Remote Work, The IT Contractor Perspective

 Remote Work, The IT Contractor Perspective

Phil Sawyer here. Food for Thought about Remote Work,

I have worked in Recruiting and Managing IT Contractors for 40 years.  There have been good times and bad, but 2020 will go down as a game changer for IT Contracting.  Between the Pandemic, the economic collapse of many well-known and lesser known companies and what appears to be the death knell of using H-1 visas, there will certainly be several long-term changes in our industry.  The importance of remote work being one.

Remote Work

Most companies have implemented remote work and are planning on continuing to do so long term by either allowing remote work as generally permitted or some combination of on-site and remote.  There are several issues related to this, including managing remote workers, pay and compensation for expenses.  Plus, workers either like it or they do not.  Some Contractors prefer going to the office, either for the clear separation of work from their home life or for the social interaction.  While there have always been some contractors that would only work remote, a lot more contractors are saying that they will only work remote now.  If a contractor is looking for their next gig, the more flexibility they demonstrate on this subject will improve the number of opportunities they can consider.  The same is true on the client side. As a contracting user, it is likely to be harder to find the talent you want if you insist on them working on-site. 

Don’t be fooled by the illusion of a “buyer’s market” for IT Talent.  IT employment is down from last year, but the unemployment rate for certain skills is still below 3% (numbers from the TechServe Alliance).  The changes to the H1 Visa qualifications will only confound the talent shortage.  I think this will force more companies to accept remote workers as a given in order to accomplish large projects or to get specialized skills that they won’t need long term. The Pandemic has demonstrated that IT Contracting firms can also focus on remote work for their internal staffs.  In my conversations with industry leaders there is a common view that they can reduce their real estate footprint without degrading their services.  Since most of our internal systems are using cloud-based applications and a VOIP phone system, it is almost seamless to avoid the commute and work from home.  For many of us that has extended our workday, since we don’t have to watch the clock to leave for a meeting or get home for dinner (no meetings, I’m already home for dinner).

In summary, going forward we can expect to see more remote work both for the IT Contractors and the recruiters and support staff. This means firms going to either a reduced real estate footprint or to totally virtual operations.  Those companies using IT Contractors need to consider remote Contractors to broaden the labor pool available, where appropriate.