Contracting from Home
A reader posted ths article, about Contracting from Home, in the comments section after one of our articles.
Working off-site is an option I offer to some clients. Though usually I allow one or two days on-site per week for necessary meetings.
Usually it works well. The client gets me at a lower than usual rate. I avoid the hassle of commuting 3-4 days a week.
Occasionally, though, contracting from home can be more trouble than it’s worth.
A word of warning:
A couple of years ago, I was working on a project for a client who was in a a bit of a jam. They needed some very technical analysis done quickly. They had neither the staff nor the tools to do it.
I had the tools, which I’d written myself for a previous contract with a different client. I’d retained the IPR. However, this new client didn’t want to pay my full usual rates at the time.
We cut a deal – me, the agency and the head of the department. So, I did the project almost entirely off-site. After the initial fortnight on-site, the remainder was off-site, with just a weekly visit to the clients offices (1-2 hours, tops) to pick up source code changes and attend the weekly project meeting.
Poor Communication with Project Manager
Unfortunately, as quickly became apparent, the head of dept had cut the deal without talking to the project manager about it. He only found out at the end of the on-site fortnight, when I asked him what day/time he wanted me in the following week for the project meeting.
He didn’t realise I would be contracting from home.
He was in no position to change things. So what I got was snide comments and backbiting whenever I visited their offices.
Then, despite my part of the project being the only portion to actually be completed on time (and being verifiably accurate – as part of my handover, I used my data to generate an index to illustrate its completeness) – the head of dept informed me at our final meeting that the project manager wasn’t happy with my work. He didn’t believe I was working all the required hours.
I showed him the handover (including the index generated) and he was satisfied.
Offered Work by Agency
However, that project was the last time I was offered work by that agency.That may be less significant than it sounds. I’ve tended not to work through agencies very much over the last 3-4 years.
Needless to say, when offered further work from that client (via different agencies) I’ve turned it down.
I guess I’m just saying – if you do agree to do a project from home (in whole or in part), make sure that the whole management team is happy with your working off-site.
Working from home is great – providing you avoid the pitfalls.
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