The Way We Work

oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on labor markets, innovation, and online work.

Week of 9/14/2012:

NPR: The ‘Skills Mismatch’: Failing To Meet Demand
oDesk CEO Gary Swart was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition show on Saturday, discussing the issue of unemployment in the U.S. With more than 3 million jobs currently unfilled in the United States, Gary suggests that online workplaces such as oDesk can help match companies to workers with in-demand skills. This has clearly resonated with businesses, as “demand we’ve seen year-on-year [for online workers] is growing off the charts,” Gary said. The article additionally features an interview with UC Berkeley economics professor Brad Delong, who believes that the issue of unemployment is due to a lack of demand in the economy, as businesses and the government are not spending sufficiently to employ the entire population.

FastCoexist: Working From Home Makes You More Productive
In this Fast Co.Exist article, Ariel Schwartz discusses the results of a recent remote work experiment conducted by the Chinese travel company CTrip. The study, run by Stanford researchers Nicholas Bloom, John Roberts and Zhichun Jenny Ying, assigned a randomized sample of CTrip employees to work from home for nine months and monitored their productivity during this period. The results were impressive, with telecommuting employees outperforming office-based workers by 13%. The most impressive gains were made in the number of minutes worked per shift and the volume of work each employee could handle. You can read oDesk’s coverage of the report here.

Inc.: How To Interview A Job Candidate–The Best Technique You Never Use
When hiring online workers, interviews are a crucial tool hiring managers can use to gauge a candidate’s fit and qualifications. Want to get the most out of your interviews? Slow down and listen. Jeff Haden writes that by “listening slowly” and pausing between questions, an interviewer can turn the exercise into a conversation, and elicit further insight from the candidate.   

Harvard Business Review: Bring Courtesy Back To The Workplace
Between dispersed teams, busy schedules and global travel, modern professionals are increasingly turning to digital methods of communication in order to collaborate with colleagues. Ron Ashkenas, a managing partner at Schaffer Consulting, suggests that a byproduct of the switch from personal to virtual communication can be a breakdown of courtesy in the workplace. Ron suggests that speaking openly about workplace courtesy and encouraging team members to speak out against poor behavior can help improve team relations and “bring courtesy back to the workplace.”

Did we miss anything? Are there any insights you find particularly interesting? Let us know in the comments section 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