WS5: Warsaw – 18 Nov 2014

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Context: Zaradnik organised by AIR Laboratory CCA Ujazdowski Castle and the Polish National Centre for Culture
Where: AIR Laboratory, Warsaw, Poland
When: 21.10.2014
Participants: 10

 

Transition from university to work -getting the work you want, negotiating terms & conditions, balacing money & time

How do you assure that your conditions and your payment are good when you start to work with/for someone?
Aspects you may consider:
• keeping a work/life balance
• determining amount of payment
• being paid for the work
• scheduling tasks
• …
 

Negotiating your terms and conditions – options that have been articulated

General thoughts
• Think about the following: a) is the effort put into work worth the payment – both in terms of money and satisfaction; b) do I have time to do it properly or would it be rushed, resulting in poor final effect?
• What kind of people are they? Why did they come to us? When will I be satisfied? Finding a balance between money and prestige value for portfolio. Also consider that offering free or underpaid labour undermines other people’s efforts to negotiate better conditions.
• My past experience has been negative when I asked for more pay or fairer conditions. So we need to be diplomatic if we want the work and need to be clear what we can offer.
• Consider realistically how much time it will take to do a job. It’s easy to underestimate the time some work takes.
• Don’t let the few moments you might actually be able to relax fall away.
• Be clear about your conditions and expectations (to yourself and to others).
• If you are unhappy with the situation, speak your mind or let the people around you know that something is going wrong.
• Clearly voice your expectations. Is this work fulfilling them? Is the communication working out between you & the other party? Is everything clear or not?
• Joining organizations that work on improving the working conditions
• If you are unhappy about a work arrangement or it is not working, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with YOU.

Written agreements
• Don’t start working on a project before you have a written agreement.
• Not being scared to ask to have terms set at the beginning.
• Having everything clear in an e-mail, signed estimate or contract at the outset, e.g. if overtime is paid, what is delivered when, when the cost of separate tasks is, etc.
• Keeping written records of everything that has been agreed – also changes to the project that occur during its development.

Money
• Work is work and needs to be remunerated. Don’t sell yourself for too little money and feel comfortable about requesting paid jobs after a certain amount of time and experience.
• Keeping some sort of distance while negotiating the conditions. Not fully buying into a project/proposal as long as conditions are not clear.
• Discussing with peers or more experienced designers/artists/architects about what payment is appropriate.
• Using an approved scale of fees if available.
• Negotiate with your employer/client to review working conditions and pay one or twice a year as by gaining more experience you will do better.
• Being clear about what remuneration to expect right at the start.
• Negotiating additional benefits – in any form you see fit, especially if the work is underpaid. Can they support you with anything in return? Getting also this barter in a written form.
• Ask for 50% payment in advance.
• Finding out about the overall budget of the project and who is earning what.
• Making a written agreement also for collaboration between friends: who is doing what, how are expenses covered, how is the incoming money split? This can be a simple e-mail.
• If someone wants a job done for little money and you agree with the cause, make a full estimate and give a discount. This way people are aware of the value you are producing.
• Producing estimates and e-mails that look professional.
• If someone has a fixed budget, “reverse engineer” fee. How many of your hours can they pay for? What kind of service can you offer for that money?
• Knowing how much money one needs to pay for rent, food, transport, heating, etc. helps in taking a stronger position when negotiating.
• Finding a balance of payment ensuring your well-being and also not neglecting its attractiveness for the client

Time
• Keeping a calendar.
• Setting myself deadlines.
• Giving myself clear working hours, carve out time for other works, no work after a certain hour of the day.
• Setting principles for working times and trying to stick to them.
• Setting a healthy routine.
• Making clear that the week-ends are off work.
• Stating clearly at what date you are available.

Keeping records in order
• Staying organized.
• Keeping record of invoices and check regularly if they are being paid.
• Keeping all receipts for project related expenses.
• Keeping track of the time spent on a project.

Balancing money and time – options that have been articulated

Insist to be paid for your work. Just because you enjoy it does not mean you should be underpaid. Also lawyers like their work…
• Being aware that being passionate and proud about one’s works makes one vulnerable for exploitation.
• Keep a meticulous spreadsheet with the money coming and going out every month
• Keep a spreadsheet to precisely document the hours you spend on the different tasks of a project. This helps you to correctly invoice your client and to know in the future how long certain tasks approximately take.