What is reasonable ?
Singapore 9th October 2010
In our lighting design business or most design practices for that matter, there are lull times and busy times. In all the years that I have practiced lighting design not once have I had projects that are regularly spaced out over time, neatly following up one after the other and providing regular “9 to 5” work. It is either sleeping or racing, there does not seem to be a normal walk in the park sort of thing. We all know that and try to set up our resources to coop with the ever varying demands of the job. But somehow when you do multiple projects, deadlines always seem to converge to the same date, site visits and meetings seem to be organized on in the same week, and so on.
Clients generally don’t care about your problem. They hire you, they expect you to be on call and service them, that is what they pay you for. They have little compassion for the fact that you may have other clients too! That is at times, with limited resources doing multiple projects, why we issue time schedules for doing our work that are double or more then the time we actually need. But since we may not be able to work on one project continuously due to the many demands we have to build in that buffer. Still the saying (is it a saying?) that he shouts hardest get things done first, still much applies. Clients who make the most noise generally get our attention first…
So under the pressure of having to meet crazy deadlines we turn to our staff to help us out. We ask them to push aside what they are working on and submerge themselves totally to get the clients requirement completed as fast as possible. Which leads to the question how hard can we push, how much can we ask from our staff. Working overtime is no issue in our industry, but the issue is that in times like we experience at present overtime, including working weekends, is starting to become norm rather than exception. We may not want to let our clients down for risk of losing them, but then we should also be mindful of our staff as they also have a limit as to what is reasonable….?