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Lockdown Leads to Massive Leap in Freelance Numbers

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As the world’s economy and business ecosystem remain in a state of flux following the outbreak of Covid-19, the UK’s leading freelancing platform, PeoplePerHour, has reported an unprecedented rise in both freelancer signups and demand for talent in certain areas. During the first 26 days of March 2019, the platform gained 25,673 new signups. During the same period in 2020, signup numbers surged to a massive 96,123, signalling an almost four-fold increase year on year.

Although an increase in freelancer numbers may not come as a huge surprise at a time when businesses are scaling back, the new figures released by PeoplePerHour provide an interesting overview of how each region is being impacted by the pandemic in business terms.

While London has experienced a 485% increase in the number of people turning to freelancing, the number of freelancers in Leeds is only up 5%. In fact, the increase in London freelance signups is more than 7.5 times higher than any other city in the UK. Sheffield came next, with a 64% increase in freelance signups. While signup numbers in Edinburgh are up 63%. Strangely, as England’s ‘second’ and ‘third’ cities, Birmingham (16.22%) and Manchester (22.90%) are both towards the bottom of the list in regards to changing freelance numbers.

The full breakdown of PeoplePerHour’s signup increase by city can be seen below. 

London – 485.37%
Sheffield – 64.29%
Edinburgh – 63.04%
Cardiff – 53.33%
Liverpool – 50.00%
Nottingham – 39.34%
Bristol – 32.53%
Leicester – 30.95%
Glasgow – 26.09%
Manchester – 22.90%
Birmingham – 16.22%
Leeds – 5.32%

While freelancer signups are up, a number of key business skills have also experienced an upturn in demand. Most notably, requests for enterprise resource planning experts leapt by 500.00% between February and March 2020. Demand for media planning is also up by 400%, and brand development by 200%. Other areas experiencing amplified demand include: SEO writing (158.33%), marketing management (140.00%), customer support (111.54%), logistics & shipping (100.00%), medical translation (100.00%), CRM (88.89%), and pay per click advertising (50.00%).

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and CEO of PeoplePerHour, comments:

‘Six months ago, it would have been impossible to imagine a scenario that could lead to such a monumental shift in the global business infrastructure. But while the impact of Covid-19 has been devastating, it has also highlighted the incredible adaptability of the small business scene.

‘In financial terms, SMEs and entrepreneurs have been among the worst affected by the global pandemic, with millions of employees being laid off and governmental support and benefits being slow to materialise. Although various support packages are now in place, the delay has led to a huge number of people to take matters into their own hands with many individuals signing up to find freelance work using their skills base to carve out a freelance career. While SMEs have been turning to the growing freelance network to attain the talent they require to keep their businesses going at a time of social distancing.

‘I have little doubt that coronavirus will change the face of business for many years to come. The financial impact is already being felt. But it may also lead to some positive changes, with new working practises – including the integration of freelance talent – being embraced.’