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How will Covid-19, Brexit & IR35 impact the world of work?

Watch the full, unedited, discussion on how the convergence of Covid-19, Brexit and IR35 impacts the world of work.

Posted by: ZivioReading time: 82 minutes

With Neil Murdoch & Dawn Ford from Volt

00:00:00 - Intros
00:09:00 - Solution design for the complexities of Brexit & IR35
00:14:00 - Educating clients away from short-term mentality
00:17:40 - Including all stakeholders, including the C-Suite
00:19:40 - Where does responsibility for SoW sit?
00:22:00 - The statement of work mindshift
00:33:45 - Brexit's impact on outsourced work delivery
00:42:00 - Covid + Brexit + IR35: A 'once in a generation' change

Transcript
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Okay, we’re rolling, excellent stuff, well welcome Dawn Ford and Neil Murdoch. Thank you very much for joining us, really appreciate it, and how are you both?
 
Neil Murdoch:  Yeah, I'm very happy! I'm half Scottish, so I'm very happy right now, so yeah.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Penalty Shooter! Excellent stuff, well, how was the whole experience without really any kind of crowd’s scenario?
 
Neil Murdoch: Horrific, because it was classic Scotland again, we were one-nil up, we're 19 minutes gone and they equalized in the 90th minute and then we went to penalties and we scored all our penalties and then he saved, David Marshall saved their one, so it was horrific mate. I was on the phone to my dad as well, and obviously, he's Glaswegian, so he was giving me some choice words when they were scoring and yeah, it's great. It was fantastic, it was great. It was good.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Excellent stuff. Okay. So, we've got some really interesting topics to discuss today around outcome-based work delivery, in the context of some interesting market factors that everyone's dealing with at the moment, or we're all coming up to having to deal with ranging from COVID, IR35, Brexit. And I'm sure we'll probably think of a few others. And before we get into those topics, it'd be great if you guys could just give a little bit of a background on who you are, what you do, and I think probably most importantly kind of how you got there and, would that be okay with you guys?
 
Dawn Ford: Sure.
 
Neil Murdoch: Yeah, no worries. Sure.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Excellent stuff. All right, who's going to go first? 
 
Neil Murdoch: Dawn, I see that little nod from Dawn, that mean you will go first. 
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: She is giving you the nod.
 
Neil Murdoch: I have many years of presenting that’s in you when you see me look like this…Yeah. I'm Neil Murdoch I'm Head of Solutions for Development for Vault Consulting Group. I’ve been with the organization coming up to five years now, but actually, I was here about 10 years ago. I didn't go to university because I'd just totally fallen out of love with education. So, I went straight into, 'I need a job' after college, I went into recruitment. I was literally just bashing bones. I was looking, I can still remember it. I was looking for Java Developers on 70 pound an hour, and VAX/VMS people. And I asked to go through a list of a thousand and get that down to like 10 per recruiter and did that. And then from there, jumped over the fence to an MSP side, then jumped over to having a Marketing Agency, 2008 happened, so that went spectacularly wrong. So, then I went back over to MSP side , and yeah, just, I'm kind of always been in love with the consultancy side of MSP, RPO, all things consultancy and kind of stayed in that really. Is that what you're looking for Johnny?
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: No, it's really interesting. I think that's really interesting. I think, you know, you're saying about, kind of just going straight from, kind of school and college into getting a job.
 
Neil Murdoch: Yeah.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: It must be so weird for people at the moment in a university scenario. Like I've always kind of, there's always that weighing that up. I'm at university and I've kind of, I did a degree in Environmental Biology, never used it. I've a great learning experience and I had a great time, but I didn't specifically use what I studied. And you know, you learn so much in the workplace, just actually getting on with it. I've always kind of, it's always interested me that kind of the trade-off between, one route versus the other. But if you look at people in the situation, they're in today; it's even before COVID with the amount of debt that people are coming out of university with. It's quite an interesting one. Really, isn't it?
 
 
Neil Murdoch: Yeah. Well, the weird thing is with me and my friends, I'm about depending on how long they went to university, I'm 5 to 10 years ahead of them in my career up because their Uni-years, I literally just was online five-pound an hour as a temp, just like kind of grasping an agency and just literally got to start at the bottom and just kind of work my way through the levels, which was fine for me. And obviously, they've got very successful careers themselves, but it's interesting the things they talk to me about, I'm like, oh yeah, I went through that. Yeah. I remember that step up to that management level or to that bit, or when you're outside of a remote team to manage and they're like, oh, how did you do it? And I said, well, you just have to kind of go along with it and learn it as you go. But like you did at university and like, all right. So that, that kind of helps me, but I do miss the fact that I didn't go to university and half those kind of, exciting days and weekends with my mates. So yeah, that was kind of what I missed.
 
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Yeah, I mean, for the people that are at Uni now, it just must be incredibly weird but talking about, university Dawn, moving onto you. You studied something that I, noticed on your LinkedIn profile looks really interesting. What was it? You did an MSC in Human Evolution and Behavior.
 
Dawn Ford: Yes. So, I'm not the counter opposite to Neil. I was the eternal student. I had to throw me out of the university, you know.  So, I started doing a Bachelor's Degree in Human Genetics, which has been quite topical this week because vaccine, which Pfizer is developing is something which was literally science fiction 20 years ago. So as a one-time Geneticist, I find that enormously exciting and you're quite right. I went from that to a Master's in Human Evolution and Behavior, which was amazingly interesting. Some of the most interesting people I've ever met, I met on that call. So, it was just 10 of us, it was a very close-knit calls. We did a lot of study work together, and then it went from that, and the reason I worked from that is I love those things, but I didn't ever see that I was ever going to afford a house, in doing those things. And I dared to one day not want to live with my parents, much as I love them. 
So, I crossed qualified into law. So, I did a cross qualification called the Common Professional Exam, or at least that's what it was called at the time, to get effectively, the background knowledge of law that you need, in order to qualify as a Solicitor and I did the legal practice course, which is a final stage in the academic process of becoming a Solicitor, so yeah, the eternal student and then from there, so through university, I had probably the weirdest and wackiest selection of jobs you could imagine. I spent, 7 years working, and summers in a variety of roles from Customer Services to Compliance, and believe me, we saw some things like...
 
Neil Murdoch: I'm learning so much Dawn, honestly, I didn't know half of this stuff, this is amazing!  I want to do this every week with you now.
 
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: And did you manage to apply any of the concepts of human evolution to working and summers, were there certain things that...?
 
Dawn Ford: I don't think the evolutions traveled that far there. I think actually mostly what it taught me is how to deal with an immensely angry customer, which is then, something I used again. I worked as a Bouncer at the University College Union, while I was at university, which was enormous fun as well. How do you get a very drunk, Hockey Team off the premises when they're just passing out on the floor? When there's only one of you, I'd never really thought those would-be skills I use again. I should say I probably don't evict people from volt too often because they're passed out on the floor, but just that kind of conflict management, how to deal with people in difficult situations, how to talk someone down in negotiation, how to find a middle ground? Those are actually things which have all been incredibly useful in all I do as a day job now which is obviously being a lawyer in the employment recruitment, outsourcing space. 
 
So, in terms of my own kind of progression in that, I started as the most junior member of the legal team. It's where everyone starts as a lawyer, I'm qualified in-house rather than with the firm, which much suited me because I'm naturally very commercially focused and, that kind of minutiae eye of detail, which law firms are fantastic at, just isn't what floats my boat. And in terms of coming to where I am now, which is a Legal Counsel for Volvo across all of Europe, Asia and EMEA, really saying yes, just not knowing the answer and actually as a lawyer, you very often don't know the answer, but just having the confidence to say "I don't know", "I'll find out," "we'll see what's possible." and endlessly trying to challenging yourself to the next level, is kind of where I've got to where I am today.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Really, really interesting. And, when I was, you know, looking back at what you were doing around, Human Evolution and Behavior, I was thinking there's got to be applications of that, that leads to the legal profession, but then when you talk about being a Bouncer and having to evict a drunk hockey team, I wasn't expecting that, very interesting spin on it. But as you say, it's thinking on your feet and problem-solving and being adaptable and, dealing with people, ultimately, isn't, it?
 
Dawn Ford: Yes. Being able to confront your fears as well. But, when you find yourself in a situation where you, haven't got any of the answers and someone is really wanting you to have an answer is, knowing enough to guide them through to what is probably going to be the correct next step, and then hurrying back to your computer or your reference books and checking the, what your instinct tells you is the right thing to do actually is the right thing to do legally.
 
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: So that must have stood you in very good stead for dealing with some of the extremely complex issues that are, that everyone's dealing with at the moment, particularly Brexit and IR35, both of which, you know, ultimately as a layperson, when it comes to the technicalities, I see both of them is relatively complex. would you agree with that? Or do you think that from a legal point of view, are they fairly straightforward?
 
Dawn Ford: I think, they're pretty much the opposite ends of the spectrum actually. I think Brexit is so much more complicated than people think it is. You know, you've got 50 years of intertwined legal history. You've got most of the EU, operates off effectively the opposite premise in the law as compared with English law. So English law says, unless the law says you can't do it, you can'. Whereas most of the mainland European law says, unless the law says you can do it, you can't. And so that means that the laws are just structured in a completely different way from the outset, which is actually probably one of the reasons why there was sort of, you know, a lot of heads bashing between the UK and the EU through those 48 years when we were a member and simply because we think about things in different ways. 
So that is fiendishly complicated and whatever the outcome at the end of this year, whether that's deal or no deal, the legal ramifications for that are going to flow all the 10 or 15 years afterwards. It’s enormous when I contrast, and I don't underestimate the complexity of IR35 and I obviously say this as someone who's lived with it for 15 years. So, it seems straightforward to me because I've been living and breathing it for 15 years. And if you come to it fresh, it is a complex subject, especially because there is a huge amount of case law in the past. You know you can go and read up what it says in the statute pretty quickly. You won't necessarily understand it, but you can read it pretty quickly, but 15 years of back history of case law is what you really need to understand the subject. And that's quite hard to learn from a standing start. But I think speaking as a lawyer, the concept of IR35 is a whole lot more straightforward than what's involved with Brexit. But I think if both are novel concepts to you, they are both very complex when you come to it the first time.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Yeah, absolutely. And Neil from your point of view, if you look at factors like IR35 and Brexit, I don't know where the two include COVID in this or not, but you tell me what you think. But how much are these factors influencing solution design in the work that you're doing for clients?
 
 
Neil Murdoch: Wow, huge. Well IR35, definitely, I think if I start there because it's probably the easiest one. Why the easiest one out of the three? I'm not going to claim COVID or Brexit are easy. But when clients come to it, they know they have to do something, but they don't know what. So that makes the solutioning quite easy because you have to walk them through that process. And normally that starts with Dawn educating them on what it is, what they can and can't do and things aren't. So, you kind of have to take them on that journey. And it's much easier that way because then they don't have predetermined ideas or what it is. And then you don't get into that ...Dawn, please kick in if you think I'm wrong in this, but what happens is you say, talk about IR35 rather than getting into solutioning and trying to solve their challenges, what you get into is exactly what Dawn says, “what can I do?", what can't I do?". "How can I get around this? ". 
 
What I've heard about Statement of Work is that the new lovely silver bullet that we're going to get, and can't, I just set up the company over here so, they're solutioning the wrong way. So, they're solutioning to get around it rather than no, this is the challenge. This is what you've got. This is how you should tackle this and do it the right way. I would have heard about this new insurance that I can get that’s going to cover us for everything. So, you spend more of your time just navigating them away from the potholes or the holes they're going to fall into. Then that goes into, and they start seeing the solution you're bringing to them. So, which is, do it the right way. It's longer, it's more complex, but it is the right way to do it. We don't use that kind-of would you say a fair assumption to that first initial meeting on IR35.
 
Dawn Ford: Yeah, absolutely and I mean the recruitment staffing and outsourcing industries have gone through so many changes in the law in the last 15 years. I mean, I can probably think of 30 or 40 even without giving it much thought. And so it's really easy to come to that as a client, just as you say, Neil, how can I get around this? I'm seeing this as a problem, as opposed to, how can I embrace this and see the opportunity that actually, if I redesign my processes now and future-proof them, I can out-compete all the competition. And that is sometimes quite a difficult journey to take a client on because actually, they want an answer tomorrow; they don't necessarily want to invest the time to get something in place, which will sort them out for the next three to five years. And that is obviously part of the consultancy journey we go on with them.
 
Johnny: Yeah. And it's, I think it's really interesting in terms of people's approach and just their general attitude because it ties into what you said earlier Dawn about, you know, from a legal point of view, you're not just concerned with the Minutiae, you're concerned with it from a commercial point of view.
 
Dawn Ford: Yeah.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: And I think, you know, tying to what you were saying, Neil, about companies maybe sometimes starting off with preconceived ideas, the wrong approach, how do I get around something?
 
Neil Murdoch: Yeah.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: It's really just for businesses to look at commercially, what’s the most effective way for them to get work done in the scenario that we existed and how can they effectively operate as a business, bearing in mind these factors that are being thrown into the mix. So, it's kind of that bigger viewpoint, isn't it? I definitely think that you know, there are a decent number of companies who are smart enough to take that viewpoint, but when you've got a time-bound factor, like, IR35 kicking in next April, then that is something that does drive people to look in the short term quite often. How do you shift people's mentality? Is it, as you say that education process that kind of kicks that in or, is it a question of getting the right stakeholders? How do you approach that?
 
Neil Murdoch:  It's a bit of both, to be honest with you. I mean, Dawn and I have kind of got it down to a "T" where I love the fact …when you bring the solution guide, they're going to be like, why he's going to be selling, he's going to try and get something. When you bring the lawyer that has no axe to grind whatsoever and is just going to tell you what's right and what's wrong, or how they perceive it. It does carry it a much stronger message. So, we do speak to them up from that level. So, don't listen to the solution, the sales guy, who you think is going to sell you something. Listen to the lawyer, who's got no axe to grind whatsoever and we keep bringing this person in because they're the expert. They're the person that knows about this. And then what happens is on IR35, ultimately it goes to Brexit as well. And what about this?  And then normally again, Dawn, correct me if I'm wrong, but there's so many sound bites out there in the clients that they just use or they've heard and you have to, well, know, that's not quite right. This is what it means. And this is what was said because they've listened to the news, because of what they read, because of, you know, their family members, this is…it's much bigger than a piece of legislation or something just coming in. Everybody has an opinion on it, I've never known social media be so awash with experts when something gets released. So, you have to kind of fight through that, right? You don't, want to get to the point and take them on that journey really.
.
Dawn Ford: Absolutely. It always starts with education, but from there, it's really understanding who your client is. And as you say, Johnny, it's really about the stakeholders. So, understanding whether they are a client who is absolutely like laser-focused only on the money, or do the compliance teams actually get a say-so in this because part of designing that solution, every company has a different risk profile and that's perfectly acceptable. It's just; you need to understand what that is before you can design the solution that is right for them. Because if you've got a very risk-averse client, the solution that's right for them will be totally different from a client whose saying, look, I know I've got to do this, but can we do the light version? Because I don't really want this to cost me anything. And so, trying to tread that line because the law is often very gray. I mean, that's what keeps lawyers in business, isn't it? And there's a lot of ways that you can legally do something. And there are things which is super compliant, and just about compliance. And it's understanding where on that pathway, a client wants to be to balance that risk compliance, you know, monetary outcome decisions, which are running within their own business. We have to understand those before we can design a solution that's right for them.
 
Neil Murdoch: I think having, the different department heads in there as well, so normally one area will bring us in. Procurement or HR and normally it's said that "we want to talk to you about these subjects" or "we want each solution for us". What we like to do is okay, let's get the Finance Director in. Let's get some Hiring Managers in as well. So, let's get operations in. So, we've got HR, Finance, Procurement, and Operations, because every single one of them will have a different kind of need from the solution we're going to bring to them. HR, we're going to want that policy and procedure and potentially some stuff off their desk because they're busy doing everything else. Managers, how am I going to get the people? And I want to get them quick. Finance, normally they're like, okay, cost, isn't massive on finances side as long as procurement have done their job, it's more about the process; how can you make sure that I'm getting accurate billing? Or how can you make sure that the people walking through the door are right? And then Procurement is, although they normally say to us, "we're not just cost-driven", they are because that's kind of their core. 
 
And it's if we bring them together from a key stakeholder, we get a really nice balance along the, for the organization, because you've got the HR side, you've got the culture, you've got the ethos, you've got the process, you've got the procedure and you've got the finance and then the only other person to add into that, which is wherever organizations do go wrong, is the person at the top. Because what they normally do is those kinds of heads of those departments start the conversation and then now go to the CEO or COO or whatever. And then you have to start it again because you have to educate them through it again. And then you bring them on the journey. So, we say, look let's get the top person in now, explain it to them. So, they get it. So, when we come back and recommend this as a solution, we don't have to go through this again the next time. So, I think that's, how we kind of get them through the journey or get them to the stage where they go, okay, we get it. This is what you want to do.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: I mean, ultimately if you've got a mixture of stakeholders like that, then, it's a team and you've got a business that are thinking like a business because they're covering all the different angles. And it's interesting when you talk about the kind of the involvement of procurement and HR, and we can come onto this in more detail. I think with, from, my point of view, when you look at things like services procurement, and the jobs position of services procurement, or, you know, the management of statement of work engagements, if you want to look at it that way, compared to traditional contingent workforce, it seems to be very… it seems to be a real mix in the market as to whether that's something that, you know, sits alongside what the HR or contingent workforce function are doing. Or whether it's something that's extremely separate where procurement, this is services procurement this is, we don't want it to have anything to do with contingent workforce. Do you guys see that kind of reflected in different scenarios within the different clients you deal with in terms of which stakeholders feel like there's the ownership groups should be there or control?
 
Dawn Ford: Yeah absolutely
 
Neil Murdoch: Yeah. It’s really interesting because when we get to those kinds of conversations, you can normally pick out the person who thinks, it's so humorous and they get "Oh, this doesn't sit along this", but then again, when, and this is why we take Dawn to these meetings, when we explain kind of the value that you can bring to them and how we do it, you know, I'm going to literally lift from Dawn now because this is something she said, so I have the credit her for it. S.O.W is not a new thing, certainly not a new thing to us, but it seems to have just gathered absolute pace, within especially in our field and recruitment, that this is the new thing to do. And we're like, well, we've been doing this for 16 years. This isn't new. We've been doing the full life cycle of it. So, having that conversation with them and just telling them how it works from our perspective, again, it's an education piece, isn't it Dawn? It's getting them on that side and taking them through it so they understand that it's not separate, it doesn't need to be separate from the contingent hourly work of this.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Yeah. I mean, I tend to think of it as, just looking at how work gets done. It's a work delivery method, you know. In my head, it's a way of getting something done, as are other methods, whether it's a permanent employee, a temporary contract or etcetera. And, what do you guys see as the kind of main areas of confusion that exist in the market around S.O.W and the use of S.O.W?
 
Dawn Ford: Wow, that's huge. So, I think the first one is that almost nobody understands the distinction that they don't always even understand the basic distinction that you can either hire Dawn Ford on a time materials basis however much per hour or per day, or you can, buy legal services. You want a hundred contracts reviewed through to conclusion. You want three pieces of litigation defended for you, whatever the services you're buying. Even on that basic level, the difference between buying the services of a person and buying services, I think is really not understood at all. And I'm sure we've all got kind of, you know, war stories of when you first started talking with a client unit, I'll use myself as an example in this role for naming the contract to use. But it was, you know, the consultancy contract for the services of Dawn Ford.
 
And we were talking to the client about statement of work models. And so, the next template they put forward was the same document, which just said consultancy services and for the services of Dawn Ford had been deleted and everything else in the contract was exactly the same. And I think that just really sums up that there's huge naivety between them. And I completely agree with you Johnny, it's just about getting the work done and whether you outsource that understatement of work, whether that's handled by your permanent headcount, whether you supplement your permanent headcount with contractors to do that; it's just about getting the work done, you're absolutely right. But persuading the client of the differences between those things and often it's that upfront thought. So, if you want a contractor, you find your agency, you find your MSP, whatever services you use, you give them a very quick brief from their perspective, probably too short or brief most of the time.
 
And you can have someone start on Monday. Whereas if you're outsourcing a piece of work or is it statement of work, it's you as the client, you as the hiring manager have to give a lot more thought upfront who actually want this service I need. Because you can't just wait until the contractor starts on Monday and say "okay right, this week, I need you to do this". You have to think about the whole life cycle of the project. And if I'm buying three months or six months of services, I need to understand now what those three months or six months of services look like. And I think that's been one of the major barriers that we found sort of in the last of the 15, 20 years is you get to that has quite a lot of work, but I could just hire Dawn and she can start on Monday. 
 
And so, there is I think, kind of an emotional barrier to overcome. But I think in the circumstances we find ourselves at the moment we've got that sort of somewhat pincer movement situation. So, with COVID, we've had lots of people working from home, clients have had to get used to the fact that their contractors aren't sitting next to them in the same office as them and suddenly they're starting to realize that actually, it's fine to have Gig Workers and it's fine not to be working into day-to-day in the same room with a contractor. And so that's starting  the conversation of, "oh she's starting the work  maybe that does make more sense." And then we look at IR35, which obviously is having a big tax implication for contractors. A lot of clients are saying, well, if it's statement of work business, it's completely outside of scope of IR35. 
 
So suddenly I'm really interested. I'm really wants to talk about this now. And then obviously we come to Brexit. One of the key issues for us under that is obviously movement of workers. There's going to be significantly less free movement of workers from the beginning of next year than they have been for the last 50 years. So if you can't move your people to where you want them, you have to take the work to where the people are. And so that also leads to the, "oh we can do this job, but we're going to do it in Germany "or "we're going to do it in the Netherlands". And so, I think all of those things are coming together and we're certainly seeing a sudden rush of discussion about statement of work, consultancy, outsource services. 
 
And it's really interesting that it's changed the dynamic of the conversation because, for all of the time we align work together, we've been sort of, you know, knocking on the client's door saying we really think we should consider this. We're not saying it's a silver bullet, we're not saying it's ever going to replace all of your contract recruitment. It never will, but you just need to consider this as part of, as you say, Johnny, how do you get work done? And we're really starting to find that that conversation is moving forward much more quickly now as a consequence of legal and political ramifications that are ongoing at the moment.
 
Neil Murdoch: I think the biggest thing for me is when we're sitting opposite a client and they say the immortal words, "what do you mean I can't interview a statement of work person?” And then you cannot judge them, you go, okay, well, I know where your understanding is now, which is fine. So, I have to, and this isn't my way of thinking this was someone else taught me this. I have to take it back to, okay; you need to dig a hole, right? You can pay someone, an hourly rate to dig that hole for you or you can say to someone, well, I want you to take that whole; it's got to be six feet by three feet. And I want it done within a week. And on Wednesday, I'm going to check with you how far down really you should be a column three feet by Wednesday, and I'm going to pay your 5,000 pounds to do it. You can have 17 people dig the hole and do it in a day, or you can do it yourself. It takes a week, but I'm going to check-in and check those milestones.
 
When I've explained it like that, it then kind of, the penny suddenly starts to drop. I said that's the difference between statement of work and having someone for an hourly. And I said, and what you're trying to do, Mr. or Mrs. Client is put the same contract in place. the hole is dug without a shadow of doubt, but it's how they go about it and what they do and they kind of then go, "okay, well, we've got this part of the business that do it like this. Okay, cool. So, let's then work on that. So, can you do this? “Don’t you see, I see a bit of apathy set in when people, they start statement of work, all the best intentions. So, they set the milestones, they'll set all the kind of breakpoints and stuff, and then six months into a project they're just like, "oh yeah, just send the money, pay them", or "have you checked it ?". So that there is a continual management, I think as well, Johnny that the clients aren't yet used to doing and looking at their statement of work. Whereas with, as Dawn says, with a continued worker, hey, you're here on Monday, crack on, right, you know, let's do this.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Yeah. It's so interesting because if you look at it like that, you could say, okay, if a client is... If an S.O.W is not managed that effectively, there's still markers in the ground. There are still milestones that have deliverable dates. So, you can still look at it at the end of it and go, well, that was supposed to be delivered by that point. It wasn't, delivered. So, the COO or somebody in procurement, or, you know, an operation line manager somewhere can look at it and go that wasn't delivered on time to budget, to satisfaction. Therefore, questions can be asked and you can address it. If you've got a contractor and they're just sitting there on a weekly basis, it might seem that there's more scrutiny on what's being done. But in some way, there's less because you know, that person might not be working very hard. 
 
They might not be achieving very much. I totally agree with what you guys are saying in the sense that it's very much horses for courses. And if you look at 60 years ago, when it was all about a job for life, and it was just permanent employees, it's kind of one way to get work done. And now there are multiple ways to get work done, and companies need to be wise to it and need to be flexible and they need to be pragmatic. And again, it comes down to business decisions. They need to use the method that is commercially most sensible in each scenario, in my opinion because that's just business thinking. And I think when you look at the choices that people make around it and the approach they take to statement of work, I like your description., ultimately, it's, I'll pay you X to deliver Y. I like your digging a hole description of it. 
 
It's really good. And it’s kind of paints a picture. But also, just to go back to what Dawn was saying earlier, I think that people have to make the mental shift about thinking of the beginning of the process, not the end of the process because if people think about the end of the process, they're just thinking that a person is going to be someone, somewhere is going to be doing something. Whereas if you think about it at the beginning of the process, you can think, okay, I'm either writing a job description, a role description, Java Developer, X, Y, Z, or I'm actually defining a piece of work that needs to get done, defining what's going to happen, what the outcome is going to be. And I think that's such a fundamentally different thing. There are some amazing opportunities coming up with some clever tech companies coming out into the market and they're helping companies write statement of work more effectively. I mean, let's face it. I mean, prior to this, I worked in the kind of job board space, ATS, various other talent and recruitment, and workforce type technology. And generally, a lot of companies struggled to even write job specs effectively.
 
Neil Murdoch:  Oh yeah
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: And, you know, people don't want to spend the time, they just think, I just want a Java Developer just get me a Java Developer whereas there's nuance to all that sort of stuff. So taking that on a level, further, writing a proper requirement for a work order then becomes part of the statement of work is another level. However, it's forcing people to think really hard about what they actually need to get done. And I think it's some real practical benefits in that, but also if you have a decent supplier population, your suppliers are there to help you shape requirements. And that's not to say that suppliers, are there to just go "give me the work”," I'll tell you what needs to be done" "It's not six months, it's two years". "Don't you worry about that? It's three times the price". 
 
That's not the case. If you're tendering through an effective, competitive bidding process, you should have different expert vetted suppliers that are giving you options and helping inform your processing you're saying here's a base requirement, and here's five milestones. you might get another supplier that comes back and says, "we can do that in three and actually you don't need to do this step because it's included over here." And I think that's a very interesting factor that people are starting to get wise to, but ultimately it still comes down to how'd you want to get the work done? What do you want to get done? And what's the most effective way to do it. So I think there is a lot of confusion in the market, but, the education is definitely starting to happen.
 

Neil Murdoch
: Yeah, definitely. Just on that point, if everyone's got jobs back, correct me if I'm wrong, Dawn, every single client we talked to is going through, all right, we're just refining our job specs and job descriptions that we're going to have it all done and dusted by the end of the year. Well, I know you are because you're constantly carrying on doing it. And then another thing pops in mind when you would say in that Johnny about, common people changing the way that they look at things and things like that. We, Dawn and I went to a meeting I was actually saying, Luxembourg and it was part of the tender process. And the client turned round to me with an absolute try and curveball lesson saying "well, we can't get the talent in this specific location". I'm like, okay, well what are the competitors paying?
 
Yeah, well, the competitors are paying more and they're in a better location and if anyone leaves us, we don't have them back.  And I was like you've just answered the question for me. And I said what are you going to do about it, and I said, I'd probably pay the same. I'd probably look at the… Then when you go on that kind of conversation with them, you kind of see their lights in their eyes going, Oh God, why haven't we thought about this before? But most clients are so ingrained in the day-to-day and they can't see above the projects they're on or the next strategy they're trying to get through and then pull into that COVID, Brexit and you're asking them to think about what you've got to manage milestone. You've got to put this contract in place. We can't be the same as this human nature is. Dawn, I’m pretty sure you’re challenge in saying this to me is to get around stuff and do stuff quickly. You know, we just find that people start with the best intentions. They just don't keep on top of it, but it has so many benefits for them if they do. And this is why we exist, you know, to be honest because they're like, we want you to be on top of it, we want to come to you. And every 3 months you tell us how you're doing and do that. And it's just that it takes that you kind of see their shoulders go down. You're going to do all that. Aren’t you? It's like, well, yeah. Okay, that's good. And it's like, it's madness.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Well, yeah, ultimately, it's the use of expertise where it's most effective. Some organizations will say, we're going to do this all ourselves. We've got the resources internally; we’re going to pay that resource. They're going to take the time to do it all. Or they'll say, we'll outsource it to experts. And I think, you know, when you look at the drivers that there are at the moment that are to a large extent, outcome-based work delivery is massive for the services procurement market is worth somewhere between 1 and 3 trillion annually. It's absolutely massive, you know, consultancy professional services, any type of services deliveries, it’s absolutely huge. But I do think there is a growth in outcome-based work delivery or a growing recognition of it but there are factors.
 
When you get something like an IR35 it's an unavoidable thing that people have to comply with. And there's obviously some of the laws, like, for example, the, I can't remember what it's called, I can't remember what it is, but basically the California or around kind of co-employment, the similar things are going to happen elsewhere. There's stuff that's going on in places like Belgium and Germany in relation to employment status. And I think other companies will try and address these issues in a similar manner. So it's a line in the sand that people have to take action and suddenly everyone's going to be educated about it. And they'll realize the advantages of just having another string to their boat in getting work done. 
 
I think the Brexit one is probably the factor that I understand the least very interesting what you were saying earlier, Dawn. So from a Brexit point of view, obviously there's restriction on movements. So for an organization that wants to hire, they're going to be restricted from hiring certain people because they're outside the EU if you're a UK company. How does that work If you're outsourcing services to a supplier in terms of where they're based and how the rules affect them as a kind of second-tier?
 
Dawn Ford: So, there are some advantages. So the new immigration rules which will come into effect on the 1st of January effectively expand what the current tier 2 visa allows for. So the tier 2 visa is where the employer has the sponsorship license, the employer issues, the visa, and that visa is linked to that job. So if that person changes jobs, changes clients, they need a new visa, but that can be really useful for an outsourcing company, because of course, if they are responsible for providing services, they can employ people from overseas on that visa because that person is working for them whereas that person can't be used as a contractor. So it is the immigration changes are much more beneficial for outsourcing than they are for straight recruitment and simply because there are more immigration options available for an outsourcing company than there are for a recruitment company who is just trying to bring in headcount. 
 
So that's one obvious advantage, is that they will have more access to talent quicker than a recruitment company will have, but of course, as well, if you're saying, well, my client is in the UK and they need to buy a certain outsource service, it doesn't really matter where that's delivered from, then if there is more talent in France at the moment, well, that's fine. It can be delivered from France. I think what's very interesting with Brexit and we don't fully know the outcome of this yet is obviously the situation with regards to tariffs. So services are a little bit easier because services cross borders all the time. You know every time I email advice to my colleagues in Belgium, services across borders. So for us actually, you know, thinking about it from the administrative perspective, service is actually really straightforward. 
 
It's when you're outsourcing something which is goods related, that is going to be incredibly complex moving forward, because one, there's something like five times as many customs requirements as there would have been this time last year. And then also we don't know at this stage, and this obviously rests in the deal, no deal situation as to what tariffs, what additional taxation, will be applicable. So then you have the balance between, I might have to pay a little bit more to get the talent if I'm just hiring people in the UK, but then if I have it made in France, I've got to pay more tax to get it imported into the UK. And so for clients at the moment, it's a very difficult time because there are so many moving pieces and none of us actually know what the final outcome will be yet. And obviously, companies are trying to make decisions three, five years in a vault, or at least their growth plans based on that basis. 
 
And actually, they can't even make a decision yet as to what will be the cheapest method come January. Then why three years from now? So that is a very challenging time, but at least from an immigration perspective, it's a great time for outsourcing, although we're losing free movement of workers. So all of those 27 other countries whose nationals used to be able to come and live and work here without any restriction, that's ending at 11:00 PM on the 31st of December, but at least an outsourcing company has a replacement. It can say, well, this person has the skill set that I need. I'm prepared to pay the minimum wage for that person. I can evidence that there's a skills shortage so I need to bring this person in. And yes, there's a cost with that. So it's a, it's a thousand pounds for the visa. 
 
They'll almost certainly be some additional costs in terms of contributing to NHS costs and things like that. So it's not free. But it does give an access to talent, which isn't available in the contractor space. Although obviously a client can still use the same immigration rules to hire someone permanently, but as we all know, there are all kinds of reasons why clients want to control headcount on their own books. So although I think some clients will have a small amount of increase in their permanent head count, I think actually this will be the driver for a lot of clients saying, actually, if I've got to get a sponsorship license and then I'm liable for correctly, issuing the visa and I'm liable for checking up that that visa is being appropriately use. I don't want that liability. I could just get an outsourcing company to do that. And thanks very much. I just wash my hands from that problem. So I think it's a real game-changer in this industry in terms of suddenly there is a real advantage for outsourcing companies in terms of access to the people they need.
 
Neil Murdoch: Yeah.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: This is fascinating!
 
Neil Murdoch: The biggest question we get Johnny, and this is again, you've just witnessed firsthand, why I take Dawn to these meetings,
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: So interesting, it really is!
 
Neil Murdoch: This stuff I don't even think though, because I'm thinking, well, how can we solution this? But the first and biggest question we get is how is Brexit going to affect me and Dawn will then take a breath and go, okay, right then. So, and then has to go just thinking of the movement of workers. And it's so much deeper and wider than that, that they haven't even thought about their goods, they haven't even thought about stuff coming in and that kind of stuff. We did a webinar recently didn't we Dawn about it?  The feedback I was getting from people was, Oh, my word, I had no idea. I have to think about all these other things I was thinking about, how am I going to get these people from this country? Whereas I've got all this other stuff to kind of think about and pull in as well. So there's, a definite, you know because Dawn you've already said that we don't know at the moment because of what's going on. I think that's the main thing. And that's going to perpetuate an absolute nervousness, the closer we get to it. And when people just come to us and ask us "guys help me!” And we're like, what you're trying to do is not, well, we don't know. We just think we need help. It's like, so...
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Yeah.
 
Neil Murdoch: Crazy.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: It is, and, from my personal point of view, I don't feel like there's that many people in the market talking about it. And that I might be because that's not where my interest is or where my, my interest has been. But when you talk about it in the context of getting work done and changing the landscape of how work is resourced in the UK it's potentially massive! I mean, if you look at that, plus IR35, both happening in the same year with COVID in the background, that's such a massive flux in the UK in particular, obviously COVID is affecting the whole world. But, just in terms of the pressure on UK businesses to adapt what is kind of...
 
Dawn Ford: It's the Working Generation Change.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: It feels like it, certainly does.
 
Dawn Ford: Yes, it certainly is.
 
Neil Murdoch:  What we've also noticed Johnny as well, just to ride into this is literally me and my team has spoken about it this week. I've spoken to other tech providers as well to see if they're feeling the same, the kind of passion and drive from people who's drained away because it's second lockdown in the UK. You know, it feels to me like we're a week before Christmas because everyone's like, I just need to get through 2020. I just need to get through. And if I can get to Christmas and that emotional kind of way people are feeling that's hired, you know, working from home is fantastic. I love it. I'm in Birmingham. I don't need to travel to London every other day. This is great. But at times I'm sitting going, well, this has been long, this has been hard. So if you add that into the mix as well, people's appetite for change and tackling this huge kind of is at the moment is really low from what we're seeing, you know. So I think that's a really big thing as well, to be honest, I don't know if you've seen that as well or don't yet, but we're seeing that right now in our team and with clients as well. They're very much, let's wait till January 21.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Okay. I can see how from an emotional aspect, you know, they totally get that, but I think from the point of view of businesses, making decisions around what they need to do, they know that Brexit is happening.
 
Neil Murdoch: Oh, they've got to do it.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: In theory, there's obviously still some questions around exactly how, but they know that IR35 is happening. So I think that is, that tends to, at the executive level, that will banish the apathy on it, but on a day-to-day level, generally for people globally. Yeah, I totally agree. It's just; you know, never in my lifetime, has there been so much uncertainty, just in general, you know, will there be Christmas? What's going to happen? Is Christmas canceled? You know, and what's next year going to look like, are we going to be pushed into a lockdown for six months because we're waiting for the vaccine to be a trial? You know, we were talking about this vaccine , is based on using RNA to replicate certain parts of the Corona Virus within a host cell, and then build immunity based on that, you know, it's all-new stuff. So the level of uncertainty is just incredible, but the areas of certainty within that are that there are changes happening that people need to adapt to. 
 
And I think it's, it's an opportunity for companies to look at the way they do things and to make sure they're doing things properly. I mean, even in some ways, IR35, the reforms to IR35 in some ways, all they are is just forcing people to do what HMRC wanted them to do in the first place. So I think in terms of, again, being able to take pragmatic action, it must be horrendous for a lot of companies to have to manage all of these things, but hopefully, there will be some longer-term positives out of them in terms of productivity. And ultimately if you're a business, you're only as successful as the way you operate in the conditions that you're operating under, and the conditions have changed drastically and are changing with these, with these factors. So companies have got to adapt if they want to thrive and you know, as we move into the future. And, it’s certainly going to be an interesting year next year. Isn’t it?  Let's face it.
 
Dawn Ford: It definitely, will, but you know, optimistically, we should have a number of vaccines being rolled out. Obviously, Pfizer had been the first to declare, but I don't think the AstraZeneca one will be far behind. And that's a fantastic thing for a number of reasons because the different types of vaccine, and so they will give different types of immunity, which is brilliant because the best way of cracking a virus, which mutates all the time is to have lots of different ways of fighting it. So I personally, I'm very optimistic that 2021 will be a lot easier.  I think it will still be different. I still don't think we'll call it normal in terms of what we understood normal to be previously, but I think we're definitely moving in the direction of the right road to come out the other side is this, which is practically overdue because, you know, as you're saying, Neil, it's, I think a lot of companies had the initial panic stations in the first lockdown. 
 
You know, they had to learn what furlough was, you know unless they were an American company or had worked with a lot of American clients, never heard of furlough before, didn’t know what it was, lots of companies kind of facing a cliff edge of losing all of their business or losing vast amounts of that business really quickly. And actually, you know, as much as this it's been a really difficult year, lots of companies have found ways of working from home. And so we do have, it doesn't feel very normal, but it is a kind of normal existing at the moment, and so that initial panic station has passed. Some companies of course haven't survived it very sadly, but those who are going now, are kind of in a bit of a lull of, okay, what do we do next? How do we trade our way out of COVID?
 
Dawn Ford: What does Brexit mean? How do I get, ready for IR35? As you say, Neil, they're a bit tired, but it's quite a cerebral moment. Everyone's kind of giving it a lot of thought. And I think we'll probably see in January, everybody will come back and go, Oh. Brexit happened. What do I do now? Oh, IR35 is only 3 months away. There'll be an awful lot of headless chickens in the first part of next. I think that's really fair because actually until we get a deal, you know, things is as significant as we don't actually know what data protection plans we need to have in place at this point. And it is really close. 
So all of the things which, people like me spend a lot of time updating in contracts we're not sitting around twiddling our fingers, but there's literally nothing we can do to amend those at the moment. So there's a whole lot of, well, if this happens then that, but if that happens then this, and so there's a lot of, we might potentially do 1 of these 10 things depending on what happens next. 
 
So I think that there is a little bit of a pause at the moment where people are considering trying to consider what all the possible outcomes will be. And then once we either get a decision on the Brexit trade deal, whichever way it goes, I think then we will start to see an awful lot of changes happening all at once because then people will know what's happening with Brexit. They can formulate their plans. For that, there's obviously optimism. I have optimism, at least that we're looking to a more positive year, next year with COVID and then something as we get to January, you know, IR35 is about 3 months away. And if contractors are on one month's notice, then that's effectively 2 months away for the purposes of getting your contracts updated, your processes, updated training your hiring managers, and using whatever tools you're going to use. So I think January is going to be crackingly busy.
 
Neil Murdoch: Yeah. I'm coming back to your point, Johnny, about, you know, you don't see many people going out there and talking about Brexit and giving their information. I think one of the things is they're probably scared to say, we don't know it, whereas every single conversation we have with clients or webinars or whoever we're talking to, and Dawn is always the one with a slate in this going through, and he's like, God, is this going to change?. You know And, and if you've got a question, we may not have the answer, but when we go through that with them and say, well, as don't just sit there, well, this could happen or that could happen. And this could happen that generates more questions, but just going up to them and say, look, we don't know yet. And this is why we don't know as an organization because of X, Y, Z, you do see the relief on their face because they don't know either, you know and they go, well, what do I do? And they're looking for someone to give them the answer, but when they've got that, that person sitting opposite them, don't worry if you don't know yet, because they've not told us yet. So we tell them it's ok.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Exactly. I think that's a huge factor in the sense that people want someone to tell them. But if someone can't tell them, they want to know that smart people are on it, you know, if smart people are on the case with it. You know, in terms of the likely outcomes, Dawn what's your kind of gut feeling on when and how the kind of the path forward Brexit is likely to land?
 
Dawn Ford: Okay. I'll pull out my crystal ball because I think that's probably the most useful device we have in determining this at the moment. So we've already passed what was originally the final date for a Brexit deal that passed back in the middle of October. So we're in uncharted territory that was originally the last date the EU said a deal could be made on, but guess what? We're still around the table. We're still talking to some extent. So clearly it's still possible for deal to be done. There is another meeting with all the EU members on the 16th of December. So I think realistically speaking, we now have to consider the 16th of December as the drop-dead date for the last day on which we'll know whether there will or won't be a deal. But we've got used to the noise of EU deadlines whooshing past us over the last four years. So I may well yet be proved wrong on that. So my best guess is the 16th of December is kind of the final date on which the deal, no deal can come to fruition. How likely is one or the other? I think the tables are turned a little bit in the last couple of weeks with the US elections. You know, Trump was a very bombastic, he’s a very bombastic character and a lot was...
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: He hasn't gone yet. He hasn't gone yet.
 
Dawn Ford: I think the actual manner of his going might be quite interesting yet but he obviously had sort of, you know, talk the talk with regard to a US /UK trade deal. And if we stand in his shoes for a moment, his drivers were not ours in the sense that things very motivated by the pharmaceutical lobby who was lobbying for access to drug markets in the UK access to the NHS. So obviously what the UK wanted and what the US wanted were very different, but there was at least the motivation on both sides to move forward, with the trade deal. Biden has a much broader worldview, is very Pro EU, is a big defender of the rights in islands. So not wanting to, get to a position where there is a boundary between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
 
So, there's a lot of reasons why it would be fair to consider he's much more Pro EU than Trump. And also he spoke out against the possibility of Brexit before the Brexit vote happened. You know, he on record, as having said, he thought the UK was stronger in the EU and he thought the EU was stronger with the UK. So I think he will be much more EU friendly than Trump has been. And so, I think the only deal that is possibly on the table now is with the EU, whereas a few weeks ago, before the US election, there was the possibility of a US/ UK trade deal in the near-ish future, at least enough, that for political reasons, or as Johnson could have said, "Oh, well, we're going to walk away from this EU trade deal because we've got this amazing deal with the US coming". And I just think that's become infinitely less believable at the moment. 
 
So I think Biden's election has resulted in an EU deal being more likely via terms of that though remain a complete mystery at the moment. I mean, the discussion in the press is all about fishing rights and all about state sponsorship of companies that are in financial trouble. I really can't believe that either side would walk away from the DLI that over one of those two things, you know, fishing represents 9.5 percent of GDP in the UK. I'm not saying fishermen aren't important, but they're not 0.5% important in financial terms, as compared with 80% of the UK’s trade is with EU. Now really are either side going to say, yes, the most important thing is the fishing rights versus the 80% trade? It's not very believable to me. So my personal view is actually, it's all in the detail of what the tariffs will be moving forward, what the restrictions are on the UK. 
 
Obviously, Boris Johnson spoke a lot about the Canadian Agreement that the EU has, but that's obviously based on a country, which is 4,000 miles away. Whereas, you know, we can, on a clear day, literally wave at France across the channel. And so we are their next-door neighbor. We will always be in competition with them. And so the things which the EU are prepared to compromise on with the UK will be very different from the things they were prepared to compromise or with Canada. And I think the UK, know that it's just, they don't want to admit that in public because that would, you know, damage their hand in terms of the negotiation. So I think frankly, none of us know the details. None of us are close enough. And if I was a negotiator, I wouldn't declare that either at the moment. So I don't take any adverse inference from that. I think that's just the nature of the beast. It ought to be a confidential negotiation, one or other side would lose strength in the negotiation if they show too much publicly. But I do think we now have a greater chance of a deal than we had a couple of weeks ago, even allowing for the fact the timeline is now very short.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Interesting. I think we look at it some, some pivotal moments in history that will be the sort of thing that kids are learning about in years to come, whether it's the use of statistics, the way pandemics operate, you know, immunity, or even just things like negotiation, not the negotiation tactics when they, when they wash all this up, you know, years down the line. If you think about the negotiating positions of the EU versus the UK, in terms of the balance of power and what leave as their article, is fascinating.
 
Neil Murdoch:  Yeah. Can you imagine being a history grad or major looking at 25 years time looking back at this and going they did what? What does that mean? I mean, it's going to be that, that crazy because if I look back over the timeline and stuff, because when it happens real-time, you kind of forget what we've gone through, but when you look back at the timeline, you just think, Oh, my word, we did that. We did that, you know, and then they said this, and then this happened. And then don't ask these fantastic saying, which I completely plagiarized with so many people. But I do credit that when I say it is that she used to say a week is a long time in politics and she changed it to an hour is a long time. So it's just, it's that it's that changeable.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Well, people will be looking back and going, oh my God! That was COVID and Brexit and Scotland won the Euros. It's like, you know,
 
Neil Murdoch: But let's not get ahead of ourselves when it comes to a state, when, you know, I'm happy with qualified, right. It could end now and I'm happy. I mean, me and my dad, we're going to get tickets, but I was, he said, "Oh yeah, but we've got England at Wembley." And I said, "Oh, dad, I'm not going to Wembley. I'm not seeing Scotland lose at Wembley." And he went and he said to me, he goes, “it doesn't matter now I've watched him lose to England at Hammond hound. And it still hurts."
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Well, I think, either way, you know, hopefully, there's lots of, it will certainly be lots of change in 2021. But hopefully, there's some really positive things to look forward to as well. Yeah, and it's going to be very interesting to see how it all plays out.
But listen, thank you both so much, really, really appreciate your time. Fascinating topics and it's, you know, you both spoken brilliantly, and it's great to hear your expertise and your kind of insights is super interesting. So really, really appreciate it. Thank you very much. And yeah, good luck with everything. It will be a great to see how it all plays out.
 
Neil Murdoch: Yeah. Let's see what we are in a year's time, but we have another webinar. So you remember that webinar? We did. Yeah. This actually happened.
 
Johnny [Interviewer]: Excellent. Superb. All right. Well listen, thank you both very much, and, yeah, on that note, let's end and, I hopefully catch up with you guys soon. 
 
Neil Murdoch: Thanks, Johnny.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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