An extensive survey of small businesses has revealed how the UK’s flexi-workers have played a key role in helping them deal with tough economic times. The good news for contractors and freelancers is that they not only see flexi-workers as a short-term necessity – they also see them as key players in the long-term.

The survey, conducted between May and July 2010 by freelanceĀ marketplaceĀ PeoplePerHour involved more than 360 small businesses.

The key findings were as follows:

* 35% of small businesses said that flexible hiring had constituted the main change for their business over the last two years.

* Almost 1 in 5 small businesses now sell their products/services entirely online whilst 37% operate entirely virtually.

* 1 in 2 small businesses use freelancers more then they did two years ago.

* Online media and blogging sites have now replaced traditional media as the main source of news and information for small businesses.

This represents fantastic news for contractors and freelancers in the UK and proves what an increasingly important part of the economy they’ve become.

The fact that the online sphere has become such an important part of a business’ operation shouldn’t really come as any surprise. The fact that many small businesses are now doing their accounting entirely online is further evidence of how online technology can help reduce business costs and simplify business processes.