GENERICO.ruEconomicsFreelancers revealed the secrets of “working for yourself”: in shorts and without sick leave

Freelancers revealed the secrets of “working for yourself”: in shorts and without sick leave

Who should not become self-employed

The total number of self-employed people in Russia has reached 9 million people – they can populate an entire huge city of metropolitan scale. Freelancers mainly work in taxis, the beauty industry, repairs, marketing, selling their own goods and courier delivery, the Federal Tax Service (FTS) reported at the end of November. But behind the general figures and facts hide the individual fates of those who prefer to work outside the office and the usual work schedule. Such a choice is fraught with both positive aspects and difficulties and risks. What the people of the “liberal professions” themselves openly told MK about.

Who should not become self-employed

Kaliningrad resident Pavel is 30 years old. After graduating from university with a degree in mathematics, he worked for more than 6 years in an office at one of the local banks. According to him, he didn’t particularly like working “for his uncle”; he often had to work on weekends. Despite this, in order to gain experience, he advises everyone to try their hand at a large company: “I probably would have continued to work in a bank, but I just simply didn’t have enough free time for my family. I have a wife, two small children, and I’m always away at work. All life is on the spouse. And I decided to become a freelancer.”

At first, Pavel sent out resumes only to Kaliningrad companies, but he quickly realized that with an average salary of 70 thousand rubles he could not feed a family of 4 people. Moreover, prices for many products in the westernmost region of Russia are comparable to Moscow. I had to fill out application forms for a vacancy as a remote freelance programmer for employers in the capital. “About a month later, I received an email response from one of the Moscow companies. I passed two online interviews and was approved for the position of senior programmer-analyst with a salary of 200 thousand rubles. And I must say that this is a very good monetary reward for my native Kaliningrad. To sign the contract, I flew to Moscow for two days, met the local team and flew back,” said Pavel.

Pavel’s new job brings him pleasure, the schedule—from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.—is completely satisfactory, and his employer doesn’t bother him on weekends. And the family is very happy with everything: “The most important thing is that thanks to my new job, I was approved for a mortgage. And our whole family moved from a one-room apartment on the outskirts of Kaliningrad to a two-room apartment. Ten minutes by car – and the city center. I took out a mortgage for 15 years. Now I pay 24 thousand rubles a month. I rent out an old apartment for 15 thousand rubles.”

But there are still disadvantages to working as a freelancer, and, according to the observations of a Kaliningrad resident, there are many of them. Even when signing the contract, Pavel was not too pleased with the lack of sick leave and vacation pay. But it's not just about official moments. If a person cannot properly manage his time – do exercises in the morning, walk the dog, exercise regularly – then you don’t even have to think about a remote work schedule. “The first months of working as a freelancer were very difficult for me,” the man continues. — I was distracted by various little things around the house, by communicating with my wife: she is on maternity leave with her second child. Periodically fell behind schedule and did not meet deadlines. But I had to pull myself together and become my own boss. If you didn’t kick yourself, you didn’t make any money.”

As Pavel recalls, it was quite difficult to work at home for the first six months. It’s not possible to discuss some work issues with your wife, who is busy with the children from morning to evening, but your colleagues are far away. A home is not an office, but something completely different. Alone, no one will help you, tell you or advise you. After all, going to the office every day requires a certain amount of preparation and self-discipline: you need to shave, iron your clothes, pack your briefcase, grab a snack. Working as a freelancer, you can sit at the computer all day in almost your underpants. “And this, in my opinion, is a very big minus,” notes Pavel. “But I found other social outlets.” I began to go with my wife to the cinema, theater, and walk with the children in the evenings. Finally I had time to play sports, I signed up for karate classes.” Freelancing at your own expense hurts; vacation time also means a certain loss of income. So there is nothing left to do but work – often without days off and not paying attention to the sores.

The most obvious financial disadvantage of remote work is the increase in utility bills. Over the past 1.5 years, payments for housing and communal services for Kaliningrad residents have increased by approximately 20–25%. Staying within the walls of an apartment almost 24/7 leads to high water consumption. The computer consumes a lot of electricity. Constant home cooking of breakfasts and lunches leads to increased gas consumption. In the summer, air conditioning is added to everything. All of the above expenses for office work usually fall on the shoulders of the company you work for. Those who work at home are forced to cover them themselves.

Despite the solid list of freelancing disadvantages, according to Pavel, he has a lot to say thank you for remote work. The main benefit is that you can spend more time with your family. After a silent working day, a remote worker simply craves communication. Energy that was previously spent on work colleagues can be redirected to family. The second advantage is the reduction in travel costs. And not only monetary, but measured in time. The hours saved on the road help you deal with more important work issues. The third advantage is that you can spend less on office clothes. “I used to go shopping almost every week and buy myself several pullovers, T-shirts, and pairs of jeans,” says Pavel. — And a mandatory program is weekend looks for holidays and corporate events. And it cost a pretty penny: on average, about 15 thousand rubles per month. After becoming a freelancer, I stopped updating my wardrobe regularly. I work in a tracksuit. This is the second year I’ve been getting by with two pairs of sneakers and a pair of winter boots.” The style has changed from strict to more convenient and comfortable. The man compared his spending on clothes over the last 1.5 years of working remotely and was surprised: he saved almost 50 thousand rubles.

Regular monthly expenses for a programmer from Kaliningrad look like this:

• Products: about 40 thousand rubles per month.

• Health. “The biggest expense item for our family,” notes Pavel. — Dentistry last year cost almost 200 thousand rubles. And this is still the average bill in Kaliningrad. I also regularly pay doctors for my parents, 3-7 thousand rubles a month, about 3-5 thousand rubles are spent on medicines.” The man is very pleased that his children practically do not get sick: frequent trips to the Baltic Sea have an effect.

• Travel: about 150 thousand rubles per year. Pavel and his family travel to different cities by car, once a year – to Turkey, Egypt, throughout Russia.

Our other heroine, Alexandra from Moscow, is 35 years old, she has two degrees behind her: specialized secondary accounting and higher economics. The girl worked in an office for almost 10 years. And although she was generally satisfied with the work, but… “I was very bored in the office. The 5/2 schedule put moral pressure on me. I asked myself the question many times: will it really be like this all my life – boring five days waiting for two days off? — says Alexandra, a single mother.

After the birth of the child, the woman decided that she wanted to be a freelancer: “I realized that finding something new in my situation would be difficult. The child is small and often gets sick. Therefore, I thought that I would look for other employment options. For example, working remotely. Every day I monitored the Internet, looked for work all over the world. And I found it.”

For the third year now, a Muscovite has been working remotely in one of the companies in Yerevan as a simple accountant. According to her, before the start of the SVO, her wages were transferred to her bank card – about 70 thousand rubles. But now, due to the current circumstances with sanctions and currency restrictions, she runs to the post office once a month for a money transfer from Armenia. “At first I was afraid that the company would ditch me. Still, Armenia is not a civilized Europe with established rules for doing business. But after reading positive reviews about the future employer on the Internet, I calmed down. And I signed the contract sent to me by email. I sent a scan of my passport, and in response I received the original with the stamp and signature of the director. The only annoying thing is that there are no pension contributions due to remote work. But it’s too early for me to think about retirement, then I’ll catch up,” says Alexandra.

A woman owns an apartment in Moscow: she inherited it from her grandmother. She pays about 3.5 thousand rubles a month for utilities. The son of a Muscovite is 2 years old. “He doesn’t go to kindergarten. All day with me. I like the work. I don’t particularly need daily communication with people,” admits Alexandra.

Our heroine chose a non-standard work schedule – 4/3, from 8 to 16. Balancing debit and credit while sitting at the computer all day is not a problem for her at all: “Every Monday I receive assignments for the week from Yerevan by mail. And I do them in a fairly calm manner. I even have time for a lunchtime walk with my son. And for cooking. I don't spend a lot on food. I buy only the essentials. I don’t disdain discount promotions and economy-class stores.”

During remote work, Alexandra stopped going to shopping centers in search of new clothes: “I wear things carefully. I have quite a lot of fashionable clothes in my wardrobe. I only buy shoes for myself once a year. And it's on sale. Minus 15 thousand rubles. I don’t buy clothes for my son either. We all look after our friends' children. And this is a very big saving for my single mother budget.”

Our heroine divides her vacation into 2 parts – she takes two weeks in the fall and another 14 days in the summer. Mostly Muscovite vacations in Russia. A vacation costs her an average of 50 thousand rubles for two weeks.

Average expenses per month are as follows:

• Grocery stores – 10 thousand rubles

• Medicines – 2.5 thousand rubles

• Mobile communications – 600 rubles

• Son's mugs – 3 thousand rubles

• Trips to cafes, cinema – 2.5 thousand rubles

Total: 18,600 rubles (not counting other expense items).

• Beauty. About 5 thousand rubles a month are spent on manicures and pedicures. “I get services at an economical hairdressing salon,” notes Alexandra. “And I’m not ashamed of this at all.” A haircut costs me 700 rubles.”

• Transport. About 3 thousand thousand per month. “I take the subway. I periodically use taxis or car sharing,” said the Muscovite. — I recently sold my car. And while the proceeds are on the card.”

According to the Federal Tax Service, 42% of the officially self-employed in Russia are women and 58% are men. The average age of taxpayers in this group is 35 years. In addition to the self-employed, individual entrepreneurs often work as freelancers.

According to a survey by the Solar Staff service, the income of Russian freelancers in the first half of 2023 increased by 53%. They earned 5.3 billion rubles. According to the study, the average monthly income of freelancers working for Russian clients is about 100 thousand rubles. It is curious that for those who fulfill orders from foreign companies, this figure is much higher – 319 thousand rubles.

According to Deputy General Director of, Operations Director of the Podrabotka service Alexander Veterkov, the most popular area for freelancing is IT. Its attractiveness for freelance work was noted by 28% of Russians. Participants in the portal’s study also highlighted the service sector (13%), sales (9%) and education (8%). Foreign languages ​​(7%), marketing (6%) and renovation (6%) were also mentioned among the desired areas for freelance employment. At the same time, 50% of Russian companies reported that they attract freelance specialists. Of these, the majority hire self-employed people – this was the answer given by 60% of study participants.

Labor market experts explain the growing popularity of freelancing in Russia by the fact that employers value the flexibility of this format and its benefits. Freelancers can be assigned one-time tasks without having to commit to a full-time job, and most often their services are cheaper than full-time employees. There are already cases where employers are literally “squeezing” potential applicants into the field of freelancing. “This is happening in order to optimize taxation – the wage fund is significantly reduced,” says Denis Strebkov, senior researcher at the Laboratory of Economic and Sociological Research at the National Research University Higher School of Economics. — But the employee loses social guarantees. In fact, in some jobs, the self-employed are often more exploited than employees. For example, in taxi and delivery services.” The share of freelancers will grow as more and more people become involved in the information technology sector, where freelancers traditionally work. However, the growth of “liberal professions” also has its limits. For example, in copywriting and translations, due to the development of artificial intelligence technologies, there may be a decline in interest in “civilian” employees, the expert predicts.

According to Strebkov, it is better not to become a freelancer:

•However, those who cannot organize themselves, manage time effectively, who are distracted, do not plan their activities and keep track of finances.

• Who needs external motivation for work.

• Those who systematically violates deadlines.

• Those who are not ready to constantly develop, improve their skills and abilities.

• Those who are not ready to take risks, for whom confidence in the future is an immutable value.

• For those who are not prepared for significant fluctuations in income from month to month.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

LATEST POSTS in this category