Shingle • 2022-11-05
Get answers to the 7 biggest questions about tapping into on-demand, remote engineering talent
In virtually every corner of the industry, so many engineering firm leaders are asking themselves – How do we fill the talent gaps that are holding our firm back from growth? Stop competing in the overly-crowded space looking for full-time, in-house talent. In today’s world, there simply aren’t enough qualified engineers to fill every firm’s needs. Plus, more and more engineers are stepping away from the traditional full-time job and entering the “gig economy”. shingle connects a remote, distributed network of U.S.-based professional engineers with engineering firms struggling to match their labor resources with current and future workload.
Sound too good to be true? It isn’t!
Sure, you might be skeptical about how this works. That’s why we are going to answer some of the most frequently asked questions right here.
Do the engineers on the platform work for shingle or are they independent consultants? Our firm does not want to hire as a temporary employee because of a possible unemployment claim when their work task is completed.
The engineers on the platform are US accredited PEs or EITs who will function as a subcontractor to participating firms. As such, they will be their own separate business entity from shingle and any participating firm. shingle functions as a marketing and operational resource for the independent engineers. It is not an employer of record and the participating firms will never form employee arrangements with the consultants on the platform. The work contracts between firms and consultants are set up for MSA style or single task contracts to be in-line with Independent Contractor (IC) laws/regulations. Contracts are essential for compliance, but also for clearly outlining the expectation of the firm and on-demand nature of the platform.
Do the engineers carry their own insurance (workers comp, professional liability, etc) as an independent consultant?
Yes. This is part of the onboarding process for the consultants. They are not required by shingle to carry insurance, but encouraged since this will be visible on their profile that they are not carrying E&O insurance (for instance). Certificates of insurance can be automatically attached to a contract or MSA to streamline the contracting process.
How do you ensure that the resource you are getting matched with uses the same software as the firm? How is software handled, do the consultants have their own? What if we want them to use some of our in-house developed tools/standards?
Shingle does not match firms with the consultants. The consultant’s profile is designed to be very detailed and showcases their experience, software knowledge and design specialties so that firms can search the database for the right person for the job. Shingle provides access to software through partnerships with many software companies using a flexible approach for payment. The consultants must pay for use of 3rd party software as they are running a separate business. If specific software is essential for the task, this will be outlined in the task request and use of it will be agreed to by the consultant. All 3rd party industry tool usage will comply with IC law. Licenses won’t be shared among firms or tasks. We take this very seriously and the contract language for any task will always include a confidentiality clause and/or NDA agreement as part of the contract – even if it is a simple 1 hour task.
How are NDAs and proprietary design spreadsheets/concepts protected?
Every task has a confidentiality/NDA agreement as part of the task contract. Before consultants can perform any task, they will have to sign an agreement. If using an MSA, the confidentiality clause is required to be part of the contract.
Will engineers be sealing drawings? Most states require the sealing engineer to have an in-state registered firm office or company to do so.
Since the engineers are separate companies, they will have to abide by the state engineering board rules for Firm registry if they choose to seal drawings in that state. They will be made aware of this for compliance and assisted in becoming registered in the particular state of interest.
What about data security? How do you bridge network security gaps?
Individual firms have to assess the security protocol that may be required for their particular clients and what is appropriate for the task. shingle consultants are no different than other subcontractors to the firm – similar to geotechnical services or surveying services. Security protocol is outlined in the work contract that both parties accept. Consultants will be utilizing encrypted cloud storage provided by a partner for most of their tasks and can set permissions and access for necessary files or folders. If higher security or enterprise grade is required, shingle provides access up to the highest level possible on the market today for file transfer and access of confidential information meeting the requirements of SOC 2, GDPR, HIPAA, FISMA among others. Firms have to assess what is required as this comes at a cost. For this reason, some highly confidential projects/task may not be appropriate. As part of the onboarding process, consultants are given the latest best practices for ensuring privacy and security of their data in cloud storage.
What about rates?
Rates vary based off the experience level. We’re taking a very “free market” approach on the platform. shingle provides guidance to assist consultants in setting appropriate rates, but consultants have full control of their final rates. From the firm’s perspective, if they are working with a new engineer, it would make sense to request a proposal for a short task (like 4 hours) and see how they perform if they feel the desired rate is reasonable and within negotiable limits. But your rates can either be set per task, or opt to sign a MSA contract with a particular engineer that locks in the rate for a certain time duration of the contract (once you feel the engineer is performing as expected).
So there you have it – the most common questions that firms are asking about Shingle and the answers.
Shingle is aware of the uncertainty surrounding this working style. This is not a job shop or international outsourcing. The engineers on the platform have worked for many of the same firms that you compete with. They may have even worked for your company at one time! We want to make participating firms feel comfortable with the processes of distributed workforce models. After all, it is here to stay, so why not join other early-adopting firms with shaping our product to benefit your firm?