The New Global Workplace

The co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, Bill gates once said that “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”  From the advent of concepts such as e-commerce in the late eighties, the world has certainly moved to a place where this statement has become a current reality.  Not only has business embraced the internet as a communication and trading tool but it has also become a real and active market place where employees market and trade their services.

Thousands of jobs are filled every year by means of online recruiting conducted by websites such as Careerjunction.co.za and Pnet.co.za. These websites mainly serve as a business tool for South African employers and employment agencies to find suitable candidates and for job seekers to seek and apply for these positions. There is however an alternative available to local job seekers that are interested in a more flexible, self-paced and home based work environment, namely internet based freelance.

Businesses across the globe make use of the internet to outsource projects to the international labour market.  In countries with strong economies such as the USA and Australia this is an attractive way of reducing labour cost by employing freelance labour from countries with weaker currencies.  The result is a reduction in the dollar labour cost to the employer by finding an employee that is willing to work at a pay rate that is attractive in his own country due to the exchange rate effect of for example the dollar versus the South African Rand.

Many websites exist for this purpose but usually the process of successfully connecting the employer with prospective employees is a cumbersome one is more focused on longer term employment relationships and business arrangements. However, if you are interested in freelance projects there are some exciting opportunities available on the internet, such as Freelancer.com.

Freelancer.com recently made its debut on the Australian Securities Exchange and is the world's largest outsourcing marketplace.  Outsourcing employers post projects on the website and “freelancers” have the opportunity to “bid” on projects in a fair and transparent manner.  In essence the freelance employee dictates his own rate of pay and the time required to finalise the project and offers his services to the employer on a very user friendly and interactive platform.

Founded in 2009, the company has almost 9.5 million users and more than five million projects posted. It is not uncommon to see 20 thousand users logged in at once.  The types of projects offered are almost endless and range from items such as basic data capturing or graphic design to complicated research or accounting projects.  Payment for project work is secured by a system called "Milestone Payments” whereby Freelancer.com holds advance payments from an employer until the project is complete. Payments are made to the freelance employee via Paypal™ which is administered by FNB in South Africa and other payment options are available.

It is clear that through the development of the internet and internet based business many new and potentially rewarding opportunities have become available to prospective South African employees seeking independence and less formal employment.  The American business management author, Tom Peters is quoted as stating that “South Africa has all the tools to compete in the new global village - an eager workforce, ready to take on any challenge.” Here is certainly such a tool, available to eager and able freelance job seekers.

by Hugo Steyn on 29 November 2013


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