Over half (51%) of UK SMEs admit they were woefully unprepared for how the coronavirus pandemic would impact their business, whilst 37% of those lay the sole blame on Boris Johnson’s government. This is according to a whitepaper released by freelance platform, Fiverr.
Reflecting on the Covid crisis’ impact – 32% said they were prepared at least in some way, but only 13% of UK SMEs said they were fully prepared for the impact on their business.
The whitepaper study – conducted amongst 1,000 SME owners and decision makers in 19 cities across the UK – also found that 30% lay blame on themselves and 15% blame lack of training or business community support.
According to UK SMEs, the top three ways they could have been better prepared for the seismic shift to business were more government advice ahead of time (35%), better home working measures in place before the pandemic (34%), and better technology for remote work (26%.)
UK businesses demonstrate agility in hard times
Despite being caught off guard by the pandemic, figures for Fiverr now reveal that UK SMEs showed true grit – by quickly embracing new ways to work to keep business running.
58% of these businesses turned to the UK’s abundance of highly trained self employed and freelancers for support when permanent staff numbers depleted, but work did not.
Embracing UK’s freelance and self employed talent
In an environment where businesses have had to adapt to furloughs, remote work and disrupted communications, it’s perhaps unsurprising that attitudes to hiring freelance talent to help manage workloads have changed. In fact, 42% of businesses we surveyed actually found freelancers to be more productive and engaged than regular staff.
On a regional level, cities like Birmingham, Bristol, and Manchester are among the highest adopters of freelance talent. These also tend to be the cities that have seen the biggest increases in productivity.
However, regions like Cardiff and Newcastle, where businesses felt unprepared, were unable or unwilling to unlock freelance talent, and now feel less optimistic about the future of their businesses.
Liron Smadja, Fiverr’s Director of Local Marketing said, “The SME community sits at the very heart of the UK economy, but our research brings to light just how let down they feel by the government.
“Whilst it’s too late to make changes – UK SMEs rightly deserve to feel more supported by the state in future circumstances.
“Despite being unprepared, UK businesses were quick to pull their socks up and strategize towards new ways of working – which for many businesses actually helped to inject new energy and increase overall productivity.”
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