Connecting Our Excellence: How Workr Prioritise Team Wellbeing

Workr Group’s approach has always been engaging with clients at all levels. Whether that’s a director or junior member of staff, we make sure everybody understands changes in employment and how to minimise administrative burdens.

Without this uniform understanding, the support we offer can fail to make a lasting difference. But to offer such a comprehensive service, we need a workforce that operates in complete harmony while simultaneously being fully invested in the future of Workr. Here, Group Sales Director of Workr Group Mike Lee, explains how we make that possible.

Rallying the remote workforce

The wellbeing of our team has always been important to us. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, it brought mental and physical health into much greater focus. It also presented a challenge.

First, we had to overcome the stumbling block of synchronising a workforce that was largely working from home. To do this, we organised group activities and exercises so that everyone felt a part of the wider community at all times.

When it was decided by the group to re-enter the workforce, we brought all our internal experts together. Remote working technology taught us how to streamline certain tasks, but in order for us to help each other, agencies, contractors and clients, we still believe in the power of physical connections. It’s just the nature of our industry and something we take as seriously internally as we do externally. Connecting our excellence helps guide our attitudes, actions, decisions and relationships and is something that’s made easier when we’re all together.

A cause for celebration

Thanks to our eventual reintroduction, we were delighted to hold our inaugural Summer(ish) Social at the end of last month – the ‘ish’ being a point of contention as others in the office were convinced September didn’t still count as the summer!

Instead of our typical company conference, the social was designed to be a ‘thank you’ to the Workr Group family. We wanted to reward the mammoth efforts each and every person has put in over the last 18 months, especially when our way of life was turned on its head. We wanted it to be a celebration of reconnecting.

As well as a whole host of other activities, the main event was held at the notoriously challenging Crystal Maze where our teams took on the Crystal Dome competing for bragging rights.

Leading from the front

My fellow directors and I didn’t get away lightly either as we were all the subject of an interactive quiz. I think everyone got a little more than they bargained for by the end! Yet that was the point of the day: to acclimatise to that social interaction many of us missed.

The day was particularly significant for our colleagues at Easypay, a business that joined the Workr Group during the pandemic. It was the first time the majority of their Leeds-based business had met their Workr counterparts from the Manchester and London offices, and we were delighted to officially welcome them. 

We saw off the evening in Albert’s Schloss. Here we celebrated the fact that, despite the past 18 months, we had just delivered our most successful year.

A director’s takeaway

One thing I’ve picked up from the pandemic is the importance of not only being able to identify change but also being agile enough to adapt to it. This has been key to our continued success – a success that I believe we owe to having such a connected community – and why we continue to invest in physical events to bring them together. 

If the last 18 months have taught us anything it is that five-year plans are long gone. Having a better-connected team allows us to spread the responsibility for detecting, interpreting and translating patterns, then exploring the implications for our business so we are better prepared for whatever may be around the corner.

Mike Lee, Group Sales Director

If you’d like to see more news from us, please check out the blog section of our website for all updates and announcements.

Thinking Of Going Freelance? 5 Questions You Need To Answer

It’s no secret that since the start of the pandemic, everyone’s way of working has been turned upside down. For many, it was a positive change, and the longer they operated remotely, the more they wanted to make it permanent. As a result, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of freelancers in the UK.

Becoming self-employed or starting your own business can be a great career move. You get to choose when you work, how much you charge, and the type of projects you take on. But, before you hand in your notice and go it alone, there are other things to think about.

Here, Workr Practice Manager and freelance specialist, Nina Lasota-Long, provides answers to five questions that you might not have considered. Read on to find out more…

1. Should I operate as a sole trader or a limited company? 

When it comes to deciding between going self-employed or operating as a limited company, there are pros and cons to each. 

Being a sole trader is viewed as the simpler and more straightforward way of going freelance. It’s ideal for short-term work or smaller projects, and the cost of accounting is much cheaper. That being said, you’ll need to complete an annual self-assessment and pay tax on your profits. There’s also no legal protection, so your personal assets are at risk.

You might find that some clients will only work with limited companies, and that operating as such adds more prestige to your business. You’ll get greater tax savings compared to self-employed individuals, and obtain more tax efficiencies as your earnings grow. There’s also limited liability, so the company is its own legal entity. But, there’ll be higher accountancy fees as a result of increased obligations.

2. How much do I charge?

Predicting the length of a project isn’t easy, so unless time is guaranteed, it’s wise to charge a fixed price. Once a fee is agreed, deadlines become flexible, preventing the client from asking for a discount if you finish the task early.

What exactly that price is, depends on how much you think your talent is worth. But don’t forget to cover your costs, as there’s a number of things you don’t get paid for, including: 

  • Holidays
  • Sickness
  • Equipment
  • Insurance
  • Quiet periods
  • Pension
  • Bills
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Accountancy

Many clients will push for a bargain, but don’t take it personally. Going in cheap devalues your services and the rest of your industry, so bide your time and reap the rewards. Be sure to do some competitor research too, so you know you’re not charging over or under the average rate.

If you’re still struggling to put a price on your services, rate of pay calculators are a handy way to get started.

3. Will I be able to get a mortgage?

Regardless of success, lenders are likely to view those in full-time employment as a safer bet, and 21% of freelancers have actually reconsidered their job because of it. 

Rejected applications appear on your credit history, so preparation is vital. Here’s a few tips to help you with the mortgage process:

  • Understand your income – Mortgage lenders average out earnings, so you’ll need at least two years of accounts, ideally with a consistent or increasing profit.
  • Use an accountant – This will help you plot out your finances and plan for a mortgage application.
  • Avoid gaps in projects – Lenders like consistent patterns of income, so minimise significant gaps among your holidays.
  • Complete self-assessment tax returns – These are evidence of your earnings and lenders will request at least three years of calculations.
  • Check your credit history – Look for errors and make sure it correctly reflects your finances.
  • Build up a bigger deposit – The more you can offer, the higher your chances of acceptance.
  • Look for a specialist lender – These are experts in your employment type who’ll be more willing to consider you.

4. Can I freelance internationally?

The number of UK freelancers is going up, and as a result, many are widening their search and looking abroad for additional work. But if you’re thinking of taking on projects from clients in other countries, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Hire an international solicitor to draw up a contract and help you navigate the different legal restrictions.
  • Quote in the local currency, and make the client aware of their responsibility for international transfer fees.
  • Check your professional indemnity insurance covers your client’s country.
  • Use TransferWise. This provides you with bank credentials aligned with the client’s country, giving you better exchange rates.
  • Prioritise work around time zones. Use the mornings for clients ahead of your time and the afternoons for those behind to maximise crossover periods.
  • Check the tax situation in that country, and avoid paying income tax twice with a tax exemption form or Residency Certificate for your limited company.

There’s also a handy website you can visit for the opportunity to find international work and advertise your own talents.

5. What’s the best accounting software?

As the world becomes increasingly digitised, so should your business. Sending Excel spreadsheets to your accountant at the end of each year is a thing of the past. With modern accounting software, you can store invoices and expenses, and get real-time information about your performance.

Freelance Workr provide clients with a FreeAgent account to run your business from. We also use it to help you make important decisions, prepare your accounts, and complete VAT returns – leaving you to focus on the rest of your work.

Support from Workr

If you’re ready to take the next step in your freelance career, speak to Workr. Whether you’re setting up a limited company or becoming a sole trader, we can ensure you select the best option for your business.

Our team are also on hand to help you understand your earnings and estimate your weekly take-home pay. And, we offer expert advice, guidance, and access to a specialist mortgage advisor so you’re best placed to submit your application.Want to find out more? Visit our website or contact Practice Manager and freelance specialist Nina Lasota-Long at nina@freelanceworkr.com.

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Workr Group: Supporting flexible workers across assignments

Ian Standish-Leigh first used Workr Umbrella a few years ago, before moving onto another one of our services – Freelance Workr – when he set up his own limited company. Having just been offered a role under umbrella payment terms – and inside IR35 – Ian is now seeking the support of Workr Umbrella once more.

Here, we explore how Workr Group has been able to support Ian with a range of different services throughout his career…

 

Ian Standish-Leigh- Freelance Business Analyst

From umbrella…

As a contract business analyst in the public sector, Ian was on the lookout for an organisation that would be effective, supportive and offer good value. Dissatisfied with the percentage that some umbrella companies expected (as high as 50% in some instances), Ian continued his online research until he came across Workr Umbrella

Simple, straightforward and efficient. That’s how Ian has described the process from start to finish. Contractors using Workr Umbrella simply upload their hours onto a portal at the end of the week and the payment is authorised for the next week. 

Having been so pleased with the service that Workr had provided, when Ian made the next step in his career, he decided to take Workr with him. 

To freelance…

After setting up his own limited company, Ian found that external accountants weren’t providing the service that he expected. That’s when he decided to get back in touch with a company that he knew could do the job. 

As well as using Freelance Workr for accounting purposes, Ian cites their compliance as a huge benefit stating that for many in the public sector, adequate assessments aren’t a thing. And it’s  not just that. Ian says the ease of which he was able to contact Workr also further enhanced our service offering.

“I can’t fault the service. If I end up working as a contractor again, I will choose Workr – 100%. I’ve been so pleased with the service that Workr has provided that I’ve even referred a family member. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Nina and the team to anyone looking for either umbrella or freelance support.” Ian Standish-Leigh, Freelance Business Analyst.

Nina Lasota-Long, Practice Manager at Freelance Workr.

And back again?

Ian has recently been offered a new contract that falls inside IR35 and is looking to move back to Workr Umbrella. 

“We are delighted to be able to support our clients throughout their careers. We provide consistent service levels across our brands that are interchangeable meaning our clients can switch between them depending on their circumstances. Ian is a great success story of our flexible approach and how we partner with our clients – putting them first to help them achieve success!” Nina Lasota-Long, Practice Manager at Freelance Workr.

Whatever career path you’re taking, Workr Group are here to help with a suite of products that will propel you forward. Plus, if you’re currently working through a limited company and are unsure about the IR35 changes coming into effect in April 2021, we have a dedicated team to support with this. For more information drop us a message at info@workrgroup.com

COVID-19 Contractor and Freelancer Survey Update

Workr Group CEO, Matt Tyson – COVID-19 Contractor and Freelancer Survey Update

Workr during Coronavirus

  • Workr have been there for our customers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic paying out more than £1.2 million in salary’s since the scheme began offering protection to over 500 of our loyal contractors
  • Despite working from home and with a significantly reduced workforce we have maintained payment for over 3000 of our contractors
  • As the number one contractor solution of choice we boast the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry highlighted by our Trust Pilot Score of 4.8/5
  • Our umbrella clients continue to benefit from our cash health plan, health and wellbeing services, discounts, rewards on our dedicated Covid-19 online portal
  • We have continued to highlight the great work our contractors, partners and consultants do with our 20 acts of kindness

Refer-a-friend to Workr here!

The Results of our COVID-19 Contractor and Freelancer Survey

From hours being reduced to projects being cancelled, contractors and freelancers across the board have suffered due to uncertainty in 2020. And, even as lockdown begins to ease, many self-employed individuals are still facing financial hardship.

We decided to take stock of the thoughts and feelings of contractors and freelancers in our community to better understand what they’re going through and provide agencies with some relevant insight. Surveying almost 400 individuals from our database, below represents their circumstances and the effect that COVID-19 has had.

The impact of lockdown on contractors and freelancers

Almost immediately, lockdown had an impact on the availability of work. Of those we surveyed, 77% saw their industry take a hit.



Not only are self-employed individuals harder to identify – it’s also harder to quantify their earnings.

Support came eventually in the form of a grant that would pay 80% of typical earnings up to a cap of £2,500 a month. However, 56% of survey respondents believe the government could have done more. A further 28% felt the government had offered them nothing whatsoever.



When asked about their finances, approximately 40% said that while they were managing, they had serious concerns for the future. Worse still, 24% said they were really struggling with the financial impact of the pandemic.



How the contractor workforce adapted

Of course, a large number of contractors weren’t immediately laid off. In fact, 45% of those we spoke to were working from home. However, for 40% some or all of their contracts had been cancelled.



As a result, it should come as no surprise that 60% of those surveyed have found it more difficult to adjust than they had initially expected.



With that being said though, a combined 39% found the situation either easier than expected – or the same. While many believe there has been a lack of support, our data indicates that clients and contractors have somewhat pulled through.

On top of this, when asked whether or not they think their clients will explore more flexible working arrangements once lockdown is over, 50% said yes – with an additional 33% thinking it was possible.



What the future holds

With a large number of contractors revealing that the current lockdown and economic pressures haven’t harmed them too severely, it’s our opinion that there is cause to be optimistic about the future of contracting.

Yes, 40% of those surveyed believe that they are less likely to find work after the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a combined 57% believe that there will be the same opportunities – if not more.



In fact, of those who had a contract cancelled, over 83% are planning on getting straight back into contracting as soon as they are able to – still preferring it to regular employment.



The consensus of when that would be, or at least when lockdown would end, had the majority (37%) believing that it would be within 60 days. And with additional support being offered to the self-employed, we don’t think it will be long until business as usual.



How Workr can help

While we understand the pressure that contractors and self-employed people are currently facing, we believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. From the research we’ve undertaken, evidence suggests the drive for contract work will be even higher than before.

So, to help you seize the opportunities that drive will bring, Workr Group have a range of services to strengthen your agency.  From award-winning umbrella solutions to IR35 support, we can help put your organisation back on the right path while making you the first choice for contractors and freelancers around the country.

Sound good? Get in touch on 0208 10 60 000 or email info@workrgroup.com.