Lockdown is over! How to get back to work
It’s been a long, long time in the making, but after being delayed by an extra month, lockdown is finally over! With legal restrictions lifted this week, we see the last of social distancing and face masks as an enforced requirement (although some places, like the London Tube, will still be enforcing them). Life is, for the majority of us, getting back to normal.
For a lot of people, including contractors, this means getting back to work as the economy gets moving again. But when you’ve been doing minimal or no work for so long, how do you get back in the saddle again? There are so many things to consider – and so much has changed since 23 March 2020 – it can feel a lot more complicated than it needs to. Luckily, the Kingsbridge team have put their heads together and come up with some useful information for getting back to work as a contractor in the wake of lockdown.
It might seem a bit obvious, but making sure you’re all set for that first day back in the office is key. But what do you even need to prepare? Well, we’ve written an article on just this scenario already so be sure to check it out. It covers things such as:
- Getting your work wardrobe in order;
- Planning out your commute in advance;
- Discussing your client’s expectations with them;
- Ensuring any work equipment is up and running.
It’s all about making sure you feel confident and comfortable and that there are no unwelcome surprises when all you want to do is get down to work.
Contact old clients
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know, or so they say. Right now, that can go in your favour. Before you start trawling the internet for new work, spend a bit of time getting in touch with previous clients (and recruiters), particularly those you may have been working for immediately before lockdown began last year. Is that project you were working on being picked up again? Perhaps they have something new you’d be a good fit for? Either way, this is just a case of putting yourself back on their radar. You never know, you might just put yourself in the right place at the right time and be able to pick up where you left off. If the client still isn’t sure where they stand, this is still an opportunity to let them know your availability so they can bear you in mind for the future.
And speaking of availability…
Now is the time to update your availability, whether this is simply confirming it privately to yourself and making notes in your diary, or actively letting clients and recruiters know. Give yourself some time to think if your availability has changed since before lockdown. Perhaps you’ve welcomed a new baby during that time and that has affected the hours you choose to work. Or maybe your child has changed school and you’re now responsible for pick-ups at 3.15pm on certain days. Or perhaps you are juggling two smaller projects and want to dedicate certain days of the week to each of them. Whatever the reason, keeping clients abreast of your availability means that they can decide easily if you’re right for the project, and allows you to manage your time.
Update your skillset
Many of us spent lockdown learning a new skill, with lots of people taking up activities such as running, knitting or baking. However, some took up skills that could be more relevant to their role, such as languages, coding, or photography. If this is you, then it could be worth adding your skill to your CV, website and LinkedIn profile, and let clients and recruiters know what you can do. After all, the ability to speak German may open up doors you didn’t know were there, or the ability to code may mean your client can also hire you for a secondary part of the project you’re working on. If your new skill is valuable, it may also allow you to increase your fees for certain projects, so make sure clients and recruiters know what they’re getting for their money.
Claim financial support
Work is returning more slowly for some contractors than others. If this sounds like you, then you may be eligible for some of the last rounds of financial support. For instance, the fifth Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant, covering the period of 1 May 2021 to 30 September 2021 will be open for applications in late July. If you’re a limited company contractor paying your salary by PAYE, meanwhile, you may have been using the furlough scheme to cover some of your pay. This has been extended until 30 September 2021.
Other options open to self-employed people include:
- Test and trace support payment of £500 if you need to self-isolate;
- New style Employment and Support Allowance (ESA);
- New style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA);
- Universal Credit;
- Pension Credit (if you and your partner have both reached State Pension age).
You can find more information on the above support schemes at GOV.UK and you should always check with your accountant before claiming.
Get your insurances back in place
If you’ve not been working during lockdown, then there’s a good chance you’ve let your business insurance lapse to keep your costs down. However, to be a truly eligible hire you want to have your insurances all in place so that a) you’re ready to go as soon as a client needs you, and b) you don’t find yourself in breach of contract by not having the right cover. Usually, as a minimum contractual requirement, you’ll need public liability, professional indemnity, and employers’ liability. Kingsbridge’s insurance for contractors covers all three and more in one handy package. You can call our friendly, expert team on 01242 808740 or get a quote online.