The Way We Work – Upwork Blog https://www.upwork.com/blog Insights, info and updates about Upwork Thu, 05 May 2016 13:00:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Perspectives on the Future of Work: May 2 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/05/future-work-may-2/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/05/future-work-may-2/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37243

What’s the latest news about the future of work? This week’s roundup highlights the impact of digital learning opportunities, the influence of entrepreneurial hubs, and the value of building relationships with other freelancers.

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Upwork’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and working with freelancers, freelancing, and the future of work.

Digitalist | How To Create a Culture of Continuous Learning

Beyond the walls of traditional educational institutions, the way we learn continues to be transformed by the digital age. Whether you’re a business leader eager to help your team level-up its skills or a freelance entrepreneur bridging skill gaps to land new clients, specialized post-secondary learning is far easier than it once was thanks to the range of ebooks, apps, online courses, and other digital resources available.

Business writer and tech consultant Polly Traylor reports that this shift is spurring companies and entrepreneurs alike to find new ways to keep skills sharpened through virtual learning opportunities. Speaking with experts on the subject, Traylor uncovers interesting perspective on the growing trend toward creating a culture to spur ongoing learning beyond the physical classroom.

“My daughter wanted to apply to the Centers for Disease Control for an internship, which required statistics knowledge. So she went to Khan Academy, took a few modules, and passed the test,” said author and workplace futurist Karie Willyerd. “It’s the idea that you can instantly get the training you need…companies are getting increasingly virtual. There will be a very limited percentage of training that is done live in the future.”

It’s not just a transition to digital formats, either. The goal of creating continuous learning opportunities is an approach more businesses are adopting these days.

“The general shelf life of knowledge is shortening with the increasing pace of digital transformation, so companies need a strategy to push knowledge and make sure that knowledge is always fresh,” said Bernd Welz, a senior VP at SAP. “That’s where the digital learning platforms come into play.

Tech.Co | Being an Entrepreneur Might Be Contagious

Have you caught the entrepreneurial bug yet? Hanging around creative folks who are constantly coming up with inventive ideas to pursue? It might be just a matter of time before you get bitten, too, says Tech.Co writer Conor Cawley.

A recent study from the World Economic Forum suggests individuals who are surrounded by entrepreneurs are significantly more likely to become one themselves: The historical data taken from a study of a dozen of Italy’s entrepreneurial centers shows marked upward trends in these hotspots.

“The study dictates that the learning environment created by startup hubs is invaluable to people looking to start a business,” writes Cawley in his analysis. “While researchers originally thought that the draw of low startup prices was bringing entrepreneurs to certain areas, the data showed that impressionable minds are highly influenced by an entrepreneurial setting.”

Freelancers Union | Why Other Freelancers are Not the Enemy

Camaraderie, not competition, is the lifeblood of the freelance economy, says business blogger Sagan Morrow. She makes a strong case for encouraging freelancers to make nice with their self-employed brethren. Given the challenges that freelancers can face, Morrow says it’s important to band together and forge a strong sense of community to support and help one another.

“When you have other freelancers with whom you can connect, share ideas, and simply commiserate on the challenges that are unique to freelancing, you’ll be able to do an even better job freelancing,” she said. “You need to be able to have others to whom you can go who understand your line of work so that you can help each other out, brainstorm, and constantly improve at the world of freelancing.”

The fact that many freelancers offer very different services, and not everyone has the bandwidth to tackle every gig opportunity that arises, also adds to her argument that it’s more valuable to make friends with other freelancers—especially when people are in the position to help one another out.

What business trends have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Growing your Freelance Business: Hiring Help https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/freelance-business-hiring-help/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/freelance-business-hiring-help/#respond Wed, 27 Apr 2016 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37177

There comes a time in every freelance professional’s life when a potential client approaches you with an amazing project but there is no way you can pull it off with your current workload—unless you have help. Melanie Feltham highlights some of the ways freelancers can benefit by hiring their own freelance help.

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There comes a time in every freelance professional’s life when a potential client approaches you with an amazing project but there is no way you can pull it off with your current workload. So you have to turn it down.

The first time this happened to me, I was over the moon. It meant I’d made it, I was in demand. Clients were coming to me without me seeking them out, and I didn’t have a minute to spare. But I really didn’t like saying no to awesome projects.

So I started thinking. What if I said yes? Well, I’d need some help. Not with the project itself—the clients were specifically looking for my expertise and hiring out their work would be dishonest. However, I could get assistance with other things that were less dependent on my skill set. Like all of the necessary things I had to do regularly that were not billable to any particular client but nevertheless took up time I could otherwise spend on project work.

After an analysis of my time, I identified several areas in which another professional could be responsible for non-billable hours more efficiently–and more cost effectively–than I could myself. Here is a sample of the types of freelancers that are great resources for busy freelance professionals.

A calculator and pen sitting on top of financial information

1.Taxes and Accounting

The first time I did my self-employment taxes, it took me more than 10 hours. And it wasn’t at all enjoyable. A freelance tax pro likely could have completed the same work in half the amount of time. If I had used those 10 hours for billable work, and hired someone to do the taxes for me, I would have been ahead financially!

Scheduling new appointments in a calendar application

2. Administrative Support

A lot of time is wasted sorting through emails, booking appointments, keeping track of deadlines, planning tasks, and answering calls. And as your business grows, so does the number of administrational tasks that you need to take care of. An admin support specialist can take these non-billable tasks off your plate and allow you to focus on the meat of your projects.

A man and a woman discuss business over a computer

3. Business Development

As entrepreneurs we can’t help but want to continually improve our businesses and set bigger goals year after year. Maybe that means developing a strong brand identity including a logo, a website, or a strong social web presence. These goals, and the work needed to bring them to life, all fall under non-billable hours, but they can be key in expressing to potential clients the legitimacy of your work and positioning you as an expert in their minds.

Although a DIY approach to design, branding, and marketing is tempting, if you don’t have the necessary skills to complete this type of work—and do it well—you may end up doing more harm than good.

The key is to remember that a professional in that particular area has the knowledge to do things efficiently. It could take you twice the time—time you could be billing. See the trend here?

A freelancer taps their pen on their open notepad

4. Writing and Editorial

How much time do you spend drafting emails and reports? How many times have you submitted a report to find out—too late—that you included a number of grammatical and spelling errors? If writing isn’t your specialty—and even if it is—these things can happen frequently. Having a go-to editor can save you countless hours and will go a long way to improve the professional appearance of your work.

A woman does research on her computer

5. Research

I don’t know how many times a day I make a note that starts with “find out how/if…” I work in an industry that is ever changing. So it takes a lot of time to gather and stay on top of the information I need to ensure my processes stay relevant. Collecting those notes in one place for an Internet researcher to find the answers for me saves countless hours and improves the quality of my work.

Does this sounds familiar to you? If you feel like it is time to expand your business even more by building a team of individuals who have skills that are similar or complementary to your own, maybe it is time to start an agency.

What types of freelancers have you hired? Are there any other categories you think that would be useful for freelancers to hire from? Tell us in the comments.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 25 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/future-work-april-25/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/future-work-april-25/#respond Mon, 25 Apr 2016 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37134

What’s the latest news about the future of work? This week’s roundup highlights the potential of the virtual reality-driven office, how to build a business outside your day job, and how some founders handle the stress of entrepreneurship.

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Upwork’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and working with freelancers, freelancing, and the future of work.

Engadget | Virtual Desktop for VR is a Glimpse at a Future Without Monitors

The growing potential for virtual reality (VR) to provide wild new entertainment experiences is all the buzz right now in the gaming and tech world. With the first retail VR devices—like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive—fresh on the market, gaming companies aren’t the only ones interested in finding ways to put these high tech devices to good use.

After going hands-on—or rather, eyes-on—with a new VR app that can bring a Windows desktop into the virtual space, Engadget tech writer Devindra Hardawar reports the creative world may be on the verge of a display revolution that could change the way people work in their home office.

“Imagine having your entire Windows desktop projected on a movie theater screen while sitting in the best seat in the house, and you’ll have some idea of what Virtual Desktop offers,” says Hardawar. “Instead of a darkened theater, though, the display floats atop your choice of backgrounds…it brings to mind fantastical interfaces from science fiction.”

The ability to customize the look, setup, and layout of the virtual workspace makes it an enticing option, though Hardawar notes the current implementation holds more promise than immediate practical function for the time being.

“I could see creative types preferring it to a restrictive monitor setup, especially for things like video and audio editing, where you normally have dozens of tracks to juggle at once,” he says. “The app feels like a sign of things to come.”

Entrepreneur | 7 Tips to Build a Business While Working a Day Job

Transitioning into a freelance business takes time and patience to do successfully. For anyone looking to start their journey down the path to self-employment, Entrepreneur contributor Grace Bluerock offers several motivational tips to help keep you on track and optimistic while you prepare for the big leap.

Have a vision and be committed. It’s important to write down where you see your business in the future, envision what that looks like, and take active steps toward accomplishing your dreams of entrepreneurship.

Determine your “why.” This is a critical first step, says Bluerock. “Whatever your reason, knowing what motivates and drives you is what will keep you focused and committed to your dream when times get difficult.”

Connect with likeminded peers. Joining a mastermind group to network with and learn from other entrepreneurs can be a powerful source of inspiration.

Make daily progress towards your goals. If you set aside time each day to make small, measurable progress toward building your business, you’ll amass small wins that inspire you to keep the forward momentum.

Inc. | How Five Young Founders Handle the Daily Stress of Entrepreneurship

For all of its high points, entrepreneurship has many challenges and stresses, too. Overcoming these difficult moments can helps business owners grow stronger. In this installment of an ongoing series on entrepreneurship and work-life balance, writer and entrepreneur Kelly Hoey explores how different people deal with the obstacles that can arise.

Each of Hoey’s interviewees shared personal insights into how they cope with the stresses of entrepreneurship; here’s a snippet of what several had to say regarding the secret to their success.

  • Good decision making skills. “The ability to handle a consistently high intake of information, identify connections, and rapidly reflect these in your decisions,” says Felicia Schneiderhan, cofounder of 30SecondsToFly.
  • Strong mental self-control. “Figuring out how to manage your own psychology,” says Mary Lemmer, cofounder, Iorio’s Gelato and Foodscape.
  • Flexibility and honesty. “Being honest with yourself and others. Be prepared for change,” says Amrita Aviyente, founder and CEO of Date My Wardrobe.
  • Being willing to take a breather when necessary. “Take time for yourself,” says Kiki Schirr, founder of Valley Girl Magazine.

What work trends have caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Four Ways to Get the Rate You Want: Tips From a Six-Figure Freelancer https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/get-freelance-rate-you-want/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/get-freelance-rate-you-want/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 19:00:14 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37109

One freelancer shares his easy-to-follow best practices to help you increase your value to your clients and serve them better—the first essential step that can help enable you to successfully raise your rates.

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Few freelancers start out making a six-figure income and Tim H. is no exception. A marketing strategist and writer who joined Upwork in 2009, he doubled income every year and within three years Tim went from an income of $0 to nearly $100,000 every year—with a gradual increase that ultimately raised his rate more than 1,500 percent from where he started.

Freelancers can make mistakes when deciding what to charge, but there are ways to raise your rates to reflect your value in the marketplace. Start by doing your market research, considering how other successful freelancers position themselves or how similar projects compare budget-wise. Then make a gameplan that will help you reach your target. Then, put it into action as you wow your clients and pave the way to your goals.

Tim’s strategy is to deliver value to his clients every day and his strategy is paying off.

But he’s found that getting the rate you want takes more than doing good work. He’s refined the process he uses to identify the work and clients that are the best match for him: Work that “enables me to make a difference and add value to their mission, is interesting and challenging enough to make me better at what I do, pays well, and leads to great feedback,” he said.

Here are Tim’s easy-to-follow best practices to help you increase your value to your clients and serve them better—the first essential step to help enable you to successfully raise your rates.

1. Understand What Your Clients Want—and Prove It

“Clients care about streamlined processes, less stress, and more bang for their buck,” said Tim. By understanding and delivering on these components autonomously, you can make your clients’ jobs easier and make them look better to their higher-ups, shareholders, and customers.

Think through what the client is asking for and how you will deliver, then document it. For example, if you’re providing copy for an email campaign, consider creating a master document that details key dates and milestones with room to add links to deliverables as they’re created. This can help keep everyone up to date while making important files easier to find and manage.

“Once you understand what your client wants, you prove it to them by executing proactively and independently on the projects so your client sees that you know what you are doing.”

2. Communicate Well and Set Expectations

As the captain of your business success, you’re responsible for ensuring great communication and aligning expectations—two metrics that can determine the success of a client-freelancer relationship.

Tim does both simply and effectively with an infographic he created for his clients that clearly illustrates his process—and even the hours he works.

A diagram of the process freelancer Tim H uses for copywriting projects

“I think a lot of people—clients and freelancers—take good communication as a given, but that’s a dangerous assumption to make because different people have different expectations,” Tim said.

“I created the Process infographic because it’s a very clear way to start a new relationship. Clients know exactly what to expect from me and the quality of my work—and then I deliver again and again autonomously, and my clients keep coming back.”

3. Exceed Expectations

Once you’ve set clear expectations, Tim says you should do what you can to exceed them:

  • Deliver faster than they anticipate,
  • Be a brand ambassador by supporting them on social media and in your networks, and
  • Send them business or free opportunities that could be valuable to them.

When clients find rockstar freelancers, they often want to keep working with them on future projects. They also tend to refer top talent to their own contacts, and may leave a positive review to help you land your next client—further helping you showcase your value in a way that supports a higher rate.

4. Show Your Appreciation

“Saying thank you is a small way to show clients you appreciate their business but—like good communication—it’s a simple act that’s often overlooked,” said Tim. At a minimum, leave a thoughtful review after each job is completed. Consider going a bit further and send a more traditional snail mail thank you; it’s a thoughtful gesture and another way to show your attention to detail.

Tim regularly sends care packages as part of his plan to build long-term client relationships. He personalizes each box with inspirational items including books his clients may find interesting, products from other clients he represents, and even small items that relate to clients’ hobbies or their children.

Tim feels his thank you packages “spur clients in their awesome missions, show my appreciation for their loyalty, and say thank you for investing their lives, talents, and resources in doing work that matters.”

Tim’s extra efforts are part of why clients keep coming back to him and refer him to others. “It’s one thing to do great work, it’s another to build a lasting mutually beneficial relationship. Clients want to feel that you care about their business, and this is one way I have found to show that I not only care about my clients but also want to help inspire and support them and their business.”

Getting the Rate You Want Starts with the Basics

It took three years for Tim to reach the level of income he aspired to. The game changer for your business isn’t just following these tips, it’s doing them consistently and on an ongoing basis.
With nearly half of his business made up of long-term clients, breaking it down to the simplest factors Tim considers “adding value autonomously and consistently showing up as the two main keys to building long-term relationships. If clients can depend you, that adds significant value to your role.”

When and How to Tactfully Increase Your Rates

People find different ways to raise their rates with new and existing clients. Tim generally doesn’t raise his rates unless he has been working with a client for a couple of years.

When he does think it’s time for a rate change, his first step is to communicate with the client. To ease the transition, he typically offers two options: To increase his rate in small increments, or to switch to a fixed-rate price for a period of time.

One thing he suggests is to track the impact your work has (i.e. web traffic, sales, downloads). Then when you speak to them about your rate, you can provide concrete data that shows how you’re helping their business.

Tim’s parting advice: Always be committed to delivering your best work and higher rates will follow. Getting projects from repeat clients is a sign they’re confident about you and your experience. If you consistently deliver value, your clients will grow with you.

“Each freelancer has their own criteria when getting gigs—individual strengths and talents—and their own standard ways to wow their clients,” he said. “Embrace your uniqueness, get the gigs that will maximize your potential, and make the most of them. All the money you need will follow if you focus on adding your value.”

The post Four Ways to Get the Rate You Want:
Tips From a Six-Figure Freelancer
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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 18 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/future-work-april-18/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/future-work-april-18/#respond Mon, 18 Apr 2016 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37102

What’s the latest news about the future of work? This week’s roundup highlights how technology is changing companies’ attitudes and approaches toward outsourcing, tips on surviving the first year of entrepreneurship, and which tasks are best suited for delegating to freelancers.

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Upwork’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and working with freelancers, freelancing, and the future of work.

Tech.Co | How to Survive Your First Year of Entrepreneurship

Whether you’re launching a startup or a freelance business, the statistic that Alumnify CEO AJ Agrawal cites at the beginning of his article is an intimidating one: Most entrepreneurs give up within one year.

To increase the odds of your not being among them, he offers the following tips:

  • Have a solid goal beyond “be successful.” “A common mistake is that people have no real idea what they want to accomplish or why they are doing this,” he said. “It leads to them doing something without any meaning or purpose in mind.”
  • Maintain a solid work ethic. Don’t let unexpected or early wins lull you into the belief that you can afford to take it easy.
  • Delegate tasks that don’t play to your strengths.
  • Be open to risk, but assess the pros and cons first.
  • Be prepared to make some sacrifices. “Many entrepreneurs simply can’t stomach the idea of living lean and living with a constant jittery feeling that they are going to fail,” Agrawal noted. “Comfort is not something you are going to experience often in this line of work.”

Inc. | 7 Outsourceable Tasks That Are Stealing Your Productivity

“Stop wasting time on tasks that don’t fuel growth,” wrote Sujan Patel, co-founder of Narrow.io and ContentMarketer.io. The freelance economy enables businesses of all sizes to find professionals with the skills to support them—freeing both time and energy.

Engaging freelance talent can enable you to better focus on key responsibilities, strengths, and strategizing, which will benefit both your business and your mental health. Among the tasks Patel suggests delegating:

  • Scheduling, bookkeeping, and other admin.
  • Research—especially as those experienced in gathering data can compile relevant information much more quickly than you probably can.
  • Graphic design and other presentation preparations (unless graphic design is what you do, of course).
  • Personal errands.
  • Content marketing and social media management. “You never want to slack on your marketing,” Patel wrote, “so the best thing to do is outsource it.”

Does the idea of relinquishing control of even these tasks make you uneasy? “Choose your least favorite task or a big time-suck (like writing) and outsource it on a trial basis to see how it goes,” Patel advises. “Then you can best determine the value of outsourcing on your own.”

What future of work news or trends have caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 11 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/future-work-april-11/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/future-work-april-11/#respond Mon, 11 Apr 2016 13:00:02 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37075

What's the latest news about the future of work? This week’s roundup highlights the trend toward "portfolio careers," a company that aims to make 1099 taxes easier, and one professional's intro to the freelance life.

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Upwork’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and working with freelancers, freelancing, and the future of work.

Forbes | How to Have Two Successful Careers at the Same Time

The future of “moonlighting” has a new buzzword, reports Forbes contributor and author Ruchika Tulshyan. Alongside the rise of independent contractors and solo entrepreneurs, there’s a growing trend toward “portfolio careers”—where professionals maintain a full-time career while pursuing secondary part-time roles or freelance projects that align with their passions and interests.

Rather than being viewed as an escape plan for transitioning out of a career and into a fully freelance lifestyle, these secondary careers provide additional income, fulfillment, and flexibility, she says. “More millennials are seeing their career trajectories shaping up more like a jungle gym than a straight career ladder, where multiple self-directed activities could lead to a self-created version of career success,” said Tulshyan.

Portfolio careers can be viable over the long-term with some care, according to consultant Samantha Clark, who shares a few tips for anyone considering taking this approach to their work life.

Careful planning is key. “It’s important to have a portfolio plan that maps out your cash, lifestyle and skills,” she said. “I don’t advise quitting a full-time job without mapping all of this out.”

Find the complementary pieces and fit them together. “Is there a way the different pieces of your portfolio career could overlap? Are there skills you could develop in one area that could be handy in another?” says Clark.

Schedule your time in advance. “[P]eople get burnt out by not planning their schedule properly…It’s easy to find lots of shiny new things and take off in different directions.”

Co.Exist | This Company Wants To Make Tax Season Easier For The 1099 Economy

Tax time is rarely a treat for anyone, but freelancers frequently face a much more complex level of challenge when it comes to taming their annual taxes. A new company aims to remove the sting of seasonal tax woes, however, by offering banking options that include smart savings accounts that auto-deduct enough earnings to cover estimated taxes, reports Co.Exist writer Ben Schiller.

Painless1099 caters heavily to the growing freelance population, with a service that tucks away the appropriate percentage of your income for taxes as soon as it comes in.

“Where most people get in trouble in the 1099 world is in managing their tax obligations,” said Painless1099 co-founder ACe Callwood. “The American workforce is terrible at putting aside 15% to 20% of their money and not pinching into it for various reasons. This is about getting money out of your face before you see it and want to spend it.”

HOW Magazine | Insights from a Rocky Road to Creative Self-Employment

Transitioning from full-time employment to the freelance life can be tough if you don’t have the time to plan and build a runway to ease into the flow of self-employment. HOW guest contributor and freelance designer Greg Paprocki found himself in that very predicament after losing his agency job and setting out on his own. The sudden shift in gears proved to be a difficult one, he says, but it ultimately led down the path towards a more fulfilling career as a freelance designer.

“The best professional decision I ever made was to forgo relaxing after work and on weekends so that I could build my portfolio. I would come home from my job and get started on my book or anything else that would bolster my body of work,” he said. “Beefing up my body of work with art that had a very wide degree of styles gave me an edge.”

This helped Paprocki secure work almost immediately when he made the move to freelancing, and it’s one of many tips he offers to prospective freelancers. Additionally, he suggests that self-employed creatives keep up with current industry rates to avoid undervaluing their services, take steps to protect their intellectual property rights, and remain flexible when working with clients.

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 4 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/future-work-april-4/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/04/future-work-april-4/#respond Mon, 04 Apr 2016 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=37038

What's the latest news about the future of work? This week’s roundup highlights how small businesses can benefit from coworking spaces, and how companies can capitalize on blended workforces.

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Upwork’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and working with freelancers, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 04/04/2016:

Yahoo! Finance | These startups want to put an end to crowded offices

“Where you work—and how you work—is changing faster than you think,” explained finance reporter Melody Hahm. As smaller companies proliferate, there is an increasing need for affordable, low-commitment office space. For many of them, coworking is the answer.

This shift toward coworking spaces isn’t just for tech startups, either. All kinds of small businesses can benefit from shared space arrangements, including solopreneurs, freelancers, and consultants.

“To skeptics who might think this is a passing trend for 20- and 30-somethings in hot markets like New York and San Francisco, keep this in mind,” Hahm said. “The demand for office space will continue to outpace supply across the U.S., according to the latest PwC survey, and pushing [sic] up rent prices in secondary markets like Nashville and Austin as well.”

Good Hire | How HR Can Capitalize on a Blended Workforce

The rise of the digital economy, explains Lauren Small, has “provided the perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs and freelancers to work in highly specialized fields with more flexibility” as free agents.  This increase means that companies can consider a broader mix of options: “in other words, a blended-workforce,” said Lauren Small, a technology writer for Good Hire. And more businesses are moving in that direction: One-third of companies in a recent Accenture survey reported “they are increasingly relying on contracted staff in addition to full-time employees.”

Blended workforces help with both talent and bottom-line needs. Freelancers can be lifesavers when helping with special projects, seasonal needs, or during a company’s bootstrapping or high-growth phase.

Freelancers also help cut costs.”Freelancers and some contract employees are paid project by project, so there’s no annual salary. Many freelancers work from home as well, reducing the need for additional office space.”  But they can also increase legal costs as companies figure out how to classify and work with their new blended workforce in a compliant way.

“With a clear strategy in place, you can use a blended workforce to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and take advantage of top talent,” she concluded.

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Balancing Act: How to Manage Time When You Have Multiple Clients https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/03/balancing-act-manage-time-multiple-clients/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/03/balancing-act-manage-time-multiple-clients/#respond Tue, 29 Mar 2016 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=36992

How do you manage your time when working with multiple clients? We asked the Upwork Facebook Community for their tips—here's what they had to say.

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One of the most important aspects of being a successful freelancer is developing your time management skills. These allow you to schedule, work on, and complete numerous projects, with different clients, in different stages of completion, all at the same time—an absolute must if you want to grow your freelance business.

How can you manage your time and stay on track? We asked our Facebook Community for their tips. Here is what they had to say.


“I make use of the Pomodoro method. It helps a lot. Each Pomodoro is a 25-minute cycle followed by a 5-minute break. After the fourth Pomodoro, you take a 15-minute break.”
– Christina Ramas

“I use a task manager, where I have every day’s to-do list separated by project and priority. I recommend Todoist.”
Adriana Chionetti

“I have been struggling with this ever since I tried going to an electronic calendar. This year, I went back to a paper planner with time blocked out for each client, priority to-do lists, and recognition that sometimes I may need to erase or rearrange. I also use a big whiteboard to list my clients at a glance, crossing off jobs as I finish them. These two methods together are working.”
Bonniejean Alford Hinde

“I am a pen and paper person. I like to write things down. So I use a spiral notebook to track all of my to-do’s for the day. I put the client’s name with their own task list and then deadlines. So I record every detail. Same routine for small and big projects, with or without deadlines. Also just be honest, set boundaries with each client, and don’t promise things you can’t deliver.”
Fernmaiden Fuentes

“Start with a table in Word/Doc/Notepad: 1. List all your clients. 2. List the number of articles or words (for me) to be submitted that day PER Client. 3. List the time you hope to spend on it. 4. Strike off each one when complete and add your time.”
Geo Maria George


With a little practice, scheduling to-do’s for multiple projects will become a natural and automatic part of your workday. For more on how to optimize your day, be sure to check out Time Saving Tips for Remote Workers and 5 Ways to Keep Your Day Running Smoothly.

Editor’s note: Responses edited for grammar and spelling. The statements above are those of their authors and do not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork.

How do you manage your time when working with multiple clients? Tell us in the comments!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 28 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/03/future-of-work-march-28/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/03/future-of-work-march-28/#respond Mon, 28 Mar 2016 12:30:02 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=36984

What's the latest news about the future of work? This week’s roundup highlights lessons learned by a digital nomad, and the question freelancers face of whether to diversify their skills or not.

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Upwork’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and working with freelancers, freelancing, and the future of work.

Forbes | What Digital Nomads Know That You Don’t (Yet)

Taking the concept of remote work to the next level, a growing number of adventure-seeking freelancers are eschewing permanent residence for a life of constant travel, reports Forbes contributor and podcast Jules Schroeder.

These digital nomads are finding financial success alongside the freedom to work from anywhere in the world. As more self-employed creatives take their business on the road, they’re also changing what the future of work can look like for freelancers who love to explore.

“What differentiates me from many round the world and gap-year travelers is that I worked the entire time,” said digital nomad and freelance entrepreneur Shannon O’Donnell. “In the past seven years, I have only truly taken two long breaks from my SEO consulting work, my freelance online work, and the weekly upkeep on my blog.”

O’Donnell has traveled across 55 countries while living and working remotely with clients over the past seven years. She shares a few important takeaways for anyone who plans to embark on a similar nomadic journey.

1) There’s never a “right” time, so just go for it. If you’ve put off doing something exciting with your life, traveling the world and working remotely can be a rewarding way to earn back the money you spend while you enjoy a memorable new adventure, she says.

2) You have the power to shape your own path. O’Donnell suggests focusing on your own goals and following the path that makes sense to you. There’s no single approach to take when considering the life of a digital nomad.

3) Experiences can be just as valuable as “things.” Traveling and living on-the-go naturally means keeping worldly possessions to a minimum. She recommends investing in your happiness through other enriching ways beyond fancy material things.

Freelancers Union | Diversify Your Skill Set or Focus on Your Niche? How to Find a Balance that Suits You

Should you diversify and expand the scope of your work or niche down and specialize in a specific area of expertise? It’s a big question that many freelancers face at different points as they grow their freelance businesses.

The answer isn’t always a straightforward one, says long-time freelancer Michelle Nickolaisen, who believes it’s important to weigh your options and determine which approach will deliver the most value to your business.

On one hand, it’s important to be able to easily describe your services in a way that your ideal clients will understand and find appealing. “You need to have something very concrete and pitchable,” she said. “You need to be able to explain it to a prospective client in one (ideally, short) sentence.”

This is where specialization and narrower fields of skill focus can be put to good use for freelancers. Being direct and streamlined in your approach, however, doesn’t have to limit you if you have complementary skills that overlap.

“When I first started pitching myself as a freelancer while at my agency job, my portfolio site was geared for not just freelance writing, but social media marketing and content marketing strategy as well,” said Nickolaisen. “These are all complementary services, and potential clients weren’t confused by the combination of them.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Coworking: A Compelling Solution For the Unconventional Professional https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/03/coworking-unconventional-professional/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2016/03/coworking-unconventional-professional/#comments Thu, 24 Mar 2016 13:00:47 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=36954

Mobile professionals are looking for new office environments that better suit their needs, often ditching a home office or disruptive coffee shop for space that helps give their day structure, offers a sense of community, and fosters collaboration.

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shown above: TechSpace, Los Angeles, CA

We’ve come a long way from the days of the in-office cubicle and rigidly-defined 9-to-5 schedule. In an effort to continue attracting top talent, many companies have transitioned to a much more flexible approach to ”working from the office.” We’ve also seen many professionals embrace freelancing, enjoying the freedom and flexibility it offers them. These mobile professionals seek new office environments that better suit their needs, often ditching a home office or disruptive coffee shop for space that helps give their day structure, offers a sense of community, and fosters collaboration.

Coworking spaces help satiate the needs of the (continually growing) population of freelancers and mobile professionals currently in the workforce—a direct result of the millennials’ coming of age. Millennials have forced the rules to change as companies scramble to appeal to this growing pool of workers. By 2020, millennials will account for nearly half of the entire U.S. workforce. High on the millennial’s list of job desires: Death to the 9-to-5. The children of the Internet age were raised on dreams of living their “best life,” where their career is not just a paycheck but also a lifestyle, their work intrinsically bound to their sense of personal identity. Above all other factors, millennials crave the autonomy offered by flexible schedules and locations.

The Hattery (San Francisco, California)

The Hattery (San Francisco, CA)

When we asked Liz Presson, founder of WorkingRemote.ly, why she left her cubicle lifestyle behind, she referenced a quote by Brian Doll: “We work on the Internet and that doesn’t care where you are.” In our hyper-efficient world, new technology has sprung up to help us find equilibrium as we rush to balance the need for location flexibility with the need for effective communication. These tools allow teams to streamline their digital communication and track time spent on projects online. They can even help someone book a desk for the day to power through a dense assignment while they’re out of town.

However, for all of its selling points, the life of freelancing and working flexibly comes with one major caveat: It can be quite lonely. For every glorious rainy day spent warm, dry, and indoors, there is a day where that same freedom can leave you with the distinct feeling that you’re being left out of the loop.

When we talked to the founders of successful coworking spaces about the impetus for founding their company, motivations were strikingly similar. Rachel Young founded Camaraderie to serve as “[a coworking space] that would take in anyone that was looking for community and collaboration.” Ahmet Onur designed Kolektif House as a space to nurture the creative process by organically forming a community founded on the concepts of mutual inspiration and support. Bruno Freitas created São Paulo’s Plug as a space to welcome small companies and startups fighting against Brazil’s rigid approach to the traditional workplace.

Each story was different, but shared a core commonality: Coworking spaces are a long awaited safe haven for those who think differently.

Rainmaking Loft (Berlin, Germany)

Rainmaking Loft (Berlin, Germany)

Coworking spaces are increasing in popularity at a rapid rate, transforming these flex offices from “quirky concept” into a full-blown movement. What is it about these spaces that creates such nurturing environments for freelancers?

At their core, they’re workspaces defined not by the needs of a corporation but by the needs of an individual. An investigation by Harvard Business Review found that freelancers in a coworking environment see an increase in productivity and happiness for a handful of reasons, including autonomy, sense of community, and a chance to shake up their daily routine. Many enjoy the chance to establish a ritual and routine to ground their process while still enjoying the flexibility of 24/7 access. Working among people with a collectively diverse set of skills, interests, job titles, and experience often leads to invaluable opportunities for collaboration—a great way to stay inspired.

Perhaps most importantly, these collective spaces offer independent workers the chance to connect and form a community. Seth Godin, author of the bestseller Tribes, believes truly meaningful change occurs not when leaders force their views on the public, but when their ideas encourage like-minded people to flock together and form a community. Coworking spaces are wildly successful in part because of the magnetic energy of workers who are enthusiastic and passionate about their work.

Freelancers and employees alike can find what they’re looking for in a coworking space. That’s the beauty of this new office environment—its very nature is that there’s enough freedom for anyone to find what they’re looking for.

Coworking spaces are swiftly becoming a fixture in the landscape of office environments. There’s never been a better time to leave the loneliness of solo work to join a community of like-minded flex workers, building a community (and space) from the ground up. Flexible work is the future of work—a logical evolution towards a happy, balanced lifestyle.

This article was submitted by ShareDesk and does not constitute the views or opinions of Upwork.

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