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Imagine a world where employers have access to the best global talent, with just a click. One where people can work whenever they want, wherever they want, however they want. In this world, businesses can hire talent on demand, without worrying about complicated compensation packages, long hiring cycles or expensive overhead. In this world, people can work with companies from across the globe, instead of just those within commuting distance.  This world is not imaginary — it’s Work 3.0, it is the new reality of  business and it’s already here.

In his presentation last week at the GigaOm Net:Work 2011 conference, oDesk CEO Gary Swart explained what Work 3.0 looks like, and how it is changing the world of work. Though many companies are already taking advantage of the technologies that power it, Work 3.0 is just getting started. Given the tremendous possibilities of this way of working, Work 3.0 will likely become commonplace much sooner than you may think. Here’s why:

Every business runs on talent. “It’s the single biggest lever we all have in our companies, regardless of the size, yet we’re all struggling to find good talent,” Gary explained. Traditional hiring is expensive and time-consuming, especially when you consider how competitive it is to attract and secure the best talent, and that “typically the talent doesn’t live where the jobs are located.”

But the times, they are a-changing. In the past two decades, we have gone from Work 1.0 — rigid, structured, on-premise work for one employer — to Work 2.0, where work is performed on site, but improvements in technology infrastructure have brought more flexibility to the workplace.

And now, with further improvements in software and cloud-based applications, we are passing through the gates of Work 3.0 — a world where work is on demand, virtual and remote.

A number of companies and workers have already found tremendous success with this model — Gary presented two examples — but the possibilities are endless.