Virtual Workforce: Outsource Online

Virtual Workforce: Outsource Online


Plenty of us regularly make use of freelancers to beef up our human capacity. It’s a pretty nifty model, one which is particularly useful if you have a network of capable, reliable, dependable and available people to call upon. With the connectivity and services which the Internet provides us, the notion that you can tap into and connect with an even greater pool of talent has long lingered in many minds…now, with website that may just become a reality.

Finding reliable freelancers

There are, of course, challenges. Anyone who has ever worked with freelancers knows that dependability and availability are among the most important attributes in the individual. And once work is briefed in, you want to be able to forget about it, secure in the knowledge (not hope) that it will be done to an appropriate standard and on time. It is the entrepreneur’s greatest disappointment when this doesn’t happen, leading to the anguished inner voice screaming “I should have done it myself”. If you’ve used freelancers, you will know this voice all too well. But let’s look at the concept of linking freelancers together on the Web. From a theoretical point of view, it is quite possible and quite viable.

How elance works

Surf over to the elance website and browse to take a look at what kind of skills you can hire. The Groups function breaks it down nicely – and you can see just how many professionals there are available to do your work. It’s much more than simply being able to hire a freelance writer or graphic designer (two jobs which have always lent themselves to freelancing). Instead, on elance, you can find software developers of every stripe, Excel spreadsheet whizzes, iPhone specialists, Cisco experts – and much more (although topping the list are, still, graphic designers). The site offers a very clean and easily understood interface; even its communication of “How it works” is perfectly presented for the Web; concise and to the point. Even payment, a possible headache, gets the full attention: you pay money into Elance Escrow, and release it when (if) satisfied with the results.

Try it out first

While the concept is certainly theoretically possible, bear in mind that it is a global website, which means the possibility of dealing with time zones and the attendant complexities thereof. Throwing your important work into the great unknown of the Internet very definitely requires a substantial leap of faith. It is therefore probably best to try elance out on a trial basis on a “not so important” job before making a more significant commitment.