IR35: How Tech Can Drive Positive Change to Overcome the Challenges for the Gig Economy

Change has come to the gig economy, with IR35 and other global disruptions upending the traditional contractor and talent resources. Nigel Filer, COO of Proteus, discusses how tech can help firms navigate these transformations.

We are in the midst of a workforce revolution. The pandemic has accelerated change that was already happening and exacerbated resources. Reduced staff and financial limitations have meant companies have fallen behind on key performance targets. Increased redundancies and furlough amongst permanent labour means many workers have looked to alternative work. This has fostered a culture where remote and flexible work is now the norm.

What we have here is a golden opportunity for businesses to embrace the cultural shift and lead the charge happening right now. Many workers have turned to jobs on a by-project basis to make ends meet both personally and for companies navigating strained resourcing demands. The result? An exponential pool of highly skilled talent available.

IR35 Necessitates New, Technological Talent Solutions

With IR35 now in play, businesses need to change their game and re-evaluate corporate relationships with their contractual workers. Promoting the flexible lifestyle benefits that are a driving force in deciding to go gig is important. Technology has a role in such a choice too. Technological progression and promoting this to your workforce will accelerate productivity and demand.

Businesses can look to technology to hire the best skills to meet project deliverables. We can leverage developments in cloud-based platforms to cherry-pick the projects that benefit from or develop a contractor’s specialisms. Hiring the right workers, not just those in the contractual phone book, will be key to success. Rather than simply benefiting from working on a contractual basis, IR35 has opened the door to hiring those committed to the gig economy and roles for niche areas. Business outcomes will be driven by super-skilled diverse workers whilst simultaneously reducing fixed costs and resources.

The future of gig work within operational strategies must be capitalised on. Harnessing the benefits for both workers and business development will be fundamental. What technology such as AI can do is hyper-target at the recruiting and talent management stage. This results in operational efficiency by streamlining how a company matches the best profiles to the skills needed to meet the deliverables of a project. Promoting this when sourcing and engaging contractual talent will improve relationships with the non-permanent workforce.

Embracing the role of technology is essential to continue supporting the gig economy. Technology provides a clear overview with end-to-end visibility, all while remaining compliant under the new IR35 regulations. Delivering the benefits and perks of contractual work with the technology to match will be a game-changer.

Personalise the Work & Networking Experience

The personalisation of an experience otherwise left as an afterthought where 9-5, 5 days a week staff are prioritised, will make a company the first choice in project onboarding. These bespoke employee experiences for non-permanent workers will be a significant competitive differentiator.

Ensuring your company has the digital advances to create a networking ecosystem will help integrate internal and external talent. This will foster a sense of collaboration that does not separate one from the other. Enterprises that succeed in fuelling the gig economy with the right technology will empower a workforce and keep up with trends of how the upcoming generation wants to work.

The IR35 laws should engage a level of change around the legacy systems powering industry leaders. Gone are the analogue methods to engage and manage a gig economy workforce. Decision-making needs to be quick, while clunky systems and processes will put off your non-permanent workforce. Overhauling traditional talent management systems and maximising digital adoption to enhance the human resource processes will transform the relationship with gig workers in this brave new world.

Harnessing the power of digital to maximise the opportunity for optimal remote working will propel businesses forward post-pandemic. In doing this, companies will begin to see the benefits of IR35 in terms of workforce management. Cloud-based platforms help engage with gig workers. AI will hyper-target the most rated talent for fast decision making. The opportunities to get ahead are numerous.

The future of gig work within operational strategies must be capitalised on. Harnessing the benefits for both workers and business development will be fundamental.

Nigel Filer
COO, Proteus developed by Xergy


Strategic Talent Planning Is Now Essential

With the uptake in alternative work accelerated by the pandemic and companies navigating the changes brought by IR35, technology has an even bigger role in building relationships with the gig economy. To feel the full force of the benefits of a committed and skillful pool of contractors will require strategic planning.

The technology available can support the management of projects by offering end-to-end visibility. Platforms can create a network of talent that is engaged, driven and compliant. Empowering our workforces is the first step in rebuilding our relationship with the gig economy of today and engaging the generation of tomorrow.


Nigel, Filer
COO, Proteus developed by Xergy

Nigel has been instrumental in building several businesses through to exit. At FH Group Nigel completed a business restructure, implemented a new go-to-market and partner strategy which led to an acquisition by HP. As Commercial Director of Netforce he implemented systems and processes improving revenue/cost ratios prior to the business being sold to Norweb Telecom. Nigel ran the UK business of MuleSoft where he achieved annual growth rates of over 50%. Following a successful IPO the business was acquired by Salesforce.