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More Small Businesses Relying on Virtual Staff

|Feb 8|magazine4 min read

 Nearly 50,000 small businesses across Australia are experiencing enviable growth without the expense of an office full of employees.

Instead, many entrepreneurs are sourcing talented staff online – from all over the world – and building what’s been dubbed the “virtual workforce.”

"Anyone can have a go at creating a business for very little cost using a virtual workforce," civil engineer Adam Griffith told News.com.au’s Sarah O’Carroll. Mr Griffiths set up his business 1Ad.com by sourcing web developers and graphic designers from Russia and Ukraine – all while maintaining a full-time job elsewhere.

His savings have been significant: rather than paying an employee on Australian soil $100 per hour to develop the site, Mr Griffiths found his online senior developer in Russia and pays him $25 per hour to do the same job.

"I'm saving about 75 per cent on my top guy when I think about what it would cost to hire locally," he said.

The key to making this arrangement work is a good online workplace. oDesk is one such example, and the 35,000 Australian businesses who source contractors and freelancers here make up the site’s second largest international client base.

"There are 25,000 contractors in Australia signed up to oDesk and 56 per cent of their work is from overseas businesses," said Silicon Valley-based oDesk CEO Gary Swart.

Those are certainly flashy figures, but the critical question is, how beneficial is this service to the overall viability of the business?

"Eighty-five per cent of Australian small businesses who use online workers say it makes them more competitive in general,” said Mr Swart.

Sign us up.