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2011 Ushers in New World of Work: Businesses Grow Using Long-Term Contractors

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Report Reveals How Businesses Leverage Career Contractors as Workforce Solution

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.—February 15, 2011—Small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are using remote contract workers in record numbers as part of core growth and staffing strategies, according to the SMB Trend Report released today by oDesk. The SMB Trend Report looks at how small-to-medium sized companies leverage today’s borderless economy to tap into a worldwide contractor workforce to fill strategic roles and grow their businesses.

Growth of the SMB in a Borderless Economy

Today’s SMBs are no longer limited to just their local area to build their workforce. Once reserved for the Fortune 500, the global talent pool is easily accessible to companies of all sizes, thanks to recent advancements in technology. oDesk alone represents nearly 1 million remote contractors, based in 150 countries spread throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Today, any business can use online tools to identify and retain top talent, regardless of the workers’ location.

For example, Washington, D.C. entrepreneur and business owner Tim Vickey founded Level671 — an IT consulting shop for politicians and trade associates — by tapping skilled workers found on oDesk. “With access to smart and committed career contractors from around the globe, I’ve been able to focus on growing my business while my global workforce develops great products,” says Vickey.

Growth of Long-Term Contracting and Contractor Teams

As evidenced by the sustained national unemployment rate, the economy has made companies of all sizes reluctant to hire — at least using traditional practices. Since 2008, however, SMBs have increasingly turned to long-term contractors and contractor teams. According to the SMB Trend Report:

  • The number of employers hiring contractors on an on-going basis has increased 800 percent
  • Contractor assignments lasting longer than six months have risen by 540 percent
  • The number of SMBs tapping contractor teams of 10 or more has increased by 214 percent

Contractors provide a compelling alternative to the costs associated with full-time, traditional hiring — an option that any business owner with an eye on the bottom line can appreciate. With contractors, human resources overhead is virtually eliminated. Contracting also allows employers to tap into specific expertise on demand, and provides growing companies a low-risk, efficient means to quickly scale their businesses.

Growth of Skilled and Highly Paid Contractors

The SMB move from traditional hiring to the use of an on-demand workforce creates a need for highly skilled professional contractors, typically in one of two capacities: a contractor who is capable of managing a team; or a person who offers a specific, highly valued skill, such as graphic design, marketing or mobile application development. In many cases, these contractors have developed a career by marketing their services to the same SMBs on an ongoing basis. For data on trends in career contracting, and insight on where things are headed for workers, see oDesk’s SMB Trend Report.

“The reality is that a greater percentage of SMBs are building their companies on the skills of the contract workforce, reflecting a shift away from traditional hiring practices and toward the use of long-term career contractors,” said Gary Swart, oDesk CEO. “The world of work is changing: SMBs are tapping career contractors because they need a scalable, customizable workforce in order to grow; and workers want flexibility in order to manage and grow their own careers.”

SMB Trend Report Methodology

The oDesk SMB Trend Report draws on data from more than 1 million contractors and employers, and reveals record annual growth among SMBs leveraging long-term work opportunities for highly skilled contractors across a variety of fields.

About oDesk

With more than 975,000 contractors in more than 150 countries, oDesk (www.oDesk.com) is a global employment platform which enables companies to hire, manage, and pay a flexible, online workforce.

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