Once a scary nightmare, depending on your virtual employees is slowly becoming the industry standard. Forget about the ancient idea that you have to have someone sitting across from you to get the work done, you know have the international marketplace at your disposal.

So, what is the most sought after skill for online workers? Iíd say mobile phone developers rank number one, designing websites comes in second, and SEO through social media follows in third. The online employee works from digital workplaces, video conferencing and instant messaging ensures everyone is on the same page.

Working online is the next biggest thing in 2011 Ė itís the way for new business, period.

More and more business have included online workers into their existing business models and more professionals want to work offsite instead of in the office, helping to move labor practices to a more abstract way of getting things done.

Actually, in 2010, when the regular workforce took a turn for the worse, Elance blew up with almost 400,000 job offers. So where are all the online workers hiding? The Lone Star State is the current titleholder for the state with the most amount of people working offsite, closely followed by New York and California, according to Elanceís latest survey. Thanks to Elance, online workers are collectively racking in more than $100 million a year. Since its founding, Elance has provided more than a million jobs. The site makes it an easy process for employees and freelancers to work together by establishing escrow accounts to help avoid any payment hiccups and potential tax problems.

With the help of freelance sites like Elance.com and Odesk, employers find it an easy way to hire online workers. You can also post your own job listings on Craigslist.org, Facebook and several other social media platforms if you like.

Before you even think about posting your own job, read over these tips:

Know exactly what you want done. Be ready to explicitly describe the work, the turnaround time and how you wanted it submitted.

Establish a price for the work done. You can go the usual dollar per hour rate or by the entire project, but be exact.

Use a skills test that sets apart the amateurs from the professionals. If you want to be sure youíre the contracting the right person who claims they are experienced in mobile development, take a look at their scores before you agree to contract them.

Try to combine your real workers with your online ones. Have your online workers use Skypeís video chat feature to keep all lines of communication wide open. The real-time collaboration features will allow you to share files and work in sync with the entire team.

Take one bite at a time. Test the project waters and see if taking an online worker under your wing is worth the effort. If you two donít click, try working with another person.