The FreeAgent Blog

Nine reasons why Edinburgh is the best place in the UK for your next tech job

Posted on 18 September 2015 by Olly Headey - Jump to comments

Looking for a new tech job? Why not come to Edinburgh! Here at FreeAgent, we’re shouing from the rooftops about why Edinburgh is such a great place to work, particularly in the booming tech industry we have here. There are far more reasons why Edinburgh is the best place to find your next job than we can possibly list, but here are our top nine.

1. A thriving tech scene

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Whether you’re a recent technology graduate or simply looking for a change, Edinburgh deserves a place at the top of your list for job opportunities. The Scottish capital is beginning to emerge as a major technology hub; new tech companies are being formed here in record numbers. Over the last five years, the University of Edinburgh has supported 144 start-ups, most of them in the tech sector. There’s never been a better time to get involved!

Edinburgh also has some of the highest average salaries for tech workers, and was listed as one of the highest paying cities outside London for permanent salaries.

2. Amazing places to work

photo of FreeAgent team members

Think that fun tech companies only exist in London? Think again!

Our fellow members in StartEDIN are all obsessed with creating gorgeous office spaces buzzing with energy and packed with all the tools you need to achieve your best work. Skyscanner and Fanduel have particularly outstanding offices and our shiny new digs here at FreeAgent aren’t half bad either!

"FreeAgent is filled with intelligent people performing at the top of their game. It's such a pleasure to work with people who love what they do!" Andy Stabler, Software Engineer

3. Loads of interest groups and tech meetups

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Want to work on your own projects outside of work? You’re not alone!

Edinburgh is home to a number of great clubs and societies where tech enthusiasts can meet like-minded people. Here are a few of our favourites:

  • TechMeetup offers an opportunity for you to talk with fellow techies about your projects.
  • Edinburgh Hacklab gives you the resources, space and support for your latest project.
  • DevOps Meetup provides a forum to discuss technology and processes with fellow tech professionals from similar organisations.
  • ScotRUG hosts monthly meetings for Ruby on Rails enthusiasts.

Whatever your hobby, Edinburgh probably has a club for it – from wine tasting, and live action role play, to rock climbing (on the largest indoor wall in the world, no less), kayaking and horse riding, and a whole lot more in between.

"I've found Edinburgh to be a great place to live and work. There's a lively tech scene, with a good number and variety of companies and interesting meetups. It's also a very walkable city, with plenty going on year-round from the Fringe to music, sport and the Science Festival." James Bell, Software Engineer

4. A better standard of living

photo of lady carrying I love Edinburgh bag

If you’re tired of spending all your hard-earned cash renting a postage stamp-sized apartment in a huge city, you could see your money go much further in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is a consistent contender for top spot in UK living standards surveys, with high average salaries and a low rate of unemployment. A recent national survey by Money Supermarket found that the cost of day-to-day living in Edinburgh is cheaper too – £372 a week compared to a UK average of £401 – and Edinburgh’s average rental prices are the lowest in the whole of Britain.

"I love Edinburgh. It's beautiful and it’s the perfect size. When I lived in Madrid I needed a car to go anywhere; in Edinburgh I don't need a car and I have a 20-minute commute walking to the office.” Alberto Fernández-Capel, Software Engineer

5. Lots of great places to eat, drink and be merry

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Edinburgh is one of the best places in the world to wine and dine, with more restaurants per head than any other UK city and the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants outside of London. From the high-end restaurants by the Shore to the casual diners in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, you’ll never be short of places to eat out.

6. Festival season

photo of Edinburgh during the festival season

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In the summer Edinburgh transforms into a festival hub, with the world’s largest arts festival, the Festival Fringe, taking over the city. If the Fringe doesn’t tickle your fancy the International Festival, Film Festival, Art Festival, Book Festival, or Jazz and Blues Festival might offer something more to your tastes.

If that wasn’t enough, Edinburgh also celebrates its scientific heritage in the spring with the International Science Festival and reflects on its proud place in literary history in the autumn with the Storytelling Festival. Whatever the time of year, there’s always plenty to do!

7. Hogmanay

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The celebrations keep coming with Edinburgh’s famous Hogmanay event rounding off the year as part of the annual Christmas festivities. Watch Vikings play with fire in the torchlight procession on Calton Hill before singing 'Auld Lang Syne' at one of the world’s largest street parties lit by an explosive fireworks display from the castle.

8. Plenty of green space

photo of people sitting on Calton Hill looking out over Edinburgh

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Edinburgh is full of wide open spaces, perfect for relaxing after a hard day's work. From a picnic in the expanse of the Meadows in the city centre, to a gentle hike up Arthur’s Seat (an extinct volcano), you’re never far from somewhere to get away from it all. There are also a number of secret gardens hidden among the city’s labyrinth of winding alleyways.

If you fancy going further afield, the open countryside of the Pentland Hills Regional Park is a short bus ride away with hiking, mountain biking, paragliding and year-round skiing on Europe’s largest outdoor dry ski slope.

"I wanted a challenging role in a vibrant city centre, but also wanted to be able to hike and see the countryside in my free time. For this reason, Edinburgh was a natural choice for me.” Andy Stabler, Software Engineer

9. Inspiration at every turn

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From Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin to the cloning of Dolly the sheep at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh has been the backdrop to a number of inspiring innovations over the years. Here are a few for starters: the flush toilet, the blackboard, the electric clock, the telephone, the picture postcard, the electric bread toaster and where would we be without Alexander Grant’s 1984 invention, the digestive biscuit?

Is there a tech job in Edinburgh for you?

We’re always on the lookout for software engineers, engineering managers and support engineers as well as interns for a variety of roles. Take a look at our careers page to find out if you could become our newest recruit!

Busy at work today? Here’s why you should take a break

Posted on 17 June 2015 by FreeAgent - Jump to comments

This article was first published on 2 August 2013 and was last updated on 14 June 2016.

Busy at work today? Here’s why you should take a break

It can be difficult to justify taking time off when you’re running your own business - there’s always something that you could be working on. The good news is, there’s lots of evidence that says taking a break will make you more productive in the long run. Here are four reasons why you should think about pencilling in that time off.

Your decision quality degrades after a lot of hard work

Ever find that you do your best work in the morning, but by the end of the day you’re running out of ideas? That could be because your brain isn’t getting the time off it needs to maintain its decision-making quality. This article from Fast Company explains how strenuous thinking depletes our cognitive ability and energy over time, and if we don’t stop to recharge, we may end up making impulsive decisions, or just losing productivity overall.

Small breaks can yield big benefits

Chaining yourself to your desk until you get through your workload may actually work against your productivity - this article makes the case that human brains work cyclically - through a cycle called the ultradian rhythm - and can actually only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before needing a break to recharge. So making the small change of scheduling a few short breaks away from your desk could help you get through that pile of work.

Letting your mind wander can improve your creativity

Achieving focus is always important, but researchers have found that giving yourself time to let your mind wander is just as important when it comes to creative thinking. So before you overschedule yourself to use every second of the day, think about setting aside some guilt-free time to let your mind wander.

Taking a longer break could boost productivity and performance

While taking short breaks during the day can be beneficial, a recent study has revealed that taking longer periods of time off work may also have a positive impact on both productivity and performance. Simply planning a holiday could even be good for your health, as the anticipation of taking a break can reduce stress levels and improve happiness at work.

Do you have another tip for why you need to take a break from your business? Leave a comment or hit us up on twitter and let us know.

This blog post was first published on 2 August 2013 and was last updated on 17 June 2015.

3 ways you can get paid faster using FreeAgent

Posted on 10 June 2014 by FreeAgent - Jump to comments

3 ways you can get paid faster using FreeAgent

Getting paid on time is critical for small businesses, and if a client pays late, it can take a lot of time and effort to chase payment. Here are three things you can do right now in FreeAgent to make it easier for your clients to pay you, and if they still don’t pay on time, easier for you to chase for the money they owe you.

Set up your invoice for success

If you haven’t already, check out FreeAgent’s gallery of great-looking invoice templates and choose one that best represents your company’s brand. Then, double-check that you’re including all of the important legal and pricing information on your invoice template. FreeAgent will automatically take care of things like including VAT in the price if you’re registered, but don’t forget to include your bank details on your invoice so it’s easy for your clients to pay you.

Invite your clients to pay you online

To help your clients pay you faster, you should remove as many barriers to the payment process as possible. With FreeAgent, you can set up and include online payment options like PayPal, GoCardless and Stripe on your invoices to allow your customers to pay you directly from their invoice email, rather than having to write a cheque or set up a bank transfer. No fuss required!

Automatically chase up late payers

If your customer doesn’t pay you on time, what next? Do you immediately pick up the phone, contemplate taking legal action, or do you prefer to just wait a bit longer in the hope they’ll eventually pay so you can avoid an awkward conversation? FreeAgent can automate away some of the awkwardness - you can set up automatic reminder emails that will chase your customers for overdue payments.

Need more help with your invoicing? Check out our Chief Accountant Emily’s top invoicing tips - or hit us up on Twitter and let us know how you encourage your customers to pay you.

The little details that can make customer service amazing

Posted on 22 May 2014 by FreeAgent - Jump to comments

When you’re running a business, sometimes it’s the little ways that you interact with your customers that can make a big difference. Here are some examples of businesses that delighted their customers with the small things:

Having fun with everyday interactions

Businesses get customer support requests every day, and these small interactions are a great opportunity to brighten up to your customer’s day. This article rounds up examples of businesses who bring a smile with their support, including Netflix, who turned a display problem into a Star Trek geek-fest, and a delivery company that battled a Minotaur to deliver a customer’s package!

Making your customers’ problems your own

Sometimes, just being there with the customer to share the load of solving their problem is what they really need. When a passenger accidentally dropped her passport into a mailbox, a Delta employee immediately took control of the problem, personally walking the passenger through the difficult customs and immigration problems to help her fly that day. And when a shopper in Nordstrom’s department store realised that the diamond had fallen out of her engagement ring, store employees helped her search for it, and even combed through vacuum cleaner bags until they had recovered the diamond.

Saying “thank you”

Taking the time to say a special thank-you can really make a big impact on making your customers feel special. In this great example, Samsung replied to a customer’s cheeky request for a free phone in exchange for a picture of a dragonwith a suitably funny drawing of a kangaroo. It could have ended there, but as a thank-you for helping the exchange go viral, Samsung later sent the customer a one-of-a-kind phone, meticulously customised with the original dragon drawing.

Turning the little touches into a whole job

Instead of waiting for great customer service opportunities to present themselves, some companies set aside time (and employees) to proactively look for ways to delight customers. In this example, a United Airlines customer care employee saw that a frequent flyer’s flight was delayed, so he found an open seat on an upcoming flight, booked it for the passenger, then tracked down the passenger in the airport to get him on his new flight. Not every business can dedicate an employee to delighting customers, but even setting aside some regular time to look out for potential problems can pay dividends.

Have you come across a business that delivers amazing customer service? If so, then tell us about it! Leave a comment or hit us up on Twitterto let us know.

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