Pandemic causes surge in freelancer numbers

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Date: 28 April 2020

Man in an orange shirt sat at home using his laptop to do freelance work

A leading online platform for freelancers has seen a four-fold rise in sign-ups as well as increased demand for specific skills including business planning and marketing.

Freelancer platform PeoplePerHour has reported an "unprecedented rise" in both freelancer sign-ups and demand for talent in certain key areas. During the first 26 days of March 2020, sign-up numbers on the platform surged to a massive 96,123 - an almost four-fold increase year-on-year.

The surge in freelancer activity is highest in London, which has seen an increase in the number of people turning to freelancing of almost 500%. In fact, the increase in London freelance sign-ups is more than 7.5 times higher than any other city in the UK.

Freelancer sign-up increases have also been significant in Sheffield (up 64%), Edinburgh (63%), Cardiff (53%), Liverpool (50%), Nottingham (39%), Bristol (32%), Leicester (31%) and Glasgow (29%).

At the same time, a number of key business skills have seen an upturn in demand. Most notably, requests for enterprise resource planning experts leapt by 500% between February and March 2020. Demand for media planning is also up by 400%, and brand development by 200%.

Other areas experiencing a significant boost in demand include:

  • SEO writing (up 158%);
  • Marketing management (140%);
  • Customer support (112%);
  • Logistics and shipping (100%);
  • Medical translation (100%);
  • CRM (89%);
  • Pay per click advertising (50%).

Xenios Thrasyvoulou, founder and ceo of PeoplePerHour, said: "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 [taking] 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."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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