Wednesday, 23 November 2011 12:14
Economic uncertainty spurs firms to hire flexible workforce, shows new study.
The UK’s SME sector is planning to hire freelancers and remote workers in an effort to increase headcount whilst remaining flexible and rapidly scalable in an uncertain market, a new report finds.
It also shows that SMEs that trade overseas are faring significantly better in the economic downturn than those solely focused on the domestic market.
Freelancers and remote workers
42% of the over 2000 SMEs questioned in the Regus report plan to recruit freelance staff in the next year and 29% of those firms planning to hire permanent staff will opt for remote workers.
Amongst UK SMEs that trade internationally the shift towards a flexible, remote workforce is more marked: 49% intend to hire freelancers and 39% remote workers. Business confidence in the SME sector has slipped 20% since April, and the proportion of firms reporting revenue and profit growth has also declined.
Celia Donne, Regional Director at Regus, comments: "SMEs realise that they must continue investing in growth, so freelance and remote working are becoming increasingly popular solutions to increase headcount while remaining flexible and rapidly scalable. 27% of the employed population in the UK are now deemed to be flexible workers, which illustrates the significant shift that has already taken place in the employment market."
SMEs that trade with overseas markets are performing noticeably better than domestic rivals. Business confidence is significantly more buoyant (88 and 79 respectively) and the proportion of firms reporting profit increases is 10% higher (30% compared to 20%.)
"Firms only operating in the national market should take note that they are being outperformed by those targeting overseas markets. It is now possible for even very small operations to establish a low-risk presence in overseas markets without making lengthy premises or equipment commitments and allowing them to expand or withdraw depending on market conditions," Donne concludes.
Newer news items:
Older news items: