Will remote working for interims become a permanent arrangement?

All the signs are pointing to a large number of employees asking for more flexible working arrangements from employers, as workplaces start to open up more.

As new routines settle down, I am keen to see whether this desire to embrace different working arrangements will also extend to the interim placement market.

Despite advances in technology, up until the start of the pandemic it was still normal for most roles to be required on site or in the office in the FM sector. But like so many other businesses, here at myfm, our associates have worked differently and in a variety of ways showing innovation and creativity over the past 18 months to continue to provide our clients with the services they need.

When it comes to deciding on flexible working for interims in future, ultimately it will be the call of the individual hiring manager. Factors such as the culture and arrangements in the client organisation will also come into the mix when decisions are made.

Some may argue there is a difference between trusting the track record of someone who’s work you know well and that of an interim contractor. But I think probably more important is whether that hiring manager places trust in the judgement of the organisation introducing candidates for the role.

That is why at myfm we make it our business to get to know our associate pool well. But more than that, we also carefully match individuals to clients and the culture of their business.

I firmly believe that there are great advantages for hiring managers if they are prepared to embrace either a hybrid or even remote working arrangements, when the role permits.

1. During the pandemic many interim FMs have been operating more remotely and it has worked well. This gives hiring managers the option of considering a bigger pool of talent across a larger geography, as location matters less.
2. This means talent is available from different regions as more people are willing to consider roles further from home when there is less need for frequent travel or be permanently based on site. Also hiring managers have the option of candidates without necessarily paying premium rates or travel costs.
3. And finally, people are generally happier and more productive when we are able to support them better with work-life balance.
When your business requires interim support in person, of course myfm will still be available to refer plenty of candidates. But the more we challenge ourselves to think differently about working arrangements in the interim market, the greater the potential prize for clients and associates alike.

Feel free to talk to us at myfm about interim contractors, even if you don’t have an immediate need as we would like to hear from you. Contact Ulf Muller – ulf.muller@myfm.co.uk.

IR35 – was the change just another storm in a teacup?

At the start of 2021, IR35 seemed like a huge change looming on the horizon. Contractors were worried that jobs would dry up and companies were concerned about the extra red tape they faced and whether they were actually ready for a change in the law.

But a couple of months since the big switch and at myfm, we are all left wondering if it was another storm in a teacup.

We are continuing to see a steady increase in demand for contractors, very much in line with the growing economic confidence across the country as we start, fingers crossed, to put the pandemic behind us.

The team at myfm is continuing to work with clients so that IR35 assessments are accurately completed for our associates to ensure compliance with the rules and to support clients during this transitionary period.

If you are a contractor, be reassured that we are not seeing any obvious signs that IR35 has had an impact on the appetite of companies to engage the right interim talent. Many contractors found 2020 particularly tough with stiff competition for a limited of number of placements. Like many other industries, FM companies were forced to take a cautious approach when it came to engaging interim workers but that is now starting to change.

Interestingly what we are noticing is greater acceptance of remote and flexible working which potentially opens up new opportunities across a wider geography for some contractors. But also important is that this willingness to be flexible on where and how you work, has a positive effect on IR35 assessment.

What the IR35 changes have probably achieved is greater clarity for companies and contractors alike. The more we get involved in the nuts of bolts of the assessment process, the more convinced we are that the majority of interim placements, by their nature, are just that and will continue to remain outside IR35.

As well as supporting our clients with the assessment of our associates, we are also now offering a consultancy service to support with the assessments clients are undertaking. We will use the Government tools for this and will help you develop a streamline system to assess roles.

To talk to us about IR35, contact Ulf Muller, myfm Managing Director or Mané Lucas, Head of Resourcing for more information – ulf.muller@myfm.co.uk or mane.lucas@myfm.co.uk.

Prepare for a return to the workplace with our readiness checklist

The UK is starting to open up again and so more people are returning to the workplace. Is it down to you to manage this process? If so, our workplace readiness checklist and Return to Work Guides can help.

Workplace Readiness Checklist

Planning, Policy & Comms:
1. Create a Covid Management & Leadership Team (including H&S/HR/FM/Management)
2. Create a site-specific return to work plan (covering all building users including visitors)
3. Agree and communicate home/office workplace policy and procedures.
4. Test & Trace – define and communicate testing policy including procedures for positive results
5. Complete Covid-19 risk assessments (updated in line with latest government guidance)
6. Initiate an ongoing multi-channel communication plan to include all building users

Building Access & Social Distancing:
7. Routes considered and one-way signage introduced where required e.g. stairwells (FM)
8. Workplace layout and seating plan modified to minimise close proximity risk (FM/HR)
9. High risk areas such as toilets/showers/meeting rooms/kitchens controlled (FM/H&S)
10. Maximum capacity for building and facilities therein defined and managed (H&S/FM)
11. Staggered working times considered (HR)
12. Screens/barriers introduced to mitigation airborne infection risk (FM)

Hygiene, ventilation & PPE
13. Face mask policy defined and communicated (FM/HR)
14. Air circulation/ventilation systems set to prevent recirculation of stale air (SFG001 Standard – BESA) (M&E)
15. Touch points throughout building minimised (FM)
16. Sanitisation regime to touch points and high-risk areas increased (Cleaning)

Monitoring & Management
17. Monitoring, management, consultation and communication – all stakeholders (FM/HR)
18. Regular review of government guidance and effectiveness of RTW plan (Leadership Team)
19. Monitor compliance and manage non-compliance consistently
20. Document decisions & communicate regularly.

How do you fair? Take our LinkedIn poll to share your results, or post in the comments box.

Message to our clients on IR35 – myfm makes engaging interim staff easy

This information is relevant if you currently engage interim contractors via myfm or have done so in the past. We want to reassure you about the steps we are taking to make it easy for you to continue to do this when rules change in April on the assessment of IR35 status.

Also, feel free to share this information with others, particularly if you recommend myfm to colleagues and other organisations.

How will the IR35 rule changes affect you?

For every assignment, large and medium sized businesses will soon be responsible for making the  assessment on whether a contractor is categorised as inside IR35 or outside IR35. In other words, the government requires businesses like yours which commission work to assess whether the employment status of each individual should be employed or self-employed. The rules determining status are not changing just who is responsible for making that assessment.

myfm is proposing to carry out the IR35 assessment on your behalf

In response to this, we will make this process easier for you, our clients, by completing the IR35 assessments for our associates on your behalf.

We are planning to do this using the online government assessment tools. The reports generated will form part of the Terms of Reference for the engagement. This will help you by reducing the admin you will need to complete before engaging interim contractors.

We are confident that the majority of interim placements, by their nature, will continue to remain outside IR35 – self-employed. We have already run through this process for several of our clients and associates to ensure compliance.

If during the course of the assessment process, we find an individual assignment is assessed as inside IR35, we will liaise with you on payroll arrangements.

Your flexibility will help

We have discovered that the assessment results are based on a culmination of different factors, rather than individual question responses. Before any interim appointment, we encourage you to think about:

  • Being flexible on where and how the contractor works.
  • Measuring success through outcomes, rather than a ‘role-based’ appointment.
  • Allowing the contractor to provide their own laptop and equipment.
  • Entering into a separate agreement for each new project.
  • Requiring the contractor to put right any sub-standard work at their own cost.
  • Allowing us to send an appropriately qualified substitute, when required.

To summarise, we will:

  • Streamline the engagement process for you by carrying out the IR35 assessment on your behalf, using the information you provide.
  • Reassess an assignment on a regular basis.
  • Use the assessment report generated by the government tools as the Terms of Reference for the engagement.
  • Always seek up-to-date information from you to complete IR35 assessments.
  • In the event of a result which indicates an appointment should be inside IR35, we will liaise with you to find a solution on payroll.

 

myfm provides highly qualified and experienced interim managers and consultants to the FM industry, often at short notice. We are confident that the steps we are putting in place will enable you to continue to access this service with minimum changes, despite these new requirements on businesses.

While we are not experts in employment law or tax, from our research we believe the majority of assessments for the type of interim appointments which we make should be straightforward to assess using the government tools provided.

To talk to us about this, contact Mané Lucas, Head of Resourcing or Ashley Firmin, Head of Finance and Commercial for more information – mane.lucas@myfm.co.uk or Ashley.firmin@myfm.co.uk.

The more things change…… stay true to your values

By Shane Arnold, Business Unit Director, myfm –   

 

Furlough, R-number, mRNA, anti-vaxxers, Zoom – few of us were aware of these terms a year or so ago, but now they are in our everyday conversations. So much has changed in so little time.

I wrote early last year about how I saw potential changes in the FM and the wider built-environment sectors accelerating as a result of the pandemic.

I knew then, as I still do, of the need to be flexible and at the same time not to lose focus of our industry core values, including that our people are our single greatest asset.

So, what has changed over the past 12 months? Well, my belief in putting people at the heart of all we do still stands as firm as ever. As we move from survival mode to what we sincerely hope this time will be revival, this fundamental understanding is as relevant as ever today. The expertise to deliver, the strength to perform in adversity, the character to embrace change and the empathy to understand the challenges of others have never been more crucial.

As I pen these thoughts, listening to the Prime Minister deliver his latest update, including a broad roadmap out of lockdown 3.0, I also believe it is important to emphasise one or two important additions.

Communication, trust and honesty

Being in a position of leadership at any time and in any institution is a difficult task. I am in awe of the ability those who are delivering in adversity. This has been exemplified by so many in the last 12 months – I can think of no better or more recent example than the ongoing vaccination effort.

Notwithstanding this, there have been times over the last year when I have questioned why government messaging hasn’t been clearer, why it hasn’t been more honest and why it has frequently felt incomplete.  Please be assured that I wish to make no political points here, I am merely making behavioural observations. Also, I know from conversations with friends, family, colleagues and contacts that I am not alone in thinking this.

I understand that on a geo-political level, things are rarely as straightforward as they may seem to a casual observer. However, the fundamental truths and benefits of fostering trusting relationships, based on regular communication, honesty and the ability to address the inconvenient truths are as relevant to national and local businesses as they are to central government. And this is especially true when things are not progressing as desired, or previously envisaged.

I was taught in my formative years in Chartered Accountancy to always tell the truth and set yourself up for success – under-promise and over-deliver, never the opposite.  I believe this is as true today as it ever was and these are wise words to take on board as we move from survival to revival.

In a world where so much has changed, I would urge you to rely on your values of integrity and the key relationships you have built. Through honesty, including when things haven’t gone to plan, we can together agree the steps which should be taken to resolve outstanding issues. Alongside honesty, we should all be doing our utmost to deliver and keep people informed of progress.

It is highly likely that in your network you will have many contacts that you have either worked with, bumped into at an event (remember those) or been referred to by a trusted contact.  The value of the last of these, the referrals, is regularly underplayed in my view. But at this crucial time, it is especially important to align with those who have the same values of integrity, honesty and trustworthiness.

Is there a better way to do this than by working with someone referred by a trusted contact, as they are the most likely to display the values you are seeking? Also, those same contacts who are happy to recommend someone to you are also putting their trust in you as someone who is like-minded when it comes to these important values.

We are facing uncertain times and we are facing upheaval but by remaining true to what matters most – our core values – we will find a way through this. The more things change, the more they stay the same, especially if you are true to yourself when it comes to integrity, honesty and trustworthiness.

 

myfm is leading provider of specialist interim capacity in the FM sector. Alongside this, we provide a rapid response on projects. Even if you don’t have an immediate need for our services, we are always happy to have a discussion, contact Shane Arnold email: shane.arnold@myfm.co.uk to find out more.

IR35 – is it the final push this time?

By Ulf Muller and the team at myfm

Remember all the fuss about getting ready for the changes in IR35 this time last year? And then, like so many other things, implementation was paused because of Covid-19. Back in April when the news was released that the new rules wouldn’t kick in for another 12 months, we seemed to have so much more to worry about and the new deadline was an age away. But as we start 2021, suddenly that new 6 April 2021 deadline is looming, so are you prepared?

If the answer is no or perhaps maybe, now is the time to get your house in order. If last year was anything to go by, your inbox will start to fill up with offers of help from accountancy firms, lawyers and consultants offering to help you unpick the complexities of IR35.

People are generally surprised when we say that the measures that we are planning at myfm, which has 200 associate contractors on the books, are largely based on the free advice and assessment tool from HMRC.

For our purposes and for our clients who have asked for our help, we haven’t yet found anything so complicated that we couldn’t resolve it using the HMRC resources. Yes, you need to be methodical and systematic in your approach, and if you are dealing with a large number of contractors this is potentially time consuming, but it really isn’t that complicated.

There is plenty of specialist advice available if you want it. But from what we can see, if an individual is a true contractor, that will remain the case. But if a hirer or individual has been using the contractor model when someone should have been classed as an employee, then things are about to change.

The way we have got our heads around this at myfm is by considering what is staying the same and what is about to change. The rules around IR35 itself are not changing, not noticeably anyway. But what is changing is that private companies, along with the public sector, will now be responsible as hirers for making the assessment on whether an individual is inside or outside IR35. They will be accountable to HMRC on that decision, and responsible for arranging for the tax and national insurance to be paid if the determination falls inside of IR35.

To start to get you thinking on this and to help bust a few of the myths, we have collated a quick guide to the high-level changes on this topic.

Who will these changes apply to?

For the first time, medium and large-sized hirers in the private sector (based on annual turnover of more than £10.2million/ balance sheet total of more than £5.1 million and/or more than 50 employees) will need to assess and communicate the employment status of individuals.

Public sector hirers already make these assessments and have been doing so for several years, this will continue – some extra responsibilities are listed in the HMRC guidance.

Small companies (those under the criteria above) are classed as exempt and when they hire, individual contractors will remain responsible for determining their own employment status.

If you are a contractor, or freelancer, providing a service to a large or medium-sized company, you should expect that company to assess whether you should be on or off payroll and notify you of the outcomes of this assessment and any implications.

What will medium and large companies be required to do from April?

For every contract agreed with an agency or worker, companies will need to decide the employment status of an individual, pass this decision to the worker and keep detailed records of reasons – the HMRC tool can help companies to do this.

They will need to have processes in place to deal with any disagreements – details of what is expected are listed in the HMRC guidance.

Individual contractors can also use the tool to make their own assessment.

Who is responsible for tax and national insurance payment?

Now this varies depending on the scenario affecting you or your organisation and is too detailed to include here. So, the best thing to do is to look closely at the HMRC guidance on this, so you can understand how the rules should be applied.

There are a few general principles to bear in mind:

  • If you are the organisation which makes the assessment on status and off-payroll working rules apply, then you will be responsible for deducting tax and national insurance from your workers’ fees and paying it to HMRC.
  • If you are an intermediary, such as an agency, you will be responsible for deducting employer National Insurance contributions from the fees for the services which your worker provides.
  • If you are a contractor and you are providing services to a small company which is exempt, then your situation will continue as is – you will continue to make the payments.

What criteria should be applied to determine status?

The HMRC assessment tool takes you through this in detail and looks at criteria such as the contract in place, substitution arrangement, the working pattern, equipment required, and the length of time services will be provided.

Next steps

If your business doesn’t work with contractors, or you are not a contractor yourself, then you don’t really need to worry about these changes. But if you are either of these things, you should be taking clear steps to prepare, so you are ready to meet your responsibilities under the new arrangements.

If you are a contractor working with private sector clients, then you should assess your own situation, using the tools provided by HMRC. If you provide services to just to small companies, you must make your own assessment. In any event, it is important that you keep lines of communication open between those commissioning work and those providing services, so that all parties fully understand who has responsibility for what.

Our advice is to start your preparation now, if you haven’t already, particularly if you are involved in hiring a large number of contractors. myfm is able to help clients but we firmly stand by our earlier remarks. Time consuming? Possibly. But are these changes to IR35 complicated? No. In most situations, it shouldn’t be daunting for companies provided they follow the advice on offer.

To find out more contact ulf.muller@myfm.co.uk.

Time to take stock of your assets?

As a large proportion of office workers continue to work from home, the pictures of deserted city centres are becoming all too familiar. What we rarely get to see on our screens is the near empty workspaces which sit behind those city centre facades.

Put simply, fewer people are leaving home for work and they are spending less time there, if they do. On top of this, all the predictions suggest that businesses are unlikely to turn the clock back and return to the working patterns of the past. Several high-profile organisations are saying they will willingly allow people to continue to work from home indefinitely, so what does all this mean if you are a MD or an FD desperately trying to reduce spending on property to give your business the best chance of survival?

Many estates in all sectors are not operating to capacity and investment decisions are at best, on hold, so this is an ideal time to take stock of the current health and condition of your asset base and plan for the future.

Asset Management is described in the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) anatomy as “the coordinated activity of an organisation to realise value from its Assets” where assets are considered to be an “item, thing or entity that has potential or actual value to an organisation”.

Effective asset management increases efficiency, extends component life, improves reliability and allows owners to focus resources on the assets that are critical to their core purpose, so reducing risk to operational output and reducing operating costs.

To cut down costs as well as save the environment, organisations will have to adhere to a strict protocol. This will include the basic functionalities of building asset management. They are:

  • construction
  • operation
  • maintenance
  • refurbishment of assets and buildings.

But with most organisations at present keen on saving the day, planning for the future has become limited. Most organisations will not be able to extract maximum value from the prevalent building assets. Going forward, organisations must plan. They must have a plan that has policies and strategies that drive the achievement of asset standards and reducing life cycle costs.

In planning for the future, the following become essential.

  • Maintaining a systematic record of individual assets (an inventory)—e.g. acquisition cost, original service life, remaining useful life, physical condition, repair and maintenance consistency.
  • Developing a defined programme for sustaining the aggregate body of assets through planned maintenance, repair, and replacement.
  • Implementing and managing information systems in support of these systems.

We can help you make better use of scarce resources, balance cost, risk, opportunity and performance when delivering user’s needs, and be confident that assets, asset systems and processes are operating as intended throughout their lifecycle.

myfm has the capability and resources available to assist FM delivery teams and estate owners to make fact-based decisions which drive efficiencies in maintenance and put risk mitigation strategies in place whilst maintaining compliance across their estate.

We are typically asked to support our clients in the following areas:

  • Asset condition surveys (on site and remote).
  • Advise on strategic management plans (SAMPs) and policies.
  • Preparation of asset management plans.
  • Advise on Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) tools (selection and configuration).
  • Asset data configuration
  • Identification of assets critical to the organisation’s core function and tailoring maintenance regimes to ensure critical asset availability.
  • Implementation of SFG20 maintenance regimes.

myfm carried out an asset survey for a global consultancy and construction company with a major retail brand across 195 stores in the UK and Europe this summer. We used 10 highly qualified surveyors who worked remotely, given the travel restrictions we were all facing. Retail managers helped facilitate technology so the team could gather information via virtual floor walking at each site. The approach was so successful that we are confident it can streamline the way similar project are completed in future, particularly by reducing travel costs and travel time.

To find out more about the myfm approach to asset management contact Chris Knights – chris.knights@myfm.co.uk or Mané Lucas – mane.lucas@myfm.co.uk.

 

Why muddle through when you can triumph?

We all know the theory about why managers should delegate, and it is so much more than just off loading the jobs you don’t fancy doing yourself!

Delegation helps you focus your energy on the most important jobs in hand. Often, it provides the opportunity to get tasks completed by someone who can do a better job than you. And when you are overworked, stressed or simply getting a bit behind, it releases the bottleneck around your own capacity, enabling everyone to pull together as a team and succeed.

Put simply, if you want to be seen as a high achiever in today’s workplace you need to demonstrate you have what it takes to enable your whole team to do well and that involves delegation.

What lots of us are finding though is that in the current climate, when everyone is taking on more work and teams are getting leaner by the day, getting the balance right between what we do ourselves and what we delegate to others is getting trickier.

Put it another way, you are managing a team which is shrinking, and you have lost some of the specialist talent which you have relied on in the past. Do you try to complete these tasks yourself or pass them to someone else who is probably already overloaded with work and may not have fully developed the skills required? If you take this on yourself it will divert you from other work or increase the pressure and stress levels which you already face. But the alternative is probably a dissatisfied client when expectations are not fully met because standards of delivery have slipped.

Whichever option you choose will inevitably have a knock-on effect on your perceived performance, as well as that of your team. Can you afford that to happen, especially when you are trying not to rock the boat because you are worried about your own future?

These are the sort of real dilemmas playing out in FM teams today. But the thing is it doesn’t have to be this way, disadvantaging you, your career and your team’s success. The key is to have access to the right skills and experience when you need it most. You can turn on and off the specialist talent you require, only paying for what you need, through the interim placement market.

At myfm we will step in at short notice to fill a skills gap for a few days, a few weeks or even longer, if you wish. This means you can access the best quality skills and experience our industry can offer, enabling you as a manager to focus solely on how to meet immediate needs rather than trying to anticipate complicated scenarios about what the future might hold.

We have a bank of over 200 associates, ready and willing to provide the extra capacity you need. We also have a large number of FM specialists available, who are especially useful if you have had to lose a niche role during downsizing.

Times are tough, we all know that. But as a manager why compromise when it comes to your own success? We can help you develop the right skills mix around you, so you can enable your team to triumph over adversity, rather than simply muddle through and get the job done.

To talk to myfm about interim placement contact Ulf Muller – ulf.muller@myfm.co.uk.

Be your own boss within our interim recruitment business

Few working in the recruitment industry doubt that we are in a period of major upheaval. So much has changed in 2020 – working practices, uncertainty about further lockdowns, the economy, greater reliance on online methods for selection and vetting – and all this is having an impact on the way firms are choosing to manage emerging skills gaps.

Despite all this uncertainty one thing looks pretty clear cut, there will continue to be a need for businesses to access top-class talent on an interim basis. The question is how they will choose to do so in future and how businesses like ours will adapt to meet their changing needs.

An exciting point in myfm’s journey

Following some changes in our team, we are looking for a new Business Unit Director to join myfm to help us navigate our way at this important time. Our new Business Unit Director will run their own business within our business and importantly, will help us shape the direction myfm will take.

We have already been operating for 16 years focusing on interim placement within the facilities management sector. During this time, we have developed a strong brand and reputation with many of the FM service providers and end-user clients in both the UK and Europe. But we do want our business to adapt and grow, and that is where you come in.

Welcome challenge?

We believe over the next few months we will probably see increasing demand for short-term and flexible appointments as the economy starts to stabilise again. We anticipate operating in an environment for some time yet, where people have less freedom to travel for work, especially from the areas hardest hit by Covid. Technology is already playing an important part in our day-to-day operations, but we are eager to learn more about how we can innovate further to maintain that competitive edge.

To succeed, you will also need more than five years’ senior interim management experience.

If these challenges excite you and encourage you to see opportunities where others see threats, and if you have the skills and experience then get in touch.

Be your own boss

Think of myfm as a buoyancy aid – you take the plunge using your skills, experience, contacts and a huge amount of commitment and hard work. We support you to succeed with the help of our established brand, exceptional reputation and central services such as resourcing, finance, marketing and administration, as well as access to over 200 associates to help deliver the contracts you will land.

Mike Bradley, Business Unit Director (BUD) for myfm says: “I would say being a successful BUD is all about work rate. The more effort you put in the more opportunities you get. This is an arrangement which really works for me because it provides me with an income and lifestyle which suits my needs.”

Ulf Muller, Managing Director and Business Unit Director for myfm says: “This is an exciting time for our business and a time when the right person, with the right entrepreneurial spirit can help us develop and grow.”

If becoming a new Business Unit Director sounds like you, contact Ulf Muller to have an informal chat ulf.muller@myfm.co.uk.

Covid-19

At myfm, we are supporting our clients in these challenging times by sharing our knowledge and experience, and through the placement of specialist FM contractors.

Our commitment to you remains steadfast. We will help to keep your business operating as effectively as possible, so you can minimise the risks for you and your clients.

For example, we will help you:

  • Plan for when buildings start to reopen.
  • Plan and implement services, such as thermal imaging, fogging and sanitisation, hygiene monitoring and modifications to cleaning specifications.
  • Implement power efficiency measures.
  • By providing additional skilled capacity.
  • To assess volunteers, returners, and temporary staff.
  • With compliance management and knowledge sharing on new regulations and guidance post Covid-19, once this is available.

As we continue to manage the challenges of Covid-19 and transition into what might become a new normal in the coming weeks, the myfm team are here to assist you with proactive scenario planning. We will do our utmost to react flexibly to your dynamic needs while maintaining the effectiveness and professionalism that you expect from us.

You are welcome to contact us directly, either to talk through your requirements or simply have a chat. We hope you stay safe and healthy.

The myfm team