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Freelancing on-site: 8 great tips to make it a breezeDorien Jorissen
Almost all freelancers enormously enjoy the freedom that freelancing brings with it. For the ones doing only off-site projects the benefits are numerous: choosing their own office hours, taking on the projects that interest them most, working from anywhere, … IT freelancers, however, are often asked to take on projects at their client’s office. In this case, your biggest challenge is being seen as “an outsider” or “a guest”.
So, here are 8 great tips to make freelancing on-site seem like a breeze!
1. Inform yourself
Before starting a project at your client’s office, ask with whom you should check in and at what time. It might also be a good idea to find out how you can best reach the location beforehand, whether you go by car, bus, train or bike. Don’t forget to inform yourself of what you should bring on your first day either. Do you need proper ID to enter the building? Should you bring your own equipment or not? You don’t want to start your first day unprepared!
At the start of the project, it’s best to question who you should report to and who will approve and answer specific questions about the project. Further, it’s also useful to know how you should log your hours and if you are expected to attend all meetings. Clearing these things up from the beginning will make finishing the project so much easier. Just ask anything that might help you make a succes of the project!
2. Be friendly and polite
When freelancing on-site, always make sure to leave a good impression. Be friendly and polite to the employees of your client by introducing yourself to new people. It doesn’t matter whether they are part of your project team or if you meet them at the coffee machine or in the kitchen. Bidding people a “good morning” and saying “thank you” or “sorry” in the appropriate situation is a sign of common courtesy.
As you probably already know, offices are social places where birthdays are celebrated and people order take out together during lunch. Would you like to join? Either wait to be invited by your project team members or ask them if it’s appropriate for you to join them.
By being friendly and polite to everyone, you will make a good impression on the company. This way, freelancing on-site might be the perfect tool for landing more projects!
3. Follow the dress code
Going to your client’s office means that you need to get out of your pyjamas or jogging every morning. At most offices, you can perfectly dress casual as long as your clothes look appropriate and neat. It might be a good idea, however, to start out dressing professionally until you know for sure what the dress code is like at your client’s company. Better make a good appearance through your professional clothing style and dress down afterwards than the other way around.
And remember: a dress code doesn’t only include your clothes, but also your general appearance. Make sure to look neat by combing your hair and brushing your teeth on a daily basis. Showering regularly and taking a mint if you have eaten something spicy or smelly for lunch, doesn’t hurt either.
4. Mirror office norms
Just liking following the dress code of your client, you should mirror office norms when freelancing on-site. You’re a guest at the company, so first take a look at how the employees behave throughout the day.
Do they eat lunch at the kitchen or at their desk? When do they take breaks? Do they use headphones or not? Follow their example and you’re good to go. Just don’t do anything that they wouldn’t do. You’re still a guest and people love to gossip if something unusual happens.
5. Clean up after yourself
If you do your projects from home, you can leave your desk and kitchen as messy as you want. It doesn’t really matter, since there is no one to see it. If you’re freelancing on-site, however, leaving a mess isn’t such a good idea…
Always respect your client and his office by cleaning up after yourself. Make sure that your desk is clean at the end of the day, without dozens of documents spread all over it. Tidy meeting rooms and put everything back to their rightful place before leaving the room. And don’t forget to clean up your lunch spot after you’re done. You don’t want to leave crumbs or smudges for people eating after you.
6. Don’t partake in office politics
It’s quite normal for groups of people to start gossiping, if they spend a lot of time together. Likewise, it isn’t unheard of that office politics take place at companies. As a freelancer, though, you shouldn’t be part of it.
There’s little benefit in gossiping or becoming part of office tensions for freelancers. As the new person at the office, you don’t know exactly who is venting or gossiping to you and if he or she might report your comments to others. Of course, you can listen to the complaints and stories of your project team members. It’s quite hard not to, if you want to have a good time and make friends at your project. Just keep your own comments for yourself or complain to your family and friends about it. On-site, however, you should stay professional and focus on the project and how you can make it work.
7. Contribute politely
Freelancing means that a client hired you to employ your specific skills and knowledge. Freelancing on-site means that your client wants you entirely involved in the project.
So, don’t hesitate to show your value and contribute new ideas to the project or project approach. Draw on your experience from previous projects and suggest fresh ideas in a polite and diplomatic manner. That’s why they hired you after all!
8. Set some boundaries
Last but not least, set some boundaries for yourself and your client. Ask yourself a couple of questions before the start of the project: Does your client have flexible hours? Can you work from home every once in a while? Is it possible that you need to stay late some days? … ?
Talk about these questions, set the right expectations and draw up a clear arrangement beforehand. This won’t be a problem at all, if you’re both a bit lenient. Just remember that your client has some expectations for you too. Finishing the project in time, attending project meetings and being available for questions and updates are just some of them.
Freelancing on-site can be a great experience that combines the freedom of freelancing with the structure of working for an employer. As long as you follow these 8 tips and are on your best behavior, it will be a breeze for you too!
Looking for a new on-site project? IT MATCH will help you find something that’s perfect for you!