Working Away From Home as a Contractor
Working away from home is an article by occasional contributor Paranoid Pete.
There comes a time for most non London based contractors when after a few weeks out of work that they have to make a decision on whether they are happy to be working away from home during the week.
It can be hard to be away from the house and family. It can also be hard for the family for you to be gone. However, it’s better to bite the bullet especially in these difficult times than wait on something turning up that’s commutable.
My Contracting Experiences
For what it’s worth, I’ll tell you what my experiences have been of working away from home.
It’s easier to take a short contract away from home for one month or whatever. It’s over before you know it and something might turn up closer to home during that time.
After applying for these short contracts, I would wait on any feedback as usual.
If an interview was offered, what I didn’t want to do was pay for the expense and hassle of travelling only to find out 10 other people were being seen as well.
I would ask first for a telephone interview but I’ve found out that agents are reluctant to do this normally.
In that case I would rule the contract out unless there were only one or two agencies advertising the role Either that or they were a preferred supplier or the job was a 100% match.
Sometimes if I had already a meeting on the same day in roughly the same area, I would agree to an interview with a lower chance of success.
Generally I’ve found that non-London clients are more used to contractors working away from home. They wouldn’t hold this against me.
They are usually happy to for a late Monday start and an early Friday departure within reason.
If it was in London, I would wait until the end of the interview. If it had gone well would ask ‘If there was any weekend work needed?’
Nine times out of ten there wouldn’t be so I would explain that I would stay with my sister during the week (sometimes true) and that I’d done it a few times before with no difficulty (true).
If appropriate, I would then joke that there would be nothing else to do whilst working away from home during the week except to work.
Assuming the contract has been offered, I would try to get any domestic tasks sorted out before I started – dental appointments, house repairs etc.
You would also need to sort out accommodation.
Friends may know someone in the particular area. If not, there are plenty of budget hotels now.
Travelodges are good if a bit soulless – Ive stayed in some in London for Â£19 a night.
I’ve found LateRooms to be pretty good as well.
Get somewhere nice for the first week as any new contract is stressful enough.
I’m doing some work in Edinburgh now on a longish contract and found GumTree to be excellent for finding accommodation.
Lots of Replies
It was better to specify what I wanted and I got lots of replies.
Some were from dubious sounding divorcees but I put them to one side! I did hear of one contractor whose somewhat elderly landlady would bring him a cup of tea every night in a short nightdress until he had to tell her no thanks!
In any case, I would try to get somewhere nice to stay. It’s hard enough working away from home without having to go back to a slum after work as well.
When I came back home on a Friday, I found it best to get stuff like paperwork and packing done as soon as possible.
That way I could enjoy the weekend without being in a rush on the Sunday evening and forgetting something important.
It’s only reasonable if you have a family to do the bulk of the child care arrangements when you’re back home.
Positive Attitude to Working Away from Home
Take a positive attitude to the whole business of working away from home.
Wherever you are, you can find something to see.
You can catch up on your reading, go to the cinema, join a class, see long lost friends or get into shape.
Bear in mind though that you may not have the energy during the week to start training for your first marathon or learn Russian.
Office Night Out
Sometimes, when working away from home, you can take the initiative in organising an office night out.
You can even watch television for hours on end without feeling guilty that you should be sorting stuff out.
When working away from home, maybe your partner could visit you one weekend without you having to go back.
At the very worst, you’re keeping in work and getting those ever-increasing bills paid!