Thoughts on Bank Holiday working

The independent and freelance world is filled with people talking about the need to hustle. Today I have a guest post for you by Comms Consultant Liz Halliday who is here to share thoughts on Bank Holiday working.

I’m curious to know if this resonates with you, particularly if you’re a Comms Consultant, do let us know by commenting below.

I’ll hand you over…

Thoughts on Bank Holiday working

Sometimes, people post their frustration at working on bank holidays to social media. Yet one of the benefits of being independent is that the power over working (or not) on a national public holiday is in our own hands. I was in-house and now I’m independent so I’m going to cover my thinking about working patterns then and now.

My frustration with seeing freelancers complain on social media grew, back in 2012, out of the tone of some of the complaints. They took the form of “I’m the only one working…” and my immediate response is always “you’re really not”. If the poster was writing from a cafe then someone had probably just made their coffee.

I once spent an August bank holiday weekend in London, getting a train home to Devon in the evening. Over the course of the Monday alone, my family and I met 22 people who were all working. They were hotel receptionists and catering staff, a museum guard, several baristas, sales assistants in a comic shop, Tube and train drivers, supermarket cashiers, and a pizza delivery person. As they were all employed they will have had a conversation with their manager about whether they were working that day. The crucial thing to be aware of is that having a bank holiday as paid leave is not an automatic right.

Short on staff
Like many people, I’ve worked retail and hospitality in the past. I know that sometimes a manager is short on staff and may have had to ask someone to work who would rather not. And the people working the shift might not get time off in lieu or extra money: it’s not a legal requirement. I used to take bank holiday shifts when I worked at a cinema because the audience was small and I got extra pay.

Once I started down my career as an in-house communicator, I got used to automatically having long weekends.

I launched as an independent comms adviser and a freelance writer at the start of April 2019. Due to the way public national holidays fall here in the UK, I’ve had three bank holidays by mid-May. Part of my decision to go independent was to rebalance my life, so I was very conscious of my 2012 rant about freelancers and these days. One freelance writer friend Tweets my rant at any other freelancer complaining about working.

In the end, I did some work on Easter Sunday evening and then did a couple of hours on the May bank holiday. I made sure those periods were short and task-focussed (and I logged them in my time tracking app). I built them around what we had planned as a family for the day, and not around me saying “I need to work and then we can…”

Dippng in and out of work
Talking to other freelance writers I know, some take the day off and others also dip in and out of work based on the day. Sometimes you’re really enjoying what you are working on, and want to get back to it. Sometimes you’ve a deadline and need to grab some time outside office hours to make it.

As our own bosses, we need to have a conversation with our boss-self to decide if we need to treat it as a normal working day, a day off or a “dip in and out” day. We should be making a conscious decision about if we work, and how much time we spend on it.

Whatever we decide, we should not act the martyr if we decide to work as others may not have been able to make an active choice. Seriously, don’t annoy the barista.

Post author: Liz Halliday.

Liz @magslhalliday is an independent communications adviser and a freelance writer. She has over 20 years’ experience in both private and public sector and enjoys coaching people and organisations to communicate more clearly, improving engagement and understanding. Writing as Mags L Halliday, she is a professionally published author of both fiction and non-fiction.

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First published on the All Things IC blog 22 May 2019.


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