Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

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 or continue the conversation on Twitter.

[Image: Flickr user evilpeacock]