As we started the extensive journey to grow our team we got one question asked from @vhojan from ITQ, which is why self-employed? Let me explain in this post my personal opinion on why we primarily for now look into this specific group of people. And also let‘s be clear, the same as we said we look for people in Germany, Austria and Switzerland nothing is carved in stone, if you think you are a perfect match, please contact us and we will see what‘s possible.
Be aware as I am neither a legal nor a tax advisor this is my personal opinion and does not reflect any tax or legal advise whatsoever. (Sorry this is necessary according to our legislation in Germany).
Self-Employed in IT especially in the DACH region is not a new „work-slavery“ model.
Let me rule this one out first, all people I have met over the last 20+ years in this IT-industry who are self-employed took that step not because some big corporation forced them into it for tax avoidance and social payment avoidance. They took this step, because they wanted more control. And to be very honest, after my part time job besides school, this was the way I started even after dropping out of a trainee offering. Also most of the self-employed I met over the years make pretty good money and most likely have far better retirement plans than those in a full-time employment. But it‘s again a question of choice, this is for sure nothing for everyone and we @comdivision are not limited to self-employed resources as well. Let‘s also be honest in germany especially this is highly regulated and under constant supervision of the social security systems to ensure it‘s not misused. Which is good for many other industries, but in the IT space I have doubts that the misuse is even a relevant percentage if it really exists.
Why do we search for self-employed people now?
We have always worked a lot with self-employed people and the primary change is that we now implemented a full blown process around it, with the ability and choice to get into almost any position within the comdivision group. I also met some of the greatest minds, that are very passionate and constantly challenging everything in the vCommunity over the years which are self-employed. When talking to them most if not all of them would not want to get into a full time employment again, but that again is also a very personal decision. What I did learn however is that some of these feel that customer management, backoffice work (contracts, travel management etc.) is taking time they can‘t charge and they don‘t enjoy. Also over the last few years many came forward and said it is becoming more and more difficult to work without multiple middle men which would eat up 30-50% of the daily rates for sales and contract management. Customers, especially when you work on critical infrastructure sometimes prefer having more than one resource just as a fallback. Some talked to us and said they missed team mates, people to exchange with and a stronger network to rely on when necessary. And this was not only a professional request, also a social request. Sometimes live just throws sticks and stones at you and then it is good to have a network of people who jump in and be there with you.
Be your own boss…
Many people who are self-employed do this for a reason, they want control over their live, time and well-being. For example: If you are self-employed and prefer to work only half the year, while sitting the other half on a beach in Indonesia, that is fine and most likely hard to adjust with a „normal“ job. And sometimes it‘s the opposite where people say they just want to pay of more on their mortgage for now, or build a buffer or whatever then it‘s fine to work more. We had people come and say, look for the next 6 months I want to only work on remote projects where they can control which hours a day is worked, that’s fine too. It‘s a question of choice, it is important that you keep a close watch on Life-Work balance and have a team/network which respects this. But being your own boss also means you have the choice of which engagements you take or not, how much travel you do, or even what is in your focus to educate yourself on.
How do we think we are different than any other „agency“?
First of, we don‘t see ourselves as an agency, the hole system we put in place for self-employed is not to enrich the partners (and no we didn't change into a charity as well) and yes for those on board there is full transparency from customer quote to your part of the money. Those who worked with us confirmed that this is unseen transparency in the industry.
Second as much as we are allowed by law/tax rules you are deeply integrated into the team, you can participate in our internal and external events, attend vendor and industry training's at cost price (often free except for travel charges).
Third a reliable backoffice team which ensures to respect everybodies personal requirements. We have a clear team first policy, which means the focus is really on you, you decide what engagements to take, influence travel to your and our standards (which is clearly above what others offer). And which also helps to integrate all of the above into your personal life.
Fourth a team to back you up. Whenever needed you have the power of the comdivision team behind you, people you can discuss issues with, who help with review, or if necessary jump on an all-hands call to help you on your mission.
Fifth according to most we spoke with the last 24 months the pay out rates we can offer are above the market average, clearly this does not apply to everyone, but for many this is true, especially when you consider the time you safe due to the backoffice team.
Sixth resource/work distribution is following clear “internal” public rules, which ensure that everybodies preferences are recognized, but also everybody has a fair chance. No “person a” always get’s the cool projects in a specific city. We however respect customer preference, if they request a specific resource that’s what they get.
Seventh we offer mentorship where you want it, everyone on the team can request to learn a specific topic and will work thru that education path, whether it’s learning a new product, pursuing a VCDX or something else you think you can learn from someone on the team.
You stay independent!
This is very important for us, all of the self-employed we work with have their own customers and engagements, those are automatically included in our non-compete/don‘t touch list and we expect the same the other way around. If you decide to move some of your customers / projects to work thru the comdivision model, that is fine as well and can be helpful to get our backoffice help you on those, in such cases your margin grows as well.
Is self-employed a second class member?
We don‘t make any difference between employed and self-employed resources beside those any kind of laws or other external rules force us to it. The same we don’t make a difference on how long you are in the team, the only difference is between different levels of engagement/responsibility.
I am not self-employed, but interested to become?
Again as we can’t offer legal or tax advice, we are happy to help/mentor you on this journey, but first and foremost I would suggest you sit down with us and one of our self-employed resources to discuss pro/con. Self-employed is NOT for everyone and based on your life situation it might not be a fit, if you decide to become self-employed we can help you with close mentoring to ensure it’s a solid journey. If best for you is full time employment that is fine and we can negotiate that as well if it’s a match. Only because our search is focused on something else, does not mean we are not open for discussion!
So what started out to be a short post became quite a long one… If there is a question left open, then feel free to reach out to me, or Fabian Lenz who is the go to resources for new members…