What flexibility will be lost for PSCs with IR35s new changes?

How much is going to change for Personal Service Companies during IR35s shift in liability? With not just the concern for a lack of control over the final determination, there is unease over what will happen to the flexibility of contracts. If deemed inside IR35 then the ability to work under your own terms, setting your own fees and hours to work, as well as being able to take on multiple contracts are not a part of the contract.  

With many benefits coming from working as a limited company outside IR35 it can be seen as an attractive position, but many of these benefits help both the contractor and client. Although the shift in who determines the status will highlight those illegitimately working outside IR35, it means it could also be putting those legitimate cases at risk. With a lack of understanding or preparation, many clients and agencies are looking to blanket ban all outside IR35 work, making it much harder for outside IR35 contracts to be found. By offering outside IR35 contracts to PSCs, we are constantly trying to match up the right work with the best talent, maintaining fairness with combining legitimate outside IR35 workers with appropriate contracts. 

When losing an outside IR35 status there are many benefits no longer available to the contractor, in addition to potentially losing 20-30% of their income.  

  • Working their own hours 
  • Taking on multiple contracts 
  • Expenses no longer covered 
  • No substitute 

With travel expenses not covered for inside IR35 contracts, there is little incentive for limited companies to work on long distance roles, restricting this flexible workforce and making it equally hard for clients to find the best talent. Being able to utilise these can help provide better skills and results to projects and attract further work in the future, benefiting both client and contractor. Causing these to be restricted has meant many contractors are prepared to find alternative roles or discontinue being a contractor altogether. In a survey conducted by Contractor Calculator of more than 12,000 contractors, 23% said they intend to quit contracting due to IR35 leading to a potentially far smaller pool of talent to choose from for clients.  

What can you do?  

Be a part of the process and make your own assessment to bring a more robust decision to your employment status and opening up the opportunity to challenge the outcome if required. As a part of this, going over any current contracts to make sure they reflect the actions you are doing in the role off paper. Just having it written in the contract may not be enough to show your status and by performing the role as described in your contract then the guidelines within which you are working are made clear. 

Status determination statements are legally required to be given to contractors under limited companies as they give the chance to challenge determinations made by the client or agency. Despite this, only 38% of respondents in a survey say they have been provided with a Status Determination Statement. While the clients, fee payers, and contractors can all make an assessment, SDS’ provide a final chance for you to get appropriate IR35 placement as clients are required to meet the 45-day challenge process. Having these three parties individually assess your role can lead to a more robust determination, alongside giving you some control within the process.  

With the concern of clients being unprepared, it is vital for YOU to have as much understanding as possible so as to be able to seek the right work for you; whether inside or outside of IR35. The initial delay for when it will come into effect has given more time, but with few companies taking advantage of that it is valuable for all involved to take action. Speak to one of our experts to gain guidance in getting a status determination reflective of your work.  

Survey reference: 

https://www.contractorcalculator.co.uk/rife_payroll_non_compliance_killing_flexible_557410_news.aspx

PSCs concerns: loss of 30% earnings with IR35 changes

Getting IR35 wrong can be costly. Both contractors and fee payers are at risk of losing out without paying careful attention to IR35 assessments. With contractors at risk of losing between 20-30% of their income if their status changes it is no wonder some may be nervous about who makes the status determination. 

Making it the responsibility of the client to now make an assessment on whether a Personal Service Company is deemed inside or outside of IR35 has the potential to cause these contractors to feel they have lost control of their personal earnings. This is not entirely true. There are some clear actions you can take to be involved in the process, alongside having the opportunity to challenge the final decision. This shift in liability will help to discover disguised employees, and classify them with the correct determination.  

The majority of contractors had hoped the initial delay in the changes to IR35 could help ease their concern over their clients understanding and ability to correctly assess their IR35 status. Giving them more time to get to grips with the legislation and view each PSC within the extended timeframe. However, 63% of contractors surveyed would rate their current client’s knowledge on IR35 negatively. Being a part of the process can make it easier for everyone involved. 

What you should be doing now 

Educating yourself on the IR35 changes is the first key step in order to understand what to look for in new roles and how you can challenge a status determination that you disagree with. Communication is always a vital part of any process, so if you’re in a contract that will continue beyond April 2021 then discussions with your hiring manager and agency can help you establish what actions have been taken to prepare.  

While a vast majority of the responsibility now lies with fee payer, there are actions you can take to be involved in the process in order to get a fair assessment. You can evaluate whether these three main points that determine IR35 are within your contract as well as the actions you take within the role. Ensuring that the performance in the role is reflective of the contract will reinforce your status and allow you to work in the clear definition of either outside or inside IR35. 

  • Substitution  

Being able to send a substitute to complete the work on your behalf. 

  • Direction 

Being directed on how to complete the work by the client, using instructions, guidance, and advice. 

  • Control 

Someone is dictating what work you do and how, including the power to move you to different tasks. 

There also should not be a mutuality of agreement, meaning that both stating within the contract and being carried out in the position, the client has no obligation to offer you more work as well as an absence of obligation for you to take it can indicate the contract is more likely outside IR35.  

Working with a proactive agency that advises their clients on how they can assist your process of determining an appropriate status. At Highfield, we have many years of knowledge regarding IR35 and have spent time understanding the changes, so contact us via IR35@highfieldps.co.uk or phone a consultant on 01489 774010.  

Anyone within the process can make an assessment such as the client, contractor, or the fee payer (like a recruitment agency). Statement determinations from all three will make for a far more robust outcome, creating consistency and certainty through multiple matching decisions and making it even more important to have clear understanding on these changes from all involved. Clients are required to provide a Status Determination Statement (SDS) which is used to: 

  • Declare a contractor’s deemed employment status following an IR35 assessment 
  • Provide the reasoning behind the conclusion. 

This SDS allows you to see how the determination was reached in a fully detailed way, giving you the opportunity to challenge a decision if there are specific factors that can be disagreed with. Alongside this, it helps to prevent companies from enforcing blanket determinations due to requiring justifications for individual workers through the SDS.  

So, take action in your own earnings and utilise the options and people available to get your contract recognised with an appropriate status determination. Speak to our experts and avoid risking losing 30% of your take home pay. 

Make IR35 work for you; how to retain and attract your best talent

IR35 changes in April 2021. Are you concerned about contractors going elsewhere? Some of the best talent will be looking for correct assessments and processes, which they will now be relying on their clients to provide. IR35 doesn’t have to be daunting but instead could be beneficial to your company, bringing and retaining the best skills to keep projects running smoothly all with the flexibility that is provided by contractors. 

Understanding IR35 and the new changes is your best starting point. We have plenty of experts so feel free to ask us about any concerns you have at IR35@highfieldps.co.uk or view our IR35 Hub to understand a little more. There is one main point you need to be aware of with this change and that is where the responsibility and therefore some of the risk will now lie. As of April 2021, it will be down to the fee payer to provide an IR35 assessment to all contractors working for the company, which in turn brings the risk with it.  

It will NO LONGER solely be the responsibility of the contractor. It is yours. 

With businesses already contending with the various challenges that the pandemic has presented it is not surprising that this may feel a little overwhelming, however, it is a crucial process to get right. In a survey of companies with 30-200 staff, 73% of them have classified themselves as having little or no process/system for the new IR35 changes. 

There are many benefits to hiring contractors.  

  • Cost savings 
  • Specialist skills 
  • Flexibility 
  • Ease of separation 
  • Temporary cover 
  • Start at short notice 
  • Ease workload for permanent staff members 

Particularly with the current climate, having flexibility and an ease of separation allows you to not feel the need to take on a permanent member of staff but are still able to get projects completed, without overloading current staff members and while utilising specialist skills.  

Temporary workforce makes up 22% of the UKs overall labour market, highlighting the importance of contractors as they support the economy and provide great benefits for companies in completing projects quickly and effectively.  

Bearing this in mind, it would be desirable to retain those specialised skills and become attractive to future talents looking to be recognised as appropriate outside IR35 contractors. The most ideal way to demonstrate this is through case-by-case analysis of each contractor working for your company, giving the opportunity for each person to be defined for their individual work. Demonstrating a professional in-depth understanding of the legislation shows the value to which you hold contractors and deeming them a great asset.  

This fair and informed process can be time consuming or confusing, however, there are plenty of experts that have handled IR35 for many years who are able to help clients and contractors alike. We have invested time and energy into understanding the best ways to make IR35 work for everyone involved. Specialists with clear resources and training are on hand with guidance to keep legitimate contractors working outside IR35 with ease and help take risk away from clients. Involving experts as well as the contractors themselves throughout the process can make it faster and clearer, alongside providing the opportunity for contractors to be involved in their own outcome.  

To summarise: ways of retaining the best talent can be 

  • Having the in-depth understanding of IR35 (check out our IR35 Hub
  • Case-by-case assessments (avoiding blanket decisions) 
  • Open opportunities for experts and contractors to be involved in the process 

This way of making IR35 work for you creates an efficient and smooth process with individual assessments showing care and attention as you make the company attractive to contractors, leading to the potential abundance of the best skills and talent to choose from.  

IR35 will change in April, are you ready?

IR35 may seem new to you, but it isn’t. Introduced in March 1999 and becoming law in 2000, this latest amendment has caught many businesses off guard due to previously being the sole responsibility of the contractor. Yet it is crucial to get right. Changes on it are coming into effect from April 2021, bringing risk to businesses and requiring a clear understanding on how it can affect you and the contractors you hire.  

There is still time. 

It is very unlikely that these changes will be delayed again as they were last year so preparations and actions taken now will at least create peace of mind come April, and allow for contracts to continue smoothly in the coming months. 

So, what’s changing? 

Liability. While IR35 is not a new rule, these changes shift where the responsibility is and therefore where the risk lies as it becomes the role of the client to correctly identify contractors falling either inside or outside of IR35. 

Reviewing each contract to ensure they all appropriately match the work being done can seem daunting and time consuming so understandably many companies would think to look at a blanket assessment 

What could happen if I have all contractors under a blanket assessment? 

  • Contractors who should not be deemed inside IR35 will look for alternative roles 
  • They may not feel treated fairly without individual assessment potentially leaving your company with a poor reputation 
  • Future talent and skills will be unlikely to seek your company at the risk of a loss of income and unfair treatment 

Avoiding all this can be achieved with a case-by-case assessment that is beneficial for both you and your contractors so contact us today to see what we can do to solve this and mitigate the time this process takes for you. 

90% of contractors said that they were willing and happy to be involved in the process with their client, helping them to change working practices models in order to get a legitimate outside IR35 decision. If that decision incorrectly categorises a contractor then over two thirds have said they would look for another role. That combined with clients having a lack of collaboration, understanding, and education on IR35 will only make the numbers rise and create an environment where clients can no longer entice the best skills and talent in the future.  

While IR35 is still trying to get the best for contractors, there may be several who discover their status changes, but it is for this reason that the change in legislation is shifting the responsibility for IR35 assessments. Illegitimate outside IR35 contractors may be losing income they were not entitled to in the first place in the bid to discover ‘disguised employees’ as a part of this anti-avoidance tax legislation. Categorising contractors appropriately can pave way for those rightfully looking for outside IR35 work and can generate a more balanced environment. 

What is there to help me? 

The HMRC have provided an online tool called CEST that helps calculate what contractors should be deemed as within your company, however, there are major concerns over the accuracy of an algorithm based tool, especially when dealing with someone’s income. Contractors look at losing around 20-30% of their take home pay and in many cases can lose much more if they are deemed inside IR35 instead of correctly outside, making them unable to pay their bills and cover costs. 

On the other hand, personal and individual assessments on a case-by-case basis allows for both parties to be confident in the fact they are getting the best out of the partnerships and are secure in their positions with HMRC. Now this sounds like it’ll require a lot of your time, but we’re helping clients get the most out of it and taking some stress away from the process with our in-depth knowledge on it as we’ve already taken the time to understand it.  

Arrange some time with our IR35 experts 

Email: IR35@highfieldps.co.uk or arrange a call using the form below. Ask us anything you want; from understanding IR35, through to exploring solutions to get your business ready. 

Specialist Video Interviewing vs Zoom

One of the most common objections when pitching Specialist Video Interviewing Software is… “yeah okay sounds cool, but surely you can just use Zoom?”. Zoom is brilliant video conferencing software and we know since we’ve all been sent to work from home it’s been great for still keeping client, candidate, and internal meetings going ahead as planned. But that’s what it is, video conferencing, not specialist video interviewing. 

What’s the difference? Both are two-way, you can conduct a first stage interview remotely no problem? Technically yes, but other than you get to see what the candidate looks like to better judge a fit, there’s not much difference to having a meeting on Zoom as there is having it on the telephone. Adding specialist video interviewing software to your hiring process benefits both you and the candidates and increases final interview to hire ratio to over 70%.

People have been using specialist video interviewing software for years, it’s not a new thing, but due to the current circumstances and everyone’s determination to continue business as usual, I suppose you could say it’s having its “moment”. We don’t know how long we’re going to be out of the offices but we do know that with video interviewing we can continue to hire and keep business and usual. 

Going from being in the office to being sat at home with a make-shift kitchen desk seemed to happen in a flash. And we understand when decisions and plans have to be made quickly to keep business continuity they are often not as researched and debated as they normally would be. Take us to today, we’re a few months in, we’re in a routine, we’re seeing people are still hiring, if we do the same we’ll be minimising the possible damage when we get out of this. We can see what’s working, what will keep working, and what needs to be temporary. Now that we’re settled down and we’re more aware this may go on longer than we’ve all hoped, we’ve got the time to fix the quickly made contingency plans. 

So, let us explain the value specialist video interviewing software can bring to you over just using video conferencing software. After all, you wouldn’t use “Houseparty” to conduct an interview, would you?

For starters, specialist video interviewing software allows you to host either a live interview which can be recorded to watch back or a solo one-way interview, where the candidate answers predetermined questions in their own time to submit for review. Both forms of interview differ to telephone or zoom interviews in that you don’t have to just take the consultant’s word for it that they are a match for the role, you can watch for yourself. 

That’s where the shortlisting feature comes in, we just send you one link and all the videos of  candidates we think are a match are there. Just one link and they’re all there in one place, no need for multiple messy emails with attachments here, there and everywhere. We can also attach the candidates CV, documents and any notes in with their video! 

You save heaps of time because if you don’t think they are a good fit for the role within the first 5 minutes of the interview you can either turn it off or skip to the questions you think are more important to make your decision. If the first stage interview was conducted on zoom, and therefore not recorded, you wouldn’t know until the candidate sat in front of you (either live virtually or face-to-face) that they weren’t right but you would have to conduct the whole second stage interview anyway.

When we were all sent to work from home some people will have adapted easily but it’s fair to say that others will have struggled, and there’s no shame in that. If you’ve never had to WFH before and you’re not a Facetime or Skype type person, then it must have been scary to all of sudden have no choice but to learn, all while being a little apprehensive about the situation in general. Our specialist video interviewing software has embedded training videos to metaphorically hold your hand while you’re getting set up (social distancing and all that). So don’t be worried if you’re uncertain about the terms, “live interview”, “solo interview” or “shortlists” because there’s easy to understand instructional videos and demos to watch in your own time. And there’s a UK based support and development team who are there to help you or your candidates should any issues arise. 

In summary, yes you can use Zoom to interview candidates remotely while in these unprecedented times. But, there is value to gain from specialist video interviewing software now and beyond the current situation. So why fix the leak with a bit of tape when you could implement some new shiny pipes now?

We can keep you moving

On average, a talent pipeline takes 2-4 months to mature. This means we run the risk of turning a 3-month problem into a 12+ month problem if we take drastic measures and press stop. But we can’t simply carry on as normal either. We must find a way to slow down your process enough to cope with the change, whilst maintaining momentum with candidates to support your hiring plans for the remainder of the year.

Video Technology

We’ve invested in the in the latest Video Software, designed specifically for the interview process. This technology, which is the most streamlined available on the market, allows us to provide recorded live interviews between our recruiters and candidates. We can also now involve your hiring managers in the process too. These interviews can then be shared with any decision makers in your business, without the need for diary co-ordination.

We’ve chosen a specialist provider that allows interviews to take place on laptop, tablet and mobile devices in low bandwidth situations, giving us access to even the most remote candidates. The tech requires no downloads, registrations, logins or passwords, ensuring candidates with any level of technical ability can take part.

We simply send a link, which they click once, and they’re ready to go.

We also have the ability to record one-way interviews of candidates. This means that you can give us written questions that display one at a time to the interviewee, allowing them to record the answers to the questions on their own and submit the video back to you.

From there, we can present the videos back to you in an interactive shortlist page which gives you full visibility of everyone in the process. These pages have commenting functions for each candidate shortlisted, as well as a document viewer that can hold up to five supporting attachments, such as a CV and cover letter. All of which means you retain complete control throughout, even during this time of unforeseen disruption.

By slowing the process down, but keeping the pipeline of talent moving, we can support you to maintain your position in the market – ready to pick up where you left off in a few months when it’s back to business as usual.

If you’re not being asked to video interview? You really should be asking “why not?”

Unfortunately in the current climate there’s been a lot of redundancies, which in turn has resulted in many people looking for new jobs. This comes with more competition and a need for candidates to stand out – luckily we can help you with this.  

How businesses reacted to Covid-19 tells you a lot about them. Did they adapt, or not? Are they forward-thinking and innovative, or did they run and hide? The same way of thinking applies afterwards. Are they in the new normal or are they going straight back to their old-fashioned and out-dated ways? Do you think they are equipped to find you a new job or career? 

If you’re looking for a new role and you’re not being asked to video interview by recruiters then you really should be asking, “why not?” Even when we’re allowed to see each other face-to-face again.  

Why is our new video interviewing software a huge benefit to our candidates? Well, let me explain…

Interview from anywhere

Since March we’ve had quizzes, yoga sessions, cocktail making, cooking classes, playdates, actual dates, and even murder mystery nights all over video software! If we can keep our business and social lives going from our own homes then why should the hiring process be any different? Spoiler, it’s not!

There is now no need for face-to-face, which means you can interview from literally anywhere. Whether you’ve gone home to isolate at parents’ houses or are planning on moving somewhere new post-lockdown, video interviewing means there’s no need to travel at all for at least your first stage interview. Since lockdown, more and more companies conducted remote on-boarding, it’s not completely unimaginable that you would never have to do a face-to-face interview ever again. 

Any device

Not everyone has a laptop, but that’s no problem you can use your phone or table to complete the video interview. Top Tip – test the process! The day before, it is paramount to test the video on the platform and device you are using. You can do this with a friend or family member and video call them so you can become more confident. Make sure your sound and microphone are working, as well as your camera and get your friend/family member to run through some interview questions. 

One interview, several opportunities & feedback

With loads of people being made redundant, it means there are hundreds of candidates’ CVs landing on our clients’ desks. And because some jobs are advertised by more than one recruitment agency, as well as the client themselves. Your CV can end up showing up on the hiring manager’s desk more than once. This doesn’t exactly look creditable for you, but we can work with you exclusively to not only ensure this doesn’t happen, but increase your chances of breaking through the noise. We can conduct your first stage interview on video then take it, with the supporting documents, to our clients. We either get you an interview or we get you valuable feedback. This WILL put you ahead of the competition on the market quicker than you waiting to hear if your CV ever made it to the top of that pile. 

Skip the first stage interview

If you’re successful when we send it to our top clients then you’ve already skipped straight to the second stage, possibly the final stage of the hiring process. It also means you don’t have to take a day off for an interview that you might have been unknowingly ruled out of in the first five minutes – the client has already seen your first stage and knows you’re a good fit for the role. 

So, the same as we’ll question anyone who doesn’t cover their mouth when they sneeze post-lockdown (seriously why were people not already doing this?), we should also question anyone who insists they meet you face-to-face for interviews.  

Our Mental First Aid Champion, Simon answers your questions

World Mental Health Day 2020 is one of the most important ones yet – the months of lockdown and loss has had a huge impact on all of us. Which is why prioritising mental health has never been more important than now. We have put together a Q&A session with our Mental First Aid Champion Simon who answers the relevant questions that may be on your mind.  

Do you think the current crisis has highlighted a global need to focus on mental health?  

I think pre-pandemic that the world had started making the right move in highlighting the importance of mental health and understood that more support was needed.  

The pandemic has definitely highlighted a global need to focus on mental health but at the same time a lot more people will now be suffering due to a number of factors such as  

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones 
  • Your financial situation or job 
  • Loss of support services you rely on 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We recognise the impact this pandemic can have on people’s mental health and NHS mental health services have adapted to continue to provide support to those who need it throughout the pandemic. 

“We are providing £9.2m in additional funding to national and local mental health charities to support adults and children affected by the pandemic, and we are committed to increasing the mental health workforce. 

“Mental health services will expand further and faster thanks to a minimum £2.3bn of extra investment a year by 2023/24 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.” 

What do you do to maintain positive wellbeing?  

I’m actually writing this whilst in self isolation so haven’t been able to leave the house. A lot of people will be in the same situation especially with the new track and tract system in place.  

I think the best things that you can do are trying to keep active and fit, I know it’s hard when you can’t leave your house! I have been doing yoga from free YouTube videos, you could also try an online HIIT Class if you don’t have any gym equipment at home. 

When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. 

I’d also recommend trying to stick to your normal routine and going to bed as you normally would and waking up as normal. 

Drinking plenty of water and eating lots of fruit & vegetables will also help you feel good. 

Meditation has also been great as focusing on your breathing can help get you in to a calm state. I recommend using a meditation app or just searching for mediation channels on YouTube. 

What advice would you givto someone struggling with their mental wellbeing?  

Talking about your feelings and asking for help is the first step, find a family and friends member that you can trust and start by just saying how you are feeling.  

A lot of places of work will also now have mental health first aiders who are trained to deal with these situations and will always be private and confidential so this would also be a good start. 

There are a number of online communities or anonymous helplines which you can contactwhich I will leave details of below. 

What ‘one thing’ will you be doing today in aid of World Mental Health Day?https://www.mind.org.uk/get-involved/world-mental-health-day-2020/ 

I would recommend downloading the Mind.org mental health calendar which is packed with actions you can take for better mental health.  

https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/6283/calendar_a4.pdf

Select the link below to get support from the A-Z of mental health charities 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

Making a positive change can be hard, especially in uncertain times. Most of the time, the hardest part is to know where to start. Take the opportunity this week to learn and find out more about how you can start with your one thing.  

5 Simple ways to look after your mental wellbeing at home

Working from home can bring with it a number of challenges, whether it being in-home distractions or lack of social engagement.

So, what can you do to look after your wellbeing when working from home? How can you create healthy boundaries between your work and personal lives, stay mentally and physically healthy whilst still being a productive and effective worker?

Self-Care

It is very easy to slip into bad habits such as sleeping late, spending all day in your pyjamas and eating junk food. But, looking after yourself is essential for your mental health. Exercising is known for significantly boosting your mental health – you can do this at home or under government regulations you are allowed to go outside to exercise once a day.  

Routine

The first thing you need to do is get into a routine – which requires discipline. Do the same things, in the same order every day. Creating your own rhythm for the day, you’ll find that the day is more sustainable, bearable and enjoyable. A great way to start your day is with some exercise, whether that be a walk or jog. It releases great endorphins that will carry you throughout the day. In the day time, you could do some learning either in something your already specialize in or learning something new. Keep busy, don’t slouch around. Get up in the morning, get dressed, have a plan. With the world of the internet, you can be doing so many activities to fill your day. Additionally, make the weekends different – you have to differentiate your time.

Don’t stay glued to the news

If the media coverage is overwhelming and heightening your anxiety, it may be useful to allocate set times throughout the day to catch up on news and updates. Too much time on social media, googling things and excessive exposure to media coverage may increase your anxiety. This is an unsettling time for us, therefore it’s important to remember the facts and only listen to or follow reliable news sources.

Use trustworthy sources – such as GOV.UK or the NHS website – and fact-check information from the news, social media or other people.

Take time out

One of the most important points is being kind to yourself. If you don’t feel up to doing anything – that is fine too. It is important to recognise when you need a break. Relaxing and focusing on positive things, knowing that every effort is being made globally to bring this situation to a close, but it will take time.

When taking time out it can help with difficult emotions and worries, and improve our wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help deal with feelings of anxiety.

Get a good amount of sleep

The amount of sleep and the quality of our sleep plays a big role in the way we feel, so it’s important to get enough. Remain in your normal sleeping pattern, and if you are finding it harder than usual to sleep try some the Calm App as they have great sleep series.

We understand it can be difficult working from home, however if you make sure that you are prioritizing your physical and mental wellbeing you can enable yourself to carry on being a productive employee.

Transforming Your Data Centre Business to Remotely Run

Even though data centre centre staff are deemed as ‘critical workers’ – footfall traffic at the sites has been scaled down massively. As it stands, most facilities have enough tools and ‘remote hands’ services in place to allow their customers to manage and monitor their infrastructure remotely.

Being Prepared

In response to the pandemic, we have found that organizations have fallen into three camps; those who can quickly adapt and who are geared up for remote working; those who feel unprepared for the change; and, of course, many who simply can’t comply, including care workers, hospital staff and those that work in providing crucial data infrastructure, such as data centres.

Nevertheless, whatever camp they fall into, it is essential and necessary to remain productive and profitable, even when staff are not physically in the building.

Staff Meetings Go Virtual

Chief Revenue Officer from a North Carolina-based colocation provider, Patrick Doherty says that all staff that are non-essential are now working from home. For meetings, they are using video conferences, as well as one-on-ones to make sure employees feel connected.

However, for sales staff it has been more challenging, as they would normally visit potential customers along with data centre tours. Although, Doherty quotes that they have adapted and instead, created virtual video tours. Current and potential customers can see inside, at the same level of detail as they would during a physical walk through. Despite the crisis, he says, there is still a demand for tours.

Remote Data Centre Management Tools

For colocation providers, experts say they are generally in good shape – this is because the providers previously had systems in place for remote monitoring and teach support requests. To meet customer needs, they are using online data centre infrastructure management customer portals for remote monitoring and IT support according to a report by Uptime Institute.

Promotion of colocation’s remote-hand services – these cover IT equipment moves and additions, changes and maintenance, troubleshooting of power, IT, router, firewall, and shipping and receiving on customers.

Equinix

On March 23rd Equinix closed its data centres in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Following the COVID-19 protection measures, they have said that all visitors, customers, customer contractors and non-critical Equinix vendors will not be permitted to enter the IBX facilities.

The decision to restrict data centre access was said to be “made in accordance with our business continuity plans to minimize the risk of impact within our data centres while maximizing our ability to operate and maintain our services on behalf of our customers”.

Additionally, Equinix have stated that “In the event a complete lockdown is required, Equinix is prepared to maintain the necessary on-site staffing levels required to support continuous operations”. Measures have been taken whereby no more than five people per party are welcomed – everything visitors touch are frequently swabbed with various destroying liquids.

The company’s optimum goal is to make sure facilities do not become infected and their employees are healthy.

Complete Remote Automation

Andrew Bishop CEO of Nuco Technologies runs automated data centres in the UK that can be remotely controlled right down to the door locks. Amidst the coronavirus, he is keen to promote the benefits of this type of operation. 

One of the company’s Tier 4 data centres in Milton Keynes is completely remotely run, with staff operators using an IP phone accessible from the main switchboard. Any customers that need to visit their racks are carefully tracked, he says “We can just activate a fob and they can access the data centre. Our systems track them through the centre and when they leave, we expire it.

For the few staff that are working within the facility, they have to implement a new cleaning regime, for example, if someone accesses the data centre, the workers will then have to clean all of the door handles and surfaces to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Scalability Boosts Cloud Platforms

As the crisis has placed a premium on speed and scalability (according to 451 Research), for some requirement, cloud platforms will become more attractive. As a result of the virus, we can expect some web applications to dramatically increase with traffic, while others might dwindle to near nothing. For this changing demand, scalable cloud applications should be able to grow shrink dependant on the demand. For those who are in the suffering from lower hits, the scale down can save them cash. However, for those experiencing surge, the cloud lets websites continue to perform under pressure.

The COVID-19 crisis will eventually subside, though, it’s impact will be with the industry for some time. Sami Badri, senior equity analyst at credit Suisse says “virtual connectivity is a must. It’s no longer a debate. It’s now a case of survival, relevance and productivity. You’re starting to see permanent shifts”.

Future Workforce

Existing experiences have shown us that those who were early adaptors of virtual run businesses, or encourage remote working, are the ones reaping the benefits. Coronavirus has undoubtedly changed people’s attitudes and behaviours. The Data centre strategy, will after this, become even more critical in ensuring the infrastructure is powerful, safe and reliable for people to work wherever they want, whenever they want. 

What’s Next?

The industry is trying to work out new ways in dealing with the pandemic as lockdown is not sustainable for the industry. Whilst data centres such as 4D Data Centres have 85% of their staff working from home. There are only few going in to keep the data centres open and to make sure all the facilities are kept running – but it’s really the bare minimum.

Many data centre operators have confirmed that remote working methods will continue even when the crisis has passed. Customers have been stopped from making any visits to their computer systems in their data centre unless urgent. 

Allan Bosley, information managers at Ark Data Centres, said ‘We are still understanding the impact”. He goes on to say “It would be very difficult to make decisions about the medium and longer terms.’