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Survey Results: How Coronavirus is Impacting Your Business

Late last week we ran a rapid response survey into the impact that Coronavirus is having on businesses and freelancers in our digital, media and tech community. We did this to help all of us to understand the challenges our sector is collectively having. It also helps us to adjust our support and our communications to the government.

We have had 274 responses, of which 158 were from businesses and 116 from freelancers. Only 4% said they have been unaffected by the pandemic.

Here is a brief summary of how you responded:
 

1. Working remotely 

The vast majority of businesses (80%) are now completely remote working with a further 17% who are either partly or mostly remote working.
 

2. Loss of work or contracts 

58% of companies reported a loss in work or contracts, and a further 22% said that upcoming contracts and work was under threat.
 
Freelancers have been hit hardest, with 71% having lost work. A further 25% reported having other contracts that look fragile.

Only 8% of respondents said they saw no negative impact on their revenues and contracts as a result of the virus.
 

3. Staffing

48% of businesses either already have made redundancies (6%) or felt they might have to (42%). This survey predated the government's announcement over support for furloughed staff, so that may impact on the decisions of companies that were contemplating redundancies.

In terms of recruitment, 34% of companies have already formally initiated a hiring freeze and a further 41% have placed an informal stop on their recruitment plans.
 

4. Business Impact

Over half (55%) of respondents have felt the need to reduce prices or offer discounted rates to keep customers and clients. 

For 32% of respondents, coronavirus-related difficulties have impacted them because of either staff illness, self-isolation, travel bans or travel avoidance.

In addition, 36% have needed to revise their marketing plans and strategies.
 

5. Government Support

Support to companies:

84% wanted better advice and some form of financial assistance from the government.
16% of companies said they need immediate help with their cashflow.

There were a range of comments which highlighted the lack of clarity around government advice and support:

“I am trying to keep my business going. I need clear guidance and advice from government”

For smaller rural businesses and freelancers, the impact of poor broadband provision was specifically highlighted:

"We need better, more reliable broadband in rural and semi-rural areas so that we can continue business"

"Many members of teams I work with have struggled working remotely due to decreasing bandwidth as demand peaks across the UK."
 

Support to freelancers:

A huge 96% of freelancers said they needed financial assistance and advice from the government.

Concerns about childcare now that the schools have been closed, were of particular importance to freelancers. This comment was echoed by others:

"I have vastly reduced working hours because I need to take care of my children now that the schools are closed."

"Official direction to small businesses and self-employed who are unable to work from home to suspend services, so insurance claims will be honoured."
 

Us!

Finally, it was gratifying that many of you were supportive and appreciative of the activity we have been undertaking over the past 10 days:

"Appreciate all you're doing. The Slack group is awesome"

"Keep going with your proactive support for local businesses. Thank you."

About the author

Phil Jones

Hi, I'm the Managing Director of Wired Sussex, overseeing our strategy as an organisation and work to promote our membership and its needs to local, national and international stakeholders, including government.

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