Another dot in the blogosphere?

How to abuse freelancers

Posted on: June 17, 2016

I suspect that there is an unofficial manual that people refer to when working with freelance workers and consultants. Why else would this growing group of next generation workers face the same problems?

I have been an independent consultant for almost two years and experienced my fair share of these problems. I highlight three awful practices and imagine how they might be written in a manual.
Hide behind policy

Imagine that dispensing allocated funds is like handling highly unstable radioactive isotopes. We have policies in place to protect you.

If we tell you to get three quotes and go for the lowest quote, do it. Do what you can to get the three quotes even if this means misleading two eventual losers to bid. Let them waste their time so that you do not waste yours.

If you get questions from your contacts, use email delay tactics or say you are on leave. On the Internet, no one knows that you are a dog.

Dangle on communication

Just because you have email, WhatsApp, and other communication channels does not mean you must be good at using them.

In fact, stick to email because you can filter, block, or simply ignore messages. If an eager beaver replies quickly, take your time to reply. Take weeks or even months if you have to.

Be vague or ambiguous in your communication so that it sounds like you are saying something without actually saying anything.

Use a passive-aggressive tone if you feel threatened and try to sound formal with meaningless phrases like “revert back to me”, “kindly be reminded that”, or just “noted”.

Practice the art of tai-chi (shifting responsibility to others) when it is clearly your fault. Do not care, do not take notes or follow up, do not mark your calendar.

Do not pay on time

If freelancers do not ensure that there is a work contract, make sure they do not get paid on time. If you find loopholes in financial policies or are prone to human error, do not pay them at all.

Even if they do things by the book and get contracts or appointment letters, cite some quirky HR or Finance policies of treating non full-time workers differently. Throw your hands in the air for dramatic effect.

When it is time to pay, do so grudgingly. Pay them only at the end of a work cycle. If the work starts in August and ends in October, make them feel lucky to be paid in November. If you are a true master, you might stretch payment to December so you can say “Merry Christmas!” and sound like you mean it.

Take care of your loyal staff by letting them go on leave. Either make sure there is no one else to ensure payment or get a stand-in who does not know or care. This is a sure-fire way of delaying payment even though there is no need to.

Another time-honoured practice is to use cheques and snail mail. Both involve a lot of paper that needs to be shuffled around and can conveniently get lost.

Never forget…

Remember that those people chose that life. They chose to do everything themselves instead of being taken care of.

We get our pay every month with employer CPF, and medical and other benefits. Our taxes and deductions are handled automatically for us. Our bonuses, while variable, are as assured as our iron rice bowls.

They have given that up for more independence and freedom. Being independent means suffering the consequences, not just enjoying the benefits. Make them suffer!

1 Response to "How to abuse freelancers"

[…] Another dot in the blogosphere?: How to abuse freelancers – Five Stars and a Moon: Are low-wage workers forgotten as we help […]


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