Remote jobs a refuge for workers in crisis-hit economies

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The news out of Europe has been despressing month after month with seemingly endless talk of bailouts, recession and shocking rates of unemployment. And things don’t show any sign of resolving imminently, with Spain the latest focal point for anxious markets.

All of the gloom and doom is a stress for bankers and politicians, but for workers on the ground the challenges are severe and immediate, and their ability to influence their situation (short of immigrating) limited. But the quarterly Global Online Employment Report from online job board Elance released today suggests there is at least one refuge from the economic storm that workers are increasingly utilizing– remote work.

The analysis of hiring across the globe on the site showed a sizable growth in earnings for contractors in crisis-stricken European countries. Greek workers on the platform earned 122 percent more compared to the previous year, while Spanish contractors earned 142 percent more.

“One of the benefits of online work is the ability for contractors (and businesses) to ‘escape’ their local economies. A number of countries in Europe have weak economies and the workers in these countries are seeking work online. It’s a great solution – temporary or permanent,” said Kjetil Olsen, vice president, Europe at Elance said in a statement accompanying the report.

Konstantina Zoehrer, head of business and strategic partnership development at Athens coworking space Loft2Work, confirmed in an email that, unsurprisingly, space members are hungry for alternatives to largely non-existent local jobs. “What we see is a increasing demand of targeted networking and skill development as there is a trend towards entrepreneurial activities,” she wrote, explaining that her space has tried to help along those looking to sell their services outside the stricken traditional job market. “We adapted our pricing policy to the current socioeconomic circumstances,” she said. “As a social enterprise we work towards the integration of inactive workforce in the labor market.”

In an overview of the embryonic Greek coworking scene that appeared earlier this year in coworking magazine DeskMag also confirms the general thrust of the Elance findings. Terrible economic realities on the ground, “have added fuel to the growing trend of independent and contingency workers who make up the majority of the membership at coworking spaces,” wrote Anna Cashman.

Do you think the economic crisis in Europe will spur the uptake of remote working? Will the effects outlast the crisis?

Image courtesy of Flickr user how will I ever.

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