Last month, the freelance-work broker Elance released its 2012 Global Business Survey. The survey, which is based on responses from 1,500 businesses from a diverse range of companies located everywhere from Ethiopia to Thailand, offers a snapshot of global hiring and contracting.

The report, available online here offers three main insights into global hiring. First, a significant majority of businesses that use Elance (84 percent to be exact) believes that hiring off-site based workers gives them an advantage over their competitors. Only six percent of businesses thought that telework hiring did not give them any advantage. One of the major advantages businesses listed is cost savings. On average businesses that use remote hiring stated that doing so saved them 53 percent over traditional methods. Some other benefits by businesses mentioned included better talent pools and shorter time-to-hire.

Second, according to the report, hiring is up in 2012 and a majority of these new hires are contractors. Of the companies that participated in the survey, 73 percent stated that they planned on hiring more contractors this year than in the previous year. 23 percent reported they would hire the same number of contractors. Only four percent stated a planned decrease in contractor hiring. Of new hires, a majority, 73 percent, will be web-based positions while only 27 percent of new hires will be on-site.

Of businesses looking to fill remote-work positions, 70 percent stated that programmers and developers are the types of online contractors most valued by their company. 61 percent of businesses considered graphic designers and multimedia experts to be the most valuable types of contractors while writers, online marketers, and mobile developers are considered most valuable by 38 percent, 32 percent, and 28 percent of businesses, respectively.

Finally, on average businesses predict that a majority of their workforce will be remote-based within five years. Furthermore, a significant number of businesses, 31 percent, believe that more than 75 percent of their workforce will be remote-based by 2017. The survey also explored why businesses are looking more to online positions in the future. One reason mentioned is that many businesses consider the talent online to be better or equal to local talent. Only nine percent of businesses reported that they consider online talent to be of lower quality to local talent.

For the cleared job seeker, this survey shows the increasing possibility of telework, particularly when at least some portion of that work does not require working in a secure environment. While the nature of the business means many cleared positions will require being on-site, the survey hints that online contracting could well be a growing proportion of the job market, particularly for job seekers with programming and design skill sets.


Mike Jones is a researcher, writer, and analyst on national and international security. He lives in the DC area.

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Mike Jones is a researcher, writer, and analyst on national and international security. He lives in the DC area.