Online Work Tips & Best Practices

In our Tip Tuesday posts on Facebook, we ask our community about working and hiring on oDesk and invite them to respond with their best online work advice. Our favorite answers are below. Join us on the oDesk Facebook Page every other Tuesday for more great questions and answers!

Editor’s Note: Responses edited for clarity

Q: What are your tips for keeping focused while working from home?

Exercise! I can’t believe how much more productive I am when I take even just half an hour to get my heart pumping and my legs moving first thing in the morning. Richard Branson says exercise adds at least 4 additional hours to his day, and I believe it. Most of us who rely on oDesk—either as an employer or contractor—have jobs that by their nature require us to be computer-and desk-bound, and boy, does that wreak havoc on your energy and health. Movement does wonders for productivity and focus! – Marjorie R. Asturias

Q: What are your tips for effectively managing your online working relationships?

  1. Communicate and create a comfort zone
  2. Establish a sense of commitment and develop common frame of understanding
  3. Understand requirements clearly, and be collaborative
  4. Listen, plan and implement
  5. Show results; visibility of deliverables is important
  6. Be honest, and don’t worry if you are underestimated telling the truth
  7. Patience, and always be sincere
  8. Be a mentor

Tarek Mollah

Q: We all know you need a laptop or mobile device to work away from the home or office. What other essentials do you bring with you when working remotely?

Tip Tuesday, October 2013, online work advice 3Almost every other month, I travel and bring my work with me. To help me get through the trip, I have a handy backpack always set to go which has all my needed tech devices. Included in the bag are pocket wifi with different sim cards, assortment of cables, power bank for my pocket wifi, extra battery for my cellphone in case I need to use my phone for tethering internet, USB with all my important files and iPad. – Voice Within

Q: What are your tips for managing your time when trying to balance multiple clients?

Be honest and don’t commit what you can’t fulfill. I usually use Outlook for managing my calendar. I also use CentralDesktop for managing multiple tasks. It’s really helpful in keeping things on track. – Rehman Shahid

Q: What is the best way to handle a project when an unavoidable delay happens?

Tip Tuesday, October 2013, online work advice 3If I cannot continue with some projects due to some unavoidable circumstances, I always try to make sure that my clients get options to choose from other alternatives and are able to keep their projects running smoothly. Usually I recommend someone to them whom they can reply on in my absence. I know quite a few very good professionals who work in the same field as I do and have good relationship with them and they respond quickly when I try to reach out to them. – Saidur Rahman

Be honest! As soon as you know there is a delay on completing the project, let them know! I always find that this works really well. Problems arise when clients are kept in the dark! – Tracy Morgan

Always be honest, get in touch with your client as soon as possible and inform him about the delay, and how long it would take you to fix the issue. Describe what measures you would take once the issue is over to stay on schedule and cover up for the time lost. Another tip for freelancers from Pakistan or India, always stay connected via data package from your mobile. Even if your DSL breaks down, you can always send an email via your mobile. It also helps you stay in touch 24/7 with your clients and customers. – Gulfam Shabbir

Q: What are the do’s and don’ts of communicating with a client or freelancer?

Tip Tuesday, October 2013, online work advice 4Always review your emails before you hit send—and make sure your email subject is connected to the body. Don’t merely type down “HELLO” or “HI” on the subject line. First impressions last. A simple mishap on your email would definitely affect how your client perceives your ability, especially if the job you are awarded or applying for has something to do with your linguistic and writing abilities. – Yhang Rhea

Simply under-promise and over-deliver. – Claudiu Ioan

Ready to share your online work advice with fellow oDeskers? Visit the oDesk Facebook page every other Tuesday and answer the Tip Tuesday question!



Melanie Feltham

Contributing Author

As the Social Media Community Manager at Upwork, Melanie Feltham works closely with the social team to engage Upwork's active social audience. Her spare time is spent walking the lakeshore near her home office in Toronto, drawing and painting wildlife, and working on passion projects–the latest, a book about misconceptions spread by popular media. Connect with her on Twitter @MelanieFeltham to find out more about… read more