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Survey: Small Businesses Hiring Online Contractors

A new survey from online talent broker Elance indicates that small businesses are hiring more people online and expect to continue to do so.

A new survey from online talent broker Elance indicates that small businesses are hiring more people online and expect to continue to do so.The survey was conducted of 500 small businesses. The participants were already Elance customers, so the results have a sample bias -- businesses that never hire online simply weren't included. Nevertheless, the survey at least demonstrates that those businesses that do hire online contractors are happy with what they're getting from the process.

For example, well over twice as many of the SMBs surveyed have hired online in the past year than have hired onsite employees -- 86% to 32%. The only businesses that hired more onsite employees than offsite ones were those who'd hired more than 25 employees in the past year. Every other range showed greater activity in online hiring, especially among those organizations that hired between two and five employees -- 49% of those reported hiring online, while only 15% hired onsite staff.

And they like doing so: 64% reported that they prefer hiring talent through an online process to the traditional in-person process. The top reason given was that it saved the need to provide space and equipment for each new worker, followed closely by the flexibility of being able to adjust the size of staff as needed. Participants also liked the 24/7 access to talent (hopefully for hiring, not for actually demanding a 24/7 work schedule) and the ability to find specialists that might not be available in their area. (Only 19% said location was an important criterion in online hiring, reflecting businesses' increasing comfort with running a distributed operation.)

At least for these Elance customers, online hiring remains part of their plans going forward. When asked how they planned to hire as the economy improves, 64% said they'd keep online hiring in the mix and 17% planned to only hire online, compared with only 2% that planned to hire only onsite. Some jobs require an onsite presence, of course, so that last number may reflect the positions those organizations planned to fill more than their attitude toward working with offsite talent.

Don't Miss: Online Hiring Shows Steady Growth

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