After weeks of reviewing different companies and coming to the conclusion that I just don’t have the volume of work to employ any specific providers (virtual assistant, developer, designer, etc.) full or even part time I realized I needed a different option. I wanted to move away from project based systems I’ve used in the past like RentACoder and move to more of an hourly based system. I remember reading about a company called oDesk< that specialized in hourly providers. For the most part they are very similar to elance and rentacoder: providers, buyers, ratings, etc. The key differentiator (other than hourly workers) is their "Work Diary". This will sound very "big brother" but the provider has an app that runs on their local system while the provider is "clocked in". This app tracks # of mouse clicks and keyboard strokes... but the kicker is that the app takes a screenshot of the provider's desktop at random intervals every 10 minutes! This sounds pretty scary to many freelancers that like the freedom to work where they want on what they want when they want. That said, it is music to the ears of buyers that are scared to hire someone across the world and never know if the person is really working during the billed hours. oDesk< says it isn't very different than having your manager sitting in the cube next to you... watching every move you make. I tend to agree. I've posted a few different "jobs" and have interviewed quite a few providers over the past month. My success rate has been all over the map. My first venture into oDesk< land was to find someone who could do basic web design / updating for me. Keep in mind I was specifically looking for people that could work CHEAP! You are suppose to interview providers which is a pretty time consuming and difficult process. I found it easier to hire 5 providers for 2 hours to work on the exact same task and see how they performed. Did they work hard to understand the project? Did they ask good questions for clarification? Did they over promise and under deliver? Many just took the project and tried to work on it without asking any questions resulting in some very interesting results. Others replied that they needed more time and some didn't reply at all. A couple did come through with okay results and they would work for basic tasks but I'd probably have to move up the pay scale to get decent results. My second job was where I found a diamond provider! This project was listed as a virtual assistant. Again I replied to about 4 providers giving them the same task. I asked each to search the internet for companies that were competitors and/or complimentary to my most popular site and find out who was advertising with them and where they were advertising. This would provide me with a list of companies to contact for advertising / sponsorship opportunities. Of the 5 applicants 2 were women in the US, two were in India (man and woman) and the third was in Pakistan. I gave them all 3 hours to compile as large a list as possible. After I reviewed the results I was surprised and excited to discover the best results were from the woman in India who also happened to be on the least expensive side of the scale. As mentioned earlier I just don't have enough to give a virtual assistant full time work. Fortunately my new VA is happy to work from project to project as many (up to 20) or as few hours a week as I need. Visit oDesk to see if there is an provider for your next project.