The Business

Getting ready to go OOO

*cue internal screaming*

Beach table at Da Nang

I have once again been doing lots of screaming in my head as I work to settle stuff before I’m OOO (out of the office) for my upcoming trip.

This trip has been in the works for months, but you know, with things happening months away, you typically don’t work on them until their date approaches.

And what happens then? You suddenly have 1,000 other things also competing for your time and attention. 🙃

But yes, my trip plans are coming together! Being away from the business kinda sucks, because if I’m not working, my business isn’t making money.

So, here’s how I try to minimise the disruption to my business when I’m OOO! Communication plays a big part:

Giving my clients an advance heads-up

I let my clients know I’ll be OOO and the dates I’ll be unavailable.

This way, they’ll know why I’m MIA and that my unavailability is only temporary—I’ll be back in action to help with projects soon.

I give this notice about one month in advance so they can plan their schedule around my OOO dates.

For example, maybe they need to prioritise reviewing my work so I can help make edits before I leave.

Then, I’ll remind them of my OOO dates again closer to the date—say, 1 or 2 weeks before.

Wrapping up projects before I leave

Where possible, I try to finish all projects already in progress before I leave. So that the project doesn’t come to a standstill during the 1 or 2 weeks while I’m away.

This also means not starting new projects if I won’t be able to finish them before I go. I’ll try to offer to book them into my schedule for after I’m back (more on this shortly), but it doesn’t always work out.

I’ve lost work because I was going OOO shortly after being offered the project. Which sucked, but oh well.

Setting up an OOO message

You’ve probably received these automated OOO messages before:

“Thanks for getting in touch with me. I’m out of the office from X date to Y date and will have limited access to my email during this time.”

The OOO message doesn’t take long to set up. In fact, I reuse the same message each time and just change the dates, lol. And it helps anyone who contacts me see that I’m OOO and know when they can expect a reply.

(I might still check my inbox now and then while I’m out. But if a message isn’t urgent, I won’t be replying!)

Start booking projects for after I get back

If I won’t be able to finish a project before I go and it isn’t time-sensitive, I’ll try to book them in for after I’m back.

This is so that I know when I get back, I won’t be sitting around twiddling my thumbs but will have projects to work on (and money to bring in!).

That said, I also factor in some buffer time to help myself:

  • Ease into things when I’m back, and
  • Catch up on what I’ve missed while I was away.

This is so that I reduce the amount of internal screaming I do when I get back. 🙃

P.S. There will be no newsletter from me for the first half of May. No prizes for guessing why! Will catch up with you when I’m back 🫡

More freelancer news

Employers need to consider flexible work arrangement requests from 1 Dec 2024

Becoming a freelancer isn’t the only solution for getting a flexible work arrangement (FWA).

For example, some employers let their employees work remotely. And even if your employer doesn’t have an official work-from-home policy, you’ll soon have the option to formally request for one.

That’s because, from 1 Dec 2024, employers will need to fairly consider employees’ formal requests for FWAs.

FWAs include:

  • Flexi-place arrangements: Where the employee can work from other locations apart from the office (e.g. from home)
  • Flexi-time arrangements: Where the employee can work non-standard work schedules (e.g. flexi-hours) as long as they finish the same workload within the same number of hours
  • Flexi-load arrangements: Where the employee can take on workloads of different sizes and get paid accordingly (e.g. part-time work)

This new “requirement to consider FWAs” comes under the Tripartite Guidelines on FWAs, which take effect from 1 Dec 2024.

Singapore employers are “expected” to comply with the Tripartite Guidelines. Otherwise, they may have difficulty applying for and renewing work passes.

The Guidelines don’t require employers to agree to employees’ requests for FWAs, but they should consider the request “properly” when deciding.

Learn more about the new Tripartite Guidelines on FWAs here:

New health insurance plan for self-employed persons in Singapore

Healthtech firm Doctor Anywhere (DA) has launched a new Healthwise Plus health insurance plan targeted at self-employed persons.

This plan is similar to DA’s existing Healthwise (non-insurance) yearly subscription plan, which lets you consult a doctor for $13 and get access to health and wellness programmes, among other benefits.

But Healthwise Plus adds on 1-year group personal accident insurance with a maximum sum assured of $8,000.

Self-employed persons at a higher risk of getting injured in the course of work (e.g. delivery riders) may find this plan useful. But I think delivery platforms already offer riders complimentary personal accident insurance coverage.

If this plan sounds interesting, check it out in more detail here to see if it might be suitable for you. And speak with a financial adviser if you need advice on this.

This post was first published in my email newsletter on 25 Apr 2024. If you liked it, sign up for my newsletter here:

Tan Siew Ann
I’m a freelance writer for some of the most amazing software businesses in the world. On this blog, I share tips on how you, too, can run a sustainable and meaningful freelance business. Let’s forge your freedom. 💪

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