Clients can do health and safety right
FOR SOME freelances' clients, we appear in the same part of their accounts as printer ink and toilet rolls. Too often, they treat us as though we were "consumables" - sitting quietly on a shelf until needed, and disposable thereafter. Some, though, get it right: we are, for a time, part of their workforce, and have the same needs as the other humans. Natasha Hirst reports an example of good practice:
I AM A freelance project manager on a photography project with All Wales People First, a small Wales-wide charity. I feel that it deserve a shout-out for being so proactive in supporting my well-being throughout the pandemic. The organisation seeks to demonstrate its values in all it does and this is evident in how it has built a strong and inclusive team.
Essentially, I have been provided with the same support that the charity gives to its staff. I have been included in the lunchtime informal zoom chats, team quizzes and regular wellbeing surveys and team wellbeing training. The Chief Executive offers me a well-being check every few weeks.
These have been low- or no-cost approaches that have made such a difference for me to feel connected and valued as a freelance. Although I’m used to the quirks of freelancing: my work in "normal" times brings me into contact with people on a daily basis. That loss of face-to-face contact during lockdown, in addition to the pressures of the pandemic, would have been much harder to bear without the solidarity of All Wales People First.
The team has been brilliant at involving and including me in all its health and safety risk assessments. The charity has provided me with face masks, alcohol wipes and hand sanitiser. As restrictions have eased, I’ve attended wellbeing walks and team lunches. I’ve been given a say in discussions about re-starting face-to-face work with the charity's clients. It has demonstrated how easily freelances can be supported, as an employer that already knows how to treat its staff well.
Do other readers of the Freelance have examples of good practice to report - to encourage the others? Please send them!