The future of contracting
Lockdown has changed so many of our working practices, with lots of those changes now here to stay permanently. Many companies that would have previously baulked at the idea of working from home, for instance, are now making that the default option for workers, with minimal office time. Although this has predominantly affected employees, there will be new practices for contractors to get used to, as well as new opportunities created.
So what could this mean for contractors going forward? We’ve taken a look into the future to find out.
Office working? The chance is remote…
Remote working has become the norm now for so many organisations, with Ocado even announcing that staff can work from anywhere in the world for one month of the year. As businesses have realised that they actually can trust their workers to work from home, they’ve also realised they can reduce overheads by downsizing office spaces and having teams work remotely the majority of the time.
As a contractor, you probably did some degree of remote working pre-pandemic, but a lot of your time will have been spent working with clients at their offices. Now it’s likely you may carry out most of your contracts remotely, meeting your clients via Zoom or Teams and using collaborative working tools such as Google Workspace and Trello. But how to adapt to this ‘new’ way of working?
You may be in more demand than ever as a contractor
We’ve seen an increased demand for IT contractors in particular this year. Contractors are more cost-effective for short-term projects than hiring a permanent member of staff and, to be blunt, should you have to isolate, the company does not need to cover your salary when you’re not working. Also, with so much uncertainty still in the air, it’s less risky to hire a short-term contractor as and when you need them, rather than recruiting a new team member. With businesses not sure what their future holds, they’re reluctant to commit themselves to paying someone in the long-term.
Lockdown, and the resulting loss of business, has spooked a lot of organisations, leaving them more risk-averse than ever so contractors provide a staffing solution without commitment. We expect to see this behaviour last for a long time to come.
We’re not talking about yoga here (although it really can help ease some of the stress and tension), but rather flexible working. Flexible working was probably one of the reasons you got into the contracting game in the first place, wanting to work when is right for you. However, with many clients working Monday to Friday, nine to five, historically you’ve probably not been able to reap the joys of flexible working that much.
Post-lockdown, many businesses are embracing flexible working (it goes hand-in-hand with remote working, after all) and allowing their employees much more say in when, where and how they carry out their work. While this should have been the case for you as a contractor anyway (client control is one of the key IR35 tests, as you know) you’ll likely find now you’re less restricted by client hours of business in terms of meetings or liaising with members of their team and there will be a lot more opportunity for true flexible working.
Adaptability is the key to contractor success
For contractors to survive in the post-lockdown world, they need to be adaptable. This might mean expanding your skillset so that you can add more than one string to your bow. What exactly this means depends upon you and your exact line of work. It could mean learning a different type of code, or it could mean learning German. It could mean brushing up on your graphic design skills, or perhaps adding app building to your arsenal. However, you choose to develop yourself, do it with what your clients want in mind. After all, if they can recruit you to do more than one job, that means a more valuable contract for you, and less paperwork and recruitment for them.
Another way you can be adaptable is by ensuring you’re prepared for most circumstances by having the right business insurance. Kingsbridge’s contractor insurance package includes professional indemnity cover, public liability, personal accident cover and more to make certain that you have the right insurance to allow you to work without financial risk. We also offer legal IR35 insurance, and health insurance, helping to give you peace of mind and allowing you to adapt even in the most unexpected circumstances. Call our team of friendly and knowledgeable contractor insurance experts on 01242 808740 for more information or a quote.