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Community Member

Is this the norm?

I am a bit confused.  I have been working as a Freelancer for a client since the beginning of december.  I was told the job would entail Admin Assistant type work as well as performing sales calls (which I would only be paid a bonus for every sale I generated).  Since starting I have been completing tasks such as; making doctors appointments, locating and purchasing gifts for family members, finding a gardener and printer repair person for the Owner of the company (along with other similar tasks), editing documents and locating and negotiating a new phone srevice provider.  Guidance for each tasks comes with minimal direction and usually takes a bit of time since the Owner piece-meals necessary information on an irregular basis.  I have been told on countless occasions to "refer to the shared drive" for any questions I might have.  I do not have access to the shared drive and I routinely find myself asing the only other employee (another upwork freelancer) for guidance of which she has none.  I was told I would only be working a maximum of 10 hrs per week but I routinely work longer hours (of which I am paid for). The owner requests all correspondence emails to be worded a cetain way ( I have to ask how his morning/night is/was) in each email and I am constantly told I need to be "more resourceful" when I have a question.  When I do not responnd within a certain amount of time to an email, the CEO becomes upset.  I was asked to make a call to a client last week that I did not feel prepared for/comfortable making and when I informed the CEO of this he told me "this is how its done and we are not changing protocol".  This coming week I will be expected to cover the tasks of a Project Manager who was fired.  Is this normal?

Community Member

Is what normal? Admin assistents do all kinds of jobs, though the client does sound like a bit of an odd duck. But ... as long as you're getting paid, what does it matter what they expect? That said, if you're uncomfortable working with this client, you could just fire them and move on. That's what I'd do.


p.s. Paragraph returns are your friends.

Community Member


Freelancers may stop working for a client at any time, for any reason. Or for no reason at all.

You don't need to give advance notice.

You don't need to say anything at all.


The amount of freedom you have here is amazing.


Also, if you're interested in continuing to work for a client, but don't want to do some things, then just tell them.


I do that all the time.

The client can hire OTHER freelancers to do some things if you don't want to do them.

Community Member

There's no norm, really. People use AA's in a lot of different ways. My assistant does all of the things you mentioned and more. I make sure she has the information she needs, but the more time you have to spend giving instructions and hand-holding an assistant, the less value he/she adds. The whole point is to take things off the client's plate.


You mentioned that you are repeatedly referred to a shared drive that you don't have access to. Have you sent an email or picked up the phone and said, "It seems that there's a lot of information stored on a shared drive that I don't have access to. How can I gain access?"?


All that said, not every freelancer and client are a fit. If this is frustrating/stressful for you and not what you were looking for, it's perfectly fine to tell the client that you don't feel like it's a good fit and end the contract.

Community Member

Just sounds like a hard-to-deal with CEO.  I was an executive and legal secy in NY for most of my adult life and believe me, there were way too many picky CEO's.  I was very good at my job (and I say that will all humility); unfortunately, we can't please everyone.  I had one CEO of a legal firm who was just rude; never said good morning; but being the person I am - I didn't stand for his attitude and told him as professionally as I could that he was wrong when he blamed me for something that wasn't my fault.  Would you believe he still wanted to hire me as his permanent secretary.  I was a temp.  So, you just have to realize that (1) as in any job there will be more tasks needed that were not advertised upfront; as long as the tasks aren't going above what you expected and as long as you are getting paid for it; as well as if you are comfortable - then I would say don't sweat it.  (2) But, if you start to feel stressed and worrying about his reaction to everything you do and every sensible question you ask, you may want to find a different job b/c stress over how you work is not something to deal with.

Community Member

As someone who has worked as a corp executive for small and large companies I would tell you that yes this is normal. Of course little details are different. Him demanding you ask how his day was is odd but frankly other CEO's and executives will have requests that some consider odd. The good news is that these are harmless. Annoying? Strange? Yes, of course; however, they are quite benign especially when compared to the disgusting allegations and abuses you read about almost daily in the news.  


You'll find Admin/Exec Assistants that are there to get coffee and to greet people. You will find others that project manage and do other business activities that one wouldn't think that an admin would do. Depending on one's age it can be because this role came from the "secretary" known for typing up memos and taking calls. That still exists but the role can be so much more that the title doesn't begin to cover it. I know exec assistants making 6-figure salaries. So again yes, the roles can vary and it's great if you get the chance to do more than just the secretarial work if that is indeed something that appeals to you. 


Also I agree on the earlier advice to ask directly about access to the shared drive. When someone tells you that all the answers are in a place you cannot reach, it would seem the first response would be to directly state that and ask for access. Perhaps you asked and he never responded,  I don't know. Perhaps his other assistant whom you messaged can tell you how she got access? 

Community Member

Allison, if you should choose at some point to terminate the contract yourself, while it's true that nothing requires you to give advance notice, I think it would be professional to do so.

"No good deed goes unpunished." -- Clare Boothe Luce
Community Member

If disconfortable, talk to your client, but serenely. Upset moments are bad to do the talk, because clients think that you are moaning. Say him that your access to the shared drive does not work.

And yes, sometimes clients (and freelancers accepting work) are over-optimistic about the time the tasks take (or for instance in my case mey I be slow?). There are applications that measure your time use in a work session in a computer, including the off-computer time. With this measure, you can talk to him that the 10 hours are not enough to all the activities, at a good work rate. But serenely, because the less that one wants to do is reject work. 

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