Freelance Web Developer


Returning to the world of work

Returning to the world of work

Happy new year to everyone. I’ve been thinking about recent changes for the last few weeks and this break over the festive season has given me the chance to reflect and get my thoughts in order.

About seven years ago I left full time work to stay at home and look after my then one year old daughter. These past few years have been busy. I can honestly say that despite the variety of things I’ve done over the course of my life, looking after children is by far the hardest, and most rewarding, work I’ve ever have the privilege to undertake. While looking after the girls, my part time freelance business picked up and I’ve been able to pay the bills these past few years. We now have a second daughter who recently started school, leaving me plenty of extra time to get back to making a decent living.

Over the course of last summer I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of freelance work compared to getting a full time job again. With freelancing I can pick and choose the projects I want to work on and when the job is done I can walk away before getting bored. I can steer my career any way I choose and work on new technologies as I feel comfortable doing so, in short, I’m the master of my own destiny.

On the other hand, the work needs to be there and needs to be found. As I have completed more jobs, I have become known for a certain skill and have been hired for that skill. While this the great for a successful business the downside of this is that although I’ve found a lot of work with Drupal and while that would likely get me D8 work, it doesn’t translate to getting Angular work, for example. I also need to go out there and find the work, prove I can do it and get hired. And when everything is done there are also financial matters to deal with. I have an accountant but she needs to have numbers to work with and I need to chase invoices and late payments and sometimes even argue as to why I need to get paid at all! Freelancing gives a lot of freedom, but there’s also a lot of stress to go with it and I find it very hard to switch off from that.

In contrast to all that, a full time job is much simpler. I need to apply for holidays and answer to the boss. I do the work I’m told to do, what the company needs me to do, and I get paid. All in all a much simpler affair.

So after much soul searching and scanning the contractor market to see what was about and what I could do from home I made a decision and applied for a full time job. After a thorough interview process I am now a senior developer at Deeson.

Deeson have been on my radar for a few years now. I met a representative at Drupal Camp Edinburgh and was impressed by their community outreach and the ethos with which they run the company. They use Drupal and contribute to Drupal, they believe in the Free software underpinnings of what they do and appreciate that they are standing on the shoulders of giants. As such they try to give back as much as they can. As well as appearing in the top 30 corporate contributors report from Dries, they also allow exceptional staff to spend 20% of their time on contributions to Drupal. Aside from all their technical contributions they also freely publish how they operate the company so new applicants are very clear on what they are getting into. On top of all this what really got me interested was remote working. Although the company is based in Canterbury, most of the workforce are remote. This means that Deeson can recruit talent for the web, from the web, to work on the web, regardless of where in the world those people happen to sit their laptop.

All of this seemed really good to me so I asked if they were taking on part time workers. They weren’t, and understandably so, but I followed what they were doing with the intention to get in touch again if I chose to go back to full time work.

Well, I did.

In late August I decided to apply to Deeson again and see how it went. I was not yet absolutely set on leaving my freelance career so still had my options open. I was invited to a first interview almost immediately. I won’t go into any detail about the interview process but there were technical tests and video calls with the technical director and the managing director and finally, a last minute surprise interview with the owner of the company, Tim Deeson. Things seemed to be going well and after a couple of weeks I was offered a job with them.

To say I was delighted was an understatement.

My first week was down in the main office in Canterbury and coincided with a quarterly team gathering. The management at Deeson recognise that you can’t dictate policy from up on high, things work better when there’s buy-in from everyone so everyone gets a say in how things are run. As one of the technical staff, my first day on the job was spent deciding on ongoing technical decisions and policy. This was followed by an afternoon go-carting (I won the qualifiers and am very annoyed to say I spun out on the last lap and ended up fourth, damn Ashley) as a team building exercise with my new colleagues.

I’m pretty cynical about things usually so I was waiting to see the downside of all this openness. During the interview process I was told that the team don’t like to dictate how people work. I’m a big believer in Linux and use that day to day so was disappointed to be allocated a Macbook to do my work. Perhaps they are not as flexible and open as they appear? Having said that, I accept that there do need to be some standards otherwise things can quickly become unmanageable.

Aside from my actually truly lovely Macbook pro, what else went wrong?

Well, absolutely nothing. Everyone in the office was welcoming and great in that first week, and continue to be so as I get to know them better. It’s been really good being part of a larger team again after those years in the wilderness of freelance work. I can have a proper geek conversation with people who give me more feedback than my dog. Over these last few months I’ve been thrown into support work on various projects, talked directly to clients from day one and solved some thorny technical challenges. I feel my insights, ideas and experience have been welcomed by the company, clients and colleagues combined. I’ve recently been added to a new project team so now have some more meaty technical challenges to get my teeth into.

Deeson has truly been everything I expected and more. After considering this blog post for the last few months I can say I’m happy to be working there and grateful that they gave me a chance to prove myself and join their team.

Here’s to a good 2018, a continued enjoyable and challenging job for me and ongoing success for everyone in my extended team at Deeson.