One of my favorite red flags is when clients require more commitment from you than they have work to give you. I’m sure that all of us have been there, at one point or another. It’s that client that “only takes on contractors who can offer 40 hours per week” of available time but has no work for you to do.

Another excruciating example from my own personal experience.

When I first got into the work-from-home game, I was working full time as an Assistant Teacher and Debate Coach. My life was plenty busy, but I needed summer work and we were planning a post-law school move. I got in touch with a content creation group through a friend who had worked for them and interviewed for the position in May. I was very clear about my school commitments, but noted that I would be available full time after a certain point in the summer.

There was some confusion and harsh words between my project manager and me about the scheduling, but eventually we worked it out. I was also told that, going forward, the company would only work with contractors who could provide 40 hours of weekly availability.

Which was fine by me, because I had given them 65 hours of weekly availability.

When I gave them my availability, it had all seemed perfect. They wanted 40 hours but I gave them 65, which meant that I would easily be able to complete 40 hours of work and maybe even more.

Except, there was never forty hours of available work for me to do.

In fact, crunching the numbers on that experience (for taxes) showed me that I averaged 26 hours a week with them. Every time I expressed concern, it was brushed aside and I was told that I “didn’t understand the industry.”

Seriously. If a client can’t provide you with work to fill the hours they want from you, they shouldn’t be your client anymore.