The Way We Work

oDesk’s new weekly column will help keep you, our beloved readers, informed about exciting news related to online work and the future of work in general. We’ll focus on each week’s most insightful articles discussing topics such as labor markets, technological innovation, trends in contracting, and online work.

Week of 5/25/12:

  • Featured in Harvard Business Review, “The Rise of the Supertemp” profiles a new generation of contractors. Highly qualified and well educated, these “corporate refugees” are fleeing the office park for the flexibility and freedom of independent work. After finding that these contractors are working fewer hours while receiving pay comparable to their full-time counterparts, the article questions the rationale of the 80-hour work week and concludes that mastering the practice of leveraging independent workers will likely be an integral strategy for competitive firms in the future.
  • Jessica Stillman chronicles Hertz Rental Car’s success in shifting customer service support from call centers to workers’ homes, finding that “Remote Work Doesn’t Have to be Glamorous to be Effective.” While Hertz faced minor growing pains in fine-tuning their system, they found that with careful employee selection, their agents’ home productivity could both rival and exceed that of a traditional work environment.
  • Published last week on, tech guru Jeff Haden provides a summary of “5 Traits Remote Employees Must Have.” This article is a must-read that will help employers maximize the benefits of hiring a remote contractor and help contractors earn repeat business.
  • A recent increase in corporations’ use of remote employees has led to significant shifts in business practices, including the adoption of “coworking spaces” by larger companies. GigaOM’s recent article “Can’t We All Just Get Along? Employees, Freelancers, Entrepreneurs and Coworking” compares the effect this practice has had on corporations, to its traditional use by entrepreneurs and independent workers. We would love to hear your thoughts on coworking. Are its benefits significant in remote work?
  • Ready access to high-speed Internet in emerging markets has enabled a new generation of workers to find high-quality jobs regardless of geographical limitations. The Financial Times’ Peter Vanham chronicles this shift and suggests that online work can both have a significant impact on the economies of developing countries and serve as a crucial resource for companies.

As the way the world works changes, we are seeing increased commentary. Stay tuned next week for more news and commentary on the future of work! Please let us know of any developments we have missed, and add your thoughts below.

Jenna Weiner

Content Marketer

Jenna Weiner is the former content marketing manager at oDesk and was the editor-in-chief of the oDesk blog. With a background in business and technology writing, she specializes in content marketing and strategy, public relations, and branding. Before joining oDesk, Jenna was a writer and editor for Monitor Group’s marketing department (now Monitor Deloitte) and was the Business & Technology Section Editor for Brafton Inc.… read more