Working on-site again

Recently, I’ve just completed a seven week-long project on-site at a Manchester agency; it’s the first time I’ve worked on-site in a significant amount of time.

Several years ago, I made a conscious decision to work for smaller agencies and to work remotely from my own office space. This worked out very well for a long time and I actively told agencies that I didn’t work on-site any more- and, for the most part, they were happy with that decision. Recently though, I’ve made the conscious decision to start working on-site again for a number of reasons.

An easier separation of working hours and location

Okay, I have been quite strict with my working hours over the years, and I do have my own office too but this last year quite a few of my projects went over time and I worked a lot of evenings and weekends. I don’t want to do that any more.

Working on-site means it is easier to turn away jobs – if another client asks me to do a small week long job whilst I’m in the middle of a two month on-site contract I find it easier to say no to them, whereas I’ll try and fit in that same job if I’m working remotely (in evenings/weekends).

Projects are project-managed in-house

Okay, this is more of a big agency Vs small agency thing but working on-site for bigger agencies means, more often than not, that they’re in charge of project management, client handling, etc. Often with smaller agencies, especially ones with no in-house digital experience, I’ve found myself doing way more than just the actual development tasks – and it’s not been fun.

More social interaction

When I first started freelancing, I always worked on-site and I met loads of people but, more recently, working in an office of three people I’ve found myself a little bored. Working on-site in larger agencies means meeting more people, which is obviously great in general but more specifically, it’s good for networking with other freelancers and therefore makes finding that next job/booking easier.

The downsides

Whilst working on-site has many benefits, it can be quite a stressful way to earn a living. There is a constantly feeling of having to be `on your game` at all times, this is something I never appreciated as full-time employee. There’s also some people who aren’t so great; for every ten nice people you meet, you’ll encounter one who’s a bit bitter that you’re freelance – they see your job as cushy and better paid than theirs and sometimes they can be a bit nasty about it. Those people are rare but sadly there’s often one in every agency.


I am going to continue to seek on-site work – specifically front-end development work (but that’s for a future post) for the foreseeable future. The benefits definitely outweigh the downsides.

2 responses to “Working on-site again”

  1. When you consider that freelancers general get paid better than employees, while employee benefits are nothing to shout about these days, it’s not surprising that some people might be resentful. I mean, my job would be awesome if I was a contractor. I’d get a better take home pay, which I’d happily sacrifice my sick days and holiday for. Often you can’t take these due to work commitments anyway.

    Back when employee benefits included pension contributions and health cover, maybe being an employee was a better choice. But not so much now.

    • Hi Adam, thanks for the comment. In the UK, pension contributions and health cover are not traditionally given as employee benefits – although this is changing with pensions.

      I think the main thing full-time employees overlook is that contractors have to purchase/licence their own software/equipment, pay for their own training as well as market themselves; that is to say, it’s not simply a case of turning up doing the same job as a full-timer and making home more money for the privilege.

      Finally, I’m not sure what job you’re in whereby sick days and holidays can’t be taken due to work commitments, that sounds like a terrible job.