Is your small business dealing with an increased workload and more demand from clients and customers? That’s a good thing. But with the economy still uncertain, many of us are leery about taking on full-time employees to help with the workload—even when we’re overwhelmed.
Well, there is a solution—and it’s closer to home than you might think. I first wrote about the trend of “ruralsourcing” on Small Business Trends in the summer of 2010, when several news outlets reported on the practice. Essentially, ruralsourcing means outsourcing jobs—but instead of outsourcing to India or China, the jobs are being outsourced to small and rural communities in the United States.
As the economy slowly picks up steam, I’m happy to report that the ruralsourcing trend continues to grow, according to new research from oDesk, an online global employment platform. oDesk’s latest “Online Employment Report” a monthly analysis of the state of the online workforce, shows that small towns are outperforming their big-city counterparts in both online work activity and the number of hours worked per contractor.
According to oDesk, small towns (those with populations under 15,000) are keeping pace with large cities in terms of the number of online workers per capita. Not only that, they have proportionally higher “actively working” online populations in terms of hours worked per online contractor. On average, small town contractors worked more than 175 hours in January—far higher than the average for workers in New York City (70 hours), San Francisco (54 hours) and Los Angeles (23 hours).
“Workers in small towns need access to jobs, and the Internet can put them in consideration for job opportunities on a global scale,” says oDesk CEO Gary Swart.
Overall, demand for online work reached an all-time high in January, with a record 71,000 online job opportunities posted. What kinds of workers are most businesses looking to hire? Web development/IT jobs, writing and blogging, graphic design, SEO and personal or administrative assistants were among the jobs with the most postings.
I’m heartened to hear that people in the heartland are finding work through online outsourcing. For small businesses on a budget, outsourcing to remote employees is a smart way to go when more manpower is needed. But outsourcing overseas can lead to quality issues, communication problems and delays due to time zone differences (I’ve dealt with this myself). If you can get the work you need done by a remote employee, why not try to get it done in the U.S.?
Creating more work for people in the U.S. is a win-win-win situation for small business owners, the contractors they hire, and the overall U.S. economy.