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I'm doing Web development at a certain rate per hour. My client wants to chat with me almost every day and at the end of the month I end up with more than 20 hours of Skype call.

Sometimes (not always) we do visual tweaks during a call, but other than that I'm just on support with hosting company for problems or doing brain storming.

So far I charge the same amount but I wonder, should I charge on a different rate while on Skype call or not?

  • Your time and expertise are valuable - that is why you charge for it. The medium used to communicate that expertise and use your time is irrelevant (unless you work in a job where face-to-face is a key e.g. massage therapist!). So, for me, would seem logical to charge the same amount. – Laconic Droid Sep 19 '14 at 13:28
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Short answer: depending on what role you are acting during the communication.

In the case when calls and meetings naturally belong to receiving your tasks, reporting your results (including weekly/monthly meetings), or resolving technical issues, I would say that the rate should be the same.

However, if you help others getting their tasks, balance these tasks among several people, this can be considered Manager's role and may be billed at another rate.

(Update) There could be other roles, like Solution Architect or Business Analyst, you name it depending on your company's and projects' staffing schemes. They are hard to separate in case of single-person projects, but when your project team grows, and you are doing these tasks, you will have some opportunity to charge different rates.

A side note, make sure that time spent for Communication and Team Collaboration purposes should be a special article in project timeline. This would prevent people thinking that communication is for free.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. I'm already track Skype calls in my project tasks as a separate article but thank you for the suggestion. As I mention in my previous comment, I'm the only guy involved in this project so no, it is not a manager role. – Ovidiu May 28 '14 at 5:07
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You should definitely charge for Skype time. You're not only being paid to write code, but help your client accomplish their goals. You are a consultant as much as you are a laborer, and the time spent explaining, brainstorming, and helping are all part of that.

I would inform the client that you are charging for all time spent on the project. It's completely reasonable.

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As a long-time IT consultant, I generally like to charge the same amount regardless of whether the work is done face-to-face or over Skype/video conferencing.

However, there is one situation in which I might charge less. If the client is allowing me to do the video conferencing in lieu of driving to a physical location, then I might charge less. By avoiding the drive in, I've saved time, gas, and money. Therefore, I can charge less to the client and still end up the same financially overall. Also, the client gets a small break on the fee, and therefore are more likely to agree to remote video conferencing in the future. In this case, it is a win-win for both of us.

In your case, it is not clear whether Skype is the norm or the exception. I would base my rate decision on that I suppose.

  • Thank you JT. I'm the only guy in this project so during Skype I also work. – Ovidiu May 28 '14 at 5:06
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You should charge more for the skype time, just because it is skype! :)

It keeps you from working, in the early hours from being productive and probably drops your overall mood during the day.

I think nobody wants to start their day with talking one hour instead of getting work done. Skype calls are like meetings and should be set in the evening or around lunch time when your job related productivity is down.

Some people keep the impression that work is not getting done if they are not actively present, either in the room or by skype. It is hard to change their minds, but show that you can work without the permanent control and they will go annoy someone else.

  • Excellent response. I refuse to use Skype for this reason. I can launch it when a meeting is agreed upon, but I never launch Skype and just let it run. That's a recipe for interruption. – Scott Sep 19 '14 at 8:14
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If the purpose of the skype call is to make sure you're sitting at a desk, you unfortunately start to resemble an employee. That's not good!

However, any other Skype time should be billed at your regular rate. Your full attention must go into the call, so the client should pay you full price. It's that simple. Don't over-complicate it with secondary pricing.

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