Online Work Tips & Best Practices

From remote work to distributed teams, from online work to work-from-home, flexible work strategies are core to today’s discussions about talent management, employee engagement, and organizational structure. But despite their rapid growth in adoption, these flexible work strategies are still in their infancy—which means there are few widely known best practices on hiring and managing an online team.

But we consider ourselves lucky—we have a whole community of oDeskers who are seasoned online work experts, ready and willing to share their wisdom. And with that in mind, we are happy to introduce our all-new Client Resource Center, made possible by the many inspiring stories and best practices from some of our favorite users.

In addition to providing practical tips on how to attract, hire and manage top talent online, the resource center profiles many oDesk clients who have found great success with online work. Of course, there is no single recipe for success. But by bringing to light different strategies for harnessing the potential of online work, these clients’ experiences provide guidance for those looking to learn more about online work.

In the Client Resource Center, you’ll find inspirational stories, client videos, and our free eBook, which all feature proven tips from real-life oDesk clients. But here you can get a sneak peek into 3 of their best pieces of advice.

1) Chris Clegg, founder of Portland Marketing Analytics: Set clear expectations.

Chris offers useful advice on how to attract the best talent, hire the right person, and get to work. His first tip is to take your job description seriously. He explains that he used to throw his problems up on oDesk and hope that someone would swoop in with all of the answers. Using this tactic he found a lot of well-meaning contractors that were ultimately unable to help him. Drawing from his experiences, he has found that it’s crucial to “lay out very clearly exactly what you’re looking for and what the expectations are.”

Learning the importance of setting clear expectations has enabled Chris to effectively use online work to grow his company, Portland Marketing Analytics. He explains that since he founded the company in 2009, his revenue has grown every year and his company is on track to become a multi-million dollar company this year. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of oDesk contractors,” he says.

2) Adam Neary, founder and CEO of Activecell: Seek out specialists.

AdamNeary_IllustrationFor Adam, the real benefit of oDesk has been the ability to find and hire specialists. Before turning to oDesk, he spent the vast majority of his venture capital money with little success. In a final attempt to save his business, he turned to online work and got amazing results.  He explains, “Instead of having 6 generalists in New York City, we found a ton of specialists on oDesk. It has been huge for us.”

Key to his success with building a remote workforce was learning to take advantage of the “pick and choose” nature of online work. Adam explained, “I discovered a labor market where very talented people are available for an hour or full time if you need them. It’s like this little buffet, and you can build exactly what you need.” Today, customers and investors alike are thrilled with Activecell’s product, and Adam plans to
continue using this new staffing model to grow his business.

3) Austin Church, founder of Bright Newt: Make sure your freelancers
know they are valued team members.

AustinLChurchOn one hand, online work enables managers to completely reshape their staffing models to best suit their needs. However, in other respects, online management is quite similar to managing workers in person. Austin, for example, explains that the basic principles of good leadership—like treating workers well—still apply to remote teams. Given that people work better if they feel appreciated, Adam’s advice is simple: “Don’t be a jerk.”

Through following his own advice, Austin’s company Bright Newt—a thriving marketing, branding and app development firm—has done great work for clients far and wide. He has built lasting relationships with his freelancers and continues to receive excellent work in exchange for treating his virtual workers as important members of his team.

Want to learn more about successful online management strategies? Visit our Client Resource Center and check out our free eBook. And don’t forget to share your own online work best practices in the comment section below!

Mollie Carter

Director of Freelancer Marketing

As director of freelancer marketing, Mollie Carter brings to Elance-oDesk extensive marketing experience in the Internet and software industry. As a senior manager at PayPal, she was part of the founding team for PayPal’s first telesales organization, helping to build the team to an astounding $50M in annual revenue. While director at PayPal, Mollie led the Merchant Acquisition Marketing and Consumer Engagement Marketing divisions, developing… read more