Contractors, here’s what you can take from covid-cautious clients mandating WFH

In a week where two jewels in London’s financial crown committed much or all of their workforces to working from home because their covid-19 experience has been pretty good, it’s worth pondering how this may affect the kings and queens of work from anywhere -- contractors, because it might rub off on both IR35 and marketing, writes Matt Craven of the CV & Interview Advisors.

Goodbye presenteeism

Let’s look at what one of the firms, PwC said (Schroders is the other). The chair of the big 4 accounting giant Kevin Ellis explained: "There's no question that lockdown has done away with presenteeism.

“It has shown many business leaders that their people can be productive, engaged and happy working from home.”

So PwC has decided to stick to flexible working post-COVID19; with a mix of office and home-based resource across its 22,000 staff. So WfH is likely to be the new norm for many, many employees, inside and outside of financial services, but how will this play out for contractors?

It’s inevitable that working from home will extend even deeper into the contracting market and despite the obvious benefits of less travel and lower costs, there might also be some inadvertent, helpful benefits to those wanting to remain outside IR35!

IR35: the new WFH upside?

We all know that turning up to a client’s premises between 9am and 5.30pm, sitting at their desk, using their telephone, and working on their PC and software, flies in the face of operating as a true busines with outside IR35 status. It also makes promoting that status a little awkward!

The post-pandemic WfH revolution may just force contractors who are reliant on client resources and direction to embrace the spirit of being a genuine, stand-alone services provider.

So how about picking your own hours of operation (as long as the work gets done!), using your own phone, software, and IT kit, and having more control in your day-to-day? All of that is intrinsic to working remotely, or from home, and it will all help the outside IR35 cause.

This enhanced level of autonomy, with less oversight in your working arrangements, might also create a wider path to having a portfolio of overlapping clients, rather than being tied to one particular organisation.

This can only bode well for those contractors trying to forge an outside IR35 business. And for those trying to build a warchest!

Marketing connotations

Home-based working is a completely different environment to working in an office, and frankly, some people are more ‘at-home’ with working from home than others! It’s not uncommon for people to suffer a lack of productivity and even mental health issues. Some people just aren’t cut out for it.

Inevitably, the skills that clients are looking for will change and indicators that their staff are able to be productive will be forefront of their minds.

When organisations engage suppliers, they are often interested in the standard of their offices, the systems and process they have in place, their ability to manage data in a compliant manner, and how they measure and report productivity and performance.

Use your pitch to head off these five being posed

Ironically, given all the IR35 hoo-haa, these same issues have proliferated into the domain of hiring home-working resource, particularly contractors. Your client representative will likely need to answer the following five:

  • Does the remote contractor have a professional and appropriate home-office environment?
  • Do they have the right software to perform the role they are doing?
  • Have they put processes in place to operate effectively?
  • Do they have an awareness of the GDPR risks associated with working from home and a process in place to protect our client and third-party data?
  • And how will they measure, record and report their productivity / performance?

Netflix and hacked?

Contractors, if you can address these points when pitching for contract work and give potential clients the confidence that you won’t be getting hacked while watching Netflix, then you’ll stand a much, much better chance of securing the contract. The world is changing and so is the way you sell yourself. Ticking off these four questions in your mind as you pitch, or heading them off during the going-forward process so they need not be posed to you whatsoever, will make you seem like the dream candidate!

If selling yourself in the challenging post-pandemic market is important to you (and we rather suggest it ought to be!), you may be interested in the Contractor UK ‘winning-work’ webinar on Aug 25th at 7.15pm on how to write a high-impact contractor CV, to turbo-charge your contractor business and your post-pandemic prosperity!

Profile picture for user Matt Craven

Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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