Freelance Or Office: What Is Better For A Web Developer And How To Make A Choice For Yourself

The profession of a web developer implies the ability to work both remotely and in the office. For many beginners, freelancing seems like a more attractive option, but this is not always the case – a lot depends on the list of tasks performed and on you as a person. Some people prefer office work, others feel better at home.

Next, we will analyze the features of both directions. You will have to choose the most suitable for yourself.

Personal predisposition

This is the first thing to pay attention to. The ability to self-organize and control is an important requirement for a successful freelancer. An office worker, on the other hand, is required to follow the instructions of his superiors and more senior colleagues. It is easier for them, since most people have already been accustomed to work under someone’s guidance and schedule – a kindergarten, school, university, and the army do an excellent job with this task.

To build self-discipline, the ability to plan and stick to the plan in the long term, they teach very rarely. For a freelancer, these qualities are very important – otherwise, you will not be able to deliver projects on time and few people will want to cooperate with you, therefore, the level of income will fall. Not only that, you need to be able to be flexible – a drawn up plan can easily be disrupted by an urgent task from a client. Accordingly, it will have to be rebuilt.

You also need to understand that a freelancer is a “single player”. Asking for advice from more experienced colleagues or shifting part of the work to them will not work – the maximum is to ask for a solution on specialized forums. You can also forget about friendly chatter between colleagues – socializing at work will not work.

As a result, a successful freelancer will need:

  • Self-discipline. It is necessary not only to “force” yourself to work a certain time a day, but also learn not to be distracted by extraneous tasks. At home, doing this is much more difficult.
  • Ability to plan. You must clearly separate tasks by priority and distribute their implementation during the day. Otherwise, the working day can stretch for the entire time of wakefulness, while in the office it is no more than 9 hours. Also, do not forget about non-work tasks – it is also advisable to plan them in advance.
  • Ability to prioritize. You will have several clients with their own tasks. Some of them will be the most important, others less so. Accordingly, the freelancer will need to correctly prioritize their implementation.
  • Be flexible. In the office, tasks are given ahead of time and all you need to do is stick to the schedule. In freelancing, you need to look for tasks on your own and constantly adjust your schedule for them.
  • Willingness to work alone.

If you don’t have this, or if you have it, but not completely, then it will be more difficult for you to adapt to full-time freelancing. These skills can be developed in the course of work, but this requires willingness on your part.

What you need to get started

For a freelancer, this is:

  • Possession of all the necessary practical and theoretical skills in their specialty. The most important thing is to pay attention to practice, since theory can be “googled”. Additionally, at least superficial knowledge in related areas may be required.
  • Required tools. In the case of a web developer, this is a more or less good computer and smartphone, the necessary software and subscriptions. No one will give you them or compensate for the cost, so you will have to purchase and maintain all the tools at your own expense.
  • Find sites where you will offer your services. Freelance exchanges and various thematic platforms are perfect for web developers.
  • Be able to negotiate with clients and other freelancers. Basic communication skills through instant messengers and calls should be enough.

Not so much, but keep in mind that you need to have the necessary practical skills either at a very good level, or be ready to quickly and independently learn in the course of work. Experienced colleagues from whom you can quickly ask for help will not be nearby.

To work in the office, you will need a slightly different list of starting conditions:

  • Possession of the necessary skills at the level indicated in a particular vacancy. Additional skills from web development will be a competitive advantage against other applicants, but they are not a prerequisite.
  • Ability to work with programs that are involved in the workflow of the company or willingness to learn quickly. Usually there is nothing complicated there – standard software for development and office, but sometimes there may be some kind of self-written CMS or other atypical tool.
  • Know English at least at a level sufficient to read and understand the documentation. Even if there is no clause about language proficiency, then at interviews preference will be given to candidates who speak the language.
  • Ability to adapt and work in a team. For a potential employer, this is sometimes more important than your professional skills. It is important for management to manage the team, so they try to weed out those who will strongly stand out from it.

Even when applying for offline work, age discrimination is often encountered – few people decide to hire a developer over 40 without serious experience. In freelancing, no one will care about your age.

Bottom line: you can adequately start freelancing only if you have all the necessary professional skills and the ability to learn. You will also have to independently look for clients and negotiate with them, and at first this is almost like a second job. In the office, you will only be required to complete the assigned tasks, but at the same time you will need to adapt to the requirements of the management and the team.

Availability

Here, freelancing definitely wins on all counts – you can work from anywhere in the world where there is an Internet connection, and with any input, if they correspond to the list of requirements given above. Office work doesn’t come close to providing that kind of mobility. Consider all hypothetical situations in order:

  • You live in a small town or even a village. It is unlikely that someone there will offer a job to web developers with a good salary – at best, you can get a job as a system administrator. To find a job in an office, you will need to move to a larger city, and these are very serious expenses for moving and rent, which no one compensates. Freelancing does not require a move – if you have the Internet, a decent computer and relevant skills, then nothing prevents you from working from a small town or village.
  • You have serious health problems and you have limited mobility. Unfortunately, at an interview in most companies you will be answered with a polite refusal, even with full compliance with professional skills. The fact is that offices are not designed for people with special needs. Even if you are given a job, due to health problems, you will have to spend a lot of time and energy on the road, and the workplace is unlikely to be comfortable. Freelancing won’t have that problem.
  • You are a student or even a minor. In the latter case, it is almost impossible to officially get an office job as a web developer. Students are also not very welcome. So you also need to take into account the schedule – it is very inconvenient for those who study full time, and for half a day or only on weekends they are unlikely to be hired for such positions. Freelancing allows you to build a schedule completely for yourself and without harm to your studies, plus, no one will look at age.
  • Do you have small children or relatives who need constant supervision? When you get to the office, you won’t be able to spend a lot of time with them – only after work. Whether you’re freelancing or telecommuting, you can spend more time with your family if you plan your schedule well and stick to it.
  • You are a person of pre-retirement or retirement age. In the office, and especially in the position of a web developer, you are unlikely to be hired, even if you meet all the requirements. Usually, preference is given to young candidates, other things being equal. As a freelancer, you don’t have to reveal your age, and most clients don’t care either.
  • You do not have a higher education, but at the same time you have all the necessary skills to work as a web developer. It will also be difficult to get into a good company, and if you do, then in order to further advance you will either have to get VO or face difficulties. Yes, companies are gradually starting to move away from the requirements of a mandatory higher education, but other things being equal, preference is given to those who have it. On freelancing, a higher education is completely optional if you can cope with your tasks without it.
  • You just don’t like people very much. Not everyone works well in a team or in direct contact with superiors and colleagues. Working for yourself from home is an ideal option for such people – communication only in instant messengers and only on business.

Freelancing definitely wins in terms of mobility and accessibility. Anyone can work and make good money.

Stability and social guarantees

And at this point, office work definitely wins. Even in the most mediocre office there will be minimal social guarantees and a fixed salary, which you can count on anyway. Moreover, all this begins to operate immediately after the successful completion of the probationary period. Yes, and it will be more difficult to fire you. Larger firms also pay VHI and make contributions to an individual retirement account. For high-value professionals, they may also be reimbursed for some or all of the costs associated with moving and living in another city, if necessary.

It is the lack of stability that pushes people to quit freelancing or not even start. For the first few months it will be difficult to predict profitability, and there can be no talk of any social guarantees – only a minimum old-age pension. Even having reached a stable income, it will still be difficult to predict it, since next month the demand for services may fall, the client decides to close the project or something else happens. You will have to provide yourself with pensions, sick leave and vacations completely on your own.

Comfort and general standard of living

Let’s look at a few metrics:

  • Waste of time on the road. In million-plus cities, on average, about 2 hours a day are spent on the road, and sometimes 3-4. They could be spent on something more useful. Even if you are very lucky, then 20-30 minutes a day will be spent on the road. Freelancing, for obvious reasons, does not require spending time on the road. And it also minimizes the time spent on preparation for work. Also, a nice bonus.
  • Workplace comfort. It very much depends on the specific company – somewhere it is an ordinary office chair and a desktop, and somewhere else there is a room for games, an office kitchen, joint entertainment. On freelancing, you will have to organize your workplace yourself and its quality will depend on your desire and budget.
  • Work schedule. In a company, it is often fixed – from 9 to 18, although there are other variations. Such a schedule is not very convenient, given that you need to wake up at least 2 hours in advance in order to have time to pack up and get to the workplace. Working for yourself, you create your schedule completely for yourself, although there are difficulties like different time zones with customers.
  • Collective. It is absent on freelancing – the maximum you can communicate with colleagues in professional chats. For some, this is a big plus, but for someone it is important to feel part of the team. In the office, the team can be very different – from friendly to quarrelsome. Here’s how lucky.
  • Socialization. While working in a company, you, even if reluctantly, participate in the life of the team and socialize without making any serious efforts. Most firms arrange various events for their employees – corporate parties, tours, birthday celebrations, and so on. On freelancing, you will have to answer for socialization yourself and look for new acquaintances in different places if you need them.
  • Vacations. The company is required to give at least a minimum paid vacation to its employees. The problem is that its duration is fixed, and taking it whenever you want can be problematic. As a freelancer, you can go on vacation whenever you want and for as long as you want, but no one will pay you for it.
  • Lending. For freelancers, banks are not very willing to approve large loans, especially mortgages. The only option here is to issue an IP and collect data on your own income for 1-2 years. Then you can count on a loan with the same conditions as for an office worker.

Freelancing still turns out to be more comfortable, although only you have to answer for everything. There is a lot of uncertainty in working for a company: there are options with an excellent team, a comfortable workplace, and interesting leisure activities for employees; and there is with a very mediocre workspace and a quarrelsome team.

Income level and growth prospects

At first, an employee in the office will have an advantage in income, since a freelancer will need several months to “promote”, even if he is an excellent specialist. Then it levels off and gradually increases in favor of the freelancer. But this is if you look at the average. If you are lucky enough to get into a good and fast-growing company, then the income level is likely to be even higher than that of a freelancer.

However, a freelancer is not limited by region, country, competitors, the desire of management and can dictate his own pricing policy, as well as work for the whole world. With the ability to negotiate and discover new markets, you can earn very good money. True, for this you will have to work on your reputation and spend a lot of time compiling your own client base. As part of the company, the developer is not engaged in search and contact with customers.

The growth prospects of a specialist in a company depend on the growth prospects of the company itself – he may well become a leader and receive a good income, but only if the company is also successful. Freelancers depend on themselves. Often, over time, they open some kind of business of their own – a web studio or release some kind of digital product.

Remote work and freelance

At first glance, there are almost no differences between them – in both cases, work from anywhere in the world, the ability to create your own schedule, you do not need to visit the office or visit it is minimized. True, there are still differences:

  • Schedule. Yes, it will not be as strict as in a regular office job, but no one will let you completely customize it for yourself. At the designated time, you must be near the workplace in order to quickly respond to a new task.
  • Collective. You will come into contact with it much less, but it will still affect the workflow.
  • Office visits. You won’t need to travel anywhere permanently, but many firms require remote employees to show up at least once a week.
  • Tasks come only from your management. You do not participate in the search and negotiations with clients.

Conclusion

Freelancing is great for those who are ready for instability at first and improving their own self-discipline. At the same time, he understands that in everything he will have to rely only on himself. An office or remote work for a company is suitable for those who value stability and are not ready to waste time searching for and negotiating with clients.

Navid Anjum

Full-stack web developer and founder of Laravelaura. He makes his tutorials as simple as humanly possible and focuses on getting the students to the point where they can build projects independently. https://github.com/NavidAnjum

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