April 23, 2021

“People that think in hours, think in hours.”

Longtime list member Jim Thornton sent in this doozy of an example of why working with clients who think in terms of hours is bad for business (shared with permission):

I had a friend refer me to a big healthcare agency to be on their approved freelancer list. I was curious so I jumped through the hoops of all their forms, including coming up with an hourly rate for the first time in years.

I’m immediately asked if I can work on a Wordpress site Sunday 11am for 5 hours. Weird to need a dev for a time window, so we got on a call to make sure I understood. Turns out they want someone to fix issues that come up during an event being live streamed. The developer quit but had written a bunch of js to hodge podge some functionality from diff plugins. I told them I’d need a few hours to review the code to be ready for the event, because you know, people that think in hours think in hours.

At that point they explained to me that I would just be “on call” for the actual event and may only get one or two calls during the window, and so “it wouldn’t really be like I was doing work,” and “could I just do the ‘5 hour’ SOW and include reviewing the code in the scope?” Meanwhile it had already taken 45 minutes to understand what they wanted.

To which, I thought of your reply to V. Of course I don’t want to be known for: waiting around for something bad to happen due to someone else’s code on a virtual event on a Sunday for a discounted hourly rate because they think it “wouldn’t really be like work.”

I had just forgotten how little you can be valued simply by working hourly.

Jim Thornton


Thanks for sharing, Jim!