Remote Work And The Future Of Corporate Staffing

Cubicles, commutes, and cutbacks are just some of the many factors which are forcing people to branch out on their own, joining the ranks of the independent workforce in record numbers. Combine that with a growing number of companies that are chomping at the bit to cut costs, access the best and brightest talent, and do more with less, and you have the perfect ingredients to fuel a massive shift toward remote work.

According to an independent study of 7,000+ businesses conducted by Genesis Research Associates for oDesk, the world’s largest and fastest-growing online workplace, 76% of respondents indicated they are embracing remote hiring as part of their long-term strategies, vastly overshadowing the percentage that are looking to remote workers as a temporary solution.

With approximately 90% of clients indicating they believe remote hiring makes a company more competitive and is a practice that will soon become common, it will likely come as no surprise that oDesk is predicting the marketplace for online work will top $1 billion by the end of 2012.

"The economy is forcing companies to find ways to do more with less. By using technology to communicate and collaborate with workers from around the globe, they are now able to bring the work to the workers, instead of waiting for the workers to come to them," said Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk.

Big businesses aren’t the only ones who are benefiting from the shift toward an online remote workforce. Small businesses are also hoping to level the playing field by finding new sources for talent that aren’t necessarily in their specific geographic area—something that would’ve been impossible without the ability to share desktops, documents, and data in real-time.

Will remote work change the way businesses and individuals think about workplaces and the very idea of the typical workforce? Since technology, globalization, and the economy are what made the shift possible, it’s unlikely that companies will be looking to put the remote contractor genie back into the bottle anytime soon.

Find Shawn at shawngraham.me or continue the conversation on Twitter.

[Image: Flickr user evilpeacock]

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3 Comments

  • Phil Simon

    Good piece, Shawn. As more and more companies embrace truly collaborative technologies, I also expect this trend to continue.

  • Shawn Graham

    Thanks for the comment, Phil. It will also be really interesting to see how emerging technologies will enable folks to collaborate in ways like never before. Skype and webex are good, but things can only get better (cue the Howard Jones song). 

  • Jeff Williams

    Shawn, Weblance is one example of this I think. Specialize marketplace with that allow people to work together better. Generic marketplaces are hot right now but I can't see that lasting. It is still pretty challenging to do quality complicated projects like app builds..