Where Will the New Jobs Come From? They’re Already Coming From Remote Workforces

Who is going to create the new jobs America so desperately needs to get our economy back on track? This question is a subject of ongoing debate. Will small businesses create them? Big business? Well, according to a new survey by online employment platform oDesk, new jobs are already being generated by remote hiring.

oDesk found what it called “a significant shift” in how businesses are hiring and how workers are finding jobs:

“Businesses are growing by leveraging remote contractors to build distributed teams, and contractors, in turn, are earning more money and even starting their own small businesses.”

According to the Online Work Survey, employers are becoming more comfortable with the idea of remote workforces. More than half (54 percent) of employers have no preference as to where their workers are based. They’re also becoming more confident in relying on contractors or remote staff for critical or core business functions; 55 percent of employers say they give such work to remote contractors.

Remote Workforce

Ease of communication is one factor making employers feel more comfortable with this arrangement. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of employers communicate with their remote workers several times per week, the majority by email and Skype.

Why are companies turning to remote workforces? oDesk found two primary reasons. More than one-quarter (28 percent) of employers admit to having trouble finding the talent they need in the local workforce. And 21 percent say using an online workforce allows them to scale up or down quickly as needed.

The arrangement is working. Half of employers surveyed said using online hiring to outsource has helped them grow company’s revenues, size or scope of service. In fact, 17 percent of the employers surveyed have grown their businesses by 50 percent in the last year.

One of the most interesting findings of oDesk’s survey is that contractors who seek work through online hiring sources are increasingly seeing themselves not just as employees, but as entrepreneurs. In fact, many are starting their own small businesses and using online employment channels not only to find clients, but to look for other contractors to help them get the work done. In fact, 35 percent of the contractors in the survey say their primary source of work is other contractors.

More than three-fourths (77 percent) of contractors think of the online work as their own businesses. And those businesses are growing:  66 percent of online contractors expect to make more money overall this year than in 2010, and 57 percent say they are charging a higher hourly rate than they did last year.


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

4 Reactions
  1. Couldn’t agree with you more Rieva. And while remote workers do provide the flexibility to staff up and cut down quickly, some are becoming almost indispensable to the companies for which they work.

  2. Very good article. And very timely. I have gone overseas through O Desk to get radio program transcriptions completed. It works well, and is much less expensive than most USA companies. Originally I was very skeptical about outsourcing, but now I am confident that it works well.


  3. Rieva,

    You’re absolutely correct. I just don’t like it when it’s outsourced out of the country.

    Maybe that will start changing?

    The Franchise King®

  4. People are realizing the value of working remotely; not only employees, but employers. Lower overhead costs, lower stress levels, etc. The list goes on. Oh, and as for Marissa Mayer’s decision….don’t even get me started. There are a lot of niche job boards out there too, that focus on telecommuting and remote jobs, such as http://www.SkipTheDrive.com