Unlock your business from lockdown

It’s been a year since the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it. As we edge closer to the one year anniversary of the first lockdowns in Europe, we look at how the world has changed under lockdown, and how businesses can expect to succeed in the post-covid world. 

During the past 12 months, every aspect of normal life has changed, from how you do your shopping, to how you run your business. Small businesses and the self-employed have been some of the hardest-hit sectors, with less government support than those who are in full-time employment. But whilst some industries have thrived and seen bigger profits than ever, other sectors have been hit brutally. Retail businesses and restaurants have had to adapt and move online, while freelancing skills like photography have had to upskill themselves to offer more to their package.  

The latest announcement from the UK government has provided these businesses and freelancers with a light at the end of the tunnel. The new roadmap for lifting lockdown has set June 21st as the day when almost all restrictions will be lifted, so it’s time to start planning how you’re going to unlock your business from lockdown. 

How to thrive in a post-Covid world

Remote working revolution

One of the first things to change after lockdown struck was the move to remote working for many companies and employees. Where face-to-face meetings and expensive offices were the norm before, they were quickly replaced by Zoom calls and home offices. 

Remote working as a concept has been on the rise for the past 20 years, with the advent of the internet making it possible for people to access files and communicate from anywhere. Freelancers have been at the forefront of the revolution, with marketplaces like PeoplePerHour offering opportunities for freelancers to pick up new clients without ever having to meet them in person. 

But the introduction of lockdown has accelerated this trend for business owners far more quickly than ever could have been imagined pre-covid. There is now an expectation among workers that they have some kind of remote working option moving forward, and businesses – big or small – will have to adapt to that.  

Not everyone agrees, the CEO of Goldman Sachs recently announced that he sees remote working was an aberration, rather than the new normal for them. However, tech giants like Spotify, Twitter and Facebook have taken a very different approach and are now offering employees the option to work remotely full time post-covid. This could be a huge enabler for attracting talent in a competitive marketplace once the pandemic ends.  

Freelancing on the rise

Another trend that we’ve seen accelerated during the past 12 months is the increase in people turning to freelancing as a career. Since March last year, PeoplePerHour has had over 1.5m freelancers register through our marketplace, a 60% increase on the same period the year before. 

Why? There have been many reasons, but the ability to earn money whilst working remotely has been a huge factor. Many employees have either lost their jobs or were put on furlough for a significant amount of time. Having the opportunity to start that side hustle, or upskill themselves in that career they’ve always dreamt of has been crucial to the vast increase we’ve seen. 

It’s not just the supply that has increased though. The demand for digital skills has skyrocketed as businesses have looked to move online. 60% of businesses from a recent survey said they expect to increase their freelancer usage in 2021, with the most popular reason being to introduce skills into their businesses that they don’t have in-house. Skills such as web development and digital marketing have been able to thrive during an uncertain period.

What freelance skills will be in demand following lockdown?

1. Photography/Videography

Let’s start with an industry that was badly affected by the pandemic. Many photographers and videographers have seen business decrease due to the drop in the hospitality and events sector. From June 21st, expect this to change with many big business conferences already changing the date of their usual events so that they can squeeze in a 2021 event. 

Photographers and videographers will also benefit from the reduced social distancing rules which have put off a lot of businesses from using studio time for their brand campaigns. Now could be a great time to start your business development work.

2. Offline marketing 

Another industry that was negatively impacted by Coronavirus was offline marketing. The cancellation in events had a huge effect on this, but skills required for billboard advertising and out of home campaigns have also taken a hit. The lack of people commuting into the big cities has led to a reduction in demand for such campaigns. 

Although remote working is expected to continue once the restrictions are eased, more people will be coming into the office and more events will be taking place. This means that event marketing services and brand campaigns will be on the rise. 

3. Graphic design

Web design and digital design has stayed in high demand during the lockdown. However, design requests for physical marketing collateral like leaflets and business cards have almost vanished. A lot of this is to do with the lack of face-to-face sales meetings happening during the pandemic. We expect to see this demand quickly rise again as sales teams look to step up their efforts when lockdown starts to be phased out. Get your graphic design offers ready in advance for the increase in demand.

4. Data analytics

Data plays a crucial role in every company. But it’s going to play an even more critical role in the future of businesses, as companies are turning to data even more to be able to predict the impact of future disruptions. With more and more businesses moving digital, the importance of data is only going to rise in the coming months and years. 

5. Coding

The digital transformation of small businesses has been a revelation. Many small retail shops or family restaurants have taken their first steps into the digital world by setting up websites or joining marketplaces. That has meant that web development has become an even more in-demand skill than it was before. But just because shops and restaurants are opening up again, don’t expect this demand to decrease. 

It’s not just business owners’ that have adapted during the pandemic, consumer behaviour has also changed. E-commerce is going to remain a hugely important part of any successful retailer’s strategy, and they’ll need the help of freelance coders to implement that.

Things to consider for your business coming out of lockdown

As things start to open back up again and life returns to some level of normality over the coming months, what do you need to consider for your business?

For businesses, it’s going to be crucial to maintain the momentum that you’ve created for your online presence. Don’t let all the hard work you’ve carried out over the past year go to waste once your offline revenue begins to build back up. 

If you’re strapped for cash and don’t have the capital to hire full-time employees, then look to grow your business with the help of freelance experts. We’ve seen an increase in demand for freelance talent, and we believe that freelancers will continue to play an important role in the success of any small business over the next few years.