Organizing your monthly hours

Are you considering to buy weekly/monthly hours? Or you just did, and you want to better understand the terms of our collaboration? Then you may want to take a look at this article. It explains how those hours are organised, and how you can use them.

Planning the job

I will log the hours on a spreadsheet. We have shared access to this tool, so there will be transparency about what I do and how much time it takes.

We’ll define a weekly or monthly start time for my activities. At that time we will have a call or we will meet on a chat, as you prefer. You will tell me what you expect me to do, and you can ask me questions as well.

We can also agree some default activities. This means that, even if sometimes you don’t have anything to ask or you can’t talk to me, I will know what to do for you. For example I can take a look at your system’s health, or review your most impacting queries. But they can also be less regular activities, like upgrading certain tools when a new version is released.

Plans may change

You may occasionally be unavailable, because you are on holiday or you are busy with something more pressing. I propose a deal: I will be flexible, and you will be collaborative. We can agree a different time for our meeting. But please, let me know the problem as soon as possible. In busy times, moving hours with less than a week of notice could be impossible. If you do this late, I cannot guarantee that I will be able to move the hours. Of course if you have an sudden problem I will do my best to be flexible, but I kindly ask you to avoid that when possible.

I could also ask you to move some hours, and I always try to do this in advance. You will always be free to refuse. There may be situations where I don’t have an alternative, for example if I have a serious health problem. In that case, I will refund all non-used hours.

We will use Google Calendar. In this way we will be able to see the schedule, propose a change with great advance, and accept the change or propose an alternative. This makes very easy to propose changes even months in advance. For changes to closer dates, a quick chat may work better.

Moving hours…

Sometimes you will not use all of your hours for the reasons mentioned above, or simply because you don’t have tasks to assign to me. So, what happens to those unused hours at the end of a month? I guarantee that up to half of your monthly hours – but not more than 4 (four) – can be moved to the next month. If you have more unused hours, I will try to be flexible and work for you up to more 4 (four) hours. But I don’t guarantee that.

For example, if on a given month you have 10 unused hours: we will recover 4 hours; we may possibly recover up to a total of 8 hours, but there is no guarantee; at least 2 hours are lost. Those hours need to be paid.

…within reasonable limits

We can move hours every month, but we cannot move the same hours multiple times. Suppose you have 10 monthly hours, and you use 2 in January. In February we could recover from 4 to 8 hours. But if I work for you 10 hours in February, in March you will not have any hour to recover.

You can also use hours in advance. I will try to be flexible in that case too, but with similar thresholds. I guarantee that you can use up to 4 hours in advance (if we agree this with a reasonable advance – for example, the last day of the month is clearly too late; there may be exceptions to this rule). If you want to use up to 8 hours in advance, I can’t guarantee that you will be able to, but I will try to make it happen.

But if you want to use more than 8 hours in advance, unfortunately we cannot do this as part of the monthly hours service. If I am available, a separate agreement will be negotiated for those hours.

A last thing: hours to recover limit the amount of hours that can be used in advance. For example, imagine that this month recover previously unused 4 hour. And then you ask me to work 4 more hours in advance. This would mean that I would work 8 unplanned hours. If I can do it I will, but there is no guarantee: we used the 4 hours flexibility buffer already.

Flexibility, collaboration, satisfaction

Did you notice the advantage in the terms I described above? It is the guarantee! I will only move a limited amount of hours, and with clear rules. But there is not maybe: I will do it.

However, note that the job must be agile to allow flexibility. Some activities can be asynchronous. This means that, after you tell me what to do, I may ask you the permission to do the work at a later time, when it’s more convenient for me. If you accept, I will to that, and I will confirm via char or via email that the task is completed. This will help me to be flexible, moving hours to accomodate your needs and performing the tasks when it is easier for me. And will help you to avoid wastes of time.

That said, sometimes you may want me to work synchronously, for example because problems may arise during the task (example: a production cluster rolling upgrade); or I may need to be in contact with you, because questions may arise.

I hope that the principles behind these rules is clear: flexibility and collaboration. Sure, I will be flexible when I can; and I hope you will be flexible as well; but there is a limit to the number of hours that can be moved, right? If we are exceeding the threshold, maybe it is better to renegotiate the terms of our agreement. Also – I totally understand that sudden urgencies may (and do) arise against our will. Yet, as a general rule, I ask you to discuss schedule changes as soon as possible. And I will do the same whenever I can.

I believe that working in this way will increase satisfaction for us both!