In times of employment uncertainty, it may seem counterintuitive to swap your job hunting for a contract search. Yet the way we do business is set to undergo such radical and permanent transformations that the contracting model makes more sense than ever. Contractors have always meant that businesses get fast access to the specific skills they need without committing to permanent overheads. Meanwhile, independent contractors gain control over everything from the rates they set to their business hours and place of work.
During September, temporary billings expanded at the quickest rate since the end of 2018. The upturns were widely linked to the reopening of the UK economy and the recommencement of projects following the easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures. By the end of September however, the curfew in the hospitality sector and the return to home working demonstrated how quickly businesses need to adapt their workforce. Yet with every new wave of change, it’s likely that businesses won’t terminate their contractor workforce, but shift them into new areas of operations as their business model changes.
What seems likely is that we are in for an extended period of uncertainty and the business landscape won’t look the same on the other side. Covid-19 is creating transformation in the truest sense, where innovation must be qualified by both economic viability and sustainability. Businesses are considering the changes that will take them forward in a hyper-competitive marketplace, while also scrutinising their bottom line. This means that contractors make perfect business sense – their expertise can radically shorten project deadlines while also reducing risk.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 has also brought about practical changes that have caused many workers to revaluate what they want. A recent study showed that a third of the UK’s workforce is actively looking for a job. LinkedIn’s latest Workforce Confidence Index found that a further 26% of people are casually looking for new work and 30% – while not actively looking – are open to the right offer. This means only 13% of workers aren’t looking for any new opportunities at the moment.
The work shakeup indicates how Covid-19 has acted as a catalyst, not just for businesses to revaluate what they need, but for people to do likewise. Recent redundancies, pay cuts and contract changes have all shown how quickly so-called employment ‘security’ can be destabilised. The constant threat of job cuts is also placing workers under high levels of constant stress and anxiety. In the struggle to stay one step ahead, the resulting work-life imbalance may prove a deciding factor for many employees to reconsider their work options.
Before the crisis, there was a growing expectation for employees to buy into their workplace culture, which often resulted in longer hours and increasingly blurred boundaries between work and home life. The remote working culture introduced by Covid-19 has exposed large numbers of the population to a different kind of working day. While remote working has its own challenges, employees are emerging from their workplace bubbles with an increased appetite for independence. Businesses, meanwhile, are discovering that off-site workers can deliver better productivity, lower costs, and enhanced resilience.
The hybrid working model planned by many businesses is familiar territory for contractors, who are used to spending time both on and off site. However, the contracting model allows workers even greater freedom to control their schedules and maximise their work-life balance, while also reaping considerable financial benefits. Instead of the looming threat of redundancy or pay cuts, contractors can take advantage of the higher premium that businesses will pay for temporary access to their skills, while an agency lines up their next opportunity.
There’s strong demand for contractors within corporate services such as IT, finance and project management. However, a recent survey by LinkedIn showed that two years from now, 70 percent of surveyed executives expect to use more onsite temporary workers and contractors. The intention to migrate to a model with greater reliance on on-site contractors is particularly pronounced in the accommodation and food services sector, as well as in areas such as healthcare, security, construction and energy.
If you’re thinking of making the switch to contracting one of the first steps could be finding the right recruitment agency. ContractingWISE have access to a wide range of hassle-free services that can help you with setting up a limited company or finding the right umbrella company for you. To talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 642 8679