needs to be there.  Gives you good insentive to be sure they don't fail.  I have one back up in case I've had one too many at the local pub.  If he ain't there, we risk our contract.

But they pay me 6+ figures plus equity to do so.  So it works out in the end. 

unofficially on call.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Exactly!  Plus it would show that he's a Team Player and would be put on the list of employees to be considered for the Teaming award to be presented at the quarterly meeting.  If he achieves this exaulted rating, then he will be expected to provide a motivating speech to his peers upon recieving his $100 Blockbuster gift card.

Unfocused Focused
Tuesday, November 11, 2003

> But they pay me 6+ figures

How many hours a week do you average?

Thursday, November 13, 2003

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