I have been working with partners on placing people. As you know, the larger OEMs and carriers look for new ways to hire people for deployments. The new work model is to get 1099 workers more and more while the W4 workforce is starting to dwindle. That’s the trend, but we still need both.
The deployment projects force telecom companies to increase the workforce quickly. Then when the deployment is over, they have to reduce the workforce just as quickly. This is why the 1099 model has been on the rise. Sometimes they add the W4 on a temporary basis to keep the people onboard for over a year, maybe 2 or 3, but eventually, when the project winds down, they keep very few.
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This is where the rise of placement companies in the telecommunications industry is on the rise. I work with several companies to create models and to attract people. I know that having a pile of resumes is not always the best way to recruit. I am a fan of LinkedIn to find people. I now have new resources where the models that play out in other industries now will work in telecom.
Why will 1099 work?
It’s already being done it’s just that most companies don’t realize how common it is. While I still work full-time for one company, I consult with others. As a contractor, not as an employee. This is basically allowing me to be a W4 and 1099 all at the same time.
The 1099 model works well for some jobs. The engineers that do the commissioning and building of sites are general contractors. They have a skill that could parlay across several brands. The OEMs have similar equipment models that could be commissioned in a similar way.
Companies will use a referral system to get people in quickly and in the local market. In the old days, they would pay someone like me to go from market to market if the equipment was new. I would commission the equipment. In today’s world of software, that skill can be learned quickly, but you still need someone familiar with site equipment to load it and work with it. So, it’s easier to train someone for that skillset. Also, there are a lot of semi-retired people that would like to do the jobs on a limited basis. This is where the 1099 model fits.
I am working with teams that can make this happen. It is working today. It’s just like hiring a small contractor or an individual contributor for that specific task in that specific city. Nationwide and regional deployments need skill sets even if the software is similar, you would like to have someone ta the site that knows what to look for. They may know what’s working and what isn’t, or they may be able to find their way around. In other words, it’s familiar to them and not alien so you can rely on them to work on something without guiding them every inch of the way.
This is why the 1099 model for the field workforce is growing. The experience is out there, and the work is out there. We just need to find a way to bring the two together. I have this model laid out. It’s straightforward, and a way for companies to find workers much like you would find an Uber driver, online. You may think it’s hard, but let me ask you, how hard it is for you to find a driver or a Starbucks with your smartphone, do you trust that the driver will get you where you need to go or that Starbucks will have the coffee you want? Of course, so here is a way for you to find the worker you want and rate them.
To learn more about finding engineering 1099 resources for your business, email me at email@example.com, and I’ll tell you how it works. It’s really simple. I have a partner, Field Nation, who is great at this. If you go direct, please let them know you found this on the Wade4Wireless blog!
Do we still need W4 workers?
Of course. These are your core workers who are building up the company from the inside out. They are going to be the go-to people who design, train, and lead. If you’re building up a workforce for longer work, then this is the model. Many companies will ramp up the W4 workforce when they need project managers. PMs are a key to successful deployments. Most companies think that they can have a few for a specific project, but once they know how the companies work and the contractors, the entire model changes. They keep them much longer to work on the new projects as well. If you let go of a good PM, you may be losing a valuable resource.
I also have partners that can help you build a W4 or 1099 workforce. Again, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I can help you out. I have a partner, which I point out below, but you could build a model like this on your own. I am just trying to align you with someone I work with, obviously because I get a commission.
What about contractors?
OK, when I say 1099, I generally mean an individual. 1099 is a simple contract that makes payment terms for the work and time. They are contractors like tower crews that are needed because deployments require companies. They will contract to be agreed upon price and scope between the two companies. Many IT companies or tower crews’ companies are larger contractors. There is more risk, insurance, and quite frankly, it takes a team to do the tasks required. This is where the contract model will come in. Larger companies are agreeing to an outcome, project-based pricing, or a per site price. This is common with 1099 workers, but they may expect an hourly rate.
It’s not all peaches and cream. The carriers have reverse auctions, making contractors take pay cuts, locking them into 90-day terms, and asking for limited change orders. While they are saving money up front, they have alienated several quality contractors. They are rarely about quality anymore but all about the cheapest vendor that can deliver.
If you are a contractor and bid low, beware! You may lose money on the job or worse when they expected more, and you didn’t complete the work to their unrealistic expectations, they may not pay you. If you think it doesn’t happen, guess again.
All I ask is that both sides agree to a set scope of work, pay attention to what is in scope and what is out of scope. Things always creep up, called scope creep, that can eat you. Do the best to assume but don’t be afraid to list exclusions.
Very large companies always try to bully smaller contractors, all I can say is know when to walk away. If it is a trusted partner, then maybe you know you can move forward, However, if the company was bought by another and they basically tell you to play ball, or you’re fired, be ready to walk away from those douchebags! I have seen it and talked to many companies that had a long-standing relationship with a larger company bought by another, and the new procurement department came in and said, literally, “half of you will be gone by next year.” Guess what, it was more than half, they would go directly to the carrier or to other companies that treated them better. That company, with its brilliant tactics, (SARCASM!), alienated potential partners when it would have been building solid relationships. It’s hard to trust someone when they tell you that you’re expendable. Sure, it happens in large companies every day, but you still don’t say it if you want them to work hard for you! My point here is, you have more power than you think because when the large corporation tried to push the workers around, they lost good partners. Then they started losing money on jobs because contractors walked off job sites. Then large corporation got a crappy reputation. Who wants to work for someone who you know will screw you! Obviously, they didn’t realize that in the USA you can’t offshore tower work. IF someone is going to screw you, then don’t work for them. Unfortunately, many of us have to learn the hard way. OK, I am off my soapbox. By the way, if you want to tell stories about how you or your company got screwed over, send an email to email@example.com and tell me about it. If you want to share it, give me permission in the email to share, if not then tell me not to share.
How do they set a rate?
This is going to be set by the area, the work, if travel is required, and so on. There are a lot of variables. A PM might get paid differently than the IT guy or the BTS commissioning engineer. They may sign up for a month or to do 100 sites. They may need someone in New York City and in Liverpool, Pennsylvania. All of these affect the pay rate.
Sometimes, companies get a discount if they commit to 1,000 sites versus having someone go out to troubleshoot one site in the middle of nowhere.
These are all variables that will be considered when determining a cost.
In the new models, the worker and the company can set the rate between them. In a day of reverse auctions, it’s better to agree this way. Why? In a reverse auction, chances are you only have the companies showing up to talk to the larger GCs, OEMs, and end customers (like the carriers). However, in a model where you find someone online, you can see what they want paid to do a simple job, a site, or a task that you need to be done. They are not worried about the liability or the risk. They simply want to do a task. Also, they have a specific region, city, or even site that they will do. Why pay more? However, the GC will need to have a PM manage everything, so if you’re the GC, remember to have money to pay for your PM and risk.
What if you’re the GC?
If you are the GC, you may have a region based on your presence or based on what OEM expertise you have. Either way, you will need staff to support. You have to plan for what you need. Most of you know these projects take expertise. With the rollout of new technologies like Massive MIMO and 5G, you will need people that have done site work in the past but can adapt to the new technologies. If you’re like me, you know there is a learning curve. So, how do you plan?
Well, you need to rely on the people that may know their way around an OEM’s equipment and a site. Let’s look at commissioning and integration of a carrier’s site for example. It’s different from the construction or tower work. That takes a crew, a contractor with employees or subs that will do the work. For the commissioning and integration at the site you need someone with knowledge of that equipment, even if it’s a new and improved version of the original OEM’s gear, they can learn it quickly. You need someone with knowledge on that equipment, but maybe they don’t know how the new process will work.
It doesn’t matter about the old MOP, (Method of Procedure), but the new MOP should be familiar to that engineer. You may have a pool of resources but are they what you need?
There are alternatives to working with your limited pool.
I am working with a company, Field Nation, and that is what they specialize in, finding you the resources you need. I can work with you to align with this company with the resources you need, again, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The way I see it, this is the future of the workforce. These engineers have a skill that you need for a limited time. The workforce is there for the equipment you need. You just have to find them.
What if you’re the contractor, engineer, or field worker?
This is a way for you to connect to the GCs without having to make 100 calls or hope that you have someone on the inside. What you need to do it clearly build a resume. LinkedIn is a great place to have your references and skills listed.
I mention both because the company that is researching you needs to know where to learn more. LinkedIn is where you can post all your professional work experience and build your resume. This is going to be used for a background check whether you like it or not. If a GC or OEM can look at your profile, they may dig deeper. They don’t always check references unless you sign up for a whole lot of sites.
If you’re retired, semi-retired or laid off this is a good way for you to get paid and possibly make some new contacts. To see how it works and where to sign up at Field Nation, go to https://www.fieldnation.com/how-field-nation-works and learn more. You may like it or maybe not, but it’s a viable alternative to the W4 lifestyle.
Overseas verses in country workforces
Listen, I see it happening all the time in the US and UK. The workforce is being eliminated in these countries and moving to India, Mexico, and other countries. This makes sense. Mexico and India have really smart people that do the work for less than ¼ of what US and UK workers get. For RF engineering, support, call center, and remote integration, this is the way things are done. It’s just like manufacturing in China, they do it much cheaper, more efficiently, and well. It’s hard for us to compete. (With all of that said, I am working on a smart manufacturing article that will change the dynamic. Manufacturing is changing, and we need to be ready.) It’s not going to change overnight, even with all of President’s Trump’s Tariffs.
Large companies, corporations are rarely run in our home countries anymore, especially in telecom. Even the carriers are foreign-owned. That’s fine, they all know where the money comes from. They just need to understand that it can’t all be done overseas. Site work is still site work.
That’s why I am presenting this model. The workers in the US have an alternative to jump on a system like the drivers of Uber. More of a work where and when you want. The GCs have an opportunity to hire people based on location, talent, and need rather than full on boarding.
Times are changing!
Look at the new companies on the rise, Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, Lyft, and all the rest. The way we do business has dramatically changed. The way people work has changed. It’s now hitting telecom and larger businesses. The time for you to change is now. My job is to make sure you have this information. To get the updates you need to align your business with the best profitability. If you’re the worker, my job is to let you know that the business model is changing and it’s not all bad.
We all have trouble with change. If you have been laid off recently, you know what I am talking about. The goal of most larger carriers and OEMs in telecom is to streamline. What that means is to downsize and offshore resources so that the investors see a higher return on investment.
If you run a small business, you can’t compete with that. The thing the larger GCs have the relationship. The crutch the carriers and larger OEMs have is that they need someone to respond to them 16/7, (16 hours 7 days a week). It’s hard for a smaller business to cater to the carriers all the time. Carriers are demanding and don’t plan very well. They rely on the GCs to do that for them.
In the US, offshoring is normal, and this is great for India and Mexico. They have the talent. In the US where I live, we need to find ways to align with the new technology revolution. That means we have to use our knowledge, experience, and expertise to become invaluable.
The lesson here is that there are new models for the GCs and contractors to be more efficient than ever. The W4 model is not going to be as popular, and 1099 models could bring a lot of workers out of retirement to do local work around their schedules.
Thank you for your support and your time. And good job on learning all you can in the wireless industry, you are amazing! Now, go out and impress people!
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