Working as an independent consultant was never easy.
Nobody ever said it was, and there isn't any reason that it should be.
I would suggest that the difficult and demanding lifestyle and high professional expectations of the clients is exactly what keeps the riff-raff from taking it up -- and what keeps the rates high.
I've been doing it for the past 15 years and have stayed everywhere from a 5-star hotel to a shipping container in Kosovo with the US Army.
If the gig is too 'tough' for you -- don't take it, but for god's sake don't show up and spend the entire time whining about whatever you have to 'put up with'.
GET IN -- GET IT DONE -- GET OUT -- GET PAID.
Some people are simply not cut out to be contractors. If people need to be spoon-fed, want comfort, convenience, security, and to have every detail of their working life 'handled' -- go get a regular job.
Is it any wonder that H1-B 'body shops' have no problems placing people -- it isn't just the 'lower rates' that unemployed Americans put forward -- often times it is simply a matter of the Indians, Asians or whoever are WILLING TO WORK under conditions that may be 100s of times BETTER than working in their own country?
As a contractor myself, and as an occasional employer of contractors, if I am paying good money for someone to work on-site, I'd fire their butt right out the door if they started whining about working conditions typical in any US-based firm.
I've worked all over the world and in all types of conditions -- believe me -- there isn't an IT firm in America that has anything even close to the 'unbearable sweatshop' you make working on-site sound like.
Let's take a look at the picture from the customer's perspective and see how they may answer your points...
The customer has your dedicated attention. This is worth something extra because you will be more productive for them by staying focused on their tasks all day long.
Counterpoint: I expect my EMPLOYEES to show up for work, do their time and focus on work all day long. Why should YOU, an overpaid contractor (in the employee view) be paid MORE to sit there and listen to music or service other clients?
If I'm paying you to do a job -- I EXPECT your full attention during every hour you bill. If you can't FOCUS -- then don't take me on as a client. If you have too many clients to focus properly -- then don't take on new work until you can manage your time properly.
#2: Other clients??? needs become secondary
You???ll have to ignore your other clients while you???re onsite.
Counterpoint: TOUGH BEANS! See point 1. If you can't focus on the job at hand -- then don't take it. I've fired consultants who come in to work and then spend half their time talking on the phone, emailing or MSN'ing with other clients (or friends). If you have too many 'outside activities' distracting your attention - go work for them, but don't waste MY time and money.
#3: Expenses associated with being away from home
Counterpoint: If you are in the same city -- then it's your problem how you get to/from the office and to take care of whatever home issues you may have.
Everyone else who works in the office can manage their home/work life -- it makes me wonder what's wrong with YOU if you can't?
And you expect me to PAY MORE for you to manage your home affairs? (Come in with this complaint and you better be careful the door doesn't hit your butt on the way OUT.)
Agreement: For 'non-local' work, where the client is more than a 2-hour trip - depending on the client/work/contract I may suggest that I'd bill for travel time, and if that didn't fly, I'd factor it into the rate.
Again, if you can't live with the terms presented -- you have the option of taking the work OR NOT. I recently turned down a contract because the client didn't want to pay for my trip on a 10-hour overnight train each way -- despite the fact that it saved them 2 nights of hotel, meals and incidentals in Moscow. Unless you don't have enough work, you always have a choice.
My last contract I 'commuted' from Russia to/from the UK - the rate was SET and I was competing against 'locals' -- I had the choice to either accept the rate with NO travel time -- or walking away from the contract. I chose the former, but worked out a deal where I worked 3 weeks worth of hours in a 2-week period -- and spent a week at home.
#4: The inconvenience factor
Counterpoing: GOOD GOD MAN -- THE HORRORS! Restaurant food, hotels, bad coffee, no music, no paid health club, no 24" monitor -- WHAT NEXT? They actually ask you to do some WORK between the health club and cafe latte???
If these kinds of 'problems' bother someone -- they are definitely NOT cut out to be a contractor. They should get a degree and go work for Google -- at least then they can enjoy all the 'perks' mentioned above for free.
The financial certainty provided to your client by a daily rate should be worth something.
Counterpoint: This makes absolutely no sense. A daily rate provides 'security' -- BS.
When I hire a contractor, the FIRST thing I ask them is if they fully understand the scope of the work and if they have the time available to do it. If not -- goodbye. If a contractor walks in the middle of a project (or if I fire them for non-performance) -- I don't care whether they are working on-site or off-site, hourly or daily -- they're going to get blacklisted.
What would a customer think if you walked up to them and said, "if you want to be sure of having my full and undivided attention and a guarantee that I'll do the work promised and not work on other people's stuff -- you need to pay me more -- think of it as 'insurance'..." (I'd tell you exactly where you could insert that insurance...)
In the business world, it isn't about YOU, it is about the CLIENT and what they want. The client doesn't care if you have dogs, chickens or have to drink their coffee and eat at their cafeteria.
Everyone else at the office has to manage their lives, show up for work and sustain themselves -- why should that be a problem for you?
It isn't the employer's job to make your life 'convenient', cheap or easy. They don't give a fuzzy rat's a$$ about you -- they are paying for a unit of work to be done -- and if you won't do it for the price that they are willing to pay -- then there are plenty of alternatives.
For the home-based consultant -- you're not competing against the local guy who will happily come to the office to work - you are competing against the Indians, Chinese, Russians, etc. -- so you had BETTER offer a good value proposition and not worry about being 'inconvenienced' at having to actually 'show up' for work sometimes.
The fact that you ARE ABLE to be working from home most of the time should ALREADY be reward enough.
In fact, if you are local to the customer, the one BIG advantage you have over offshore-outsourced labor is that you CAN show up at the office. This opens opportunities that are DENIED to off-shore workers in many cases. One should APPRECIATE having that option open.
After reading about the 'horrors' and 'inconveniences' of working on-site and having to actually manage one's own life to slip in some work -- is it any wonder that companies want the cap on H1-B's lifted?
Sorry if I sound a bit harsh, but having worked all over the world, I've had my fill of spoiled contractors who gripe about conditions that are 100 times better than those in other countries.
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