The sun is shining and the summer of love is upon us – at least, as far as freelancers and SMEs are concerned. New research from freelance marketplace PeoplePerHour has shown that SMEs and freelancers are a match made in heaven.

Crazy for YouSmall business and freelancers

It seems SMEs are employing more freelancers than ever. 62% of the SME managers surveyed said they now have more freelancers working for them than employees. In fact, the ratio of freelancers to employees is 4:1.

And a heart-warming 27% said they couldn’t run their business without freelancers. Aww!


It Had to Be You

So, what makes freelancers so irresistible to SMEs?

One major factor seems to be that your typical, small in-house team can only provide 5-10 skills – not surprising when you consider the probable size of the team. Hiring freelancers, on the other hand, gives SMEs access to around 50 skills.

But what do SMEs most love about hiring freelancers?

  • 55% of respondents said the biggest advantage was being able to fill posts that they couldn’t fill by using local talent.
  • 37% said the biggest benefit for them was increased capacity and flexibility.
  • 23% said that hiring freelancers enables an increased workload without increased overheads
  • 13% said that being able to access freelancers without incurring costs was a big attraction.


With or Without You

So far, so good. But in amongst the hearts and flowers, a thorn may be growing.

21% of the SME business managers surveyed said they now use freelancers from three different continents. A significant 67% said they use freelance talent from Europe. But how might this change post-Brexit?

Further research by PeoplePerHour into SME’s opinions about outsourcing within the EU in future revealed that 47% of SMEs are worried about increase bureaucracy after Brexit, and think it may discourage them from using freelancers in future.

While only 3% hired more than half their labour from Europe, all respondents in this survey said they used European professionals for at least 10% of their projects.

With the current political turmoil making the nature and timing of Brexit more uncertain than ever, one thing is certain – however and whenever it happens, it will have an impact on SMEs and freelancers alike.