Ask Wethos: Should Freelancers be Available to Clients on Holidays and Weekends?

With the holiday season on the horizon, you’re probably already thinking about what you want your schedule and availability to look like.

Maybe you want to take the entire month of December off. Or perhaps you plan to operate business-as-usual. As a freelancer, the choice is entirely up to you. You control your time, your schedule, and — most importantly — your availability to clients. 

Whether on weekends or holidays, when and how you make yourself available to clients is something that you need to decide and communicate. 

So, should freelancers be available to clients on holidays and weekends? We’re answering your question below.

Should you be available to clients on holidays and weekends?

Short answer: It’s entirely up to you. When you run your own business, you decide when you work, how you work, and what your communication with clients will be. 

A good baseline is to be available during “regular” working hours. But in today’s remote world, you may be working with clients in different time zones or who work during odd hours. So the lines can get blurred. 

The long answer to this question is a conversation around setting boundaries, maintaining client expectations, and preventing burnout. Let’s go over all of that below.

Setting boundaries

The main case for not being available to clients on holidays or weekends is because the boundaries start to blur if you’re available 24/7. 

When you work for yourself, you need to set boundaries. No one else is going to look out for your schedule but you. Setting boundaries (and honoring them) helps you make space for work and life on your own terms — not your client’s.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t necessarily work on holidays or weekends. As a freelancer, you can work whenever works best for you. But being available to clients over email, Zoom, or Slack during the holidays or weekends is another story. 

Or, if you’re balancing a freelance side hustle with a full-time job, you may only have time to work on weekends. And that’s okay! In this case, you may want to set a boundary that lets clients know that you may not be available for meetings or requests during weekdays.

Looking for smaller freelance projects you can knock out on the weekends? Here are a few of our top scope of work templates for side hustlers:

Maintaining client expectations

When you first start freelancing, there was probably a time when you said yes to something you probably shouldn’t have, whether that was a last minute project with a quick turnaround or a request to “hop on a quick call.” Chances are, after you said yes to this client request, they asked again…and again…and it eventually became a pattern. 

Being available to your clients whenever they want lets them know that you’ll always be available — and they will *expect* you to be available going forward. 

Set the tone early on in your client relationships by letting them know when you are available for calls, meetings, emails, and deadlines. In your contract, outline your working hours, typical turnaround times, and how soon they can expect a response to a request. For example: 

“I’m available Tuesdays-Thursdays between the hours of 9am-5pm ET. I typically respond to emails within 48 hours.” 

Setting this boundary helps give you space to work when you want — and lets the client know that you aren’t available at any given moment of the day.

Preventing burnout

Another big reason not to be available to your clients on holidays and weekends? Burnout. When you’re always available and never take time away from your business, burnout can easily creep up before you know what hit you. 

To prevent burnout, you need to take time off. And weekends and holidays are the perfect opportunity to take a step back from your work.

When you have a vacation coming up, let your clients know ahead of time that you’ll be unavailable starting on [X date] and will be back in the office on [X date]. This helps them prepare and lets them know that you’re unavailable during that time.

So, should freelancers be available to clients on holidays and weekends?

To sum it up: You can work whenever and however you want, but you probably shouldn’t make yourself available to clients on holidays and weekends. Making yourself available 24/7 or whenever is best for the client is a surefire way to burn out and isn’t sustainable for the long-term. Set clear boundaries around client communication, and stick to those boundaries to keep your business on your terms.

Ready to create your own terms?