Upwork Blog https://www.upwork.com/blog Insights and updates about Upwork Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:21:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Perspectives on the Future of Work: July 27 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/future-of-work-july-27/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/future-of-work-july-27/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35391 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the work-life balance afforded to freelancers, important questions to ask before you start freelancing, and a new model for education that’s helping youth freelance their way into a career.

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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 07/27/2015:

Fast Company | The Expanding Definition of Independence in the Freelance Economy

Freelancers Union founder and executive director Sarah Horowitz is an expert on the freelance experience, and she has a few thoughts on the traditional versus contingent job debate. Namely, Horowitz wrote, that it’s a moot point: “Lost in that discussion is the fact that it’s comparing the new gig work to the 1950s model of stable employment—a model that no longer exists.”

 

Without the promise of a steady paycheck and benefits, many professionals have adapted to this new model of work by necessity. However, Horowitz says this doesn’t mean they’re they’re eager to go back, or that they regret their new situation. “The result frees up more time for other pursuits and other ways to feel enriched, whether it’s family or travel, dedicating more time to exercise or learning a new skill,” she argued.

“Today’s leading-edge workers are deliberate about how they spend their days, their evenings and their ‘time-off,’” she said. “They realize that their mix of wage work and passion work can and should be a source of personal fulfillment.”

Harvard Business Review | 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Going Freelance

A recent Freelancer’s Union study found that 88 percent of freelancers say they wouldn’t return to a full-time job, and more and more professionals seem to be drawn to the independence of freelance work. Before making the leap to self employment, however, Harvard Business Review contributor Amy Gallo says there are seven key questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Do I have a marketable skill?
  2. Do I have a robust network?
  3. Do I have the right temperament?
  4. Do I have a financial cushion?
  5. Am I disciplined about work?
  6. Can I try it out at first?
  7. Can my current employer be my first client?

Some of these are easy to evaluate, but others require more honest self-awareness. As Gallo wrote: “If you’re energized by being around other people, you need to think long and hard about whether or not you’re going to be happy working on your own. And if you’re an introvert, you’ll have to work especially hard at what may come naturally to your extrovert counterparts — networking.”

In the end, she says, you should be both flexible and fearless. There is more uncertainty and less support when striking out on your own, and you should to be prepared to wear every professional hat: “You have to think of yourself not just as a contractor, but as the head of a small business,” Gallo said.

The Economist | Business in High School

Hoping to “shake up education and change what vocational education means,” P-Tech—a new school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn—offers students a six-year program from which they’ll graduate with a high school diploma, associate degree, and work experience—all at no cost to the students.

To get this program off the ground, IBM partnered with New York city and City University of New York, helping to shape the STEM-focused curriculum as well as offering mentors and paid internships. Not only does this model help disadvantaged populations (most of the student body are first-generation college attendees and come from low-income homes), it runs within the existing district’s education budget.

What’s more, many of the program’s graduates find work at their benefactor’s company. Meaning, in a sense, “IBM is not being completely altruistic: 30% of companies in America report difficulty filling open jobs; IBM is no different.”

Other companies and schools have caught on; more than 70 companies are working with local school districts to set up similar programs across the U.S.

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

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New in the Hiring Hub: Data Scientists and Online Survey Platforms https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/hiring-hub-data-scientists-online-survey-platforms/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/hiring-hub-data-scientists-online-survey-platforms/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35383 Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? We're adding more information every week—here are a couple of articles you may have missed.

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Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? From web development and design to marketing and information for startups, we’re building the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers—and adding more every week. Here’s a look at some of the articles you may have missed.

What Can a Data Scientist Do for You?

Every minute, people send four million queries to Google while Facebook users share 2.46 billion pieces of content. IBM says we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.

What does all of this information mean, and why does it matter? Data scientists are the ones with the knowledge and expertise to help make sense of it all.

Through a process called data mining, data scientists analyze large quantities of information to identify consistent patterns and relationships—insights that can then be used to inform everything from strategic business decisions to marketing campaigns to customer sentiment. Learn more about the impact of big data…

Using Online Surveys to Find Out What People Really Think

Some of the data that impacts your business is information you can collect yourself. Online surveys are a quick and affordable way to get feedback from your customers, supporters, or other target groups.

Setting up an online survey isn’t just a matter of creating an account on a survey platform and putting a few questions together; there are things to consider as you develop a survey, like user experience and how you can analyze the results, as well as pros and cons to different apps and software. Find out more in our introduction to online surveys and popular platforms…

Have a look at the Hiring Hub to learn more about the tools, tactics, and technology that power businesses today.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: July 20 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/future-of-work-july-20/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/future-of-work-july-20/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35375 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup is all about finding and engaging your freelancers so you both get the most out of your relationship.

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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 07/20/2015:

Entrepreneur | Triple Your Business’ Efficiency by Using Virtual Assistants

You might be surprised to learn that the well-reviewed Brainscape only has eight full-time employees. But according to its founder & CEO Andrew Cohen, that’s actually the secret to their success. By engaging online expert freelancers to perform non-core tasks, Cohen writes he has created a truly lean team that doesn’t sacrifice quality.

The first step is to determine which projects are suited to outside work: “For the dozens of tasks that are either repetitive, distracting, unpredictable or better addressed by an expert whom you can’t bring in-house, you may be well-served by getting it off your plate and freeing up your valuable management bandwidth,” writes Cohen. Conversely,  “core competencies, like product development or marketing strategy” should never be outsourced.

He goes on to walk through the whole online engagement process in truly stunning detail, but ends with a challenge to early adopters to spread the word to the rest of their company—from C-level to entry-level employees: “Handled properly, the business efficiencies the new ‘freelancer economy’ offers can be so large that they can separate mediocre companies from exceptional ones.”

Advertising Age | Best Practices For Managing Freelance Talent

Advertising agencies are relying more and more heavily on freelance writers, designers, and producers to keep up with demand while keeping overhead costs low. However, “there are also unique challenges in managing a group of people without a long-term commitment to the agency brand,” wrote Advertising Age contributor Beth Snyder Bulik. “What’s a shop to do?”

According to Bulik, it really comes down to clear lines of communication between the agency and freelancer. Things like when and how projects can be used in a portfolio, for example, should be hashed out before the freelancer is engaged.

Other things need to be arranged within the agency itself, like ensuring you have a realistic and fair budget for the project.

Finally, project managers must put in the effort to find the right freelancer, and not get discouraged if they have to work with a few different people first.

“Interview and analyze the role and value of a freelancer as thoroughly as a staff hire. Recruit their talent, but be mindful of their motivations… For freelancers, some are in the game not only because they love it and are energized by the work, but also to score future jobs.”

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

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A Digital Nomad Adventure Inspires The Transition to Stay-at-Home Dad https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/digital-nomad-stay-at-home-dad/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/digital-nomad-stay-at-home-dad/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35355 Inspired by his success working as a digital nomad and the flexibility it gave him to spend more time with his son, Chris Appleford decided not to return to any of his previous careers. Instead, he’s sticking with his new career as a home-based, remote contractor and entrepreneur. Here's how he made the shift from digital nomad to stay-at-home dad and his advice for keeping it all in balance.

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Several years ago, Chris Appleford and his wife made a radical decision—they sold everything they owned, quit their jobs, and left their home in Australia to see the world. They picked up work in the countries they visited throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Even after their son was born, they continued to travel and work; Chris had some teaching jobs and his wife was working remotely through Upwork (then oDesk).

Eventually, Chris’ wife encouraged him to apply for jobs on Upwork. He started out slow, secured more and more work, enjoyed the projects and the flexibility. He and his wife continued to travel and work, with their son in tow. Other than a few Internet connectivity issues and language barriers, Chris and his wife worked from wherever they were, as often as they needed to, and around the needs of their son.

Taj Mahal, Agra, India | Chris and Sarah (photo submitted by Chris Appleford)

Taj Mahal, Agra, India | Chris and Sarah (photo submitted)

It was an amazing few years for all of them. Their son picked up other languages, and Chris says he and his wife, “found what we wanted to do by giving everything up.”

When they returned to their native Australia a few months ago, Chris decided to continue to work full time on Upwork so he can stay at home with their son.

From nomad to stay-at-home dad

Inspired by his success working as a digital nomad and the flexibility it gave him to spend more time with his son, Chris decided not to return to any of his previous careers—teacher, translator, and communications manager for professional sports teams.

Instead, he’s sticking with his new career as a home-based, remote contractor and entrepreneur while caring for his now three-year-old son. While it’s a constant balancing act to be a stay-at-home working parent, Chris says it is well worth it.

“It sounds like a great idea, and when done right it really is, but it can be tough to juggle both work commitments and your child’s needs,” said Chris, who works as a copywriter and social media marketing consultant through Upwork.

Jaisalmer, India | Chris and Jack meeting the locals (photo submitted by Chris Appleford)

Jaisalmer, India | Chris and Jack meeting the locals (photo submitted)

Creating the right balance at home

Whether you are working as you travel the world, or logging in from a home office, Chris says there are several things to consider if caring for a child is also part of that scenario.

It’s absolutely vital to have a daily and/or weekly plan mapped out and have the dedication to stick to it,” he said. “Children take up a lot of time, particularly younger children, so it’s important to know exactly when you have time to do your work and commit to the schedule.”

Chris recommends asking yourself some key questions before embarking on the lifestyle of a parent who works remotely:

  • Do you have day care organized for a few days each week?
  • Can family or friends take care of your children for some of the time?
  • Are there other parents in your social group who are willing to look after your children for one or two days a week in return for the same?

It’s important to determine whether these are options for you, he adds, because the more time you can free up during the week to work, the easier it will be to get your work done. Another question to ask yourself, said Chris, is “how will you keep your child occupied [at home] so you can work?“

“It’s easy to sit your child in front of the TV so you can get your work done,” he said. “While this is ok in small doses, it’s not very healthy for long periods of time. You’ll need to have activities and games ready so your children can keep themselves amused while you get on with your work. Make the effort to get them into a routine of their own and the payoff will be more time to get your work done.”

Top tips for parents who work remotely

Chris offers his own “reality tips” for parents who want to work remotely and take care of their child(ren):

  • You need to be flexible. Be prepared to work at night and when your child(ren) is taking his/her nap, if they still take one.
  • They are going to interrupt you, so be patient.
  • Make sure you’ve got a work schedule, stick to it, and be prepared for instances when your plan will be compromised by your child’s needs.
  • If you think it’s going to be easy to work from home with your child, stay with your current day job and send your child to daycare.

He’s also quick to add that while it is hard work, working remotely so you can be with your child(ren) can also be an incredibly rewarding experience: You’ll have the opportunity to spend a lot more time with them and play a bigger part in shaping them during their formative years.

If you want to find out more about Chris and his family’s nomadic adventure, check out their travel blog at www.travellingapples.com.

Feature image: Chris and Jack in Prague, Czech Republic (photo submitted)

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New in the Hiring Hub: How to Set Expectations or Find a Great Data Entry Pro https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/hiring-hub-set-expectations-data-entry-pro/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/hiring-hub-set-expectations-data-entry-pro/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 17:00:29 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35353 Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? We're adding more information every week—here are a couple of articles you may have missed.

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Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? From web development and design to marketing and information for startups, we’re building the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers—and adding more every week. Here’s a look at some of the articles you may have missed.

Why You Need a Data Entry Pro & How to Hire the Right Talent

Businesses generate a lot of data, and some of it helps power important decisions and processes—sales information, customer feedback, industry data, and online research are just a few examples. But it’s easy to leave all the digital files, records, and spreadsheets on a “to do later” list. A data entry professional can help get all that information under control by converting files, entering data, and keeping an eye out for anomalies. Learn more about how a data entry pro can help you…

How to Set Clear Expectations & 5 Tips for Success

Particularly when you work with someone remotely, effective communication is critical to getting things done—and an early test of this is setting expectations. Defining a project’s timeline, milestones, deliverables, and objectives will help keep everyone on the same page. This isn’t always as easy to do as it might sound, however. Here are five tips to help you succeed…

Have a look at the Hiring Hub to learn more about the tools, tactics, and technology that power businesses today.

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5 Ways to Keep Your Day Running Smoothly https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/5-ways-keep-day-running-smoothly/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/5-ways-keep-day-running-smoothly/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35300 When you're a freelancer or entrepreneurs, it's up to you to manage your day and get stuff done. Luckily, there are some great tools and methods available to help. Melanie Feltham shares five of her favorites.

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As freelancers and entrepreneurs, the onus is on us to schedule our time, buckle down, and get stuff done. But it’s no secret that this is easier to do on some days than others. On those other days, procrastination can grab even the best of us by the collar and send us spiraling down a rabbit hole full of Buzzfeed videos and YouTube Karaoke (OK, maybe that last one is just me).

Luckily, there are some great tools and methods available that we can use to help keep us on track—not only during business hours but also in life. Here are five of my favorites.

1. Make your bed

DayRunningSmoothly_flying

Source: Lifehack.org

I’m not kidding! Not only has it been found that people who make their beds are happier, but also that starting with this simple task every day can lead to other good habits.

I managed to skip making my bed for 33 years by the time I discovered this information; since making the change, my life (and my home) has become a lot more organized with what seems like almost no effort. Who knew!

2. Use lists and take notes

DayRunningSmoothly_todoist

Source: Todoist.com  

My favorite way to make a list and take notes is still the good old pen and paper method. I’m much more likely to retain and understand information if I physically write it down. And it turns out I am not the only one: Research shows that writing things down leads to better learning.

One of the biggest challenges with paper and pen is that text is not easily searchable so as the weeks progress, looking for unattended to-do’s can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. After trying many to-do list type apps, I have finally landed on Todoist and no longer feel I have to look for an alternative solution. Not only is it easy to use, it has a feature that reminds you what you have finished and scheduled, as well as anything that’s overdue. That extra bit of information adds a sliver of accountability to my day.

To stay organized, I quickly jot notes in my notebook as things come up that will need attention at a later time. At the end of the day, I go through my notes and enter action items into Todoist and set a deadline. First thing in the morning the next day, I look at the list and use it as a guide to decide how my day will go.

3. Take a shower

 

DayRunningSmoothly_showerhead

Source: Pixabay

It’s been reported that showering during the workday can make people happier, more productive, and improve creativity.

If this isn’t up your alley, you can get the same benefit by making time for breaks throughout the day. Take a walk at lunch time. Do some yoga or have a bike ride in the afternoon when you are in a slump. Call a family member to see how they’re doing.

Breaks serve to clear your head, unclog any mental blocks, and keep your brain functioning in prime condition.

4. Eat well

DayRunningSmoothly_quinoa

Source: TheKitchn.com

Eating well is hard to do no matter what your profession. It may seem like working from home encourages a better diet by giving you full access to your own kitchen, but those of us who have been doing this for a while know we’re just as likely to grab something fast and nutritionally questionable so we don’t lose momentum when hunger strikes.

To combat this, avoid going to the grocery store hungry so you don’t fill your basket with convenience foods, and take the time the night before or in the morning to prepare yourself a nutritious lunch—just as you would if you were going to leave the house for work. (For more ideas, see 5 Healthier Ways to Save Time at Meal Time.)

5. Get enough sleep

DayRunningSmoothly_tiger

Source: Lifehack.org

In my productivity arsenal, sleep is probably the thing I take the most seriously: I’m absolutely useless when I don’t have a good night’s sleep, and I recognize that. Because of this, I’ve forced myself to become more responsible when it comes to planning my evenings.

If you have trouble getting the proper rest, these sleep habits of successful people might help.

What do you do to keep your day on track? Share your advice in the comments!

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Getting Your First Client: The Journey to Becoming a Free Agent https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/getting-your-first-client/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/getting-your-first-client/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 13:00:31 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35342 Getting a first gig is different for every freelancer, but how do you land your first client if you don't have 15 or 20 years of experience and expertise? Author Katy Tynan offers five great ways to build credibility and get clients when starting your freelance business.

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By Katy Tynan, Author

As a group, freelancers tend to be experienced professionals. More than half are over the age of 35 and the largest cohort (more than 45 percent) are over the age of 45. It’s the result of the fact that many consultants go out on their own at the peak or towards the end of a successful career.

But those demographics are shifting. Today, the fastest growing segment of self-employed population is between 24 and 35. This group, which represents the millennial generation, has shown a strong interest in entrepreneurship and independent work, not as a career capstone but as an intentional lifelong earning practice.

A 2011 survey by Young Entrepreneur Council and Buzz Marketing Group found that 27 percent of millennials are self-employed. Because of the poor economic conditions that were in place when they graduated from college in 2007–2009, some opted out of the job market and started up their own businesses.

Moreover, even those who took jobs are continuing to pursue their own work on the side. Thirty-five percent of employed millennials are also running their own businesses when they are not at their day jobs.

While there are some great reasons to work for yourself early in your career, it does present a challenge. How do you land your first client if you don’t have 15 or 20 years of experience and expertise? Getting a first gig is different for every freelancer. Sometimes it’s a friend or colleague who has seen your work and knows its value. Occasionally it’s a total stranger who finds you through word of mouth. But however you do it, that first opportunity is critical to getting your free agent career off the ground.

Here are five great ways to build credibility and get clients when starting your freelance business

Mock it up

When Alexa Johnson wanted to grow her photography business by moving into wedding photos, she had to show that she was up to the job. Without a portfolio of wedding pictures, no one would hire her. So she and her friends staged a mock wedding using thrift store dresses. They picked a variety of sites and traded around being the bride so Alexa could end up with a portfolio of great shots.

Volunteer

As a tech guy, Mike Roberts wanted to make some money doing IT consulting after college. But without any clients, he couldn’t get a gig. He offered his services for free for a month to several local nonprofits to give them a technology tune-up. Not only did he help them out, but he got several referrals to paying work.

Bring your own business

Steve Jackson left his job as a marketing director at a creative firm to go solo. He had been managing a client that wasn’t a great fit for the firm. So as part of his transition plan out, he arranged to transfer that client to his business and pay 10 percent of the revenue back to his company for a year.

Partner up

Kelly Baker got her law degree and was starting off in her career as a human resources (HR) attorney. She worked at a big firm, but when she had her first child, she decided she wanted more flexibility than she could get in her job. Finding clients was tough until she partnered up with a friend who was providing outsourced accounting services to small businesses. Together they packaged a combined service offering for HR and bookkeeping and in just a few months Kelly had three paying clients.

Write all about it

Jennifer Miller wanted to get paid to be a writer. Whenever she saw an opportunity for a writing position, they would ask her for a sample. So she started using writing gig postings as prompts for her blog. Every day she would check out the new listings, write a post related to one or more of the topics, and then apply for the work using her blog as her portfolio.

There’s no doubt that getting your first client is one of the toughest parts of being a free agent. But there are plenty of ways to creatively demonstrate that you have what it takes. The most important part is knowing what you do best, and then finding the people who need your help!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: July 13 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/future-of-work-july-13/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/future-of-work-july-13/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35314 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the popularity of freelancing, common mistakes that new—and experienced—freelancers often make, and the benefits of coworking spaces.

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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 07/13/2015:

Contently | The State of the American Freelancer in 2015

The trend toward freelancing may have been spurred by the recession in 2008, but many Americans are now committed to freelancing as a long-term business choice. Thirty-four percent of the U.S. workforce (54 million Americans) are considered contingent, temporary, diversified, or freelancers, “and that number is expected to reach 40% by the year 2020,” according to a recent Contently study.

Additionally, only 30 percent of those who responded to a Contently survey said they would definitely go back to full-time work for the same pay plus benefits; 37 percent said maybe, and 31 percent said they’d decline.

However, while a majority of freelancers are increasingly satisfied with their choice and plan to continue for at least 10 years, freelancing still has its obstacles. Chief among them is determining fair compensation, as many freelancers and the businesses that engage them lack adequate payment benchmarks.

Inc. | What are the 9 Biggest and Most Costly Mistakes That Freelancers Make?

Serial entrepreneur and author Andrew Griffiths has learned the best—and worst—moves new and established freelancers can make by watching people make the same mistakes over and over again.

For example, Griffiths says one of the biggest complaints is that freelancers are “lousy communicators.” “If you want to build a really successful business as a freelancer, become exceptional at following up.”

This principal of over-communicating also applies to billing. Griffiths says you should give detailed explanations and itemized invoices so clients have transparency into your work.

Griffiths’ other insights center around marketing and building your freelance business, such as providing a clear offer and differentiating yourself from the competition. Other important aspects include managing client relationships and asking for referrals.

“Well I hate to break the bad news but if you aren’t selling you aren’t eating,” he said. “Freelancers who do a great job should never be afraid to ask for referrals, and they will get them naturally anyway.”

Chicago Business Journal | Here is why co-working spaces make sense for freelancers

For many people, freelancing means working from home, a coffee shop, or coworking space. While the first two may be more financially prudent, coworking spaces can offer many of the benefits of an office environment without the cost of renting on your own.

Ron Bockstahler, CEO of Amata Office Solutions—which owns six shared office centers in Chicago—said there are a lot of perks to draw people in.

These perks may include tech support—both in the form of IT staff or actual hardware—as well as 24-hour building security, game rooms, coffee bars, or conference rooms. He says coworking spaces can also offer great networking opportunities and a sense of community.

“One of the biggest benefits of the coworking environment is the ability to work alongside other freelancers and ‘solopreneurs,’” writes Bockstahler. “A collaborative office also enables freelancers to expand their professional networks and, ideally, take on additional projects they might not otherwise know about.
What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Elance to Upwork: Tips for a Successful (and Profitable) Switch https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/elance-to-upwork-tips-successful-switch/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/elance-to-upwork-tips-successful-switch/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 16:00:20 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35278 With the timeline to wind down Elance just published, Danny Margulies shares a few tips about his move from Elance to Upwork that’ll help you make your switch seamless, fun, and profitable, too.

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By Danny Margulies, Freelance Copywriter

As an avid Elancer since July of 2012, I recently decided to “copy over” my Elance profile to Upwork as well.

This was an easy decision for me, since Upwork offers the opportunity to connect with even more great clients—music to the ears of any freelancer. Today, I’m happy to report that my experience in transitioning to Upwork has been a great one! With the timeline to wind down Elance just published, I’d like to share a few tips that’ll help you make your switch seamless, fun, and profitable, too.

1. Be flexible

Change can seem scary, but it’s also exciting!

Sure, Upwork is a more advanced technological platform that can take a bit of getting used to for us Elancers. You can choose to see this as an inconvenience, or a profitable new adventure. Upwork also gives freelancers access to all categories—an added opportunity to stretch your skills, if you choose.

I like to compare it to the feeling I got when I first traded in my old “flip-phone” for an iPhone a few years back: Playing around with it and discovering all the cool new features was half the fun.

2. Your profile—don’t change a thing!

Technology evolves quickly, but clients’ needs stay the same.

That awesome Elance profile you put time and effort into writing and polishing will work great here on Upwork, too. I was a little unsure of this when I first copied over my profile, but within a few days I was already getting high-quality invites from great clients without making any significant changes.*

Here’s one example of a great freelancing opportunity. Note that it’s addressed to me, and written by someone who’s looking specifically for my expertise.

Upwork — Invitation to Interview

So if your profile has been working for you over at Elance, my recommendation is to “let it ride,” since chances are it will do a great job winning over clients here on Upwork, too.

*Pro-tip: I did naturally remove the word “Elance,” which appears in my Elance profile. If it’s in yours as well, then of course you’ll want to do the same.

3. Looking for work? Get the advantage with push notifications

One great thing about Upwork is that you can get push notifications directly to your mobile device whenever a client invites you to apply for a job or sends you a message in response to one of your applications.

This gives you a huge advantage; since online hiring tends to move at an accelerated pace, being “in the right place at the right time” can make all the difference. By being able to respond to clients quicker and easier, you can significantly increase your chances of succeeding.

Enabling push notifications is a snap. Just open up the Upwork mobile app, and set your Work Status to “Right Away” as follows:

Upwork — Work Status

4. Don’t get hung up on the details

The most important thing I want to get across to all of my fellow Elancers is that the fundamental process of online freelancing is totally unchanged.

Yes, Upwork has its own unique look and feel that may take some getting used to. And sometimes there are a few questions we’re required to answer in order to be considered for a particular job. I’m sure there are many other surface-level differences as well.

But in the grand scheme of things, these are details that may come and go over time. Our job is still to find projects that interest us, make personal connections with clients, properly demonstrate our skills and abilities, and do excellent work. And even for the most diehard Elancers among us, Upwork is a great place to do just that.

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New in the Hiring Hub: Explaining Digital Design Terms and Front-End Web Development https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/hiring-hub-digital-design-terms-front-end-web-development/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/hiring-hub-digital-design-terms-front-end-web-development/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35318 Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork's new destination for ideas and inspiration? We're adding more information every week—here are a couple of articles you may have missed.

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Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? From web development and design to marketing and information for startups, we’re building the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers—and adding more every week. Here’s a look at some of the articles you may have missed.

UX, UI, IA? 7 Confusing Digital Design Terms Defined

When it comes to digital design—like creating websites or apps—terms like UX, UI, and IA come up frequently. But what do they mean? Get a quick introduction to user experience design (UX), user interface design (UI), information architecture (IA), interaction design (IxD), visual design, product design, and user-centered design (UCD). Learn more…

The Role of a Front-End Web Developer: Creating User Experience & Interactivity

Building a web application involves two key roles: the front-end developer, and the back-end developer. A back-end developer focuses on the behind-the-scenes requirements, like the server and database that the application is built on.

A front-end developer, however, is responsible for the application’s appearance—”everything that users see and touch: content, layout, and interaction.” But if you want to hire a front-end developer—or make sure your own skillset is up-to-date—what are the skills, languages, and frameworks they should know? Learn more about their role…

Have a look at the Hiring Hub to learn more about the tools, tactics, and technology that power businesses today.

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Meet the Winners of The Code It Up Coding Challenge https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/code-it-up-coding-challenge-winners/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/code-it-up-coding-challenge-winners/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 20:52:44 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35290 Last month, Upwork hosted the Code It Up Coding Challenge to recognize and reward top web, mobile, and software developers in our community. Meet the winners!

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Upwork’s Code It Up Coding Challenge last month attracted programmers from around the world, with 400 people earning a high score—and a Top Coder badge to add to their Upwork profiles.

Upwork Top Developer badge

The entire community of developers was invited to participate in the contest, which specifically tested algorithmic problem-solving skills through three problems of moderate-to-high difficulty.

Each problem could be solved with more than 20 different programming languages—although most participants used C++ or Java. The testing engine, powered by HackerRank, measured

  • The correctness of the code (i.e., providing the correct output for a number of input test cases), and
  • The code speed (i.e., time and memory taken to run the code).

Topping the scoreboard were three developers, all university students who have honed their skills through school, coding challenges, and by working on freelance projects in their spare time.

Maxim Moskvitin, of Russia, generally codes using C++. He enjoys solving problems, especially hard ones, as well as doing research. Once he finishes his master’s degree in computer science, he plans to move onto a PhD program—while he keeps freelancing.

Rafsan Jani, of Bangladesh, started with small projects on Upwork, and has worked his way up to being a Top Rated freelancer with more than 60 projects in his portfolio. Also studying for his master’s degree in computer science, he prefers to work in C++ but is also good at data structures and Java. He recently got a job offer from a big software firm, but says he hopes to keep freelancing on the side.

Nafis Sadiq, also of Bangladesh, is a full-time student but plans to freelance part-time when he graduates in a few months. His focus is C++ and data structures, primarily for software, but he’s also interested in mobile and web development. Nafis enjoys competitive programming; before participating in Upwork’s challenge, he was a finalist in the ACM-ICPC international competition.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the challenge, and congratulations to those who earned a Top Coder badge to highlight your programming skills.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: July 6th https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/future-of-work-july-6th/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/future-of-work-july-6th/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 13:00:27 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35267 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights cutting edge work arrangements and what they can mean for your business.

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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 07/06/2015:

Huffington Post | 8 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Lead with New Work Models

Young companies are in the lead when it comes to using “highly connected and interactive technology,” according to veteran entrepreneur Martin Zwilling, and it’s having a direct impact on organizational culture and working practices.

Some of these trends, like results oriented work arrangements that focus on output rather than time logged, are giving workers more freedom. “When and where you do the work does not matter,” wrote Zwilling, “producing the outcomes to the right quality on time does.”

Other changes, like the rise in online social collaboration, cloud-based mobility, and the independent workforce show just how quickly our “notions of work” are changing. “Work is becoming more of a tradable commodity, rather than a job,” he said.

While these changes to the way we work have stirred a lot of debate, Zwilling said they’re “an opportunity for innovation that cannot be ignored as a success and competitor differentiator.”

Open Forum | 4 Ways to Help Every Small Business Scale

The shift from local to global can be a challenge for any small business—as Educents founder Kate Whiting learned while raising $2.9 million in venture capital. However, she says, limited resources don’t need to hold a small business back.

“Companies that scale most easily are clear about their problem/solution—the thing the business will solve or make better,” Whiting advised. “Understanding the problem fix and being able to explain it clearly and quickly will help keep focus while scaling as well as help attract and retain passionate supporters.”

Startups also need to be nimble and bold, she said, but underneath everything they need passion—whether inspiring supporters, pitching to clients, or engaging dedicated interns. “If you’re energized by your business idea, you should be excited about bringing that solution to a wider audience. And, of course, to more customers.”

Recruiter | Online Platforms Can Help Firms with Global Skill Shortages

According to a recent McKinsey Global Institute report, “Connecting talent with opportunity in the digital age,” the current labor market is dysfunctional. Some companies face skill shortages and tight competition for top talent, despite high unemployment rates and many under- or improperly employed professionals.

This disconnect is being eased by online talent platforms. “Companies adopting online talent platforms could increase output by up to 9% and reduce HR and talent-related costs by as much as 7%,” reported Recruiter.

McKinsey predicts these platforms could add an estimated $2.7 trillion to the global GDP by 2025, but noted that practical concerns—like the expansion of broadband Internet access—will need to be addressed for real transformation to happen.
What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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New in the Hiring Hub: Build a Remote Support Team or Learn About Marketing https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/hiring-hub-remote-support-team-marketing/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/hiring-hub-remote-support-team-marketing/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:00:15 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35261 Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? We're adding more information every week—here are a couple of articles you may have missed.

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Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? From web development and design to marketing and information for startups, we’re building the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers—and adding more every week. Here’s a look at some of the articles you may have missed.

How to Get Started Building Your Remote Support Team

Building a remote customer support team has a lot of advantages, like the potential to leverage time zones for 24/7 support or to connect international customers with local representatives. Once you decide it’s the right move for you, however, how do you get started?

Building a great remote team takes planning, effort, and even some hands-on learning. For example, a bit of pre-planning can help you identify the qualities you’re looking for, get a clear understanding of what you need professionals to do, and cast a wide net when searching for talent.

Once you’ve engaged several customer support pros, there are additional steps you can take to equip your team for success. Learn ways to get started…

An Introduction to Marketing

Marketing is part of any enterprise that needs to promote or sell a product or service, which makes it essential to any business. However, it’s so broad that it can easily be misunderstood or simply seem overwhelming.

This high-level overview looks at key tactics, different approaches to marketing, and the link that ties promotional efforts to sales. Learn why marketing is fuel for your business…

Have a look at the Hiring Hub to learn more about the tools, tactics, and technology that power businesses today.

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New Upwork Messages: As It Rolls Out, Praise Rolls In https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/new-upwork-messages/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/07/new-upwork-messages/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35239 Most of our community now has access to our brand new Upwork Messages product, which replaces the Upwork Message Center. It’s designed to help teams and business partners better communicate and collaborate. We know how much of an improvement the new product is; we not only designed and built it from the ground up, we also use it ourselves.

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Most of our community now has access to our brand new Upwork Messages product, which replaces the Upwork Message Center. It’s designed to help teams and business partners better communicate and collaborate. We know how much of an improvement the new product is; we not only designed and built it from the ground up, we also use it ourselves.

Universally, we’re hearing that Upwork Messages makes major strides in facilitating communication, while helping freelancers and clients grow their businesses faster. Here are a few features that have proven popular during the testing phase:

  • Real-time info: Ability to see when community members are online and their availability status.
  • Rooms: Messages and conversations are organized into convenient rooms.
  • Clean design: Work more efficiently in a modern design with less clutter.
  • Available on mobile: Find the Upwork mobile app for iPhone—our Android app will be updated soon.
  • Desktop app for freelancers: Boost productivity by downloading our desktop app here.

Understandably, as with anything new, we’re also getting some questions from our community about how to best use Upwork Messages. Here are some of the most asked:

Q: Where do I find my old messages?

A: Your complete Message Center history has been organized into “rooms” and synced to the new Messages. You can view your last 30 days of messages on the left in your Messages tab. To see older messages, click on View All Rooms & People.

Users with complex accounts will need to switch to the appropriate part of your account (freelancer, agency, company, etc.) to see its related messages.

Q: Are there handy shortcuts?

A: Yes, discover them in our help article here.

Check out your new Upwork Messages. If you don’t have it yet, don’t worry — we plan to provide access to everybody soon. Also, check back often to learn about updates as we roll out more features.

Best,
Hyun Lee
Director of Product Management

 

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: June 29 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/future-of-work-june-29/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/future-of-work-june-29/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35232 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup is all about tips, tricks, and best practices for freelancers: avoiding the most common rookie mistakes, the best tools to run your own shop, and how to put up with a freelancing dry spell.

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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 06/29/2015:

Business News Daily | 5 Big Mistakes All Freelancers Should Avoid

If you’re considering the freelancing route, Business News Daily assistant editor Nicole Fallon argues you’ll be better set up for success if you avoid the most common rookie mistakes.

Charging too little or too much, for example, essentially implies you don’t understand your own market. While Fallon notes that it can be tempting to under-price yourself when first trying to gain clients, ultimately it won’t help attract more—or the right kind of—business.

Additionally, she said, it’s crucial to know how how many projects you can reasonably take on. You may be naturally inclined to say yes to everything, but nothing retains clients better than delivering top quality work on time—which becomes almost impossible when you’re stretched too thin on too many jobs.

Whether you work out of a home office or a coffee shop, Fallon recommends that you always be professional. “No matter how much or how little freelance work you take on, you are technically a self-employed business owner. If you want to be taken seriously and treated as a legitimate business providing a service, you can’t treat your freelance work like a hobby.”

Inc. | 12 Free Tools that Every Freelancer Should be Using

“Operating a one-man shop is never easy, but with the right tech tools, freelancers can build their own brand and make it work,” said digital consultant John Boitnott.

In this post for Inc., he shared some of his favorites. Some are obvious: Skype, an essentially free way to stay connected via audio and video calls, and Dropbox, which makes file sharing easy.

Others are perhaps not as well known, but equally important. Productivity and time-tracking apps such as Focus Booster, Wunderlist, and Toggl can be invaluable motivating and self-management tools. Other apps, like Rocket Lawyer, Due, and Shoeboxed, help manage all the administrative and payment tasks you’re probably not used to handling on your own.

“These tools will make you more productive and improve your customer service, bringing you more success as you run your sole proprietorship,” Boitnott said.

Huffington Post | Three Ways to Weather a Freelancing Dry-Spell

Even if you’re doing everything right, there can still be lulls in freelancing jobs. For those times when you’re “despondent over a dry spell, wondering why your pitches aren’t being favored, [or] why your inbox is bare,” freelance writer Hilal Isler offered several of her tried and true tips to help shake up your approach.

First, she explained, targeting the top of the management chain—rather than the people who you think make the decisions—can pay off. They may have more sway when it comes hiring, have a broader view of the company and its needs, or even just know someone great to refer you to. It won’t always work, but “sometimes, you’ve just got to aim higher. If you’ve pitched your way across a masthead laterally, try going up. Way up.”

Another important approach is to practice self-care in the face of rejection. Isler said you shouldn’t let a dry spell make you rethink your abilities or determination because you may end up in a negative feedback loop.

Instead, listen to legitimate, constructive feedback or criticism, and don’t internalize the rest. “Self-doubt has this insidious, evil way of seeping into your work. It’s not good practice to write when Self-Doubt is at the keyboard,” she said. “It’s much better, for all concerned parties, if confidence is in charge or, even better, Joy.”

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

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New in the Hiring Hub: Intros to GitHub and Backbone.js https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/hiring-hub-github-backbone-js/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/hiring-hub-github-backbone-js/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 13:00:45 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35220 Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? We're adding more information every week—here are a couple of articles you may have missed.

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Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? From web development and design to marketing and information for startups, we’re building the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers—and adding more every week. Here’s a look at some of the articles you may have missed.

What Is GitHub and Why Should Your Digital Team Use It?

GitHub is a platform that hosts projects—typically development projects—and makes them available to others quickly, securely, and across multiple devices. It’s been referred to as a “social networking site for programmers,” but it does more than that: it helps bring development projects to life.

GitHub is built around Git, an open-source code management system that tracks every version of a file. As a result, GitHub makes it easier for distributed teams to collaborate on, manage, test, and review code. Get up-to-speed quickly with this GitHub primer…

Backbone.js: An MV-Style JavaScript Library

Backbone.js is one of the most popular libraries when it comes to JavaScript programming. JavaScript is ubiquitous for front-end development, whether for websites or web-based applications. But JavaScript logic can be complex, which can cause programs to slow down. Backbone.js was designed to keep JavaScript programming lean and efficient. Learn more about how this library works…

Have a look at the Hiring Hub to learn more about the tools, tactics, and technology that power businesses today.

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New Group to Promote Freelance Customer Service Professionals https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/new-group-freelance-customer-service-professionals/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/new-group-freelance-customer-service-professionals/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:00:26 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35051 If you’re a freelance customer service professional, our new talent program is for you! The Pro Customer Service program aims to help qualified freelancers promote their services and skills to clients.

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If you’re a freelance customer service professional, our new talent program is for you! The Pro Customer Service group aims to help qualified freelancers promote their services and skills to clients.

To be accepted into the group, you need to demonstrate professional experience in customer service/support or technical support and successfully pass the vetting process.

The Customer Service category is one of the fastest growing categories on Upwork. Last year, earnings in this category grew 54 percent over the previous year. Because of this rapid growth, we’re launching this program to identify and promote qualified professionals.

Pro Customer Service members will be invited to projects with top clients. Clients also have the ability to post jobs directly to the Pro Customer Service group.

Who will qualify for the Pro Customer Service group?

Both new and existing Upwork customer service professionals can apply to join the group, but all applicants must have the following:

  • At least two years of experience in customer service/support or technical support
  • English language capabilities and be able to conduct business in English
  • A quiet, distraction-free workspace (if you’re a phone-handling pro)
  • Reliable high-speed Internet
  • The equipment you need to provide quality services, such as an up-to-date computer and a corded headset with microphone
  • An Upwork account in good standing
  • An 100 percent complete Upwork profile illustrating your customer service/support experience
  • At least a 90 percent Job Success Score (applicable only if you have one)

What does the application and vetting process entail?

As part of the application process for this group, freelancers will participate in

  • Skill assessments
  • A written interview that includes situational questions
  • An online interview to see if you’re a fit for the group

What are the advantages of being in the Pro Customer Service group?

If you qualify and are approved to join the Pro Customer Service program, you’ll get

  • The Pro Customer Service group listed on your profile
  • Access to a curated list of high paying jobs from top clients
  • Your profile showcased to clients when you submit proposals
  • Inclusion in a curated pool from which top clients will search for talent

What’s next? If you meet all of the qualifications for the Pro Customer Service group, read our FAQs and apply to join here.

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Your Job Success Score on Upwork https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/job-success-score-upwork/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/job-success-score-upwork/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2015 16:30:28 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35192 Since launching in March, Upwork's Job Success scores have proven successful at helping great freelancers stand out to clients and land more projects, with twice the number of contracts going to the best freelancers in the marketplace than before. But understanding the score has been confusing to some in the community. Jeff Chen, VP of Trust & Safety, addresses the main questions we’ve heard.

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We introduced the Job Success score in March as a new, more complete reflection of your client satisfaction. Thus far, Job Success scores have proven successful at helping great freelancers stand out to clients and land more projects, with twice the number of contracts going to the best freelancers in the marketplace than before. But understanding the score has been confusing to some in the community, so I’m here to address the main questions we’ve heard.

What is the Job Success score?

The score reflects your overall history with your clients and is based on more than one factor, as you’ll see below. For example, building long-term relationships with clients, a strength great freelancers possess, is one factor in your Job Success score. However, if you don’t have inputs like long-term relationships, this does not count against you because other factors are taken into account.

Upwork Job Success Score

 

The inputs above are used to calculate your score. At a high level, we look at Job Success this way:

(successful contract outcomes – negative contract outcomes) / total outcomes.

It’s important to note that a blanket rule does not apply to negative contract outcomes. We know there are instances when these outcomes are due to factors outside of your control. For example, contracts without activity that are due to a poor client interaction are not counted against your score. A client that repeatedly receives poor feedback from freelancers will be flagged, and their inputs omitted from your score. Missing feedback is only flagged when it represents a significant portion of your contracts.

When is my score calculated?

The Upwork system takes frequent snapshots of your 6, 12 and 24-month history in the marketplace and calculates a score. We choose the best score out of these rolling windows.

Upwork Job Success Score

For repeat projects, this means that Job Success will reflect all work completed in a long-term relationship, even if there is no feedback provided.

Why did my score change?

The snapshots we take are of a rolling window, which means sometimes a contract can slip out of your best calculation, causing your score to change significantly without any recent activity. For example, a contract will no longer be counted in your 6-month window once it is 6-months and one day old.

You can track your score on your My Stats page. Any score at 90% or above is excellent. Freelancers with scores below 75% may find it difficult to win new clients in the marketplace.

What else do I need to know about the Job Success score?

It’s intentionally different from your 5-Star rating

The scores differ because Job Success contains more than just public feedback. It also includes private feedback, long-term contracts, and repeat contracts. The collection of these inputs helps freelancers to better differentiate themselves on Upwork.

“Difficult clients” don’t count against you

If you’ve worked with a client that has shown a pattern of unreasonable behavior, we won’t factor that contract into your score. We carefully consider client activity on Upwork and if one of your clients has a track record of poor experiences with freelancers, we’ll take action to exclude your contracts with that client from your Job Success score and possibly close the client’s account.

Contracts without activity can lower your score

Sometimes contracts start, but due to the client or freelancer, no activity takes place. After a reasonable period of time, these contracts impact your score. Ending these contracts quickly or requesting the client close the contract as soon as possible can prevent this situation.

A pattern of contracts that end without feedback can reduce your score

When it happens occasionally, your score is not impacted by contracts ending without feedback. But when this occurs in excess for a freelancer, it is flagged and counted against your score. Requesting that the client close the contract and leave feedback can prevent this situation. Contracts paused due to poor client behavior are not considered in your score.

I hope this answers the majority of your questions about the Job Success score. It’s been great hearing about how the Job Success score has helped freelancers better promote their businesses and stand out in the Upwork marketplace. You can learn about how to improve your score here and my team will follow this forum thread to answer any follow-up questions you might have.

Best,
Jeff Chen
VP, Trust & Safety

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: June 22 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/future-of-work-june-22/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/future-of-work-june-22/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35181 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the importance of video communication with remote workers, why some concerns about remote work are largely myths, and expert advice to help manage information overload.

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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 06/22/2015:

Inc. | Here’s Why Face-to-Face Meetings Are So Important

“Most B2B relationships are distance ones. And because that’s often how we operate as a business, we know how to build and foster those relationships,” Joe Cowan, CEO of Epicor, told Inc.’s John Brandon. Twenty-five percent of Epicor’s employees work from home; the remaining 75 percent rarely go to the office daily. Cowan himself runs the Austin-based company from his home in Atlanta.

Brandon explained that, at Epicor, texting is encouraged over email or even the phone because the typically quick response “usually leads to a sense of being ‘in the moment.’” Cowan also prioritizes video calls, which provide an “immediate connection” that can only be topped by seeing someone in person.

As Cowan pointed out, learning how to make long-distance business relationships work is increasingly just the way we work — and face-to-face meetings, whether in person or via video, are an important part of building those connections.

The Next Web | How to build a happy and productive remote team

Reduced productivity, no workplace culture, and lack of scalability are among the top concerns when it comes to a remote workforce, but Femgineer founder Poornima Vijayashanker says they’re little more than myths.

Productivity, she said, comes from holding people accountable and providing the right tools, not watching people work. Culture grows from shared values, goals, and good communication — none of which are dependent on location. And scalability, she argued, needs effective processes and tools more than shared office space.

“Tech is a global phenomenon, and if you limit your talent pool to a 30-mile radius, you’re living in the past instead of working toward the future.”

HBR | Conquering Digital Distraction

“Information overload” is an issue that research has shown can impact our ability to pay attention, memorize information, and manage tasks, and many people struggle to keep the volume of information under control.

Psychologist Larry Rosen and technologist Alexandra Samuel offer their best advice to help manage the distraction in this article for HBR. Taking a break tops Rosen’s recommendations: “In my lab we’ve found that many people, regardless of age, check their smartphones every 15 minutes or less and become anxious if they aren’t allowed to do so.”

Samuel noted that we already have tools that can help — we just need to change the way we use them. “E-mail filters, newsreaders, post schedulers, and other tools can significantly streamline the process of deciding what gets your attention.”

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

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An Update on 2015 Marketplace Quality Initiatives https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/update-2015-marketplace-quality-initiatives/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/update-2015-marketplace-quality-initiatives/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 16:00:06 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35170 Earlier this year, Upwork announced a number of initiatives to make it easier for great freelancers to succeed. In this update, Elizabeth Tse shares the impact they are already having on freelancers and our workplace, as well as a preview of new initiatives to come.

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Dear Upwork Community,

Earlier this year, I shared our 2015 plan to make it easier for great freelancers to succeed. Many of these initiatives are well underway, and I’m excited to share the impact they are already having on freelancers and our workplace. I’ll also provide a preview of new initiatives to come.

Since the introduction of Connects in February, we’re finding freelancers are competing against a smaller, more relevant group of candidates.

Data shows that freelancers are submitting fewer proposals overall while still winning the same number of contracts.

  • With a significant increase in projects being posted on Upwork this year, programs like Connects that help the right freelancers and clients connect fast are more important than ever.

Programs to address unprofessional clients are ramping up.

On a large workplace like Upwork, we understand that it can be challenging for freelancers to effectively screen their clients. We want to make this easier and have already seen difficult clients responding to outreach. Clients that are consistently negative in their interactions with freelancers are contacted and if unable to improve, are no longer permitted to use Upwork.

The Job Success score is helping top freelancers win more contracts.

The My Stats dashboard shows your business metrics, which enable you to identify where your freelance business can improve to deliver higher quality results for your clients. The most prominent metric on My Stats is the Job Success score, which provides a snapshot of your overall client satisfaction. This score allows qualified and experienced freelancers to stand out more to potential clients in the marketplace.

  • In fact, twice as many contracts now go to top freelancers.
  • For some in the community, the benefits of this score are clear. For those with open questions, we’re going to share a more detailed look at the score soon.

If you deliver great results for your clients, we want to ensure we can deliver you access to great clients and work. The Job Success score helps make this happen. We’ll continue to make this metric more prominent on Upwork.

The Top Rated program is recognizing and rewarding excellent freelancers.

Top Rated status is earned by freelancers that consistently deliver great results for their clients. Freelancers in this group are now taking advantage of a badge on their profile, access to premium customer support, exclusive resources and select job invitations. Since the program launched, we’ve seen Top Rated freelancers stand out more and find it easier to win contracts.

And here’s a look at what’s to come…

This is just the beginning of initiatives geared toward helping great freelancers stand out and succeed.

  • Later this month we’ll conduct a pilot program to help highly skilled freelancers who are new to Upwork win their first contracts and grow their earnings quickly.
  • Upgrades to Identity and Phone Verification are also in testing.
  • The Top Rated program will continue to be enhanced, with a special community area launching soon along with access to exclusive workshops and resources.

As with many initiatives, the programs I’ve outlined help most great freelancers but are not designed to help everyone. We’ll continue to push for even more success with these programs through regular refinements and updates to cast a wider net.

I’ll be back to share more progress soon. In the meantime, I wish continued success to our great community of freelancers!

 

Best,
Elizabeth Tse
SVP, Operations

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New in the Hiring Hub: The Migration from oDesk to Upwork https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/new-hiring-hub-migration-odesk-upwork/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/new-hiring-hub-migration-odesk-upwork/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 13:29:26 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35164 With millions of freelancers and clients who rely on Upwork to get work done, managing the logistics of rebranding a website — and moving from a well-established domain to a new one — was no small feat. Get a behind-the-scenes look at our recent move from oDesk to Upwork in these two new posts on the Hiring Hub.

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Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? We’re building the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers—and this week, we’re providing a behind-the-scenes look at our recent move from oDesk to Upwork.

With millions of freelancers and clients who rely on Upwork to get work done, managing the logistics of rebranding a website — and moving from a well-established domain to a new one — was no small feat.

How do you change your domain without disappearing from Google? From oDesk to Upwork: The SEO Marketer’s Perspective explains what we did to minimize the impact of the domain migration on our search engine optimization. From a detailed migration checklist to a “warm up” period for the new domain, the Upwork team did as much as possible ahead of time to mitigate possible errors. Read more about how we crossed the chasm…

Migrating to a new domain takes a lot of technical consideration, too — especially when you’re moving not just a website, but an entire web-based platform. New Name, New Domain: Our Migration from oDesk to Upwork explores five key considerations:

  • Choosing the right technologies for speed and agility
  • Being strategic with your timeline
  • Assessing and minimizing risks
  • Managing pre-launch testing
  • Documenting everything in a cross-functional launch checklist

While the move from oDesk to Upwork wasn’t without its challenges, careful preparation and planning helped reduce the number of issues that had to be fixed “on the fly” during launch. Learn more about the engineering decisions behind the move…

Have a look at the Hiring Hub to learn more about the oDesk to Upwork migration, or to read about the tools, tactics, and technology that power businesses today.

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How to Transform a Room into an Office [Infographic] https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/transform-room-office-infographic/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/transform-room-office-infographic/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 17:17:51 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35148 How can you turn your home office into a productive and happy workspace? Here are some tips to help you get started.

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Procrastination, creative block, distraction—these productivity killers can pop up at anytime and put a damper on a good work day.

Quite often, it’s our surroundings that cause the production train to derail. Maybe your space is cluttered, you feel uncomfortable, or you’re magnetically drawn to the presence of the materials for your latest hobby.

Have no fear! This infographic is full of great tips to turn your workspace into a productive and happy one, letting you stay on track and make the most of every billable hour.

How to transform a room into an office - infographic

Courtesy of: Heiton Buckley

For more great tips on creating a productive space, check out 5 Home Office Solutions to Promote Productivity and For the Love of Your Back! Home Office Gadgets for Comfort and Health.

What do you do to maximize your productivity when working from home? Tell us your best ideas in the comments!

 

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How New Tech Can Help You Engage Freelancers [Infographic] https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/road-to-success-engage-freelancers-infographic/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/road-to-success-engage-freelancers-infographic/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 14:35:37 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35125 What is a Freelancer Management System (FMS) and how can it help your business? This infographic highlights some of the top difficulties of online work and how a FMS can help.

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Freelancers are becoming a not-so-secret key to success, giving businesses access to skilled and cost-effective talent when they need it. However, working with contractors isn’t without its challenges.

Finding skilled professionals is often ad hoc. Different people within the same organization may take different approaches to finding, partnering, and paying freelancers without an overarching plan or process.

This can easily lead to miscommunication, confusion, or time-consuming admin.

One way to engage contractors effectively is to use a Freelancer Management System (FMS) — especially at an enterprise level. Upwork Enterprise makes it easier for companies to access freelancers and improve efficiency and visibility with their pool of freelancers.

“On The Road to Success” highlights some of the top difficulties of online hiring, and how a FMS can help.

Upwork

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: June 15 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/future-of-work-june-15/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/future-of-work-june-15/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35137 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's news roundup highlights time management before and after time off, and a new trend in flexible work: job sharing.

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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 06/15/2015:

Harvard Business Review | Ease the Pain of Returning to Work After Time Off

The project and email backlogs that meet you after time away can feel like a cruel trick—you’ve returned to the grind, only to feel immediately overwhelmed and in need of more time off. You can help yourself stay organized and energized by implementing a few best practices before and after your trip.

According to online engagement expert and author Alexandra Samuel, you should spend the time before your trip triaging the tasks you’ll need to complete the week you return (be your own best friend even further by annotating the list and setting calendar reminders for the hard deadlines). You should also “park at a downhill slope”—finish your least favorite projects before you leave, and use the most interesting ones to get you motivated once you’re back.

After your trip, the best thing you can do is cut yourself some slack. Even with a lot of great prep work beforehand, it’ll probably still be a bit of a bumpy landing when you get back. Leave your email responder on for an extra day and give yourself some time to tackle the backlog. Samuel also cautions against making any drastic choices during this time, as the vacation hangover may be clouding your judgment. Don’t throw in the towel just yet, whether it’s giving up on your small business or quitting your job:

“If you find yourself desperate to just chuck it all, put a date in your calendar for three to six weeks from now with a timed alert, saying ‘consider quitting my job’—and then put it out of your mind until the alert pops up. The odds are good that you’ll be back in the swing of things by then, and if not…well, you probably should start thinking about your exit plan.”

Fast Company | Could Sharing Your Job Be the Solution to Burnout?

When confronted with work-life conflicts, many professionals view quitting their full-time job for freelancing or part-time work as the only option. Job sharing—splitting one full-time job between two people—is another less-considered option that benefits both the employee and the employer.

Fast Company writer Gwen Moran investigates the trend, writing that an ideal partner does not have to be your professional doppelgänger but should match your level of expertise and respect your work-life boundaries.

Once you’ve worked out the details with your colleague, you have to sell the idea to your boss. Focus on the many positives. Moran writes: “The employer gets the power of two brains in one full-time post. The job sharers can cover for each other and brainstorm solutions with each other. It’s also a retention tool for workers who need more flexible options.”

If you get the boss’s buy-in, it’s up to you to make it work. Present a seamless front, communicate often, and prove that the company gets two minds for the price—and management time—of one.

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

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New in the Hiring Hub: Secrets to Success on Upwork https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/hiring-hub-secrets-to-success-on-upwork/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/hiring-hub-secrets-to-success-on-upwork/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35129 Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? We're adding more articles every week—here’s a look at what’s new.

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Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? From web development and design, to marketing and advice for startups, we’re building the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers—and adding more information every week. This week, we’ve added advice to help contractors thrive on Upwork. Here’s a look at what’s new.

Stand Out with an Introduction Video

When it comes to connecting with potential clients on Upwork, it can be tough for a freelancer to stand out with just a written introduction or profile. Video can be an effective way to make an impression, and it’s easier than ever to create something that’s top notch — with the right equipment and a bit of planning. Here are nine steps to help you take your own video from start to YouTube. Learn more…

10 Ways to Be More Professional on Upwork

Part of building a successful freelance business, and thriving in a global community like Upwork, is a commitment to professionalism. It’s up to you to establish and foster a good reputation — but what does that mean? From being accountable to managing your time effectively, here are 10 qualities that define what it means to be a true professional. Learn more…

Have a look at the Hiring Hub to learn more about the tools, tactics, and technology that power businesses today.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: June 8 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/future-of-work-june-8/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/future-of-work-june-8/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35116 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights a new take on work-life balance and how to set up a group of rockstar, remote developers.

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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 06/08/2015:

TECH.CO | Hiring Your All-Star Remote Development Team

With new technologies that make collaboration easier and a shift in priorities towards autonomous work, companies have begun to look globally to find top-notch software engineers.

But not all of these groups look the same. According to entrepreneur Brian David Crane, the first step is to figure out “whether you want a remote development team working from an office overseas or an entirely distributed development team.”

You not only need to decide what works for you, but also find top developers. Crane advises evaluating remote engineers the same way you would in person, but with three extra features: organic interest in the topic, realistic availability to do the work, and English proficiency to help ensure good communication.

After you make the hire, of course, setting clear expectations is key: “Learn to clearly communicate what you want so your small business can easily transition into an international operation.”

Fast Company | Why You Should Forget Work-Life Balance

The concept of work-life balance implies a distinction between what you’re forced to do for a career and what you’d rather be doing with your time — at least according to Roadtrip Nation co-founder Nathan Gebhard.

Instead of precariously separating these two worlds — an arrangement that can’t easily weather the inevitable surges in professional and personal obligations — Gebhard recommends aiming for work-life integration.

“Why not strive to infuse your interests into those hours spent at work? Fight against the slow technology-enabled creep of work into the rest of your life by putting more of what you find personally fulfilling into the work you do daily.”

This kind of shift starts at the very core of how you conceptualize your career. Instead of following an occupation, Roadtrip Nation’s research shows building a job based on your interests is the best way to create personally meaningful work. This process won’t always be linear — you’ll likely have to try a few variations before you find a career that can truly integrate into your personal life — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

“The journey you end up taking will likely have a different outcome than you planned. And that’s a good thing — it means that you’re truly testing what you’re interested in and reacting to what you find, integrating what interests you into the work you do.”
What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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New in the Hiring Hub: Customer Happiness & Databases https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/hiring-hub-customer-happiness-databases/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/hiring-hub-customer-happiness-databases/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 16:00:34 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35099 Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? We're adding more articles every week—here’s a look at what’s new.

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Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? From web development and design, to marketing and advice for startups, we’re building the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers—and adding more information every week. Here’s a look at what’s new.

Growing Your NPS and CSAT Scores

How do businesses measure customer happiness? Two common scores help measure customer satisfaction and also provide insights into what’s going well and what needs to improve. The Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) is a quick check-in—usually immediately after an interaction. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures a customer’s long-term happiness and how likely they are to promote a brand. Learn more about both scores, how to implement them, and ways to boost your scores. Read more…

A Guide to Database Technology

In the past, databases were pretty straight-forward: library card catalogs, phone books, employee directories. As the volume of data has grown, however, so has the complexity of databases—as well as the technology used to save, sort, and process the massive amounts of information. Learn how modern databases work and the many options available to power a website or web-based application. Read more…

Have a look at the Hiring Hub to learn more about the tools, tactics, and technology that power businesses today.

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How to Set and Raise Your First Rate on Upwork https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/set-raise-first-rate-upwork/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/set-raise-first-rate-upwork/#comments Wed, 03 Jun 2015 16:00:15 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35086 What are your skills, experience, and time worth? How much are clients willing to pay? These are possibly the toughest questions for new freelancers to answer, but they shouldn’t hold you back from setting your initial rate. While there is no one formula to figure out the perfect hourly rate, there are universal factors to consider that can help you get close to the mark. Check out this advice from the Upwork community.

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What are your skills, experience, and time worth? How much are clients willing to pay? These are possibly the toughest questions for new freelancers to answer, but they shouldn’t hold you back from setting your initial rate—a starting point that can easily be adjusted as you gain experience.

While there is no one formula to figure out the perfect hourly rate, there are universal factors to consider that can help you get close to the mark. There are also reliable signs that will indicate when it’s time to consider raising your rate.

Setting your first rate

For new freelancers, it’s important to look at both what you will offer clients as well as the competitive landscape for the type of jobs you would like to secure.

Your long-term goal is to find a rate that is representative of the quality of your work, and competitive enough to help you secure as much work. Finding that balance takes some of your own trial and error, here are some tips shared among our successful freelance community:

  • Take time to do your research. How do other freelancers price themselves? One valuable resource is the Upwork platform itself. Research the types of jobs you would like to secure and how other freelancers with similar skills and experience bid on these projects. Also check out their profiles: look at their work history, feedback, and whether they are “Top Rated.” Look at how new and established freelancers set their rates so you have a range of rates to consider.
  • Factor in your stats. In addition to skills, work experience, and education, consider your personal “stats.” For example, are you an expert in the type of work you want to do or starting a new career? How efficient are you? How many hours do you want to work? How much money do you want/need to make? Do you have unique skills, experience, and/or relationships to offer to clients?
  • Plan to increase over time. On Upwork, your first few jobs are invaluable in helping you build a solid foundation of client ratings and reviews. Some freelancers, eager to build their profile, will bid slightly lower on their first few jobs as a strategy. Seasoned marketing writer Tim H. started off his freelance career knowing his rate would grow over time; since he started, he’s increased his posted rate 1,500 percent! He still adjusts his job bids to suit the type of job, and the needs of the client so he always has a steady stream of work.

When is the right time to raise your rate?

Once you have solid experience on Upwork, there are telltale signs that you should think about raising your rate.

  • Job invitations. Have you started receiving invitations to apply for specific jobs? This is a great sign that your hard work is paying off. If clients are asking you to bid on their projects, they may also be singling you out to apply. Consider this an opportunity to set your bid a little higher since you know the client already values your work and experience.
  • Too much work. What a great problem to have, right? If you are securing most of the jobs you apply for and have more than enough work, this is a great time to start slowly increasing your rate on your profile and in job bids.
  • Ready to specialize. It’s likely you will find a work niche that you enjoy and are successful at. If you want to position yourself in this niche, research other freelancers in the same space and see whether there’s room to raise your rate.
  • Long-term clients. The longer you work for a client, the more valuable you often become to them. Maybe your role has expended since your initial project. Look for milestones in your working relationship, like a six-month or one-year anniversary, as an opportunity to check in and discuss a rate increase.
  • Leading teams. With significant experience in your field, you may be able to help clients manage other freelancers as a team leader. Consider increasing your rate for jobs that carry more responsibility and insight into your clients’ business.

Remember: slow and steady wins the race! Raise your rate in increments as you complete projects, then see whether it impacts your ability to secure work. And consider these words from fellow long-term freelancer Nikhil Mandrekar from Dubai: “Don’t undervalue yourself.”

For more advice on setting your rates and thriving as a freelancer, check out “How to Price Your Freelance Skills Like a Pro.”

— feature image by Markus Spiske (CC BY 2.0)

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Now Available For Android: New Upwork Messenger App https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/upwork-messenger-app-android/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/upwork-messenger-app-android/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 19:00:06 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35074 The new Upwork Messenger App for Android (previously released for iOS) makes it much easier for freelancers to keep work moving when away from their desk. It includes improved collaboration and new ways to help ensure that freelancers never miss out on a great opportunity.

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We’re excited to announce that Android customers can now enjoy the many benefits of our new Messenger App.

Recently released for iOS phones, the new Upwork Messenger App for Android makes it much easier for freelancers to keep work moving when away from the desk. This includes improved collaboration and new ways to help ensure you never miss out on a great opportunity.

Here’s what you can do on the Android app today:

  • Stay on top of opportunities with job alerts
  • Easily keep your availability status up to date
  • Communicate with clients on-the-go

And not to rest on our laurels, the Upwork team remains hard at work on additional features for the app, which we’ll be rolling out in the coming months. Here are a few highlights:

  • Capability of freelancers to view jobs
  • Ability for clients to find, review, and hire freelancers
  • And much more

You can download the Upwork Messenger App now from Google Play. We hope you enjoy this new freedom and flexibility on the road, and invite you to share your feedback at android-feedback@upwork.com.

Google Play

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Calling All Developers: Win $1,500 in Upwork’s Coding Challenge https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/upwork-code-it-up-coding-challenge/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/upwork-code-it-up-coding-challenge/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 15:00:48 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35056 To recognize and reward top web, mobile, and software developers in our community, Upwork is hosting the Code It Up Coding Challenge in June! Read on for details.

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To recognize and reward top web, mobile, and software developers in our community, Upwork is hosting our first-ever Code It Up Coding Challenge!

Powered by HackerRank’s developer assessment platform, this challenge will evaluate developers with three programming problems with increasing levels of difficulty. You can solve each problem (sample problem) using any one of 20+ different programming languages.

The top-scoring developers for the entire challenge will receive a “Top Dev” badge on his or her Upwork profile—boosting both exposure and reputation. And as if that wasn’t enough, you can also win $1,500, $1,000, or $500 by finishing in first, second, or third place.

The challenge will run for six hours, from June 5, 8:00 p.m. PST to June 6, 2:00 a.m. PST and developers will have three hours within that time window to answer the three problems.

Register here today! Share the challenge and connect with other developers on Twitter using #CodeItUp.


At a glance: Prizes and benefits

  1. Maximize your exposure: Top pros will be displayed to the best clients.
  2. Get cash prizes: First, second, and third place get $1,500, $1,000, and $500.
  3. Boost your profile: Top scorers will get a “Top Dev” badge on their profile.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: June 1 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/future-of-work-june-1/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/06/future-of-work-june-1/#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35065 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights how to give your freelancers effective feedback, the case for paid paternity leave, and the best way to retain your employees.

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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 06/01/2015:

Harvard Business Review | How to Give Feedback to Contractors

Independent work expert Steven Demaio has been on both the client and freelancer side of professional relationships, and his experience has taught him one thing above all else: “I’m more convinced than ever that when contractors get substantive feedback, everyone wins.”

Some of his tried and true tips are simple, like immediately acknowledging you received a deliverable. Others are a bit less obvious.

“A contractor, unlike a pizza chef, often decides how to approach the work based on her perceptions (or misperceptions) of what an individual customer wants.” This idea stresses the importance of being flexible, clarifying expectations as you go, and most importantly not writing off a freelancer if they initially misunderstand your asks. Along this same line, giving detailed feedback—which aspects were great and why, if  you’d like changes to the work product—not only improves the ultimate product but may also have long-term benefits if you use the freelancer for another project in the future, as they will come to the next project with a better understanding of your needs.

Slate | If We Want to Help Working Mothers, We Could Start With Paid Paternity Leave

Recent research has found that while paid maternity leave increases the number of women in the workforce, fewer women actually end up in leadership roles. As Economic Policy Editor Bryce Covert points out, “these studies, aren’t indictments of workplace policies such as paid leave and subsidized child care. They are indictments of crafting these policies under the false assumption that women are the only ones who need them.”

Covert notes that encouraging men to take time off during their child’s early life can have lasting benefits months and years down the line, with studies finding men who take leave are consistently more competent and present fathers later on. Paternity leave can also benefit working mothers, making it more likely for them to stick with full-time employment and earn higher incomes.

The Huffington Post | The Worst Advice Ever Heard About Employee Turnover

Employee retention is more important than ever, but more than two million professionals quit their jobs in February 2015 alone. While there are many factors that can lead to this kind of turn over, Margaret Jacoby, founder and president of MJ Management Solutions, writes about 3 key misconceptions regarding employee turnover, and how they affect businesses’ ability to win the talent wars.

These outdated practices are namely the idea that you need to constantly supervise your employees, thinking annual reviews are sufficient feedback, and assuming a promoted employee will automatically be a good manager. Luckily, most of these problems have relatively simple solutions. The first one, for example, is already fading out under a cultural shift of how we understand work. As more companies turn to virtual teams, micromanaging and over-the-shoulder check-ins are no longer possible. The managers who succeed are those who are able to communicate goals and expectations without directly monitoring every move.

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

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Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report Highlights Work’s Evolution https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/mary-meeker-internet-trends-report-work-evolution/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/mary-meeker-internet-trends-report-work-evolution/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 20:26:20 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35043 The 20th installment of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report named the “evolution of work” as a key trend. In a commentary about the report, Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel discusses how the Internet is helping evolve the way we work.

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The 20th installment of Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report, an annual look at big-picture transformations that are being driven by the Internet, was released yesterday and named the “evolution of work” as a key trend.

Mary Meeker Internet Trends 2015 — slide 126

From Mary Meeker’s “Internet Trends 2015”

The Internet is empowering major changes in the way people work. Upwork’s CEO Stephane Kasriel shared commentary on the report’s insights on LinkedIn, saying “Our [work] habits are born of the Industrial Age, when people had to be in one place to work factory lines. But there is almost no need for that today.”

“We can all log on to ‘go to work’ rather than drive to an office. Furthermore, manufacturing jobs are going away and innovation-driven jobs are on the rise. This innovation-driven work is much more easily performed online.”

Read Kasriel’s full commentary on how the Internet is helping evolve the way we work.

 

feature image by Ken Lund (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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New in the Hiring Hub: Virtual Assistants & Software Stacks https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/hiring-hub-virtual-assistants-software-stacks/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/hiring-hub-virtual-assistants-software-stacks/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35037 Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? We're adding more articles every week—here’s a look at what’s new.

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Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? From web development and design, to marketing and advice for startups, we’re building the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers—and adding more information every week. Here’s a look at what’s new.

Why You Need a Virtual Assistant & 5 Tips for Success

When you run your own business, tasks add up and you don’t always have time to juggle it all. A virtual assistant—often referred to as a VA—can help you pull everything together, whether you need help with a one-time project or ongoing support. See how you can benefit from working with a VA (or VAs) and learn tips how to create a successful working relationship with them. Learn more…

Choosing the Right Software Stack for Your Website

Different software doesn’t always play nicely—something you don’t want to leave to chance when it comes to powering your company’s website or building a web-based app. Software stacks are bundles of software that work together as a group, from a database server’s operating system to the web language that forms the foundation of your website. Here’s a look at some of the more common stack options and key considerations when deciding which one is best for your business. Learn more…

Have a look at the Hiring Hub to learn more about the tools, tactics and technology that power businesses today.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: May 26 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/future-of-work-may-26/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/future-of-work-may-26/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 13:01:21 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35021 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the shifts happening in the HR function, tools and strategies that bring success to virtual teams, and a look at how tech — like virtual reality — will impact the office and how we collaborate.

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Upwork’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 05/26/2015:

Fast Company | Welcome To The New Era Of Human Resources

The traditional Human Resources department “focused on record keeping, workplace safety, wage management, and employee grievances,” Jared Lindzon reported.

All of that is changing, however. Many HR responsibilities can be done “faster, cheaper, and better” today using external resources or technology. But does this signal the end of HR, or a progression that will move HR to the core management team?

Art Mazor, principal of human capital at Deloitte Consulting, says the new tools will help HR professionals shift focus: “[They] are finally allowing the HR function to look outside the tactical, administrative reporting and data gathering to bring insights and drive business strategy and results.”


 

Forbes | How To Make Sure Your Remote Team Actually Gets Work Done

While multiple studies, like this one, have shown that productivity can increase when a team is empowered to work from home, accountability is still a concern for many managers.

Shane Jones, columnist for The Muse, says the best way to succeed with remote work is to fully embrace it.

  • Prioritize transparency and use tools that show progress on projects, tasks, and personal goals to everyone on the team. “This transparency makes virtual teams more productive than their in-office counterparts—by an increase of as much as 43%.”
  • Integrate communication tools to keep all staff connected during the workday.
  • Think ahead and anticipate issues that might arise: miscommunication, a bad Internet connection.

Referencing different tools and strategies, Jones explains how managers can embrace the reality of virtual work, since it isn’t going away anytime soon.


 

Wall Street Journal | The Future of Remote Work Feels Like Teleportation

Does the workplace of the future include robots and Oculus Rift VR? Christopher Mims reports that it might; he recently used a prototype of a system called DORA, “a system that accomplishes a near-perfect version of a phenomenon neuroscientist Henrik Ehrsson calls the ‘body-swap illusion.’”

But workplace technology isn’t all about body swapping. Mims looks at technology that will be available in computers this year — and maybe even mobile devices — that will change the way distributed teams use webcams and collaborate. “I have experienced the future of remote work,” he wrote, “and it feels a lot like teleportation.”

How has your work life been changing? Share your experience in the comments below!

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When Sharks Attack: Why Digital Nomads Need a Backup Plan https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/sharks-attack-digital-nomads-need-backup-plan/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/sharks-attack-digital-nomads-need-backup-plan/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 16:00:40 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35012 How sharks and yogis can interfere with carefully researched plans? Jeremy and Sondra Orozco have found Internet problems to be inevitable during their travels—but as Digital Nomads, they also know that link is essential. Here are their top tips for staying connected.

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Jeremy Orozco left his job as a firefighter and Sondra Orozco works for Upwork. Follow this newly married couple as they transition into life on the road as Digital Nomads and learn more via their blog, Nomad Life.

This month marks our one-year travelversary! Over the past year we’ve traveled to 13 countries and more than 20 cities. We now consider ourselves pros at this remote work + travel lifestyle. But no matter how seasoned we are, or how much we prepare, we always run into unexpected Internet problems.

Internet Emergency #1 – Sharks

Jeremy: We checked into a swanky hotel in downtown Saigon. My first question: “What’s the Wifi password?” The receptionist replied in clear English, “I’m sorry, the Internet is not working in our country.” Clearly, I thought, there must be some sort of language barrier.

Sondra: There was no communication error. A not-so-quick Google News search confirmed that one of the two underwater cables responsible for bringing Internet to Vietnam had been attacked by sharks.

Internet Emergency #2 – Yogis

Sondra: Two months later, in Bali, hundreds of yogis descended on our village for the annual “Bali Spirit Festival,” resulting in a power surge due to the influx of people.

Jeremy: Yogis and power outages are nothing new to Bali, but this surge knocked out the Internet infrastructure, resulting in a shaky connection for an entire week.

Internet Emergency #3 – Water Fight

Jeremy: Our next stop was Chiang Mai, Thailand. We landed during Songkran, the world’s biggest water fight.

Sondra: Unfortunately, most businesses were closed for several days—including our co-working space—while the country washed away its sins as part of the Thai New Year tradition.

How did we deal?

Jeremy: These stories sound funny, because they did not happen to you.

Sondra: Could we avoid all this drama? Sure, we could settle down in one place and enjoy a reliable, predictable daily routine. But that’d be boring.

Jeremy: In each of these unreal situations, we first panicked. The next time we encounter an Internet emergency, we’ll still panic—but now we have a plan.

Our Internet failure plan

1. Research Internet reliability

Internet reliability is not the same as Internet speed. We use the website #nomads to ask people currently on the ground, “How reliable is the location for a 24/7 uninterrupted high-speed Internet connection for the next 2 months?”

2. Research where to work

The more co-working spaces and Internet cafes the better. (Check out our recent blog post about finding places to work.)

3. Find the best local cell provider and buy the best data plan

In Prague, you can buy a cell phone data plan that rocks 7MB down—a high-speed hotspot in your pocket. (Point of reference: Netflix requires 0.5MB down to stream movies.) It’s a backup plan. Not that you need it in Prague, their Internet is as good as their beer, fricking amazing.

4. Look up local holidays and plan ahead

We were in Bali for Nyepi, the Balinese New Year and day of silence. The entire island goes dark for a full day of reflection. No one works. In fact, local police patrol the streets and you can’t leave your home. Expecting the Internet to be down on the holiday (shockingly, it wasn’t), we arranged to take the day off.

5. Be ready to evacuate

You can live in a city for months, and one day, the Internet might go out, and you’ll need to get out. We are always mentally and physically ready to move in times of Internet unrest. We have a backup country to flee to when the Internet downgrades to speeds only suitable for travel bloggers.

Jeremy: We’ve made it work over the last year, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get lucky.

Sondra: I would have been screwed if I didn’t have Internet connectivity during many Upwork feature launches that my team was responsible for. The reality is that most exotic places are challenging to work from, and without reliable Internet, you’ll lose your job or clients fast.

Jeremy: There are thousands of cities today with reliable Internet. Here in Chiang Mai, Thailand, it’s 3 a.m. and we are footsteps away from four open cafés with high-speed Internet, one with 300MB down.

So even if your buddy claims the Internet on that secluded beach in Costa Rica is “reliable” (because he used Facebook from his hotel there one time), it’s not. It does not have reliable 24/7 Internet with backup plans at 3 a.m.

Sondra: …But it will soon. Elon Musk, please send us a Tesla battery and a global Internet connection from space. Thanks. :)

 

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Introducing the Hiring Hub: Learn About Mobile Web Design and 3D Printing https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/hiring-hub-mobile-web-design-3d-printing/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/hiring-hub-mobile-web-design-3d-printing/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 13:00:23 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=35007 Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? We're adding more articles every week—here’s a look at what’s new.

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Have you checked out the Hiring Hub, Upwork’s new destination for ideas and inspiration? From web development and design, to marketing and advice for startups, we’re building the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs, executives, and freelancers—and adding more articles every week. Here’s a look at what’s new.

Bootstrap 3: The Most Popular Framework for Building Responsive, Mobile-First Sites

Google’s recent move to boost mobile-friendly sites in search results has put responsive websites on the must-have list for businesses to maintain their visibility and stay competitive. Enter Bootstrap, a front-end development framework that takes a mobile-first approach to web design. So what is it, and why is it the most popular framework for responsive sites? Learn more…

3D Printing: The Future Is Here

3D printing isn’t just cool because it’s advanced enough to produce everything from a prosthetic limb to a pizza. With the cost and size of printers shrinking, 3D printing is revolutionizing how things are made and fast-tracking innovation. Inventors can quickly create and test out prototypes for new products. It’s also becoming increasingly popular with the “maker movement,” where artists can create ready-to-wear (and ready-to-sell) jewelry. See how 3D printing works and the many doors this evolving technology is opening. Learn more…

Have a look at the Hiring Hub to learn more about the tools, tactics and technology that power businesses today.

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Everything You Need To Know About Building a Distributed Customer Support Team [eBook] https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/ebook-build-distributed-customer-support-team/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/ebook-build-distributed-customer-support-team/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 12:50:54 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=34991 We believe that companies of any size — from bootstrapped startups to global enterprise — should have access to the talent they need to build phenomenal support teams. And now, with the tremendous advances in distributed work and the information in this eBook, they can.

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As director of the Upwork customer service category, I spend a lot of time thinking about what it means to deliver a great customer experience. (Seriously. A lot of time.) And while it may not make me the most interesting conversationalist at the cocktail party, it has given me a newfound respect for companies and support teams who do customer experience right.

The customer service category is one of the fastest growing categories on Upwork. Last year alone, companies spent 54 percent more than the year before. Increasingly companies are discovering the value of having a distributed customer support team – from reduced turnover to improved customer satisfaction and 24/7 multi-channel support.

"Happy Customers, Successful Companies"Which is why I’m so excited to share our brand new eBook, Happy Customers, Successful Companies: Your Guide to Building a World-Class Distributed Customer Support Team.

We believe that companies of any size — from bootstrapped startup to global enterprise — should have access to the talent they need to build phenomenal support teams. And now, with the tremendous advances in distributed work and the information in this eBook, they can.

Happy Customers, Successful Companies is a blueprint for building a successful distributed support team. Whether you’re hiring your first rep, augmenting an existing team, or transitioning your entire support operation to the cloud, you’ll get the tips you need to quickly develop, scale, and run your customer service function.

You’ll learn how to find, hire, and work with a team of passionate service professionals from around the world. You’ll read case studies that examine how and why other companies built distributed support teams of their own. You’ll get ideas on possible ways to:

  • Hire the best customer service reps regardless of location
  • Structure your distributed dream team
  • Identify effective remote onboarding, training, and work practices
  • Use the right tools to facilitate distributed customer support
  • Create and sustain a strong company culture

Basically, it’s a crash course in creating a distributed customer success team that works wonders for your business. We hope you read it, enjoy it, and build a stellar support crew of your own. Download your free copy today!

Ryan Johnson
Categories Director,
Upwork

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: May 18 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/future-of-work-may-18/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/future-of-work-may-18/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=34985 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights how Hollywood gets things done, the importance of emotional intelligence for leaders, and an upcoming conference in Australia that aims to move the future of work discussion forward.

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Upwork’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 05/18/2015:

New York Times Magazine | “What Hollywood Can Teach Us About the Future of Work”

A day spent on a movie set left economics reporter Adam Davidson thinking about the “Hollywood Model:” “A project is identified; a team is assembled; it works together for precisely as long as is needed to complete the task; then the team disbands,” he explained.

It’s a model that falls between the long-term corporate commitment of the business world and the one-off transactions of TaskRabbit and Uber. Davidson feels the rest of the world is moving to follow it. “More of us will see our working lives structured around short-­term, project-­based teams rather than long-­term, open­-ended jobs.”

It’s a shift that’s driven by many factors, and Davidson observes that—while the Hollywood Model has its strengths—not everyone will thrive. But the benefits are strong and accessible enough that success will be attainable for much more than “some tiny 1 percent.”

Entrepreneur | “Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Make Reducing Workplace Stress a Priority”

Men and women respond differently to stress and family business expert Daphne Mallory says managing that stress is a challenge for any leader.

However, she says, emotionally intelligent leaders will find a way to support their teams through a variety of workplace efforts that will give everyone the options they need to find balance: improved collaboration, a mentoring program, accommodating different learning styles, and understanding needs that are specific to the team.

She wrote: “When you lead with emotional intelligence, you understand that everyone you work with has needs.”

AFR Weekend | “Jess Scully’s Future of Work to blow the minds of employers and employees”

An upcoming conference in Australia will bring multiple sectors together to take a serious look at how the workplace is changing. Future of Work organizer Jess Scully says the event aims to spark discussion about “what careers look like in the future; whether we’re equipped policy-wise, organisationally and as individuals; and also what can we learn from each other?”

“We put the onus very much on individual practitioners to be their own accountant, publicist, manager, agent; we haven’t got the structures to support it yet,” she said. From entrepreneurship and leadership to support structures and new approaches to management, Scully notes there’s much to be considered and the event is one way to explore what needs to be done.

How has your work life been changing? Share your experience in the comments below!

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5 Refreshing Home Office Makeovers https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/5-refreshing-home-office-makeovers/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/5-refreshing-home-office-makeovers/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=34966 Need inspiration for your home office makeover or a weekend project to spruce things up? Upwork's Melanie Feltham found these five ideas to help you get started.

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Spring is in the air, and it’s time to shake off the dust and doldrums of winter and start fresh with a good spring clean. Periodically sprucing up my space and giving it new life gives me an extra boost of creative energy that helps pull me out of an end-of-season slump.

Feeling motivated? Here are five refreshing ways to makeover your office space that are sure to get your spirits (and productivity) soaring.

1. Plant an office garden

Image and How-to via TheRainforestGarden.com

Image and how-to via TheRainforestGarden.com

Gardening is reported to be one of the happiest professions. Even if you aren’t ready to trade in your computer for a rake and a hoe, you can certainly surround yourself with many of the joyful aspects that gardeners encounter. Add fresh herbs, edible greens, and veggies to the mix, and lunch at your desk can take on a whole new meaning.

2. Convert a dysfunctional space

Image and How-to via Hometalk

Image and how-to via Hometalk

You know that corner/closet where you store all things work related? The one you try to hide from visitors? It doesn’t have to be an eyesore! Take everything out, add some shelves and a filing system—whether it’s covered shoe boxes or fancy drawers—and voila! A work space to be proud of.

3. Declutter and organize—the $0 makeover

Image and How-to via PenelopeLovesLists.com

Image and how-to via PenelopeLovesLists.com

A great home office makeover doesn’t have to cost anything. With a little elbow grease and an open mind, letting go of some clutter and reorganizing your workspace can have the same effect as a full renovation.

4. Makeover your playlist

Image and How-to via Lifehacker

Image and how-to via Lifehacker

Who says a makeover has to be seen? Sometimes all you need to do to boost your productivity is craft a new playlist. Although the Mission Impossible theme song is my go-to for tight deadlines (no shame!) the jam I choose depends on the task. If you need help choosing, this lifehacker article breaks down the best beats to help you get more done.

5. Go all out

Image and How-to via CentsationalGirl.com

Image and how-to via CentsationalGirl.com

…because at the end of the day, sometimes changing the entire feel of your room is the only thing that will satisfy.

How do you plan to refresh your space this season? Will it be visual, auditory, or both? Tell us in the comments! We love hearing your thoughts.

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Moving Forward On Upwork Innovation https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/moving-forward-upwork-innovation/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/moving-forward-upwork-innovation/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 17:20:27 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=34948 From faster hiring and better collaboration to support for larger teams and professional growth for freelancers, Upwork has many new innovations to roll out over the coming weeks and months—including some that are already available. Learn more about what we have in the works from Upwork's head of product, Hayden Brown.

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Hello,

As head of product at Upwork, my focus is to deliver on the promise of an amazing online work experience for everyone, on every project. As our CEO Stephane Kasriel touched on in his introductory blog post, achieving this will involve innovation that’s recently been released—as well as a world of exciting new developments we’ll be rolling out in the weeks and months to come.

With that in mind I’d like to highlight some new features available now and in our immediate future, and if you’re interested, invite you to read more about developments in each area.

1. Faster hiring

Faster Hiring on Upwork - briefcase iconTo make hiring faster and easier, we’re continuously improving our matching technology. Beyond this, we’re rolling out a few features which make it easier to connect with just the right available freelancer or newly posted job immediately:

  • Real-time availability status of freelancers allows clients to instantly see when someone is able to work and allows freelancers to better signal when they want to receive new invitations.
  • The improved applicant tracker makes it easier for clients to identify, review, and hire the best freelancers.
  • An all-new chat experience allows clients to easily initiate conversations.
  • Push notifications alert clients to highly relevant new freelancer applicants (via mobile app).
  • Push notifications alert freelancers to highly relevant new job posts (via mobile app).

Read my related blog post on faster hiring at Upwork.

2. Better collaboration

Better collaboration on Upwork - dialogue iconTo stay in sync and work together more closely, remote teams require collaboration. To this end, we’re building a platform and features that allow for seamless interaction from the interview all the way through to the end of the project. Current and upcoming developments include:

  • Improved productivity and collaboration through real-time chat.
  • New iPhone and Android apps that allow clients and freelancers to stay connected always—even on the go.
  • The ability to easily organize conversations into 1:1 and group chat rooms.
  • Faster and simpler sharing of files and ideas.
  • The ability to invite colleagues who aren’t already on Upwork to be part of the conversation, reviewing and commenting on work.

Read my related blog post on better collaboration through Upwork.

3. Support for larger teams

Support for larger teams on Upwork - people iconAs freelance teams become increasingly large and spread out across the globe, we’re developing innovations that make it more and more convenient for your teams to work together in unison.

  • Use enhanced workrooms to communicate with everyone on the team, no matter where they are.
  • Hire and work with freelancers on multiple contracts simultaneously—including agencies.
  • Invite colleagues outside of the Upwork platform into your workroom to review work and provide input.
  • Upwork Enterprise provides access to many premium features, from help sourcing talent and customizable onboarding to compliance assistance.
  • Enterprise also offers a branded portal with custom views of all your freelancers and engagements.

Read my related blog post on support for larger teams at Upwork.

4. Enhanced professional growth

Enhanced professional growth on Upwork - rocketship iconAs online work increasingly gains popularity, we’re providing features and services to help our freelancing professionals build their careers and be successful sourcing projects on Upwork. Here are some innovations in the works:

  • A redesigned My Stats page reports relevant new metrics, to help freelancers understand and improve their performance in sourcing new engagements.
  • The new Job Success score more accurately shows a freelancer’s overall track record with their clients.
  • High-performing freelancers earn “Top Rated” status and a badge that appears on their profile, so they stand out when viewed by clients.
  • Our new Hiring Hub has valuable tips, business ideas, and other useful freelancer-focused information.

Read my related blog post on enhanced professional growth on Upwork.

I hope this post gives you a better sense of what we’re working on. We’re innovating as quickly as possible to make Upwork better each day.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: May 11 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/future-of-work-may-11/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/future-of-work-may-11/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.upwork.com/blog/?p=34941 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the best way to incorporate freelancer’s into your business and the modern-day challenges of work-life balance.

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Upwork’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 05/11/2015:

Entrepreneur | How to Incorporate Freelancers Into Your Business


Rob Biederman on Twitter, co-founder and CEO of HourlyNerd, has always had positive experiences with his freelancers: “Some of this has to do with the people we hire, and some of this is from things we’ve learned along the way.”

One such lesson is to prioritize finding the right people—and if you want the best candidate, you need to do your research during the vetting process. “You always want to bring in someone who has your business goals in mind. If you aren’t on the same page, you’ll probably end up with a product that doesn’t fit your needs.”

Another important aspect, he says, is to treat contractors like they’re part of the team—because they are! Good communication and clear direction that ties into your larger goals will help ensure the best final product.

In the end, “Every employee deserves to feel valued, regardless of his job title or status. Treating freelancers as equals shows them that they’re essential members of your team — and this will lead to a mutually beneficial relationship for everyone involved.”

Fast Company | Why Managing Work-Life Balance is Harder than Ever

Work is shifting away from the traditional 40-hour work week, but recent studies show it’s shifting in the wrong direction.

A nearly 9,700 participant survey found that many in today’s workforce face numerous challenges and increased responsibility. “Around the world, an estimated 50% of managers said they work more than 40 hours per week, and four in 10 say the hours they put on the clock have increased in the last five years,” wrote Lydia Dishman on Twitter for Fast Company. For working parents, the discrepancies were even more pronounced.

Unsurprisingly, the survey “bore out the fact that there is a disconnect between employees wanting flex time and an employer’s willingness to offer it,” Dishman said. Many workers say their flexible work arrangements have had negative consequences.

While businesses may think restrictions are the smart choice, Dishman explains that the long-term talent wars show a different story. To recruit and keep top talent, you have to offer people what they value.

Namely: Flex time—offered with support and encouragement, as well as permission to be off the clock. “Two-thirds of global workers would like to have the ability shut off emails and calls when they need to focus on their personal lives.”

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

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Introducing Upwork – Our New Name and Platform https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/odesk-is-now-upwork/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/odesk-is-now-upwork/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 13:00:16 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34714 oDesk has been relaunched as Upwork—a new name, and also a new platform for connecting businesses with talented professionals, faster and more easily than ever before. CEO Stephane Kasriel introduces the new platform and the four areas of innovation Upwork will focus on in the coming months.

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Update: We invite you to join our Town Hall webinar this Friday, May 8, from 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (PT). Register in advance here.

Dear oDeskers,

Together we’ve redefined how people work. What you do every day on oDesk used to be called “the future of work,” but it’s rapidly becoming the norm. We know 90% of US businesses hire independent professionals and they are ready to find more talent online.

I’m thrilled to announce that we have relaunched oDesk as Upwork. Upwork is a new name, and also a new platform for connecting businesses with talented professionals, faster and more easily than ever before. And, in the coming months, we will focus on four areas of innovation:

  • Faster hiring. To accelerate hiring, we’re making it easier for freelancers to update their availability and for businesses to find, interview and select freelancers who are ready to work right away.
  • Better collaboration. We’re making work simpler and more productive. A new messaging experience will include chat and video, plug into your favorite services, and organize conversations into chat rooms. Plus, you’ll be able to communicate with your teams through native Android and iPhone apps.
  • Larger teams. Shared team workspaces will make it easier for multiple freelancers and clients to collaborate. Businesses can create and engage large freelance teams quickly, safely, and in compliance with Upwork Enterprise.
  • Professional growth. Upwork will be a platform where independent professionals can thrive. With access to work history stats, the ability to earn Top Rated status, and information on high-demand skills, freelancers will have the tools to get more and better jobs.

oDesk is now Upwork. You can begin experiencing the new platform today by going to upwork.com. You’ll see familiar oDesk functionality and your existing profile, with a new mobile-friendly and simplified design. A new Upwork Messenger app is now also available for download on Android and iPhone. And, don’t miss the Hiring Hub, our new destination for ideas and inspiration to help you get more work done faster.

You may also be wondering about the new name. With an exciting and limitless future in mind, we chose Upwork to better convey our vision and represent our current and future community. It’s a name that inspires us and we hope it will inspire you as well.

We’ll continue to share our progress towards this vision, and look forward to creating more success for your business than ever before. I’m excited to step into the CEO position at Upwork, and I invite you to join in the conversation to find answers to your questions. If you have feedback for us or have questions about our new platform check out these FAQs or we’d love to hear from you at upwork-info@odesk.com.

Best,

Stephane Kasriel
CEO, Upwork

PS: Although I mention forthcoming innovation above, our VP, Head of Product Hayden Brown has created a series of blog posts briefly outlining future development. Read her posts to learn more about Upwork’s roadmap in areas from faster hiring and better collaboration to support for larger teams and enhanced professional growth.

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Upwork Roadmap Preview: Support For Larger Teams https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/upwork-roadmap-support-larger-teams/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/upwork-roadmap-support-larger-teams/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 12:00:48 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34767 The new Upwork platform makes it easier for clients to hire and work with multiple freelancers at once, including agencies. Upwork's Hayden Brown previews just a few of the innovations and developments we’re working on now.

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The new Upwork platform will allow us to roll out innovation that delivers on our promise of a greatly improved online work experience for clients and freelancers. Here are some notes on product development from Hayden Brown, our Head of Product. She discusses how we’re working to improve support for larger teams. Check out other articles in the series, including future development aimed towards areas from faster hiring and better collaboration to enhanced professional growth.


We’re making it easier for clients to hire and work with multiple freelancers at once, including agencies. Here are just a few of the innovations and developments we’re working on now.

Communication designed for teams

We’re building the tools that allow you to work seamlessly with multiple team members. Our new collaboration platform helps fulfill this vision. Easily set up team rooms where all or some members of your team can communicate. You can even invite colleagues outside the Upwork platform into your workroom to review work and provide input.

Dash screrenshot

Benefits:

  • Centralization of work
  • Easily segment work into team rooms
  • Communicate with everyone in a single location

Upwork Enterprise

If you work with a large number of freelancers, including your own freelancers who are not currently on the Upwork platform, Upwork Enterprise is geared towards you. You’ll have access to many high-touch features, including talent sourcing services to find candidates more easily, access to Certified Program Consultants, customizable onboarding of team members and assistance with classification compliance.

UpworkEnterpriseOnboarding

Available Benefits:

  • Customizable freelancer onboarding requirements
  • Tailored contracts, including IP assignment and confidentiality
  • Personalized onboarding and platform assistance
  • Branded portal with visibility of all your freelancer engagements
  • Improved and simplified classification compliance services
  • Monthly invoicing option

Learn about other developments we’re now working on at Upwork, including faster hiring and better collaboration, as well as enhanced professional growth.

Best,
Hayden Brown,
VP, Head of Product
Upwork

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Upwork Roadmap Preview: Enhanced Professional Growth https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/upwork-roadmap-enhanced-professional-growth/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/upwork-roadmap-enhanced-professional-growth/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 12:00:38 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34769 Online work is no longer a “fringe” career, as working online at Upwork is quickly becoming a mainstream option for high-caliber independent professionals. Upwork's Hayden Brown previews several innovations that will help freelancers ramp up and grow their businesses.

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The new Upwork platform will allow us to roll out innovation that delivers on our promise of a greatly improved online work experience for clients and freelancers. Here are some notes on product development from Hayden Brown, our Head of Product. She discusses how we’re working to enhance professional growth for those in our community. Check out other articles in the series, including future development aimed towards areas from faster hiring and better collaboration to larger teams.


Online work is no longer a “fringe” career, as working online at Upwork is quickly becoming a mainstream option for high-caliber independent professionals. To help freelancers ramp up and grow their businesses, we’ve initiated several innovations:

Emphasis on freelancer success

We’re developing solutions that spotlight top performing freelancers for their exceptional skills and service and help all freelancers understand their strengths and areas for improvement. One example is the My Stats page, which shows each freelancer information about their metrics.

A new metric we’re including is the Job Success score to more accurately represent for the marketplace a freelancer’s overall track record with their clients. Also, high-quality freelancers who have proven their mettle on Upwork can earn “Top Rated” status and a badge that appears on their profiles. This makes it easier for clients to pinpoint candidates with a stellar reputation.

Benefits:

  • Better view into past success
  • Ability for top freelancers to stand out
  • More information to help freelancers succeed

New Hiring Hub

Our goal is to continue as the leader in online work, and to support our community in all possible ways. This includes being the source for valuable information that makes it easier for clients and freelancers alike to work online.

To this end we have created a new Hiring Hub which has valuable tips, business ideas and other information. Ultimately we want to help clients and freelancers grow their businesses, which will lead to more work opportunities—and these articles are a major step in this direction. We’ll be constantly adding new content that will be helpful for everyone in the Upwork community.

Benefits:

  • Single source for a wide variety of tips and ideas to help you scale your business
  • Insights on how to tackle projects with remote teams
  • Professional advancement for freelancers

Learn about other developments we’re now working on at Upwork, including faster hiring and better collaboration, as well as support for larger teams.

Best,

Hayden Brown,
VP, Head of Product
Upwork

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Upwork Roadmap Preview: Better Collaboration https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/upwork-roadmap-better-collaboration/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/upwork-roadmap-better-collaboration/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 12:00:27 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34765 To work closely and always stay in sync, remote teams need a simple way to collaborate. With that in mind, Upwork is building a platform that allows for freelancers and their clients to do much more than send messages. Upwork's Hayden Brown introduces some of the developments we've been working on.

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The new Upwork platform will allow us to roll out innovation that delivers on our promise of a greatly improved online work experience for clients and freelancers. Here are some notes on product development from Hayden Brown, our Head of Product. She discusses how we’re working to make for better collaboration between online teams. Check out other articles in the series, including future development aimed towards areas from faster hiring and support for larger teams to enhanced professional growth.


To work closely and always stay in sync, remote teams need a simple way to collaborate. With that in mind, we are building a platform that allows for freelancers and their clients to do much more than send messages. You’ll also be able to communicate with your teams through native Android and iPhone apps.

New and improved messaging

Better collaboration is in the pipeline, such as a new messaging experience that has both chat and video, and the ability to easily organize conversations into chat rooms.

 

screenshot_Dash

Benefits:

  • Use real-time chat to boost your productivity and live collaboration
  • Share files and other documents easier
  • Customize “rooms” to enable and organize easier conversations between team members
  • Invite non-Upwork colleagues, friends and family to use Messages
  • Collaborate anytime, anywhere

iPhone and Android apps

With new mobile apps for your phone, it’s now easier to work on the go. Freelancers won’t have to worry about missing opportunities when away from the desk, and clients can stay connected and keep projects moving from anywhere.

app_screenshots

Benefits:

  • Clients and freelancers can stay connected
  • Immediate access to messages and job alerts
  • Instantly view and respond to messages
  • Freelancers can manage their availability status

Learn about other developments we’re now working on at Upwork, including faster hiring and support for larger teams as well as enhanced professional growth.

Best,

Hayden Brown,
VP, Head of Product
Upwork

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Upwork Roadmap Preview: Faster Hiring https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/upwork-roadmap-faster-hiring/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/05/upwork-roadmap-faster-hiring/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 12:00:04 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34763 Perhaps the request we hear most from clients and freelancers alike is to make hiring faster and easier. Upwork's Hayden Brown explains that we'll be improving our matching technology as well as adding specific features to Upwork in the near future.

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The new Upwork platform will allow us to roll out innovation that delivers on our promise of a greatly improved online work experience for clients and freelancers. Here are some notes on product development from Hayden Brown, our Head of Product. She discusses how we’re working to make it faster to find and hire the perfect talent. Check out other articles in the series, including future development aimed towards areas from better collaboration and support for larger teams to enhanced professional growth.


Perhaps the request we hear most from clients and freelancers alike is to make hiring faster and easier. As well as improving our matching technology, we’ll also be adding specific features to Upwork in the near future, including:

Real-time availability status of freelancers

Availability screenshot

To ensure clients can quickly get a sense of how soon work can begin, freelancers will be able to display whether they’re available to work (1) now (2) later or (3) not in the immediate future. This gives the client flexibility to decide if they can wait on a freelancer they have in mind, or to move on to another freelancer to get the project started sooner.

Benefits:

  • Available and qualified freelancers rise to the top of the queue
  • More visibility for clients
  • Increased control and better scheduling for freelancers

Improved tracking of candidates

We’re redesigning and simplifying the applicant tracker to make it easier for clients to invite, review, communicate with, and hire candidates. We’ll also improve our process of suggesting freelancers for your projects.

ATS Applicant

Benefits:

  • Simpler and more streamlined user experience for clients
  • Better visibility for freelancers suggested for the job

More developments in the pipeline

We’re working on making it easier to find exactly the right freelancer for your needs — even without posting a job. New functionality will power dynamic refinement of your searches on the fly, and a better interface for viewing suggested candidates will make it easier to zero in on the person with the right skills and expertise. Finally, our new chat interface will make it a breeze to initiate conversations with just the right person when you need them. The client can immediately kick-off a conversation with freelancers who are available.

Benefits:

  • Relationship-focused hiring that’s more natural
  • Easier to evaluate each other’s communication style

Learn about other developments we’re now working on at Upwork, including better collaboration and support for larger teams as well as enhanced professional growth.

Best,
Hayden Brown,
VP, Head of Product
Upwork

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 27 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/future-of-work-april-27/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/future-of-work-april-27/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 12:30:52 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34736 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights a personalized way to improve your work-life balance, factors to help you decide when to consider outsourcing your marketing, and tips to help you become a more effective remote coach.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 04/27/2015:

Forbes | What Would It Take To Improve Your Work-Life Balance?

There’s no silver bullet for work-life balance: some professionals have trouble leaving the office at a reasonable hour, while others head home only to fire up their laptop again. Even worse, a study by Oxford Economics shows that Americans use only 84 percent of their allotted vacation time on average (adding up to 429 million wasted paid vacation days in 2013 alone). How do you set yourself up for success in both your professional and personal life?

According to Frances Booth, author of The Distraction Trap: How to Focus in a Digital World, there are many solutions to this problem. Simple rules, such as a mandatory unplugged hour when you first get home, can help you regroup and re-prioritize.

She also recommends carving out time for vital personal tasks like doctor’s appointments, family events, and favorite hobbies; in the end, claiming this personal time will make you happier, healthier, and more productive across all facets of life.

“Work-life balance is—for most of us—a balancing act. Slowing down, stepping back, switching off and giving time to our own thoughts can help us enjoy both sides of the work-life balance equation again.”

Huffington Post | When Is the Right Time to Outsource Your Marketing?

Digital marketer Jonha Revesencio asks: “In between a big business and a small one, there’s a sweet spot where it actually makes the most sense to outsource the marketing, how do you find out?”

He suggests a few key business factors to consider when you’re trying to decide whether engaging outside marketing help is the right move for your business.

Consider, for example, how much time you spend on marketing each day. If running a content machine is taking you away from essential business operations, a freelancer or outside agency can free up some much needed time.

If you don’t have a background in marketing, Revesencio says high-level freelance marketers can be a life-saving asset when setting up your strategy. Instead of hiring a full-time employee on the cheap, pay a true expert for a few months of dedicated work; they’ll better understand your business’ needs and what will resonate with your customer base.

And remember that you’re not limited to the talent in your area: “Don’t let your business be put at a disadvantage because you think you can’t afford high quality marketing. Don’t tie yourself, as owner, by believing that if you can’t find someone in town to do the work for you, you’ll have to do it yourself.”

Harvard Business Review | When You Have to Coach Remotely

Coaching, or helping your staff improve and guiding them in the right career direction, is challenging for almost any manager. Coaching when your team members are remote? Seems impossible—or, at least, impossible to do well.

“It’s challenging, in large part because you don’t have a shared context. You lack information about the people on the other end of the line, and vice versa,” writes Mark Mortensen, an associate professor of organizational behaviour at INSEAD. This same lack of context makes it harder to establish trust, which can undermine your coaching.

Mortensen recommends three strategies to make long-distance coaching more effective:

  1. Get the problem out in the open and openly discuss it.
  2. Formalize the informal by making a point of discussing things that come up naturally in a shared office but may be missed when someone works remotely.
  3. Find a local person to pair your remote team members with; Mortensen says this can help you get a better understanding of their environment.

“There is no quick fix. Even the most cutting-edge technology cannot provide all the information we get when we are face to face.” However, by committing to these strategies and forging some of your own, you can be a great remote coach.

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

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A New Chapter, a New Leader: Stephane Kasriel https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/new-chapter-new-leader-stephane-kasriel/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/new-chapter-new-leader-stephane-kasriel/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 19:00:03 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34723 An important announcement to the oDesk community from Elance-oDesk CEO Fabio Rosati.

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Dear oDesk community,

A few weeks ago, I wrote about upcoming initiatives and announced a new era of innovation for our company with the goal of becoming the premier online workplace for professionals. Today, I write to share the news of a leadership transition at Elance-oDesk. I have identified a talented leader, Stephane Kasriel—who knows our business, loves what we do, and cares about our community—to be my successor as chief executive officer.

As many of you know, I have led our company for more than a decade. While the ideal length of a CEO’s tenure is up for debate (see this article and this one), all companies benefit from renewal and the occasional self-disruption. I love this team and the job so much that I would never want to leave, yet I have been thinking about succession plans since before the merger of Elance and oDesk.

In Stephane, I see both business vision and technological brilliance: he is an exceptional leader who is passionate about our mission and has the respect of the entire team. As SVP Engineering and Product, Stephane has driven many of the innovations we will soon unveil. He has achieved them by leading a global team of 300 product managers, designers, and engineers—many of whom are members of our amazing freelance community. From this role, Stephane understands first hand not only our technology, but also how to best work with professionals around the world.

Before joining us, Stephane held executive roles at PayPal as Global Head of PayPal Consumer Products, Global Head of Mobile Business Development, and Managing Director of PayPal France. He also founded and co-founded multiple companies, holds 15 web-related patents and has an MBA from INSEAD, an MS in Computer Science from Stanford, and a BS from Ecole Polytechnique in France. I could not be more confident in Stephane’s ability to lead us. For more information see our press release here.

You may be asking, “Why now?” Our company is at its strongest. We have a clear strategy and the resources to execute, including an exceptional team, great customers, and premier investors. Elance-oDesk is a company with an important mission: to provide a workplace for the world. We are the future of work. Our potential for impact and growth is huge—we still have 99% of the market opportunity ahead of us.

We have been working on some very exciting stuff, and there will be more specifics on our company’s next chapter coming within a few weeks. I wanted Stephane to own our new chapter from its first page. I take great pride in handing the reins to someone as passionate about our community as I am. Stephane has the brains, heart, and compass to make this next chapter a monumental one for you. But most importantly, Stephane is committed to creating a better future for work.

My number one priority now is to campaign for Stephane’s and your success. I am looking forward to assuming the role of board member, shareholder, and user. There will not be any substitute for the experience of working here with you and I am humbled to have served such a diverse, talented, and special community. On behalf of the 300 employees and more than 500 freelancers who make up the Elance-oDesk team, thank you for being my inspiration.

With great respect and appreciation,
Fabio

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 20 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/future-of-work-april-20/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/future-of-work-april-20/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 13:00:11 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34718 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights how to navigate cultural differences in business and how to get the most out of your to-do lists.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 04/20/2015:

Harvard Business Review | When Cultural Differences Interfere with Your Time

As businesses become increasingly global, managers must learn to navigate inevitable cultural differences in a flexible and fair manner. One challenge you may not expect: The way different cultures manage their time.

Citing one example of an American manager who had to pad his schedule to account for the tardiness of Italian colleagues, Brandeis International Business School professor Andy Molinksy says these differences aren’t uncommon: “Sometimes, it’s quite frustrating and even dysfunctional to cater to others’ differences, particularly when it means you can’t get your work done. So when do you demand compliance, and when do you just let things go?”

Molinsky says there are two main factors to consider: the size of the disturbance (i.e. the number of people impacted), and how much you yourself can affect it.

Although managers can simply demand all employees follow certain guidelines, almost all experts advise against this approach. Instead of strong-arming workers, Molinksy recommends patience: focus on building trust and communication. “Cultural compliance is the ultimate goal, but a strong, trusting relationship is the tool for achieving it.”

Fast Company | Expert Advice on How to Build the Ultimate To-Do List

According to a LinkedIn survey, only 11 percent of professionals consistently finish every task they set out to accomplish in a given day. These results show that, while so many of us rely on our to-do lists to stay organized, our habits could probably use some help.

Sharing advice from three productivity experts, Fast Company contributor Susan Johnston writes that the first step is accurate prioritization. Jason Womack suggests sticking to the ‘verbs that make you money and the verbs that make you happy,’ so you complete high-impact items and avoid the feeling of constantly busy but never productive.

Paula Rizzo recommends delegating, or moving tasks you never do to a “someday” list. As Johnston summarizes: “Don’t let those tasks distract you from more immediate tasks. Ordering your list by deadline (with the most pressing items first) also helps to set priorities.”

As with many productivity hacks, Johnston observes that there is no one-size fits all solution. Play around with hand-written or digital notes, or different ways of organizing work and personal commitments, until you find the one that works for you.


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

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Cure a Tax Season Headache by Planning Ahead for 2015 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/tax-season-plan-ahead-2015/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/tax-season-plan-ahead-2015/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 13:00:07 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34701 With your 2014 taxes out of the way, now is a great time to review and make improvements to the way you manage your finances. Carrie Smith highlights some simple things you can do to organize your finances and make your life easier this coming year.

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By Carrie Smith from Bench

Tax season in the U.S. is finally over, and if you listen closely you can hear a million freelancers cheering. With your taxes out of the way, now is a great time to review and make improvements to the way you manage your finances.

Maybe you weren’t as organized as you’d hoped. Perhaps your tax bill was bigger than anticipated, or filing was more stressful than it needed to be. Here are some simple things you can do to organize your finances and make your life easier for the coming year.

Separate your personal and business finances

It can be tempting to manage your personal and business finances from the same account, but keeping them separate will make your financial life a whole lot easier.

Managing your business’s finances in a separate bank account allows you to quickly see how your business is performing financially. Separated finances also makes it much easier to deal with bookkeeping, tax reporting, or an unexpected tax audit. During tax season, you can simply print out statements from your business bank account to verify your income and expenses.

To get started, check out this guide on setting up a business bank account.

Go paperless

Want to stress less? Take control of the clutter in your office by going paperless. Create a system for saving and storing receipts, grouping together tax statements, and filing away important documents. At the very least, create a new file folder to store all of your tax documents in one place throughout the year.

Expensify, FileThis, and Evernote are just some of many mobile apps available that allow you to take a picture of a receipt or other document on the go and store it online. MileIQ will help you track business mileage and do away with the paper mileage log.

If your budget and needs are more robust, use a scanner and simple software to tag and organize all your important papers, or you can hand off the task entirely to a service like Shoeboxed’s Magic Envelope.

Use software and apps to manage your finances

Financial software is much less complicated than it used to be, which means that with a few simple clicks you can create quarterly reports, produce invoices, pay bills, and stay on top of your money throughout the year. Next time your accountant requests an update you won’t have to cringe.

For example, Mint is great for tracking personal finances while Freshbooks and Harvest make tracking your business finances easier. Zenpayroll and Wagepoint can take the headache out of managing the payroll.

Connect with an accountant and bookkeeper

A good accountant and bookkeeper can and should be two of your best business allies. They can handle parts of your finances that you don’t understand or simply don’t have time for.

In addition to helping you file your taxes, an accountant is there to help you with strategic financial planning, changing business structures, lease negotiations, and ongoing tax reporting.

A bookkeeper, or online bookkeeping service like Bench, can keep your books up-to-date (important for tax time), produce monthly financial statements that give you an overview of your business’s financial health, and free up your time by taking the chore of bookkeeping off your hands.

Both will be worth the investment, because together you can come up with additional ways to save extra money, reduce taxes, streamline your finances, and ultimately save time.

Put your money on autopilot

To avoid being caught out by your next tax bill, set up small but consistent savings transfers to go from your checking account into a new savings account labeled “taxes.” Then, as your payments become due throughout the year, you won’t be scrambling to come up with the funds.

You can also save time by signing up for automatic bill paying; instead of dealing with bill reminders, the payment will be automatically withdrawn from your account on the same day each month.. Some companies will even give you a small discount on your bill if you enroll in this payment method.

Do you have any tips or favorite applications that help organize your finances? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

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How One Student is Freelancing His Way Across SE Asia https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/one-student-freelancing-way-across-se-asia/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/one-student-freelancing-way-across-se-asia/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 14:39:52 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34688 Travelling the world as a way of life would be “living the dream” for many college students. It certainly is for Nico Jannasch. In an interview with oDesk, he shared how he solved some of the early challenges in his quest to become a digital nomad.

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Travelling the world as a way of life would be “living the dream” for many college students. It certainly is for Nico Jannasch. During three years spent living in dorm rooms in Boston, MA, Nico imagined exploring Asia and South America.

Nico Jannasch — Queen’s Pagoda, Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

Nico at the Queen’s Pagoda, Doi Inthanon National Park, Thailand

But time was an issue—not to mention tuition, rent, food, and a host of other costs that sucked up any income he could earn when he wasn’t buried in school work.

One day, he realized he could take a semester off from college to travel—and he could do it for “free” by building a freelance business. While not pursuing an English major, Nico felt writing would be a good fit for his skills, and it was work that he could do anywhere.

“I booked a one-way ticket to Istanbul,” said Nico, who’s now in Chiang Mai, Thailand. “Asia is far away and foreign from Boston, but that’s exactly why I wanted to travel here: I’m jumping head first into the digital nomad lifestyle. I wanted to make sure that my only way out is an expensive ticket home.”

Jumping the early hurdles of freelancing

The decision to start freelancing was followed quickly by the first challenge: Nico needed clients.

“I realized I’d need at least a small group of established clients and the ability to connect with them across continents and time zones,” Nico said. He felt that oDesk was a good marketplace for his skills, but he still faced the problem all new freelancers face: no feedback or reviews, and no portfolio.

So, Nico got creative. He modelled his profile after those of other successful freelance writers, and decided to go over-and-above on his first applications. “I wrote a free article for each potential employer, sending it with my application as a bonus for them to use however they liked. I sent 11 applications and received three offers for work.”

It took only a week of freelancing for Nico to drop his hourly part-time job entirely. “Based on the rate I was earning, I projected that I could earn roughly $30,000 per year from anywhere in the world. As a college student living on a tight budget, I was nearly in disbelief!”

Getting Into The “oDesk’ Flow”

Nico didn’t find his freelancing groove right away, but the perks of his newfound income were quickly apparent. “I used my income to pay for my food and expenses, and always put at least 10 percent into savings.”

He was earning enough that he decided to test the digital nomad lifestyle, first with a weekend in Chicago, then with a short trip to Puerto Rico during the fall semester.

But, he says, it wasn’t all fun and travel. “Balancing work with school meant that a few long-term deadlines snuck up on me! I made a vow to never again fall behind on work if I could avoid it, and I got into the habit of spending a few hours each week working.”

He also decided to make the jump from sole freelancer to employer. “I’d been freelancing for about two months; after writing nearly 100 articles myself, I felt I had created a system that I could teach to someone else,” he said.

His first hire was another freelancer from North America, and he’s added five more to his team since. “I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn as a manager, but after a few initial misunderstandings everything ran smoothly. Now I can focus my time on scaling my business: finding work, giving instructions, and editing the final articles.”

Have business, will travel

In Chiang Mai, Nico is renting an apartment, settling into life abroad, and building his business. “Asia is much more affordable than life in Boston, and my freelance income enables me to live well,” he said. “I can give my business the money it needs to grow without worrying about whether I can pay my rent.”

Nico’s next stop is Hanoi, Vietnam. Equipped with a 90-day visa, he plans to buy a small boat and sail down the coastline to Ho Chi Minh. “One of the major reasons this lifestyle is attractive to me is that I can make up my plans as I go. This sense of freedom is a continual source of motivation in my business because I know that the next adventure is always just around the corner!”

Want to connect with Nico and learn more about his experience? You can find his latest blog posts and say hello at NicoJannasch.com.

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5 Ways to Boost Your Home Office Productivity https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/boost-home-office-productivity/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/boost-home-office-productivity/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 13:00:24 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34677 Home office productivity hacks can help you stay on track, use your time efficiently, and remove distractions from your surroundings. In this blog post, Melanie Feltham shares five of her favorite tips.

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As a freelancer and entrepreneur, it’s important that I make the most of the time I have available to devote to my work.

For this reason, I am an avid collector of home office productivity hacks: They help keep me on track, use my time efficiently, and assist in removing distractions from my surroundings. Here are five of my favorites.

1. Never forget important details

2015-04-14_0952Image: Bluewire

Perfect for for recording client calls and meetings—with permission, of course!—this bluetooth recorder will grab both sides of the conversation on mobile and can even integrate with apps like Skype. Give customers and clients your full attention and never forget another important detail that was discussed during a meeting.

2. Organize your space

2015-04-14_0953

Image: Cabledrop

Disorganized surroundings can be a huge distraction and can lead to procrastination. Take time at the beginning of the week to organize your space and set yourself up for a successful week. Need some help? This Lifehack.org list has 20 DIY solutions that anyone can do.

3. Let others know you’re unavailable

2015-04-14_0954

Image: MyFocus

If you share space and need some alone time, but don’t have a door to close, use an indicator that will let people around you know when not to disturb you. This can be anything from a classic Do Not Disturb sign to a light that you turn on, or a fun accessory like a novelty sun visor or oversized necklace.

4. Set the mood for success

2015-04-14_0956

Image: Creative Noise Cancelling Headphones

When I really need to buckle down and get something completed quickly, I listen to the theme to Mission Impossible—no joke! Check this Lifehack.org article for 5 kinds of songs that can help you be more productive. Test them all to find out which ones work for you.

5. Don’t fight the fidget

2015-04-14_0957

 Image: Wee Critter Puff Stress Ball

It’s OK to squeeze, tap, or doodle your way to better productivity. Research by New York University into how “fidget widgets”—like the objects on your desk that you fiddle with during the day—might affect productivity suggests that fidgeting can actually improve performance on primary tasks. If you have a favorite fidget you can contribute to the research here.

Do you have any favorite productivity gadgets or habits to add to this list? Tell us in the comments!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 13 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/future-of-work-april-13/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/future-of-work-april-13/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 12:30:23 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34670 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights how to avoid inefficient communication with your freelancers, the lowdown on corporate wellness programs, and some of the best productivity tools for online entrepreneurs.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 04/13/2015:

Huffington Post | How to Manage Inefficient Communication With Freelancers

Simply put, freelancer management is all about communication. That’s why it causes so much frustration when questions, comments, or feedback get lost in communication.  Leadership and workplace organization consultant Anne Loehr has come up with her own tips to reduce friction and create the best relationships for everyone involved.

As Loehr writes in the Huffington Post, it’s important to set email protocol at the outset so both parties know what to expect and what’s expected of them. The same goes for status updates: schedule weekly check-ins in advance, but also be prepared to hop onto a call or dash off an email to answer any pressing questions. Taking these steps, along with the others Loehr outlines, will help ensure everyone is getting the most out of this working arrangement.

Loehr also notes that creating a great working relationship with a freelancers doesn’t end once you’ve established a productive working relationship: “To take it a step further, treat them as you would treat any team member when it comes to looping them in on your company’s mission and goals. The more you integrate them into your team, the better your interpersonal relationships will be with them.”

Inc. | 5 Things Entrepreneurs Need To Know Now About Corporate Wellness

Although “corporate wellness” may sound like trendy buzzword, Inc. writer Drew Hendricks says it’s actually a concept that encompasses employee happiness, productivity, and both mental and physical health—and one that can help even small startups ultimately save money and recruit the best talent.

First, he says it’s important to realize that workplace wellness has a huge impact on employees’ personal lives; research has shown a healthier office environment leads to better health in other areas. The more comprehensive a program—not just physical health but also financial and mental wellness—the more well-rounded, happy, loyal, and productive employees can be.

Just having programs isn’t enough, though; Hendricks says companies need to do more to encourage team members to take advantage of them; one survey found that 25 percent of employees would participate more if they knew more about their options.

“Anything you offer, from healthy snacks to yoga classes, should be better advertised than a sign,” Hendricks wrote. “You should actively encourage employees to take part, regularly communicating what’s on offer and why it’s a great idea to take part.”

Entrepreneur | 8 Essential Time-Saving Tools Every Online Entrepreneur Needs

If there’s one thing almost everyone can use more of, it’s time. Every successful businessman or woman will likely swear by their personal productivity hacks, but, as Entrepreneur contributor Pooja Lohana writes, “sometimes, it’s just a matter of having the right tools in your toolbox.”

One such tool is Wrike, project management software that allows people all over the globe to collaborate in real time. For online entrepreneurs with distributed teams, Lohana says Wrike helps maintain productivity despite the distance.

Coordinating social media campaigns is often more time consuming than people realize. Lohana recommends tools like Rignite to monitor all social efforts, schedule posts, and A/B test features in one space to help streamline the entire process.

These are just two of the eight tools listed; do yourself a favor and read about the other six, which cover everything from blogging to brand monitoring. They may not all be relevant to your business, but the ones that are could save you countless hours now and down the road.

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

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How to Price Your Freelance Skills Like a Pro https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/price-freelance-skills-like-pro/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/price-freelance-skills-like-pro/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 13:59:00 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34660 The path toward becoming a freelancer isn’t always an easy one. It’s very similar to building a startup business, except instead of selling a product you’re selling your own skills, talents, and time. How can you start strong? Fred Schebesta, co-founder and director at finder.com.au, shares his advice.

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By Fred Schebesta, Co-founder & Director at finder.com.au

The path toward becoming a freelancer isn’t always an easy one. It’s very similar to building a startup business, except instead of selling a product you’re selling your own skills, talents, and time. Without understanding some key principles and rules before diving in, you could wind up underappreciated, underpaid, and left with a plummeting self-confidence.

How can you start strong? I’ve learned a lot by getting started and finding out what’s worked for other people.

I built financial comparison site finder.com.au in 2009 after writing a single page about credit cards. I received incredible feedback and enough incentive to push on to launch a startup—but I realized I had no idea how to value my work, which is perhaps the cornerstone of effective freelancing. I was neck deep in an industry I had very little experience in, and would have drowned had I not come across these four foundations.

1. Price is a signal of worth, not just a source of income

When you put a price out on the table, you’re saying two things: “this is what I want as compensation,” and “this is how valuable my work is.”

Whether you’re a seasoned freelancer or are considering testing it out, your prices will help determine the type of clients you attract. Set the bar reasonably high, and always deliver quality! Remember: You can always lower your fees, but it’s difficult to increase them.

2. The easiest way to increase profit is to charge more

This point sounds ridiculously simple, but that’s why it works. Increasing the prices you charge can strengthen the sense of worth around your company.

A good starting point is doing market research of similar providers. How do you stack up in terms of quality and influence? Once you know what your competitors are up to, you can determine your room to negotiate from there.

This doesn’t mean ridiculously jacking up your prices, but people are generally happy to pay more if they receive quality. However, don’t become the person who goes above and beyond then doesn’t bill every working hour—it rarely works out for you in the long game when you become busier. Your clients will get used to you undercharging (or won’t be aware of it), and will be frustrated the moment you start billing for the hours you truly work.

3. Test, test, and test again

Try different rates for different types of jobs, test different proposals, test and test again to find what works for you. “Kaizen,” or continuous improvement, is about constantly changing your work and making minor tweaks, then reviewing which version led to a better outcome.

A focus on constant experimentation is crucial for every profession; mixing up your material is the only way to learn what works and what doesn’t. You might bottom out a few times, but you’ll also experience some tidal waves that you can mimic in your next piece.

4. Leverage pre-existing frameworks

If there’s any aspect of freelancing that can be hard to show potential clients, it’s efficiency.

To potential contractors or business partners, you’re just another face in the crowd of applicants. What I think will sell you more than anything is showing the frameworks you use in every aspect of your work.

For example, use an hourly rate calculator to determine your rates, or build a project management framework to show clients how much time and resources you spend on each aspect of a job. When people can see that you’re not being airy about pricing or your efficiency, you’ll gain their trust—and have the opportunity to deliver on that trust.

5. Never compete only on price

Try to establish a core customer group and a differentiator that they respond to. Believe in your self worth and your clients will, too.

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oDesk Launches New Educational Series for the Global Business Community https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/odesk-launches-new-educational-series-global-business-community/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/odesk-launches-new-educational-series-global-business-community/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 15:53:37 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34626 Kevin Bechtel and Amy Partridge recently launched oDesk’s education workshops, and had the chance to visit some of the world’s greatest cities and learn more about how startups and freelancers get work done. From barbecue in Austin to entrepreneurs he met along the way, Kevin recaps their tour in this blog post.

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People gravitate toward places where we can gather, share stories, and get to know each other—whatever the local culture and customs might be.

Over the past month, my colleague Amy Partridge and I got to experience this global sense of community in a whirlwind tour that spanned more than 27,000 miles. As we launched oDesk’s education workshops, we got a taste of some of the world’s greatest cities—literally!—and learned more about how startups and freelancers get work done.

Four weeks, four incredible cities

Gravel crunches under our feet as we make our way to our well-worn picnic table through the crowded lot. The smell of smoke and freshly baked cornbread hits us the minute we walk in.  A string of lights provides just enough light to see piles of fall-off-the-bone ribs and brisket as it’s delivered to our group.

I am in Austin, Texas. To be more precise, I am at Freedmen’s and in barbecue heaven—surrounded by locals talking, laughing, and sharing stories from their day. Texans take their barbecue seriously, and I feel lucky to have found an open spot.

Just a few days later, Amy and I find ourselves in a crowded coffee shop in Melbourne, Australia. This is the city that invented the flat white, a drink so wonderful that Starbucks recently added it to the lineup in its stores stateside.

Under a cheeky neon sign that reads, “sunshine,” people are reading the paper, sharing plans for the day, and kissing their loved ones goodbye as they head to the office. It takes Amy and I a few days to get a grasp on the local coffee vocab: flat white, long black, piccolo (not the musical instrument)—but once we get our orders down, we fit right in.

Austin — lights at Freedmen’s (left); "sunshine" sign at Patricia Coffee Roasters, Melbourne

Left: The lights above Freedmen’s in Austin.
Right: The “sunshine” sign at Patricia Coffee Roasters, Melbourne.

Days later we land in the great city of New York. Soon after, we’re elbow-to-elbow in a bustling WeWork office kitchen, discussing the merits of lox (smoked salmon) and our dream schmear (cream cheese) combinations with new, if temporary, colleagues. Nothing brings New Yorkers together more quickly than a delivery of fresh bagels.

Friday night in New York becomes Saturday morning in London, England. The jet lag begins to take hold around 4 p.m.—which happens to be perfect timing for afternoon tea at The Wolseley. Shortly after Amy and I settle into our table, we’re presented with a piping-hot teapot and scones with clotted cream and jam. I thought afternoon tea was reserved for the Queen or giddy tourists, so am surprised to hear the accents of locals catching up with friends and family.

March was a whirlwind month for Amy and I. In just under four weeks, we traveled to four cities around the globe to host oDesk’s new education workshops.  Each city had its own unique flavor, but we learned that community and the desire to connect with each other is strong, wherever you happen to be.

Four workshops on building online teams—with more to come

We hosted one three-hour workshop in each city—filled with people looking to learn about building online teams. We met people with diverse backgrounds and different goals:

  • A design agency looking for freelance graphic designers to scale up when business is booming.
  • A tech startup planning to boost their two-person team by hiring several remote developers.
  • A pharmaceutical sales consulting group hoping to increase awareness in their market through a marketing strategy.

Despite their differences, everyone came together to learn from Elance-oDesk and each other—sharing past experiences and current business challenges they’re facing. Each group worked together to create strategies for building a distributed team and left the workshop armed with new skills and tools, ready to hire online in the next few days.

These events were so successful that we’re offering more of them in the coming weeks. Our local teams in Melbourne, London, and New York will take the lead; I’ll be at the one in Austin on April 29. If you want to learn how to boost your productivity with online talent, we’d love to see you there! See the full schedule and register here.

I look forward to hearing success stories as they roll in over the next few weeks!

Kevin and Amy in front of Buckingham Palace, London.

Kevin and Amy in front of Buckingham Palace, London.

 

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 6 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/future-of-work-april-6/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/future-of-work-april-6/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2015 12:00:07 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34618 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights millennials’ role in the future of work, the health benefits of flexible work, and a new model for coworking spaces in Europe.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 04/06/2015:

Fast Company | Why Millennials Understand the Future of Work Better than Anyone Else

According to Freelancers Union founder and executive director Sara Horowitz, millennials are, in short, the “first generation of freelance natives. They’re embracing freelancing in a way no other generation has. And now, they’re the majority of the workforce.”

What does that mean for the future of work? For one thing, this generation is eschewing traditional 9-to-5 hours, traditional job security, and even the traditional definition of a career. Because of diverse interests, both professionally and personally, flexibility and mobility are key factors for the millennial workforce.

“With their comfort within the freelance economy and their understanding of networks, millennials are perfectly positioned to create the sustainable independent work economy that we––and they––need,” Horowitz wrote.

Entrepreneur | Flexible Schedules Help Create a Healthier Workplace. Here’s How.

Although predictable routines have their benefits, research indicates that flexible work options create healthier, happier, and more productive employees. Firas Kittaneh, CEO at One Mall Group, writes about these benefits and the best way to implement them in any office.

A review of 10 work flexibility studies found that employees with more control over their hours consistently rank better in mental health, physical health, and sleep habits. Other research has found that flexibility is an important—if not the most important—factor in job satisfaction. These findings make intuitive sense: enabling professionals to work when they’re most productive, and maximize their time with family or focusing on other hobbies, is a win-win for both the business and its employees.

Finally, Kittaneh says that implementing these programs doesn’t have take an overhaul of your company culture. Simply listening to and trying out different approaches is a great jumping off point: “See what types of scheduling conflicts are most common in your environment to get an idea of where to focus efforts. Instituting flexibility on a trial basis or starting with one department could be helpful for identifying the right balance and which policies to establish.”

Fast Company | Why these Coworking Spaces in Train Stations Let you Pay in “Social Capital”

Coworking spaces are emerging around the world as a key business solution for countless startups, offering both hugely reduced office costs and access to a community of other entrepreneurs and freelancers. And some of these businesses are going one step further, not only creatively using urban real estate—train stations, libraries, event halls, etc.—but also charging what they call “Social Capital,” rather than money, for a desk.

Although some renters, especially those who want slightly more amenities, still pay, “those paying in social capital earn their keep by supporting the projects of both paying and nonpaying members, often through beta testing or strategic advice in their area of expertise.” 

Currently, the majority of these coworking spaces are in Europe. Some critics have expressed doubts that they could become the norm in America because of issues converting users into paying customers, while others argue there are already similar trends, just on a smaller scale (such as offering free desks in exchange for 1 day a week of admin work). Whether the idea takes root in America remains to be seen, but so far in Europe it’s been a huge success.

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

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Announcing Our New Name, New Shift To Online Dating https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/announcing-new-name-new-shift-online-dating/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/04/announcing-new-name-new-shift-online-dating/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:00:08 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34609 Since our beginning, Elance-oDesk has focused on matching top professionals to create great working relationships. Today we’re excited to announce that we’ll be taking those relationships to the next level, as we expand to include online dating.

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Since our beginning, Elance-oDesk has focused on matching top professionals to create great working relationships.

Today we’re excited to announce that we’ll be taking those relationships to the next level, as we expand to include online dating.

“We have the best matching technology in the world,” notes our SVP of product and engineering Stephane Kasriel. “But it became clear to our data science team that we could also leverage these algorithms for even greater social impact. Specifically, to help our community find soul mates as well as ideal work colleagues.”

However, unlike traditional online dating services that pair people using outdated and often-frivolous interests such as hobbies, pets, sports teams or other leisure pursuits, our new matching solution is focused on professional interests, careers, and what we do best: Skills. “A mutual interest in twerking or fermenting kimchi can sustain a relationship for few months,” points out SVP of marketing Rich Pearson. “But a shared passion for WordPress or iOS development will form a lifetime bond.”

A logical evolution.

This new offering should come as no surprise to our established clientele, as we’ve long encouraged a healthy work-life balance. “Many in our community are so passionate about work, they often forget to stop and smell the roses,” adds SVP of operations Elizabeth Tse. “Now, on a single platform, people can reach professional milestones in the afternoon, and dating milestones later that same evening.”

Early reviews of our new online dating service show the offering is warmly received by community members. This includes a handful of professionals participating in our beta program, which launched this past Valentine’s Day.

One notable success story is Berlin-based Oskar Holstein and Shobha Chowda of Mumbai, who we recently matched online. He a web designer and she a web developer, the match has been mutually rewarding. “We complete each other,” says Shobha. Adds Oskar, “Only the most sophisticated matching algorithms understand that when it comes to this crazy little thing called love, sometimes opposites attract.”

Although Oskar and Shobha haven’t yet connected in person, they continue to spend quality time in the secure online “Hangout” we provide. Like our secure online Workrooms, each Hangout features the tools and resources needed for great communication and long-lasting partnerships. This includes video chatting, translation services, and even prenuptial agreements should the relationship advance.

An equally logical evolution of our name and brand.

Although we’ll naturally continue to focus on matching professionals to create amazing working relationships, this new emphasis on online dating has also led us to do some soul searching about our name. While Elance-oDesk is technically correct, the name fails to inspire our community and address our growing emphasis and passion.

With this in mind, we’re equally thrilled to announce that we’ve officially renamed our company Elove-oDate. This new name pays tribute to our past, our future, and our ongoing commitment to connecting people who are searching for great work and great relationships.

Elove-oDate logo

You’ll begin to see exciting additions to the Elove-oDate platform soon. This includes new profile pages and client overviews—each expanded to list your relationship status, song you’re currently listening to, and even your favorite Work From Home Wardrobe. You’ll also find photo enhancement tools like red-eye removal, as well as the ability to send a “Happy Hour Flirt” or “Working Now? Wink” to a colleague’s inbox.

We hope you’ll enjoy these added online dating features, and that you’re as excited as we are about this new option for making truly meaningful connections. As summarized by CEO Fabio Rosati: “Now, regardless of whether you’re searching for a work partner or a life partner, we can help. And that’s our passion here at Elove-oDate.”

Elove-oDate billboard

……………………………………………………………………

Editor’s note: Yes, a quick peek at your calendar confirms that today is April Fools’ Day, and that this blog post is in jest. In case you’re not familiar with April Fools’ Day, it’s a kinda-sorta holiday in many countries, where folks celebrate by playing practical jokes and hoaxes on each other. We couldn’t resist!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 30 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-30/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-30/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:00:08 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34601 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the best way to set up a virtual company culture, different strategies for managing virtual teams, and how executives can help find work-life balance for themselves and their employees.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 03/30/2015:

Harvard Business Review | Why Remote Work Thrives in Some Companies and Fails in Others

Remote work boils down to three core principles, according to Sean Graber: communication, coordination, and culture. “Broadly speaking, communication is the ability to exchange information, coordination is the ability to work toward a common goal, and culture is a shared set of customs that foster trust and engagement.”

To ensure accurate communication, Graber—cofounder and CEO of training firm Virtuali—says frequent video conferencing is key. Being able to see coworkers, as well as read body language and tone, cuts down on confusion and helps get any issues addressed.

Coordination can sometimes feel like “choreographing a troupe of blindfolded synchronized swimmers,” he admitted. That’s why it’s crucial to clearly define any processes and write them down in a shared document that everyone can access when they’re unclear.

Culture can be tough to capture, but it’s as important for virtual teams as it is for those in an office. Establishing trust and camaraderie through team phone calls can help mitigate these problems, Graber suggests.

In the end, establishing a remote team can be difficult. But as Graber wrote, “when it’s done well, the reward is high: increased productivity, happier employees, and cost savings (which you can invest into building a better business).”

Entrepreneur | 10 Ways to Successfully Manage Virtual Teams

Some aspects of managing virtual teams are intuitive, while others can prove problematic. Rocco Baldassarre, founder and CEO of Zebra Advertisement, offers great tips for managers that can be instantly implemented.

Baldassarre cautions against micromanaging but says detail is key—and lots of it. He suggests providing examples of completed work when possible, so it’s easy to understand what the final result should look like, and having clear and defined timelines.

Another strategy is to define workstreams. “By setting standards and defining repeatable work systems, the team has generally less questions and gets a feeling for how long certain tasks should take,” he recommended. “These work systems need to be both standardized to allow for maximum effectiveness and tailored to allow the necessary freedom to complete the task at the best of one’s ability.”

Fast Company | 5 Ways Executives can Make Work-Life Balance Better for Their Employees

More and more professionals are clamoring for flexible working options, even those at the highest level: Google’s CFO, the CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, and MongoDB’s CEO have all recently stepped down, citing the desire for a more balanced life.

Flex+Strategy Group’s CEO Cali Williams Yost notes that these three high-profile individuals also break a stereotype: They’re all men. Yost called on these executives—and others who share their feelings—to take steps the improve balance at all levels of the company.

“The schedules of lower-level employees may not be as extreme…but those workers also don’t have the same financial resources as a C-suite leader to pay for the supports that buffer the impact of work-life conflict.”

All team members, she argues, feel pressure to sacrifice part of their personal life for professional reasons. She wrote that “creating a culture of flexibility and giving the workforce the skills and tools to manage their work-life fit is a business imperative.”

Finally, Yost recommended, just acknowledge that it will take time and energy to make these shifts. It’s possible to build a company culture that embraces work-life balance, and “once you know what is really going on in the workplace and in people’s lives, you can focus on what will help your workforce achieve high performance and work-life well-being.”


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

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New Job Categories Help Pinpoint Perfect Freelancers https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/odesk-category-improvements-update/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/odesk-category-improvements-update/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:00:31 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34373 Earlier this month, oDesk made new job categories available for freelancers to add to their profiles. Today, these new categories are available to clients to begin posting jobs. Clients can now request more types of work on oDesk, and find freelancers with the specific skills they’re looking for more easily.

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Earlier this month, oDesk made new job categories available for freelancers to add to their profiles. Today, these new categories are available to clients to begin posting jobs. Clients can now request more types of work on oDesk, and find freelancers with the specific skills they’re looking for more easily.

Outlined below are the new categories, along with a quick description and list of skills in that area:

.

New Data Science & Analytics Categories

Data Science & Analytics categories cover general quantitative and statistical analysis, as well as the extraction, management, analysis, and visualization of data, which may be stored in data warehouses. Also included is A/B statistical testing and evaluation, as well as machine learning and adaptive algorithms.

Quantitative Analysis Includes analysis of numerical data, including statistical analysis and modeling and business intelligence. Jobs may require working knowledge of programs and frameworks such as: Stats, SPSS, MATLAB, NumPy, SciPy, R, R+, Octave, Panda, and others. This replaces the former Statistical Analysis category. Related skills: Quantitative Analysis, Statistics, Data Science
A/B Testing Includes the setup and analysis of A/B tests that evaluate a treatment vs. control group, often on a website or application. It often involves the use of testing and analytics software (e.g., Google Analytics, Optimizely, KISSmetrics, Visual Website Optimizer, Crazy Egg, and others). Related skills: A/B Testing, Statistics
Data Extraction / ETL Involves the extraction, transformation, and loading of data (ETL), including data warehousing, engineering, and logistics. This may involve web crawling, scraping, and structuring of web data. ETL may be performed on big data streams or large collections (similar to Data Mining & Management). Related skills: Extract, Transform and Load (ETL), Data Logistics, Data Ingestion, Electronic data interchange (EDI)
Data Mining & Management Refers to the process of trying to identify patterns in data and managing data, which can involve data cleansing, encoding, and engineering. It may involve big data technologies for working with data streams (e.g. Apache Storm, Apache Spark, Apache Kafka and others) or large collections (e.g. Apache Hadoop, Apache Pig, Apache Spark, Apache Cassandra, Apache Hive and others). Related skills: Big Data, Data Mining
Data Visualization Refers to the presentation of data using visual layouts such as dashboards, infographics, charts, graphs, plots, tables, maps, etc. This may involve working knowledge of programs and frameworks such as D3, D3.js, matplotlib, Looker, Tableau, Mixpanel, and others. Related skills: Data Visualization, Chart.js, HighCharts, Infographics, Visualization
Machine Learning Includes work in machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, artificial neural network, and adaptive algorithms. Jobs may involve working knowledge of programs and frameworks such as MATLAB, Weka, Octave, R, scikit-learn, and others. Related skills: Machine Learning, Artificial Neural Networks, Artificial Intelligence, Adaptive Algorithms
Other – Data Science & Analytics Includes other areas of data science, data engineering, data modeling, and data analytics not covered by the other categories. Related skills: Data Engineering, Data Modeling, Data Analytics

[^ main categories list]

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New Engineering & Architecture Categories

Engineering & Architecture categories cover 3D modeling and CAD work, as well as product design, architecture, and interior design. Also included are engineering disciplines such as chemical, civil and structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering, as well as work related to contract manufacturing.

3D Modeling & CAD Involves the use of graphics and modeling software to create a representation of a 3D object. The model may be rendered into a visual image, used in computer simulations and visual effects, or to produce a physical object through 3D printing. CAD (computer-aided design) is used by engineers and designers to create, analyze, and manipulate technical designs that may be applied to various industries including manufacturing, industrial design, and digital content creation. This category previously appeared as part of Design & Multimedia. Related skills: 3ds Max, Autodesk Autocad Civil3D, AutoCAD, Autodsys AcceliCAD, MathCAD, ArchiCAD, 3D Modeling, Autodesk 3D Studio Max, Engineering Design, Engineering drawing, Catia, solidworks, ansys
Product Design Refers to the design of a new product. The product design process can include initial research, problem identification, and conception of the product idea; evaluation of the product concept, design of a prototype, testing, and modification of the prototype, as well as design of a final product. This replaces the former Engineering & Technical Design category. Related skills: Reverse Engineering, Product Design, Product Development
Architecture Involves the planning, designing, and construction of buildings and other physical structures, producing technical drawings, plans, and documentation. Related skills: Architectural Rendering, Autodesk Architecture, Architecture
Interior Design Involves the planning and designing of interior spaces. This includes gathering requirements; creating drawings and diagrams of space plans and layouts; selecting materials, finishes and colors; as well as specifying and selecting furniture, fixtures, equipment, and other design features. Related skills: Interior Design, Home Design
Chemical Engineering Refers to engineering related to chemicals, materials, and energy, focusing on the conversion of raw materials into usable products. Related skills: Chemical Engineering, COSMO-RS Chemical Engineering
Civil & Structural Engineering Refers to engineering related to the design, construction and maintenance of manufactured structures such as roads and buildings, and elements of the natural environment. This work involves applying physical laws and understanding the structural properties of different materials and geometries. Related skills: Civil Engineering, Autodesk Autocad Civil3D, Structural Engineering
Contract Manufacturing Involves work related to the contract manufacturing process, in which a firm outsources manufacturing to another firm. The contract manufacturer provides cost estimates, based on processes, labor, tooling, and material costs specific to the client firm’s design or formula. Related skills: Contract Manufacturing, Manufacturing Design, Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), Manufacturing, SAP Manufacturing Execution
Electrical Engineering Refers to engineering related to electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. This includes several focus areas such as power, control, electronics, microelectronics, computers, signal processing, telecommunications, and instrumentation. Related skills: Electrical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering Refers to engineering that involves mechanics, physics, and material science applied to mechanical systems. It involves design and production related to machinery and tools. Related skills: Mechanical Engineering, Automotive Engineering
Other – Engineering & Architecture Includes all areas of engineering and architecture not specified by the other categories. Related skills: Industrial Engineering, Materials Engineering, Mining Engineering, Textile Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Energy Engineering, Other Engineering and Manufacturing

.[^ main categories list]

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New Legal Categories

Legal categories cover counsel and assistance from lawyers across many fields of law, as well as services performed by paralegals, legal researchers, and other legal professionals.

Contract Law Includes legal work related to contracts, including contract drafting, interpretation or amendment, and issues related to breach of contract. Related skills: Contract Law
Corporate Law Involves legal work related to corporate formation, governance, finance, and employment. This includes incorporation, corporate taxation, dealings with shareholders, creditors, employees, or other stakeholders, and other legal work related to corporations. Related skills: Employment Law, Corporate Law
Criminal Law Includes legal work related to criminal offenses, both felonies and misdemeanors. Related skills: Criminal Law
Family Law Includes legal work related to family matters, including marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships; child custody, adoption and child support; divorce, alimony and property settlements, and other family-related issues. Related skills: Family Law, Benefits Law
Intellectual Property Law Includes legal work related to intellectual property (IP) issues, including trademarks, copyrights, patents, inventions, non-disclosure agreements, and non-compete clauses. Related skills: Patent Law, Intellectual Property Law
Paralegal Services Includes work such as legal research and documentation related to legal proceedings but does not involve legal counsel. Related skills: Paralegal Services, Legal Research
Other – Legal Includes legal work not specified in the other sub-categories. This replaces the former Legal category. Related skills: Environmental Law, Immigration Law, Medical Law, Civil Law, Legal Consulting, Legal Writing

[^ main categories list]

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New Translation Categories

Translation is now its own set of categories and is no longer combined with Writing. In addition to the existing General Translation category, the following new categories involve translation from one language to another of content that is specific to legal, medical, or technical fields.

Legal Translation Refers to language translation of content with a legal focus, which requires specific legal content knowledge or expertise. Related skills: Legal Translation, Paralegal, Law, Legal
Medical Translation Refers to language translation of content with a medical focus, which requires specific medical content knowledge or expertise. Related skills: Medical Translation, Medical, Medicine, Prescription
Technical Translation Refers to language translation of content with a technical focus, which requires specific technical content knowledge or expertise. Related skills: Technical Translation, Technical, Technical Writing, Software, Engineering
Other – Translation Includes all other language translation and localization work not specified in the other categories.

.[^ main categories list]

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New IT & Networking Category: Information Security

Information Security is a new category under IT & Networking.

Information Security Refers to the protection and securitization of information, including preventative measures and responses to threats or issues. Information security issues could include unauthorized access or distribution, misuse or manipulation, or malicious attacks. Related skills: Information Security, Wireless Security, Network Security, Data Protection, Internet Security, Malware, Antispam and Antivirus, Firewall

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New Design & Creative Category: Photography

Photography is a new category under Design & Creative.

Photography Includes photography, digital photography, and digital image editing, including photo manipulation, color correction, and other techniques to alter digital images. Related skills: Photography, Digital Photography, Photo Manipulation, Photograph Color Correction, Photo Editing, Photo Retouching

.[^ main categories list]

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New Writing Categories

Writing has four new categories.

Academic Writing & Research Refers to writing and research specifically for academia, such as academic research papers and journal articles. Related skills: Academic Writing, Research, Scientific Research, Research Papers
Editing & Proofreading Editing refers to selecting and preparing existing content for a specific audience and purpose. Proofreading refers to correcting and refining existing written content. Related skills: Copy Editing, Editing, Technical Editing, Proofreading, English Proofreading, English Spelling, English Grammar
Grant Writing Refers to writing specifically for the purpose of requesting grant funding, which typically involves completing a grant submission as part of an application process, or completing a proposal in response to an RFP. Related skills: Grant Writing, Proposal Writing
Resumes & Cover Letters Refers to the writing, editing, and preparing of professional resumes and/or cover letters to help position a candidate for a job. Related skills: Resume Writing, Job Description Writing, Cover Letter Writing

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Introducing the Top Rated Freelancer Program https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/introducing-top-rated-freelancer-program/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/introducing-top-rated-freelancer-program/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:30:06 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34577 Each day, so many of you work online to deliver consistent, high quality, impactful results for your oDesk clients. To recognize your efforts and dedication, we’re introducing the Top Rated freelancer program.

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Dear oDesk Community,

Each day, so many of you work online to deliver consistent, high quality, impactful results for your oDesk clients. To recognize your efforts and dedication, we’re introducing the Top Rated freelancer program.

It’s not easy to earn Top Rated status—today, less than 10% of freelancers on oDesk qualify. But we’ve set the bar high to focus on growing the careers of freelancers that are truly top performers and role models in our vibrant community.

How do I earn Top Rated status?

Top Rated members maintain all of the following:

  • Job Success of 90% or higher, you can track this score on your My Stats page
  • $1,000+ earnings in the past year
  • 100% completed profile
  • Up-to-date availability status
  • No recent account holds

We chose these requirements carefully. Job Success and earnings are clear indicators of quality and consistency of work. Profile completeness and setting availability are included because they help us more easily connect great freelancers with high-quality clients. In fact, freelancers with complete and detailed profiles earn more and attract more clients than those with missing information.

How will Top Rated status help me?

The program rewards the best oDesk freelancers with benefits that include:

  • A Top Rated badge to help your oDesk profile stand out
  • In-house recruiting services to connect members with exclusive job invitations
  • Priority phone, chat, and email support
  • And more.

Like the My Stats performance dashboard, which recently became available for freelancers, the Top Rated program is another key initiative of our 2015 commitment to quality to help freelancers succeed.

What’s next?

We will continue to enhance the Top Rated program. We plan to open the program to our top agencies in the future. Additionally, we’ll focus on adding more benefits for Top Rated program members so they can more easily build and maintain their freelancing career on oDesk.

If you already meet all of the qualifications for Top Rated status, you should see the Top Rated badge on your profile this week. Thank you for your great contributions to the community, we look forward to helping you grow your career on oDesk.

For those not yet eligible, we are ready and waiting to welcome you to the Top Rated program! You can learn more about qualifying here.

Best,
Elizabeth Tse
SVP Operations

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Tell Your Story: 8 Tips for the Perfect Designer Profile https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/tell-story-8-tips-perfect-designer-profile/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/tell-story-8-tips-perfect-designer-profile/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 18:00:46 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34585 Could your oDesk profile do more to showcase your design portfolio and highlight your skills as a talented creative? Here are eight profile tips to attract clients and increase your marketability.

The post Tell Your Story: 8 Tips for the Perfect Designer Profile appeared first on Upwork Blog.

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Could your Upwork profile do more to showcase your design portfolio and highlight your skills as a talented creative? Whether you’re an experienced freelancer or you’re just starting out, a successful profile needs to be consistently updated whenever you develop new skills or take on new projects.

We’re making a commitment to quality this year. As part of this initiative, we’ll be showcasing freelancers who consistently deliver great work and have profiles that truly impress—and that could include you! Take a moment to think about who you are, what your skills are, what you’ve accomplished professionally, and why you’re the best person for the job.

Put these 8 profile tips for designers to work for you and increase your marketability.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 23 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-23/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-23/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 12:30:22 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34573 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights two approaches to managing remote teams.

The post Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 23 appeared first on Upwork Blog.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 03/23/2015:

Harvard Business Review | 5 Basic Needs of Virtual Workforces

Remote work has many benefits when it comes to employee recruitment, retention, and job satisfaction, but that doesn’t mean it’s without pain points. But don’t worry — according to VenturePact co-founder Randy Rayess, these issues can be mitigated with a few best practices.

For example, something as simple as ensuring internal databases and websites are accessible to your virtual team members can greatly reduce frustration and increase productivity. He recommends investing in knowledge management tools, such as Slack or Sqwiggle, which can also build transparency and help your distributed employees feel connected.

Above all, Rayess stresses the importance of trust and communication. Asking personal questions, sharing the company vision, and meeting in person when possible can make all the difference: “Remote workers often miss the feeling of company culture, so management must make an extra effort to cultivate trust and involve remote team members.”

CIO | 5 Tips for Remote Project Managers

Remote project management isn’t for everybody, but it’s a great choice for many teams — either with a remote workforce, or working with external clients. However, while remote project managers share many of the same qualities as their in-office counterparts, there are a few key differences.

Brad Egeland, a business solution designer and consultant who’s had experience with both types of project management, has his own tried and true tips for managers hoping to expand their teams virtually.

Over-communication is critical when working with distributed teams, he said. These employees don’t have the luxury of dropping by your desk to ask a quick question, so it’s up to you as the manager to set the standard that more contact is better.

Another obstacle may be your senior management and/or clients who don’t share your confidence in remote project management. Egeland recommends the best way to ease their minds is to extend your over-communication policy to them.

“Make sure they always have timely updates of the project status reports, the project schedule and resource forecasting and financial status information as well. The more they see that you are on it, the more confident and comfortable they will be with the remote management model.”

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

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Five Amazing Gadgets to Help Make Your Office Portable https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/five-amazing-gadgets-help-make-office-portable/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/five-amazing-gadgets-help-make-office-portable/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 16:00:10 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34472 At no other time in history has the phrase “the world is your oyster” been more true. Office workers are no longer tethered to desks and the number of people leaving those desks for alternative work environments is increasing at an astounding rate.

Are you wondering if you can do it too?

Here are some of the latest and greatest gadgets that will help you do nearly anything for your business from pretty much anywhere. And as an added bonus, most can fit in your pocket!

The post Five Amazing Gadgets to Help Make Your Office Portable appeared first on Upwork Blog.

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At no other time in history has the phrase “the world is your oyster” been more true. Office workers are no longer tethered to desks and the number of people leaving those desks for alternative work environments is increasing at an astounding rate.

Are you wondering if you can do it, too?

Here are some of the latest and greatest gadgets that will help you do nearly anything for your business from pretty much anywhere. And as an added bonus, most can fit in your pocket!

1. A portable Internet connection

Mifi

image via att.com

A top requirement for any digital nomad is an Internet connection. The AT&T Mobile Hotspot MiFi Liberate works in more than 200 countries and can connect up to 10 devices with a whopping 12 hours of battery life.

2. A tiny portable keyboard

2015-03-09_1008

image via Waytools.com

When you have a business that never sleeps, email can be a requirement at any time of the day and from anywhere. Pop out and unfold the The Textblade by Waytools to help you get those messages out of the way quickly so you can get on with your date/football game/life.

3. A portable projector

products_150_150_3quartersview

image via 3M Canada

When you don’t have a public office but instead travel to your clients or potential clients to make pitches, you cannot always rely on them having the tools you need in order to make that killer presentation. This portable projector from 3M allows you to make a visual presentation from anywhere.

4. A portable robotic printer

2015-03-09_1012

image via ZUtA Labs

Never be without the option to print and sign important documents on the road again! The Pocket Printer from ZUtA labs isn’t just small, it’s the first mini robotic printer — and it can print on ANY size of paper. Let’s see your desktop printer do that!

5. A portable cubicle

2015-03-09_1016

image via La Fonction

Attractive, slim, and with enough pockets for all of your portable office gadgets, this laptop bag from La Fonction folds out to create a private workspace so you can work on those top secret documents without worrying about violating a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

Do you have a favorite gadget that has helped improve your office mobility? Tell us in the comments! And join us on Pinterest to discover more great gadgets for the future of work.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 16 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-16/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-16/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 13:00:28 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34548 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights tech tools to make the most out of any meeting, the case for leaving the office on time, and the rise of co-working spaces in Africa.

The post Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 16 appeared first on Upwork Blog.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 03/16/2015:

Harvard Business Review | The Tools You Need to Make Every Meeting More Productive

Although meetings may seem like an almost untouched traditional business practice, new tech tools can vastly increase how effective and productive your meetings are.

As Alexandra Samuel, Vision Critical’s VP of social media, writes: “Given how much of our working lives we spend in meetings, building a digital meeting toolkit is one of the smartest investments you can make in tech-savvy productivity.”

One of the tools Samuel recommends is Doodle, which allows you poll a group to quickly find the best time for everyone (plus, it easily links to your personal calendar). Pair that with websites like Every Time Zone, and you can ensure the timing works for even international team members.

During the actual meeting, Samuel recommends taking notes in Google Doca and/or Evernote to easily search for, collaborate on, and share meeting notes. If you’re concerned you won’t be able to effectively mind map (visually chart and organize information) with remote participants don’t worry — there are apps like MindMeister and Popplet for that, too.

Entrepreneur | Why You Should Leave Work On Time

Constantly working overtime is often necessary during the early stages of a startup, however these habits can be detrimental once the pace has calmed down. Jay Barcrania, CEO and co-founder of Signet Education, argues that setting a realistic but reasonable clock-out time will have countless benefits in both your work and personal life.

Productivity-wise, Barcrania says procrastinating gives you the illusion of having more time than you actually have. Setting boundaries on your time and adhering to a schedule forces you to be mindful about how you prioritize work and more disciplined with your time in the office.

Leaving the office on time will also help your quality of life — and by extension, your quality of work. Allowing yourself regular chunks of time for family, friends, exercise, hobbies, etc. will boost your morale, help you avoid illness, and sleep better. Plus, staying late in the office every day creates an implicit expectation for your employees to do the same — no matter how many times you say otherwise.

Barcrania suggests “setting a good example and leaving on time regularly. This gives everyone permission to do the same, and it will also earn you the ability to ask people to stay late when it really does matter.”

The Economist | Homes for Africa’s Tech Entrepreneurs

Co-working spaces are an ideal solution for fledgling companies in tech-saturated, expensive cities like London, New York, and San Francisco. But they’re also a life-saver for Africa’s growing startup scene, where entrepreneurs capitalize on coworking spaces to “mitigate the exorbitant costs of setting up and running an office in Africa.”

Power supply alone is a significant benefit. Power grids in many areas of Africa are unreliable, and the back-up generators necessary to maintain a functional office during regular blackouts are costly to install and maintain. Factor in funds needed for office space, security, decent Internet, as well as other business costs, and bootstrapping a startup in Africa seems almost impossible.

That’s why co-working spaces, which often only require a month-to-month commitment, are so crucial for Africa’s tech startup scene and a trend that’s likely to continue growing.

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

 

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8 Tips for Creating the Perfect Customer Service Profile https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/8-tips-creating-perfect-customer-service-profile/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/8-tips-creating-perfect-customer-service-profile/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 20:30:49 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34542 The more complete your oDesk profile, the higher your chances are of attracting not only top clients but also the highest-paying jobs. It pays to put in the time to make your profile awesome. Here are eight profile tips to help you connect with great clients and increase your marketability.

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Customer Service is one of the fastest growing categories on Upwork and demand for great professionals is off the charts. To ensure you stand out, your profile needs to showcase your experience and expertise. As part of our commitment to quality, we’ll be featuring freelancers who consistently deliver great work and have profiles that truly impress! It pays to put in the time to make your customer service profile stellar.

Here are 8 tips for customer service professionals to perfect their profiles and attract top clients.

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Stand Out with an Introduction Video https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/stand-out-introduction-video/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/stand-out-introduction-video/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 20:04:06 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34536 An introduction video on your oDesk profile is an extremely powerful tool to help you stand out from the crowd and get the job. Top clients hire freelancers who are a joy to speak with, and a video is a great way to give them a preview of what it’ll be like to work with you. Follow these eight steps to create your own top-notch introduction video.

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An introduction video on your Upwork profile is an extremely powerful tool to help you stand out from the crowd and get the job. Top clients hire freelancers who are a joy to speak with, and a video is a great way to give them a preview of what it’ll be like to work with you.

Follow these 8 steps to create a top-notch introduction video.

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Mobile-Friendly Sites Get a Boost in Google Search Results https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/mobile-friendly-sites-get-boost-google-search-results/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/mobile-friendly-sites-get-boost-google-search-results/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 16:00:01 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34485 If mobile search engine optimization (SEO) has taken a backseat in your marketing strategy, Google just dialed up the pressure for businesses that want to stay competitive. Starting on Apr. 21, 2015, Google search results for mobile users will prioritize sites that offer high-quality information that’s formatted to fit on their devices. These tips will help you make sure your site is ready.

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If mobile search engine optimization (SEO) has taken a backseat in your marketing strategy, Google just dialed up the pressure for businesses that want to stay competitive.

To deliver a better search experience to the growing number of mobile users, Google recently announced it will start using mobile friendliness as a “ranking signal” for search results — much like it already uses “social signals” from pins or likes. These signals help determine where a site will show up in search results, giving it better or worse visibility.

Starting on Apr. 21, 2015, Google search results for mobile users will prioritize sites that offer high-quality information that’s formatted to fit on their devices. “This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results,” Google announced on their blog.

They have also started to include content from indexed apps in search results for people who have the app installed and are signed in — for Android apps only, so far. App content won’t be added automatically, either; you need to manually activate app indexing so Google can find your content.

What does all of this mean for your mobile strategy?

Now is a good time to find out what makes a “mobile-friendly” website, consider how your website measures up, and prioritize any changes you’ll need to make to meet the Apr. 21 timeline. As a starting point, focus on the basics — the user’s experience — and work from there.

First steps to a mobile-friendly website

Google considers a page “mobile-friendly” if it does the following:

  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to fit the screen, so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Avoids software that isn’t necessarily supported on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Spaces links far enough apart that the correct one can be easily tapped

Here’s how to test your site to see how well it performs on a mobile device.

For help with these fixes, consider web designers with responsive web design skills — or a front end developer familiar with your website’s platform or content management system (CMS).  Check oDesk to hire a responsive web designer or developer.

Some other options if your website comes up short:

  • Use software from a third-party provider to optimize your site.  Be sure you follow the guidelines set out by Google here.
Need a CMS developer or designer?

  • Consider a CMS. Most content management systems already include a mobile-friendly option. If you already use a CMS, update to the latest version. If your CMS software uses custom themes (e.g. WordPress), make sure you’re using a theme that is mobile friendly.
  • Check the technical elements of your website. Using a mobile view, make sure nothing is being blocked, like JavaScript, CSS elements, or image files.
  • Make sure you’re in the fast lane. An important issue when you want to rank well in mobile search is page speed. The difference of 1MB on a modern desktop connection is negligible, but when stuck with a poor signal on 3G speed the experience can be very frustrating. To check how quickly your site loads, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

Next steps for your mobile SEO

Once you’re comfortable that your website can meet the needs of your mobile visitors on Apr. 21, consider the following upgrades to make sure your mobile SEO is as flexible as it can be.

SEO tips for web design

If you use responsive web design (RWD) or adaptive web design (AWD) for your website, your server will always send the same HTML code regardless of the device. CSS is then used to alter how the page appears on any device.

Google recommends that responsive websites include the “viewport” tag, a tag that flags for mobile browsers that the size of the webpage will adapt to all devices. Otherwise, the browser may assume it should show the whole context of your site and will display the regular, not the mobile optimized, version.

All you need to do is include a version of the tag in the <head> section of your web pages. For example:

<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0″>

For additional information about SEO for responsive web design see this Google guide.

SEO Tips for Dynamic Serving of Mobile Content

For a dynamic serving website, the server will deliver different HTML and CSS, for the same URL, based on the user agent (i.e. the software) requesting the page.

From a search optimization point of view, it isn’t always apparent to Google that the URL’s content will change for mobile browsers; the mobile content is “hidden” when crawled with a desktop user agent.

To fix this, we recommend telling the server to send a hint to request that Googlebot for smartphones also crawl the page, so Google can discover and index the mobile content. To do this, use the Vary HTTP header. See this Google guide for more information.

SEO Tips For Mobile Site URLs

Googlebots may also need a hand if you use separate URLs for your mobile site (i.e. http://m.site.com/). To make sure search engines can distinguish between the mobile and desktop versions of a particular page, add the following tags to the <head> section of your web pages.

1. Add canonical tags to mobile URLs that specify the desktop version of the URL as the canonical. For example, add the following tag to the <head> section of http://m.site.com/store-locator:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.site.com/store-locator”>

2. Add alternate tags to desktop URLs that specify the mobile version of the URL as the alternate. For example, add the following tag to the <head> section of http://www.site.com/store-locator:

<link rel=”alternate” media=”only screen and (max-width: 640px)” href=”http://m.site.com/store-locator”>

For more implementation tips on using separate mobile URLs see this Google guide.

It’s a good time to think about how customers interact with your website from their device, no matter the type or screen size and oDesk has the talent to help you.

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My Stats, including Job Success Scores for Freelancers, is Now Live! https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/my-stats-job-success-scores-for-freelancers-now-live/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/my-stats-job-success-scores-for-freelancers-now-live/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 17:00:28 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34463 In January, Elizabeth Tse, SVP of operations, shared that we want to help freelancers more easily succeed by delivering a way to monitor your performance. The "My Stats" dashboard does just that, and the new Job Success score uses that information to help successful freelancers stand out from their competition.

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Dear oDesk Community,

In January, I shared with you our 2015 commitment to quality. One of our promises was to help freelancers more easily succeed by delivering a way for you to monitor your performance.

We’re happy to announce that My Stats is now available for all oDesk freelancers who  have applied to a job or been hired at least once. This dashboard presents the key information we track behind the scenes to monitor freelancer performance. In addition to what’s on the My Stats page itself, we’ve created a series of help articles to give you more information about these metrics and how you can improve them.

The My Stats page contains three sections:

  • Client Satisfaction: illustrates your overall reputation on the platform.
  • Communication: measures your client responsiveness.
  • Marketing Effectiveness: for freelancers that have won a job, this shows how effective you are at applying to and securing the right jobs.

Job Success benefits freelancers and clients

One of the most important metrics on My Stats is your Job Success score, which is available for most freelancers that have completed over 4 jobs. Job Success brings together a number of existing performance metrics to represent a freelancer’s entire performance on oDesk, not just client feedback.

We think you’ll appreciate Job Success because it:

  • Rewards your long term contracts — ongoing relationships and jobs you’ve worked hard to cultivate are included in this score.
  • Lessens the impact of a rare poor Feedback rating — Job Success takes into account more than just your final Feedback rating, to provide a more comprehensive assessment of your performance.

We plan to use Job Success to:

  • Give clients a clearer picture of the differences in freelancer performance. Many freelancers have similarly high 5-star average Feedback, which makes it tough for clients to decide who has the best potential for their jobs.
  • Prioritize search results and rankings on the client application page. For jobs where a freelancer is a strong skill and experience fit, the higher the Job Success score the better, giving you a clear way to stand out from the competition.

What’s next for Job Success?

We’ve been displaying Job Success on a small number of freelancer profiles to see if it helps clients make easier hiring decisions. Results indicate that Job Success does indeed help clients choose freelancers and so we plan to show Job Success on all freelancer profiles this week. It will be displayed alongside your 5-star average Feedback score.

In the coming weeks, we’ll continue to experiment with where to best display 5-star average Feedback and Job Success scores on your profile so that clients can more quickly evaluate candidates and hire the right freelancer.

I hope you find My Stats useful — I know many of you have been requesting to see more information on your performance. We’ll continue to improve and refine the dashboard as your feedback comes in.

Best,
Elizabeth Tse,
SVP Operations

P.S. We’ve been closely following your comments about My Stats in our Community. Based on those questions we’ve added some answers to our Help page here.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 9 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-9/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-9/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 13:00:03 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34439 This week's future of work highlights the community of co-working spaces, the flexibility working parents crave, and popular places to work outside of the office.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 03/09/2015:

The Atlantic | As Co-Working Spaces Scale, Can They Keep Their Communal Vibe

Co-working spaces offer obvious benefits to solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, and freelancers, but their most universally appreciated aspect is a sense of community. Working alone can feel isolating, and having a space to seek advice and bounce ideas around — while paying less than the cost of a full office rental — is invaluable to many professionals.

As Atlantic contributor Elizabeth Segran writes, co-working spaces are also turning into a hugely profitable real estate business. She wonders whether the expansion of the coworking movement can hold onto its more community-centric roots: “For those who are just beginning to freelance or start businesses, a space like WeWork will offer institutional support through networking events, insurance discounts and mobile apps, but it is unclear whether it will be able to foster the trust and intimacy that coworking once promised.”

Fast Company | What Working Parents Really Want

Europeans working in the U.S. are often shocked at the lack of maternity, paternity, and adoption leave offered by American companies. Fast Company writer Stephanie Vozza argues that even larger problems arise after the first few weeks, once parents are back at work but offered little to no flexibility.

Many companies are turning the corner on flexible work options, realizing the difference they can make for professionals with children, but others are still reluctant to trade in traditional schedules.

As research continues to support the health, productivity, and employee retention benefits of telecommuting — and as more and more professionals begin to demand it — Vozza believes it will soon become the norm. Especially when, with ongoing “talent wars,” she observes that there’s ample “proof that employees will leave when their life-balance needs are not met.”

Entrepreneur | The Best Places to Work Aren’t In the Office

While great for collaboration, offices can somehow both brim with distractions and fail to provide any new stimulation. That’s why, according to Fast Company staff writer Lisa Evans, many entrepreneurs feel they’re most productive outside of the office — at not just at home.

Professionals listed everywhere from coworking spaces to parks and local libraries as their go-to places to get work done. For some, taking calls in their car forces them to stay present in the conversation, rather than distractedly trying to multitask.

Others find coffee shops, with their creative atmosphere and abundance of caffeine options, most conducive to keeping their head down and focused on work. This last option is even backed up by science: “The University of Chicago found that moderate ambient noise (around 70 dB) enhances performance on creative tasks and supports innovation.”

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

 

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Revamped Job Categories = Spot-On Job Invites https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/upwork-category-improvements/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/upwork-category-improvements/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:00:14 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34158 As the world of work changes, skills are changing too. Not only the skills themselves, but also how clients think of these skills. With this in mind oDesk is updating our existing job categories, and adding a few new ones. Check out this blog post for details.

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As the world of work changes, skills are changing too. Not only the skills themselves, but also how clients think of these skills.

With this in mind oDesk is updating our existing job categories, and adding a few new ones. The goal is to make it easier for freelancers to place themselves in the most advantageous categories and build their careers, and ultimately make it simpler for clients to pinpoint freelancers with the skills they’re looking for.

What’s new and what’s changed?

A complete list of updates can be found in the Help Center. Some key changes to existing categories include:

  • listing Software Development as part of Web & Mobile Development
  • separating Writing and Translation into two distinct categories, and
  • renaming Business Services to Accounting & Consulting

We’re also excited to introduce new categories in the areas listed below. Freelancers can already add the new categories to their profiles, and clients can start posting jobs to them soon. Scroll down for more details on the new categories.

If you’re a freelancer with skills in these areas, this is the perfect time to update your profile and make sure they’re reflected. We’ll start promoting the new categories to clients soon.

What does this mean for freelancers?

  • Your profile, work history, and ratings have already been updated with any revised category names.
  • You can add or change your categories at any time in Profile Settings.
  • You can still link your profile to up to 10 categories.
  • We recommend updating the saved searches in your job feed to reflect these changes, too.
  • Remember: a complete profile that reflects your experience and skills will give you the best visibility.

What does this mean for clients?

  • All current and past jobs have already been updated with any revised category names.
  • We will soon invite you to start posting jobs in the new categories we are introducing, which you can learn more about below. We will update you as soon as these become available for posting jobs.

More details on new and updated categories and relevant skills

Outlined below are the new categories, along with related skills. Click here for a complete list of category updates.

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New Data Science & Analytics Categories

Data Science & Analytics categories cover general quantitative and statistical analysis, as well as the extraction, management, analysis, and visualization of data, which may be stored in data warehouses. Also included is A/B statistical testing and evaluation, as well as machine learning and adaptive algorithms.

Quantitative Analysis Includes analysis of numerical data, including statistical analysis and modeling and business intelligence. Jobs may require working knowledge of programs and frameworks such as: Stats, SPSS, MATLAB, NumPy, SciPy, R, R+, Octave, Panda, and others. This replaces the former Statistical Analysis category. Related skills: Quantitative Analysis, Statistics, Data Science
A/B Testing Includes the setup and analysis of A/B tests that evaluate a treatment vs. control group, often on a website or application. It often involves the use of testing and analytics software (e.g., Google Analytics, Optimizely, KISSmetrics, Visual Website Optimizer, Crazy Egg, and others). Related skills: A/B Testing, Statistics
Data Extraction / ETL Involves the extraction, transformation, and loading of data (ETL), including data warehousing, engineering, and logistics. This may involve web crawling, scraping, and structuring of web data. ETL may be performed on big data streams or large collections (similar to Data Mining & Management). Related skills: Extract, Transform and Load (ETL), Data Logistics, Data Ingestion, Electronic data interchange (EDI)
Data Mining & Management Refers to the process of trying to identify patterns in data and managing data, which can involve data cleansing, encoding, and engineering. It may involve big data technologies for working with data streams (e.g. Apache Storm, Apache Spark, Apache Kafka and others) or large collections (e.g. Apache Hadoop, Apache Pig, Apache Spark, Apache Cassandra, Apache Hive and others). Related skills: Big Data, Data Mining
Data Visualization Refers to the presentation of data using visual layouts such as dashboards, infographics, charts, graphs, plots, tables, maps, etc. This may involve working knowledge of programs and frameworks such as D3, D3.js, matplotlib, Looker, Tableau, Mixpanel, and others. Related skills: Data Visualization, Chart.js, HighCharts, Infographics, Visualization
Machine Learning Includes work in machine learning, artificial intelligence, natural language processing, artificial neural network, and adaptive algorithms. Jobs may involve working knowledge of programs and frameworks such as MATLAB, Weka, Octave, R, scikit-learn, and others. Related skills: Machine Learning, Artificial Neural Networks, Artificial Intelligence, Adaptive Algorithms
Other – Data Science & Analytics Includes other areas of data science, data engineering, data modeling, and data analytics not covered by the other categories. Related skills: Data Engineering, Data Modeling, Data Analytics

[^ main categories list]

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New Engineering & Architecture Categories

Engineering & Architecture categories cover 3D modeling and CAD work, as well as product design, architecture, and interior design. Also included are engineering disciplines such as chemical, civil and structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering, as well as work related to contract manufacturing.

3D Modeling & CAD Involves the use of graphics and modeling software to create a representation of a 3D object. The model may be rendered into a visual image, used in computer simulations and visual effects, or to produce a physical object through 3D printing. CAD (computer-aided design) is used by engineers and designers to create, analyze, and manipulate technical designs that may be applied to various industries including manufacturing, industrial design, and digital content creation. This category previously appeared as part of Design & Multimedia. Related skills: 3ds Max, Autodesk Autocad Civil3D, AutoCAD, Autodsys AcceliCAD, MathCAD, ArchiCAD, 3D Modeling, Autodesk 3D Studio Max, Engineering Design, Engineering drawing, Catia, solidworks, ansys
Product Design Refers to the design of a new product. The product design process can include initial research, problem identification, and conception of the product idea; evaluation of the product concept, design of a prototype, testing, and modification of the prototype, as well as design of a final product. This replaces the former Engineering & Technical Design category. Related skills: Reverse Engineering, Product Design, Product Development
Architecture Involves the planning, designing, and construction of buildings and other physical structures, producing technical drawings, plans, and documentation. Related skills: Architectural Rendering, Autodesk Architecture, Architecture
Interior Design Involves the planning and designing of interior spaces. This includes gathering requirements; creating drawings and diagrams of space plans and layouts; selecting materials, finishes and colors; as well as specifying and selecting furniture, fixtures, equipment, and other design features. Related skills: Interior Design, Home Design
Chemical Engineering Refers to engineering related to chemicals, materials, and energy, focusing on the conversion of raw materials into usable products. Related skills: Chemical Engineering, COSMO-RS Chemical Engineering
Civil & Structural Engineering Refers to engineering related to the design, construction and maintenance of manufactured structures such as roads and buildings, and elements of the natural environment. This work involves applying physical laws and understanding the structural properties of different materials and geometries. Related skills: Civil Engineering, Autodesk Autocad Civil3D, Structural Engineering
Contract Manufacturing Involves work related to the contract manufacturing process, in which a firm outsources manufacturing to another firm. The contract manufacturer provides cost estimates, based on processes, labor, tooling, and material costs specific to the client firm’s design or formula. Related skills: Contract Manufacturing, Manufacturing Design, Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), Manufacturing, SAP Manufacturing Execution
Electrical Engineering Refers to engineering related to electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. This includes several focus areas such as power, control, electronics, microelectronics, computers, signal processing, telecommunications, and instrumentation. Related skills: Electrical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering Refers to engineering that involves mechanics, physics, and material science applied to mechanical systems. It involves design and production related to machinery and tools. Related skills: Mechanical Engineering, Automotive Engineering
Other – Engineering & Architecture Includes all areas of engineering and architecture not specified by the other categories. Related skills: Industrial Engineering, Materials Engineering, Mining Engineering, Textile Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Energy Engineering, Other Engineering and Manufacturing

.[^ main categories list]

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New Legal Categories

Legal categories cover counsel and assistance from lawyers across many fields of law, as well as services performed by paralegals, legal researchers, and other legal professionals.

Contract Law Includes legal work related to contracts, including contract drafting, interpretation or amendment, and issues related to breach of contract. Related skills: Contract Law
Corporate Law Involves legal work related to corporate formation, governance, finance, and employment. This includes incorporation, corporate taxation, dealings with shareholders, creditors, employees, or other stakeholders, and other legal work related to corporations. Related skills: Employment Law, Corporate Law
Criminal Law Includes legal work related to criminal offenses, both felonies and misdemeanors. Related skills: Criminal Law
Family Law Includes legal work related to family matters, including marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships; child custody, adoption and child support; divorce, alimony and property settlements, and other family-related issues. Related skills: Family Law, Benefits Law
Intellectual Property Law Includes legal work related to intellectual property (IP) issues, including trademarks, copyrights, patents, inventions, non-disclosure agreements, and non-compete clauses. Related skills: Patent Law, Intellectual Property Law
Paralegal Services Includes work such as legal research and documentation related to legal proceedings but does not involve legal counsel. Related skills: Paralegal Services, Legal Research
Other – Legal Includes legal work not specified in the other sub-categories. This replaces the former Legal category. Related skills: Environmental Law, Immigration Law, Medical Law, Civil Law, Legal Consulting, Legal Writing

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New Translation Categories

Translation is now its own set of categories and is no longer combined with Writing. In addition to the existing General Translation category, the following new categories involve translation from one language to another of content that is specific to legal, medical, or technical fields.

Legal Translation Refers to language translation of content with a legal focus, which requires specific legal content knowledge or expertise. Related skills: Legal Translation, Paralegal, Law, Legal
Medical Translation Refers to language translation of content with a medical focus, which requires specific medical content knowledge or expertise. Related skills: Medical Translation, Medical, Medicine, Prescription
Technical Translation Refers to language translation of content with a technical focus, which requires specific technical content knowledge or expertise. Related skills: Technical Translation, Technical, Technical Writing, Software, Engineering
Other – Translation Includes all other language translation and localization work not specified in the other categories.

.[^ main categories list]

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New IT & Networking Category: Information Security

Information Security is a new category under IT & Networking.

Information Security Refers to the protection and securitization of information, including preventative measures and responses to threats or issues. Information security issues could include unauthorized access or distribution, misuse or manipulation, or malicious attacks. Related skills: Information Security, Wireless Security, Network Security, Data Protection, Internet Security, Malware, Antispam and Antivirus, Firewall

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New Design & Creative Category: Photography

Photography is a new category under Design & Creative.

Photography Includes photography, digital photography, and digital image editing, including photo manipulation, color correction, and other techniques to alter digital images. Related skills: Photography, Digital Photography, Photo Manipulation, Photograph Color Correction, Photo Editing, Photo Retouching

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New Writing Categories

Writing has four new categories.

Academic Writing & Research Refers to writing and research specifically for academia, such as academic research papers and journal articles. Related skills: Academic Writing, Research, Scientific Research, Research Papers
Editing & Proofreading Editing refers to selecting and preparing existing content for a specific audience and purpose. Proofreading refers to correcting and refining existing written content. Related skills: Copy Editing, Editing, Technical Editing, Proofreading, English Proofreading, English Spelling, English Grammar
Grant Writing Refers to writing specifically for the purpose of requesting grant funding, which typically involves completing a grant submission as part of an application process, or completing a proposal in response to an RFP. Related skills: Grant Writing, Proposal Writing
Resumes & Cover Letters Refers to the writing, editing, and preparing of professional resumes and/or cover letters to help position a candidate for a job. Related skills: Resume Writing, Job Description Writing, Cover Letter Writing

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 2 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-2/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-2/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:00:46 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34405 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the best ways to manage a remote team, how female entrepreneurs can shape work-life balance, and a new school of time management theories.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 03/02/2015:

Entrepreneur | 4 Effective Ways to Manage a Remote Team

Working with a distributed team can seem challenging, but implementing a few best practices will help things run as smoothly as (or better than) a traditional office. Deborah Mitchell, CEO and founder of Mitchell Media Associates, offers her own tried-and-true tips for managing remote employees.

Some of Mitchell’s advice, like organizing a weekly work plan or scheduling “face time” with the team (think Google Hangouts), may already come naturally. However, there are others you may not think of right away: she recommends daily phone calls with your team members so they can questions and get direct feedback, because a lot of information can get lost in translation through email alone.

These check-ins can also help facilitate discussions about the larger career goals of your team members, an aspect of good management that doesn’t always translate to online: “Similar to working in a traditional office, a virtual office should offer an employee the opportunity to grow. Be clear and know what you have to offer them moving forward.”

Huffington Post | Can Women Entrepreneurs Flip the Script re: Work/Life Balance?

As an author, speaker, and founder and CEO of Socially Speaking, Penina Rybak knows a thing or two about the work-life balance challenges entrepreneurs, especially female ones, face. But don’t worry! She’s also written extensively about how to tackle them.

She recommends that you be ruthless with your time. Cut personal and work activities that don’t meet your needs or accomplish something necessary. And the same goes for people, she says: only hire those who truly share your company and cultural vision.

Inc. | The New Way of Thinking About Time

More and more studies are finding that our traditional time-management theories are dead wrong. Working grueling hours, exacerbated by the “telepressure” to continue answering emails at home, may seem like the price you pay to get your startup off the ground, but the reality is that lifestyle is wholly unsustainable. Living this way affects employee morale, sleep, cognition, health, retention and, unsurprisingly, almost always leads to burnout.

As Inc. staff writer Jill Krasny writes, “All of this has given rise to a new school of time management, one concerned with zeroing in on your most important priorities, doing them well, and eliminating everything else—including keeping crazy hours.”

This shift can take many forms. Some companies embrace flexible work days, allowing  people to come into the office when they’re most productive. Bolstered by research showing it takes more than 23 minutes to get re-focused on an interrupted task, Krasny points to one CEO who encourages employees to schedule meetings that rarely last longer than 15 minutes.

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

 

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How to Write the Perfect Email Introduction https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/write-perfect-email-introduction/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/write-perfect-email-introduction/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:00:22 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34375 Most freelancers experience a few hiccups during the process of turning a prospect into a paying customer. When you compose the email that will introduce yourself and/or your services to someone, there’s actually a general “template” you can follow to help make a strong connection with your potential client and pave the way for a good working relationship with them.

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You put yourself out there—your samples, your terms, your fees—and it’s looking good: now you have a chance to get some business. All it takes is a bit of correspondence and an interview with a potential new client, and everything should fall into place.

Well, it should be that simple. The truth is, most freelancers experience a few hiccups during the process of turning a prospect into a paying customer.

When you compose the email that will introduce yourself and/or your services to someone, there’s actually a general “template” you can follow to help make a strong connection with your potential client and pave the way for a good working relationship with them.

Here is a list of what to include:

  1. Be specific in your subject line. Restate exactly why you’re writing. Remember, it’s an introduction so they don’t know who you are. Don’t make them guess. If they contacted you first, simply hit “reply” so they get an “RE:” response. If you are making the first contact, use something simple like “The video quote you wanted” or “About yoursite.com content.”
  2. Open warmly, but professionally. “Dear ___,” is the perfect greeting. If it is your first contact, choose Mr./Mrs./Dr. until instructed otherwise. If they contacted you first, greet them using the same name they used to sign their message. Your first sentence should let them know that you’re glad to speak with them and that you can help them. Mention something that shows why you know you’d be a good fit. For example, “I’m skilled with PowerPoint and would love to create presentations for yoursite.com.”
  3. Show you understand their needs. Building on the opening of your message, make sure your email gives the recipient an easy reason to consider moving forward with you. Take care with this section; it’s the “bridge” of your email, connecting you to them. For example, you could say something like, “I see you have a large client base already. I understand how to manage those contacts and grow them at the same time.”
  4. Relate benefits of working with you. When listing benefits, avoid a clichéd marketing message or a jargon-filled laundry list. Instead, offer distinct solutions. Use “real” language, like, “My forms have helped dozens of bloggers grow their email lists,” instead of “I provide webpreneurs custom forms for maximized list optimization.” Also, if there is a special reference or qualification that adds to your ability to perform this work, mention it here. Example: “In fact, my B.A. was in philosophy, so I’m well-versed in your topic.”
  5. Touch on your work habits. Is there a timing restriction for a project like this? Will you only accept certain types of payments? A couple of sentences briefly outlining the way you work in your introduction can save you and your client from trouble later on. No one likes surprises regarding money or missed deliverables. Be straightforward, cheerful, and polite: “Some notes: I book my work a week in advance. When we agree on a timeframe and milestones, I will send regular updates to let you what I’m working on and how work is progressing.”
  6. Close with action points and expectations (and a thank you). How will your recipient know what to do next to start working with you or to ask you any questions? Inviting them to contact you and referencing any action items at the end of your email helps them stand out. And leave the final action up to you: “I would need to hear from you by Friday to start work by the 10th. Please email me back with your thoughts. You can also add me on Skype; my username is below. If we haven’t connected by Friday, I’ll send you a note to follow up. Thank you!”

You can typically write a generic “base” email and modify it for each prospect. If you follow the suggestions above, you should have seven to nine sentences in three or four very short paragraphs.

Going beyond these introductions, there is a wide range of needs and audiences for emails and letters in the professional environment: apologies, requests, sales, and more. We cover all types of correspondence in our Effective Business Writing Course at GoSkills.com, where the right tone, length, and structure are all spelled out for you.

There are few things more important to get right than making a first impression, and when you’re working online, that’s usually done with written communications. A little time spent perfecting your email introductions can translate into more jobs, and happier freelancing overall!

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Becoming the World’s Premier Online Workplace for Professionals https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/worlds-premier-online-workplace-for-professionals/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/worlds-premier-online-workplace-for-professionals/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:00:58 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34359 An important update from Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance and oDesk, about the company vision and what it means for our community in 2015 and beyond.

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Dear oDesk Community,

Since the merger last year, I’ve spent every moment thinking about our amazing professional communities and the future of online work. Advancements in technology and data science are transforming how we connect, share, collaborate and learn. The freelance economy is growing exponentially — each year more businesses hire freelance professionals and more people choose freelancing as a career. We are heading towards a new online meritocracy, a connected workplace where everyone can access economic and professional opportunities.

While we already are the largest online workplace, there is a great deal more for us to do to become the world’s premier online workplace for professionals.

The work we do daily to meet the rapidly evolving needs of our community — upgrades to our platform as new technologies become available, scaled operations to better serve everyone as our community grows, and continued investments to engage more clients and top talent — is not enough. To realize our vision of becoming the premier online workplace for professionals we need to innovate at an even faster pace.

Over the next several months you will begin to see many new initiatives:

  • Improvements to how clients and freelance professionals meet each other, including better matching and redesigned profiles
  • New collaboration and productivity tools for both desktop and mobile devices
  • More resources to measure quality, screen jobs and help our community succeed
  • Expanded customer service to provide fast, friendly and reliable support
  • And so much more based on your input and a large number of R&D efforts

We are eager to bring these improvements to you. To accelerate innovation we will focus the majority of these initiatives on one of our platforms, oDesk. Members of the Elance community will be able to experience the improvements via a bridge we are developing between the two online workplaces. Within a year or two we will have a new platform where everyone will access the latest innovations at the same time.

I’ll continue to share our progress towards our vision over the coming months. In the meantime, you can find answers to many of your questions here.

My daily thoughts remain focused on building the best possible online workplace for high quality clients and top freelance professionals. On behalf of the 300 employees and over 500 freelancers who make up the Elance-oDesk team, thank you for being our inspiration.

Best,
Fabio
CEO

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 23 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-23/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-23/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:45:10 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34352 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights human resources ‘must-haves’ for winning the talent war, the personality trait that distinguishes entrepreneurs from employees, and the strength of the European startup community.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 2/23/2015:

Forbes | 7 HR Must-Haves for 2015: Winning the Talent War

Drawing on the Oxford Economics report “Workforce 2020,” Susan Galer of SAP cites seven human resources trends that organizations need to adopt to remain competitive.

From more effective leadership to better collaboration and training opportunities, Galar says businesses can’t hold back now or fail to plan for the next few years. “2015 looms as a ‘do or die’ year for organizations that depend on quality, qualified people to leap ahead of the competition.”


VentureBeat | How Europe is Producing ‘Super Startups’

The U.S. isn’t the only home for successful startups: European startups are attracting more investors and enough talent to thrive. Alex Depledge, CEO and co-founder of Hassle.com, and Julien Codorniou, director of partner platforms at Facebook, write that part of the European startup community’s success comes from its past struggles.

“Over the years it’s been much harder for Europeans to access venture capitalist funding,” they said. “This legacy means that European startups have had to operate under huge pressure to develop business plans that were viable from day one.”

Depledge and Codorniou add that this pressure, combined with other challenges like the recession and the fractured European marketplace, force startups to adapt in ways that make them stronger and better prepared for expansion.


 

Business Insider | Scientists Have Discovered a Personality Difference Between Entrepreneurs and Employees

What differentiates people who run their own companies and people who work as employees? A desire for job or income security is one factor, but Drake Baer reports that it isn’t the only one.

“According to a 2013 Swiss-German study, the difference lies in disposition: While an employee is a specialist, an entrepreneur is a jack-of-all-trades,” he wrote. Even an internship or apprenticeship can predict against entrepreneurship, as they help lead to specialization.

The study’s authors found that broad experience and a large personal network also support entrepreneurship, thanks to the diversity of relationship as well as viewpoints. “None other than Steve Jobs used to say that creative people have a more diverse ‘bag of experiences’ than everybody else,” Baer said.

What news about the future of work has caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Do Remote Managers Work? https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/do-remote-managers-work/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/do-remote-managers-work/#comments Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:00:32 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34297 Would you hire a remote manager to be responsible for complex collaboration within your company? Elance-oDesk product manager — and Digital Nomad — Sondra Orozco explains how she collaborates with her team from around the world.

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Jeremy Orozco left his job as a firefighter and Sondra Orozco works for Elance-oDesk. Follow this newly married couple as they transition into life on the road as Digital Nomads and learn more via their blog, Nomad Life.

Would you hire remote managers to be responsible for complex collaborations within your company? Some are skeptical of this possibility, but as a very busy product manager for Elance-oDesk, Sondra is making it work. In their latest update from the road — Egypt, to be exact — Jeremy asks tough questions from the perspective of remote management’s biggest critics, like PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.

Jeremy: What do you actually do remote? Take me through your typical week.

Sondra: As a product manager at Elance-oDesk, I’m responsible for part of the oDesk website and I manage the development of that area. I figure out what our users need and work with a team of engineers to get it built.

In a week, I spend half of my time doing research and writing feature requirements, and the other half communicating with coworkers to get things done — from pitching features to executives, to working with our Design and Engineering teams, to checking in with Marketing and Operations to manage feature launches.

Jeremy: That doesn’t answer the question on everyone’s mind, though. Your job is complex collaboration and you are completely remote… How does it work? Give us the gritty details on how work can be accomplished when you don’t have the ability to just lean over and ask one of your engineers a question. How do you tap someone on the shoulder from a thousand miles away?

Sondra and Jeremy in front of a pyramidSondra: Do you want to be interrupted? In his blog, Andrew Bosworth, a VP at Facebook, describes how engineers just shouted across the room to each other when Facebook was small. But as the company grew, interruptions had to die, in order to “defend [their] productivity.” While his post is about saying “no,” sometimes it’s easier if you don’t need to.

I work daily with 15 engineers. If we were sitting in the same room, how much time would I waste if I literally walked over to each one whenever I had a question? Now factor in the other departments I work with — there are at least 30 individuals who I need to check in with regularly, often daily, to get my job done. Interrupting each other at random moments with a tap on the shoulder — or a shout across the room — would only slow us all down.

Being in the same room as your team isn’t the key to success. To be an effective remote manager, strong communication skills are the most critical. You asked for the gritty details — how I make it work from halfway around the world — check out the list at the end of this post for my ninja tricks.

Jeremy: There are some very smart people who believe that remote work, doesn’t work. Peter Thiel, for example, doesn’t believe in the way you work. In his New York Times best selling book, Zero to One, he says, “Even working remotely should be avoided, because misalignment can creep in whenever colleagues aren’t together full-time, in the same place, every day”. What’s your response to that?

Sondra: Yet, a few pages later in the book Thiel contradicts himself when he describes how the CEO of his own company, Palantir, works “25 days a month on the road, meeting with clients.” The most important person in this multi-billion-dollar company is not physically in the building 83.33 percent of the time — he’s running the company from the road. By definition, that’s remote work.

Jeremy: By that definition, fires are managed remotely. Some of the best chiefs don’t even look at the building on fire, because having a single perspective on a rapidly changing environment is deadly. Chiefs use 19th century technology — a radio — to monitor six sides of a building, plus the fire conditions within. The deteriorating roof of a structure may as well be on a different planet if you can’t see it or effectively communicate with someone who can. When communication stops, firefighters die.

Sondra: So do companies. Thiel’s point about misalignment is more about an inability to communicate than about where team members are located. If firefighters can use single-channel radio to communicate from different locations on a fire, technology teams who use email, instant chat, and video calls should be able to communicate effectively no matter where they are. (Again, see ninja tricks.)

Jeremy: But wouldn’t you prefer to work at one of the big Silicon Valley companies where you can ride a Segway to your next meeting (past the dinosaur skeleton and volleyball courts) while drinking free organic soy lattes? Companies are paying millions to recruit people like you. Why not take the bait?

Silicon Valley versus the world

Sondra: You could buy me a mansion in the desert, but that’s not where I want to be (unless it’s to see pyramids and camels!). The opportunity to live where I want, whether it’s on the beach in Bali or in my small hometown, is the biggest perk a company can provide. Companies that refuse remote work don’t have access to me, or the talent outside of their small and competitive bubble.

Jeremy: One year ago, working in the office, were you more valuable to the company?

Sondra: No, definitely not. Being remote, I need to take all the best practices of management and bump them up a few notches. I have gotten better at my job as a result. I’m also happier with my job and more loyal to my employer!

This is the future of work. As an employee or freelancer it’s possible to have a challenging, growing career while living life to the fullest, and as a company it’s possible to hire the best no matter where they happen to be in the world and reap the benefits of their job contentment, dedication, and increased productivity.

Sondra’s Ninja Tricks to Make Remote Collaboration Work

How I stay super effective by avoiding the worst practices of co-located teams (like interruptions) and virtually mimicking the best ones.

  • Be a master of all communication tools at your disposal. Whether it’s email, Slack, Hipchat, Skype, Google Hangouts, GChat, or something else, learn these tools intimately.
  • Figure out how people prefer to communicate to virtually “tap” them in a place where they’re more likely to respond to you. Bob never answers email but is always active on Slack? Chat with him there. Cathy is evasive in general? Book time on her calendar for a Skype call. Adjust your communication to the individual you need to contact. This is why it’s important to master every communication tool!
  • Impromptu brainstorming sessions in front of a white board can be mimicked virtually with online tools. Open a Google Hangout with colleagues and use Google Docs directly from the Hangout to write or draw together in real time.
  • Over-communicate. Always. When you think you’ve said it enough times, say it again.
  • Make sure you have a significant amount of work time that overlaps with your colleagues’. For me, that means working from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. if I’m living in Thailand or Bali.
  • Plan ahead when you need information or a favor from a colleague. Avoid urgent requests by giving them enough time to respond to you. It’ll save you the stress of having to virtually hunt them down to meet a deadline.
  • Have a local ally (or many!). When all else fails, your ally can act or speak on your behalf in the office.

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A Year in Review and Announcing Two New Solutions for oDesk Freelancers https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/announcing-connects-memberships/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/announcing-connects-memberships/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2015 14:00:24 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34238 With the growth of the freelance economy, there have been more jobs and clients on oDesk than ever before. As Elance-oDesk's CEO Fabio Rosati explains, we've received a lot of feedback from freelancers who want access to more clients and opportunities. These two new solutions, Connects and membership plans, will help.

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A letter to the community from CEO Fabio Rosati

Dear oDeskers,

Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance-oDeskIt’s hard to believe that almost a year ago, oDesk and Elance came together to form a single company. At the time, I had the big privilege and responsibility of taking on leadership of both communities.

Over the last twelve months, I have developed even greater respect and admiration for the talented freelance professionals and inspiring client companies of the oDesk community. Your feedback, stories, and achievements motivate me every day to build a company for the future.

We have many exciting things planned for 2015, which I’ll soon be sharing with you. Today, however, I want to look back on what we’ve accomplished and introduce two new solutions for our freelancer community.

When we asked you what we could do to make oDesk even stronger, you said:

  • Make it easier and faster to communicate with my clients and get paid.
  • Improve workplace quality so professionalism is rewarded.

We’ve been listening.

  • In January, we launched Escrow to give freelancers a better, more secure way to get paid on fixed-price projects.
  • Last week, we released a new mobile app for freelancers and clients to communicate on the go.
  • We also kicked off a series of initiatives to focus on quality in our workplace, addressing freelancers and clients that don’t meet our standards of professionalism.

You also asked for access to more clients and opportunities. With the growth of the freelance economy, there have been more jobs and clients on oDesk than ever before. This also makes the challenge of matching the right freelancer with the right opportunity more complex. We’ve been tackling this challenge from many angles, including investing in data science to help us recommend jobs to freelancers based on their skills, availability, and work history.

Today, I’m excited to announce two additional solutions to help you access more opportunities on oDesk. We plan to roll these solutions out gradually over the next several weeks.
.

1. Helping great freelancers connect with clients more successfully

With online work expanding, more clients and freelancers are joining oDesk every day. Some members of our community compete for clients by sending out as many applications as possible. The result can be a frustrating experience for everyone. Clients who receive too many generic applications are less likely to hire, while freelancers who are a great fit and have submitted high-quality applications have a hard time standing out.

That’s why we’re introducing Connects — a new system of applying to jobs that will replace the weekly job application quota.

Connects are virtual tokens you need to submit in order to apply for a job. By default, every freelancer will get a monthly allotment of 60 Connects, which is lower than the quota you’re used to.

By lowering everyone’s quota:

  • There will be fewer unnecessary applications.
  • Most freelancers will only apply to jobs they are truly interested in and qualified for.
  • You’ll be competing against a smaller and more relevant pool of applicants, increasing your chances of getting hired when you’re the best fit.

We were careful to choose a quota large enough for most new and experienced freelancers to continue to succeed on oDesk.

Of course, if a client invites you to apply or is rehiring you, you won’t need to use any Connects. All other applications will require anywhere from 1 to 5 Connects (2 on average), depending on factors such as the size and type of job.

The Connects system will roll out gradually. We’ll follow up with more details on what you need to do. Until then, please see our detailed FAQs for Freelancers and Agencies. We also welcome you to ask questions and get answers in our Forum, or attend an upcoming live webinar on February 19 or February 20.
.

2. Announcing membership plans for more active freelancers and agencies

We’ve also created optional paid membership plans for highly active community members.

By default, you’ll automatically be on a free Basic membership plan, which comes with 60 Connects and the core tools to succeed on oDesk.

If you’re more active, you can upgrade to a Plus membership, which will give you more Connects, the ability to roll over your Connects, visibility into what others are bidding, and other premium features. You can change your plan at any time.

As we roll out memberships to the community, we’ll notify each of you with more info about what you need to do. In the meantime, learn more about the membership plans available to Freelancers and to Agencies. Ask questions and give feedback in our Forum and sign up for an upcoming live webinar on February 19 or February 20, where we’ll go over changes, explain features, and address your specific queries.

Thanks for your feedback. We’ll continue to work hard to make oDesk the best place for your career.

We’ve come a long way in the last year, but we’re just getting started. As we look ahead, we’ll continue to invest in ways to help you achieve unparalleled freedom and success. Thank you for your continued passion and support as we work together to make oDesk your workplace of the future.

Warm regards,

Fabio
CEO

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 16 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-16/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-16/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 14:00:16 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34242 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights work-life balance between your startup and family, the freedom to control your time, and how to properly motivate your employees.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 2/16/2015:

Entrepreneur | A Web Entrepreneur’s 3 Tips for Matching the Love of Family With the Love of Work

Running your own business, especially during the early phases of a startup, can and will pull even the most committed family member away from the “life” part of work-life balance.

As Adam Toren, co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com, knows all too well, “many entrepreneurs chose this path thinking the balance will pan out at some point in time, only to find themselves year over year without it.”

His solutions for these problems are deceptively simple. Setting a schedule, and sticking to it, can help counteract the feeling that there’s no time to take a break or pack up for the evening.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that your plan will shift as your family does. Having kids is a game-changer, Toren says, and entrepreneurs need to be flexible — because their children won’t be.

Inc. | Success Is Controlling How You Spend Your Time

Peter Cohan, founder of Peter S. Cohan & Associates, argues that today’s definition of success should not be measured solely in money, but in how much you can control and enjoy your time.

Of course, he says, this kind of freedom usually happens because you already know you can pay your bills. However, he advises young professionals to think critically about three aspects of any job they want to embark upon: “Am I passionate about the work? Am I one of the world’s best at doing this work? Will the market compensate me well enough for it?”

Keeping these aspects in mind, especially when considering the gruelling road of founding a startup, can help keep you focused and on track to get the most out of your professional career.

Fast Company | Stop Trying to Bribe Your Employees and do This Instead

Engaging employees is one of the biggest challenges companies face. J.T. O’Donnell, CEO of Careerealism, argues that perks, while a nice gesture, ultimately do very little to actually motivate your staff. Instead, you should try upping their intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivation.

By encouraging intrinsic motivation — the drive to work hard “without any expected reward or external motivation” — O’Donnell says businesses will be able to get the most out of their employees.

The truth about this drive, she explains, is that it is entirely based on life outside of work: “Our work selves are only one part of our whole selves — the other parts are the internal self, the external self, and relationships — and it’s important for employers to adopt a holistic approach to understanding employees.”

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

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For the Love of Your Back! Home Office Gadgets For Comfort and Health https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/home-office-gadgets/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/home-office-gadgets/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 14:00:13 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34209 Are you sacrificing comfort and health with a poor home office setup? Here are some great gadgets that can make working at home a little more comfortable and a whole lot more awesome.

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When I started freelancing, it was my intention to make some extra income while I was a student. All I had for a home office at the time was a laptop and a desk — and since I didn’t even use my desk for studying, I certainly wasn’t using it for work.

As the years passed, I discovered I enjoyed freelancing from home way more than I enjoyed commuting to an office. I also discovered that working in a reclining chair is not the best setup for productivity or for my personal health.

I get so much more accomplished when seated comfortably at a desk with the proper ergonomics. I have fewer headaches and backaches, and I feel more like a professional business owner, which translates into more confidence in myself as a service provider — not to mention more clients.

Here are some great gadgets that can make working at home a little more comfortable and a whole lot more awesome.

1. Wireless Mouse and Keyboard

Wireless mouse

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop

via Microsoftstore.com

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I spent several years working from home using just a laptop with no accessories. If you know anything about ergonomics, you know that your screen should be at eye level. This means it’s impossible to have a healthy setup if you are tied to a laptop’s keyboard and trackpad.

2. Proper Screen Height

Ergotron Sit-Stand desk mount LCD Arm

Ergotron Sit-Stand desk mount LCD Arm

via Ergotron.com

For the best posture and back health, the proper screen height is directly at eye level. Use a desk mounting system for external monitors, like this one from Ergotron, or DIY by placing your laptop or monitor on a shelf, box, or stack of books on your desk that will boost it to the correct height.

3. A Reduction on Eye Strain

PaperLike: 13.3″ E Ink Monitor by Dasung Tech

PaperLike: 13.3″ E Ink Monitor by Dasung Tech

via TheeBookreader.com

Fresh out of Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 is an e-ink external monitor for those of us who spend hours staring at text on our screens. This monitor uses technology that’s similar to popular e-readers and mimics the look of ink on paper.

Since there’s no backlight it’s glare free, which makes it easier on the eyes. The blue light from traditional monitors can wreck havoc on our sleep patterns, so using e-ink instead for late night sessions could also improve sleep quality. Plus, with the ability to see the screen in direct sunlight, it will also make working outdoors on beautiful days an actual option.

4. A Great Chair

The Gesture Chair by Steelcase

The Gesture Chair by Steelcase

via Steelcase.com

Posture is important for whole body health and the types of postures we use most often are rapidly changing — as often as we change our mobile devices. The ergonomic Gesture Chair supports your body just as well when using mobile devices as it does when you are typing on your laptop.

5. A Reminder You’ve Been Sitting Too Long

Darma

Darma

via Darma.co

I know I don’t move enough, but it is something I don’t think about during my work day. Having a reminder that I need to take a break is something that has been a lifesaver for my health. The Darma tracker tracks your inactivity — unlike the majority of the trackers on the market, which focus on your activity.  It will tell you if you need to improve your posture, suggest stretches that will help, and will tell you when it is time to get up and move around for a while.

6. An Easy Way to Move More

Cubii, the under desk elliptical

Cubii, the under desk elliptical

via Fitnesscubed.com

If you have a major inactivity problem, and find it almost impossible to make it to the gym or to fit in other types of activity, products like the Cubii have you covered. Not only is this designed to be at the optimal position for elliptical motion under a desk, it doesn’t take up much space and can be used without distraction from other tasks.

Do you have a favorite gadget that has helped improve your health and productivity? Tell us in the comments! And join us on Pinterest to discover more great gadgets for the future of work.

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Profile Hackathon: 8 Tips for the Perfect Developer Profile https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/8-tips-for-the-perfect-developer-profile/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/8-tips-for-the-perfect-developer-profile/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 14:24:26 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34224 The more complete your oDesk profile, the higher your chances are of attracting not only top clients but also the highest paying jobs. Here are eight profile hacks for developers to attract clients and increase your marketability.

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Technology is constantly changing around us, and your profile should change with it. The programming languages or frameworks you no longer use (or no longer want to use) should be removed and replaced with the hottest ones you’re interested in. By doing so, you’ll receive the most attractive project offers from clients.

As part of our commitment to quality, we’ll be showcasing freelancers who not only consistently deliver great work but also have profiles that truly impress! Take a moment to think about how you want to present your skills and knowledge, what you’ve accomplished professionally, and why you’re the top choice for the job.

Read on for 8 developer profile hacks to attract clients and increase your marketability.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 9 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-9th/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-9th/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 14:00:06 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34200 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the work-life balance disconnect between HR and employees, tips for getting the most out of part-time staff, and a new vision for the future of IT.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 2/9/2015:

Entrepreneur | Yes, There is a Disconnect Between Employers and Employees on Work-Life Balance

A new study conducted by Millennial Branding and CareerArc has discovered that, while 67 percent of human resources respondents felt their employees enjoyed work-life balance, 45 percent of employees claimed they did not have time during the week for personal activities.

Moreover, 20 percent reported working more than 20 extra hours each week, mainly because they’re expected to be “on call” long after they’ve left the office.

There is clearly, according to Millennial Branding founder Dan Schawbel, a large disconnect between employees and employers when it comes to work-life balance — one that companies should rectify quickly. Flexible working options are a priority across professions and age brackets, and businesses that want to attract and retain top talent should shape their policies accordingly.

Inc. | 5 Ways to Get Full Time Engagement From Part Time Staff

Part-time and project-based workers are a great talent resource, but managers often have issues properly motivating such employees. Human resources expert Suzanne Lucas and LaSalle Network’s chief human resources officer Sirmara Campbell Twohill have five tried and true tips for getting the most of non-full-time employees.

They suggest, perhaps counter-intuitively, that “if a manager wants full-time engagement, they should treat part-time staff as full-time employees.” That means providing complete onboarding materials and introductions to other team members, connecting them with higher up employees who can model typical career progressions, and setting opportunities for feedback. Even simple inclusions — company holiday presents, invitations to company lunches — can inspire loyalty and dedication from your part-time staff.

Medium | Deloitte on The Future of IT

Researcher and “web anthropologist” Stowe Boyd has written extensively about the nature of IT work, most recently using Deloitte Consulting’s Tech Trends 2015 as a jumping off point for his own predictions about the future of IT.

Boyd argues that soon, the most successful CIOs will expand their role to include both technology and business strategy. Their skills will include what we currently think of as necessary — analytical and technological — as well as the “…capability to get others to believe in a potential tomorrow.”

Along these same lines, Boyd writes that future IT workers will need to expand their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) orientation to include and arts and design component—turning STEM into “STEAM.”

“So, IT leaders need to deal with the serious challenges how to bring in the DNA needed for this sort of organization, based on those skills. And we are starting at a time of immense and growing demand for STEM skills, today, and STEAM skills in the out years.”

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

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Introducing Our All-New iPhone App: oDesk Messenger https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/introducing-new-iphone-app-odesk-messenger/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/introducing-new-iphone-app-odesk-messenger/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 15:47:43 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34162 In today’s uber-connected go-Go-GO world, it’s reassuring to know that your work is now on the go, too. oDesk is excited to announce a new way for freelancers and clients to stay connected: oDesk Messenger, our new iPhone app (an Android app is in the works).

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In today’s uber-connected go-Go-GO world, it’s reassuring to know that your work is now on the go, too.

After taking in many requests and suggestions from our community, oDesk is excited to announce a new way for freelancers and clients to stay connected.

Introducing oDesk Messenger. Get the free app now at the App Store.

oDesk Messenger is our new iPhone app for freelancers and clients alike. It lets online professionals get more done from anywhere, anytime. If you’re away from your desk, simply look to your phone to connect with current and potential team members.

For freelancers, never miss an opportunity again.

Here’s some of what’s possible for freelancers on the go, using oDesk Messenger:

  • Set your work status (including: Respond in 10 minutes, Respond Later, and Not Available)
  • Receive alerts for job invitations and messages
  • View and accept or decline job invitations
  • Reply to and compose messages

For clients, top talent is always at your fingertips.

Businesses can also keep the momentum going from anywhere, using oDesk Messenger:

  • Receive alerts when invitations are accepted or declined
  • Reply to applicants
  • Reply to and compose messages

More: Coming soon to a screen near you.

And this is just the start, as we’ll be adding more features soon to oDesk Messenger. We’re also hard at work on an Android app, so check back often for updates and roll-outs.

Get oDesk Messenger for iPhone at the App Store today!

 

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 2 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-2nd/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-2nd/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:00:46 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34172 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights how to make working from home work, the best places to found your startup (hint: you’re already there), and more tips for achieving work-life balance.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 2/2/2015:

Entrepreneur | 6 Best Practices for Working from Home

Although operating out of a home office has countless benefits — no commutes, no costly office rentals, and no co-workers to distract you — it can also prove challenging to stay motivated and efficient with no social or managerial accountability. Jaqueline Whitemore, author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals, offers some tried-and-true suggestions to avoid these pitfalls.

Despite the flexibility that comes with remote work, Whitemore argues that structure and consistency are key for a home working environment. Sticking to a morning routine (which should include changing out of pajamas!), a specific workspace, and set office hours helps erect psychic barriers between “work time” and “home time,” even though they happen in the same area.

Of course, Whitemore says, the benefit of working from home is that these guidelines are at your discretion. That means you can and should tailor them to maximize your productivity. The arrangements are endless, you just have to find the one that works best for you.

Inc. | The Best Place to Start a Company? Right Where You Are

For entrepreneurs and startups, the draw of aiming for the Silicon Valley or New York is clear. Renowned hotbeds of innovation, collaboration, and potential investors, these coastal cities might seem like an obvious choice. However, Avalon Ventures’ managing director Brady Bohrmann argues that it’s actually better to launch your business from wherever you happen to be right now.

It might seem slightly counterintuitive, but operating outside the homogenous “tech world” can give your company much-needed perspective, Bohrmann said. When founders source their talent from hot startup areas, they can wind up with an unbalanced team, none of whom provide different opinions. Setting up shop in your hometown helps you keep a clear vision for your organization and users.

Moreover, he added, it’s easier to gain many of the advantages Silicon Valley offers — support, advice, insights, etc. — through a computer. With hangout technologies, virtual startup groups, and telecast conferences, your physical location has never mattered less. As Bohrmann said: “The world is getting smaller and there is a vibrant community unlimited by a physical place — right at your fingertips.”

Forbes | 5 Tips For Achieving Work/Life Balance In 2015

Work-life balance is hard. Even with flexible work options, there are still both professional and personal obligations that simply must get done on time. To maximize your efficiency in the office and your time outside of it, productivity expert Anne McGurty has a few deviously simple suggestions.

Making incremental changes, she said, can have far reaching effects. Going to bed early or turning your laptop off at the end of the day are changes that can impact other areas of your life.

Maximizing your efficiency at work is also crucial. Studies show it can take more than 20 minutes to resume an interrupted task, and McGurty said it’s imperative you minimize these distractions: “Turn off automated email, Twitter and Facebook alerts and silence your phone (unless you use these tools to generate business) whenever you’re doing something that requires your full attention.”

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: January 26 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-26/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-26/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:00:27 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34150 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the upcoming shift towards a “care economy,” the biggest wants for employees in 2015, and a new system to optimize the “work” part of work-life balance.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 1/26/2015:

The World Post | How the Future of Work May Make Many of Us Happier

Prioritizing professional flexibility over professional stability may seem like a millennial point of view, but in reality no one craves fluid work arrangements more than people trying to balance making money with caregiving.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New American Foundation, argues that the rise of independent workers and project-based employment will set the stage for a new “care economy” — a situation that “allows people time to both make a living and do what they most care about.”

This arrangement ensures parents and other caregivers can remain employed — and unpenalized — without sacrificing personal responsibilities. For workers without such commitments, the care economy will allow time for travel and other passion projects.

Allowing employees to thrive both professionally and personally, rather than forcing them to sacrifice one for the other, will ensure the coming generation of workers are happier, healthier, and more productive.

Entrepreneur | 6 Things Your Employees May Be Wishing for This Year

Put simply, being a stellar manager is hard. That’s why Raphael Crawford-Marks, co-founder and CEO of Bonusly, has curated data from the recent Tinyhr workplace report into his own predictions for employee wishlists in 2015.

The list includes: more transparency, better feedback and recognition, strengthened office relationships, and, unsurprisingly, more flexible working options.

Although some of these desires involve office overhauls, others can be easily implemented. For example, flexible work can be rolled out on a gradual and more individual basis, but still have huge productivity and work-satisfaction effects.

“Provide more options for employees to work outside the office, especially if it makes sense for their roles,” Crawford-Marks said. “Employees involved in highly creative digital projects may fare better working in environments that inspire them, say, a coffee shop or a cozy home office.”

Huffington Post | Zeroing in on the ‘Work’ in ‘Work-Life Balance’

Working with Harvard Business School professors, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) global people team chair Matt Krentz developed a new, scalable work-life balance system: Predictability, Teaming, and Open Communication (PTO).

Krentz notes that discussion about work-life balance usually focus on “life” more than “work”. PTO was designed around the idea that for high-achieving companies, personal lives can’t be prioritized or enjoyed without a rewarding and efficient work environment.

The program has two key components: predictable, mandatory “offline” hours for all team members, and weekly team meetings to discuss ongoing projects and personal development. This model forces people to find new ways to be productive and efficient with great results, which then frees up time for other passion projects or personal obligations.

And BCG doesn’t just talk the talk — they’ve implemented PTO at their own company, with measurable results: “Internal surveys show 10 to 50 percent improvements in all elements of job satisfaction at the firm. Turns out that one of the best ways to make employees’ personal lives better is to rethink how they work.”

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

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Vivino’s Distributed Team Uncorks World’s #1 Wine App https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/vivino-wine-app-distributed-team/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/vivino-wine-app-distributed-team/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:00:23 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34144 When the team at Vivino said they wanted to create the biggest wine database in the world, founder and CEO Heini Zachariassen says people told them they were “completely nuts.” In this interview with oDesk, Heini explains how, by recruiting remote data and Agile engineering teams, they didn’t just build that database — they launched the world’s largest wine community.

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When the team at Vivino said they wanted to create the biggest wine database in the world, founder and CEO Heini Zachariassen says people told them they were “completely nuts.” By recruiting remote data and Agile engineering teams, they didn’t just build that database — they launched the world’s largest wine community.

Vivino is a wine app that’s attracted nearly 8 million users. Using a photo of any wine label, users can access and add to the information available for a particular wine like region, grape, pricing, and crowdsourced reviews.

Heini says it took a lot of hard work to build and scale the database, but they were able to make it happen affordably with remote support. “As soon as a user scanned a bottle that we didn’t know, it went to our data team, and we built the data and came back to the user.”

As Heini explains in this interview with oDesk, it took just a few weeks for the development team to have the first version of the app up-and-running.

How Wine App Vivino Built Agile Engineering and Data Teams with oDesk
from Elance-oDesk on Vimeo.

Find your own mobile app development masters and data entry pros on oDesk.

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Is Remote Customer Service the Secret to Startup Growth? https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/remote-customer-service-secret-to-startup-growth/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/remote-customer-service-secret-to-startup-growth/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34137 When the team behind messaging app Tango started to feel bogged down, they realized that their customer service team needed to scale up — and fast. In this interview with oDesk, marketing manager Art Grigovia explains how their remote team started with one freelancer, and why it quickly grew from there.

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When you have a popular app, the support tickets can really add up. When the team at Tango started to feel bogged down, they realized that their customer service team needed to scale up — and fast.

Tango is a leading mobile messaging app with more than 270 million users worldwide. But with the energy wrapped up in providing support, there was little time left to focus on other work.

“I needed to find some help to free up my local team to tackle more value-added projects,” said marketing manager Art Grigovia, who previously managed customer support.

Art leveraged oDesk to build a global customer support team. As he explains in this video, Tango’s remote team started with one freelancer — and quickly grew from there.

How Messaging App Tango Built a Global Customer Support Team with oDesk
from Elance-oDesk on Vimeo.

Start seeing impact at your company — find your own customer service pros on oDesk.  

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Startup Crafts Success with Remote Zendesk Support and Database Teams https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/crafting-database-makers-remote-zendesk-customer-support-team-startup-success/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/crafting-database-makers-remote-zendesk-customer-support-team-startup-success/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 14:00:03 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34127 Is hiring remote talent inevitable for a startup these days? Mike Salguero, CEO of CustomMade, thinks it is. In this interview with oDesk, he explains why remote teams have become such a critical part of his orgaization.

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Your startup may be in an urban hub, but that doesn’t mean the talent you need is around the corner. That’s why Mike Salguero, CEO of Boston-based CustomMade, thinks using remote talent is “pretty much inevitable for a startup these days.”

CustomMade connects “makers” across the U.S. and Canada — artisans, designers, and other crafters — with people who want custom-made products. The biggest problem on launch was finding a lot of makers who would be a good fit for the platform.

“As a customer, if you know what you’re looking for, it’s actually really hard to find a maker who can make it,” Mike said.

CustomMade first turned to oDesk to help with maker acquisition, then again to build their customer support team. As Mike explains in the video below, they’ve ultimately used oDesk to build an organizational structure that’s powered by freelancers.

How CustomMade Built Their Business by Sourcing Freelancers on oDesk
from Elance-oDesk on Vimeo

CustomMade didn’t set out to build a remote team. But when they first tried to hire a local support person, they spent four months looking and came up empty-handed.

“It’s hard to vett the people, it’s hard to recruit them, it’s hard to get them in and retain them,” Mike said. So, as he explains in the following video, look beyond Boston was the next step. CustomMade found people who not only had the extensive Zendesk experience they were looking for, but who also love the work and aspire to do more.

How CustomMade Tapped Into oDesk Talent for Hard-to-Find Skill Sets
from Elance-oDesk on Vimeo

Find your own customer service pros on oDesk.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: January 19 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-19/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-19/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 19:10:25 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34121 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights advice from entrepreneurs who’ve managed to strike balance in their lives between work and personal commitments.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 1/19/2015:

Business Insider | How A CEO Who Just Raised $80 Million Nails Work-Life Balance While Launching A Startup

According to Jet.com CEO Marc Lore, consistency — rather than periods of being an engaged CEO, then an engaged father — is the key to balance.

Lore told Business Insider that, despite being mid-launch on an $80 million e-commerce site, he’s determined to remain just as present for his family as he is for his startup.

“Instead of staying at the office late during busy weeks then spending a pile of time with his family, he opts to get home in time for dinner every night, log offline, and then log back on when his kids are heading to bed,” Alyson Shontell reported.

Inc. | Finding Happiness at Work

“The struggle for work/life balance is over. Now, we talk of work-life integration,” wrote Matthew Bellows, CEO of sales software company Yesware. Technology has made us so accessible, he says, that the lines between work and home life are too blurred to be considered separately.

When we think about happiness — an aspect that affects the mental health, creativity, and productivity of employees in measurable ways — Bellows recommends that managers collaborate with their team to create work-life integration that works for everyone.

Some of his suggestions? Setting goals, encouraging the interests or your team members, building a great work community, and making time to get to know each other. “When employees have strong, compassionate relationships in the workplace, they are happier, perform better, and are more likely to show up,” he said.

Entrepreneur | How I Built a Startup While Traveling to 20 Countries

Jay Meistrich, co-founder and CEO of organization-focused Moo.do, built his startup while traveling the world — visiting 45 different cities during the past year. After a stop-and-go adjustment to the nomadic lifestyle, he began to realize that traveling is “cheaper, more productive and more inspiring than sitting in one place.”

Crunching the numbers and tracking how he spent his time, Meistrich found that he was more productive abroad, and — perhaps unsurprisingly — also felt less prone to burnout. He says he was able to find global mentors, as well as a much truer and more accurate global perspective.

In his own words, “the digital nomad revolution is just beginning and I’m excited to help it grow. I hope you and I will meet some time, somewhere out there.”

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

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The Best Colors For Business and Productivity https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/best-colors-for-business/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/best-colors-for-business/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 14:00:12 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34105 Have you ever wondered how color affects how you do business and how you can use it to your advantage? Chromology, the psychology of color, has been used by companies for years to improve the moods and reactions of their customers and workers, in turn improving their business goals. Here’s a look at what each color can do and how you can use it.

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A new year has arrived, and that often means a fresh set of business goals and a renewal of energy geared toward making the upcoming year the best one yet. For some of you, this could mean anything from rebranding your business to redecorating your workspace.

Have you ever wondered how color affects how you do business and how you can use it to your advantage?

Chromology, the psychology of color, has been used by companies for years to improve the moods and reactions of their customers and workers, in turn improving their business goals.

Depending on your business, choosing different hues can help achieve different things. For example, choosing the right color can help you be more productive, trigger feelings in your customers that can in turn support sales, or even improve the opinion potential customers have of you before they try your product or service.

After all, the study titled “Impact of Colour in Marketing” found up to 90 percent of snap judgements of a product could be based on the color of a company’s branding or packaging!

How do you decide which color is the best for you and your business? Here’s a look at what each color can do and how you can use it.

Red

Displayed with other colors, red will appear to be the closest to the viewer — it stands out and grabs our attention. This is why it is universally used for traffic lights and stop signs around the world.

Red has physical effects on the body: it increases the heart rate, raises blood pressure, and gives the illusion that time is passing faster than it is¹. Red also increases appetite by revving the metabolism².

Applications for business:

  • If your work has physical aspects where you would benefit from an increased heart rate, red surroundings can make you more productive.
  • If you want to have a particular message stand out in design — like a “call to action” button on your website, for example — using red to highlight that information can make it appear closer to the viewer and be noticed first.
  • If you are in the food business, decorating your dining room, store, or website with red may result in higher food sales.

Blue

Blue stimulates the mind. Strong blues clear thought while soft blues aid concentration and have a calming effect. It has been found that this calming effect comes from stimulating natural tranquilizers in the brain.

Studies have shown that blue rooms improve study capabilities in students and increase production line productivity³. Blue also slows heart rate, decreases appetite, and is associated with feelings of trust and dependability.

Applications for business:

  • Paint your office in blue tones to aid in concentration and increase productivity.
  • If you sell food, blue may not be the best choice for your decor or staff uniforms —  unless you run an all-you-can-eat buffet, in which case a decreased appetite will work in your favor.

Yellow

Yellow is a color that speaks more to our emotions than the others and is often associated with optimism, confidence, fun, and happiness. Using the wrong tone, however, can trigger anxiety! This is why studies of students have found that they can perform 10-15 percent better when they take tests in yellow rooms, but also that babies cry more often, and for a longer time, in yellow rooms.

Applications for business:

  • The right shade of yellow can improve creativity and may be the best choice of decor color for those in creative fields like graphic design. If you have small children who often share your space, you might consider a more soothing wall color; instead, opt for pops of yellow in accessories and artwork.
  • The positive associations of yellow with happiness and fun can give consumers a warm feeling about your brand.

Green

Green is associated with nature and new life. One study found that 95 percent of university students associated the color with positive emotions, and it is the color most often used in institutions because it has been found to be soothing.

Darker shades of green are associated with wealth and money. The wrong shade, however, can leave people feeling sick, with a perception of illness and stagnation.

Applications for business:

  • If your business is one that usually makes people nervous, decorating with a pleasing shade of green can help customers feel more comfortable.
  • If you are prone to anxiety in your everyday life, a soothing shade of green can aid in helping you feel comfortable while working.
  • Using green in branding can provide an image of a firm that is environmentally conscious, or one that is for the wealthy and enviable.

Whatever the color, it’s the intensity that triggers the strongest response. To get the full effect, use bright colors as they have a stimulating effect. Subdued colors have a more soothing effect on both the mind and bodyⁱ⁰.

For decorating a workspace, be sure to ask yourself how the color will make you feel personally as personal preference is always a factor. When it comes to color choice for branding, physical and emotional responses are not enough. Keep in mind that fit is also very important. How well does the color you choose match your brand personality?

Do you have any personal experiences with color psychology to share with us? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to follow oDesk on Pinterest for more great info on using color for business and productivity.

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2015 Work Predictions: Virtual Is the New Reality https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/2015-online-work-predictions/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/2015-online-work-predictions/#comments Wed, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34095 The freelance economy boomed in 2014. What's in store for 2015? We looked at Elance-oDesk's vibrant, global community for seven predictions that show how businesses will hire or work differently this year.

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What business trends are set to drive online work in 2015? Elance-oDesk’s vibrant, global community is at the forefront of making virtual work the new reality — and that community is thriving.

The freelance economy boomed in 2014, with businesses spending nearly $1 billion hiring through our online workplace. That space is also growing: a seminal study we conducted with the Freelancers Union found that 53 million Americans had freelanced in the past year.

Online work global earnings

Elance-oDesk’s 2014 Global Online Work Report shows the upward trajectory of online work. How will that change how you hire or work differently over the next year? Here are seven predictions that show how working online is opening new possibilities.

1. Swift will overtake Objective-C as the primary app development language.

Many say that the jury is still out as to whether Swift, Apple’s new programming language, will win the hearts of developers and outshine more traditional choices. Infoworld says Swift isn’t so swift after all, SLATE calls the new language a “grab bag,” and InformationWeek isn’t convinced that Objective-C’s days are numbered.

Our data shows otherwise. Swift is one of the fastest-growing skills in history on our platforms—with consistent growth of more than 100 percent each month and 160 percent growth in December 2014 alone. We predict that the use of Swift will surpass that of Objective-C in 2015—just one year after it was launched.

2. Everyone will live large with their own virtual assistant.

There are currently 1.5 million virtual assistants registered across Elance.com and oDesk.com (Elance-oDesk) — a number equal to the population of Phoenix, AZ. Virtual assistants earned $50 million in 2014, and as one of the fastest-growing positions hired on Elance-oDesk, that number is expected to increase by 50 percent in 2015.

3. Virtual agencies will surpass the number of traditional agencies.

The soaring cost of maintaining a physical office is causing agencies to move online. Improvements in project management, communication tools, and a flexible work environment will enable virtual agencies to flourish.

Virtual agencies span a range of disciplines, but design led the way (with 15,000 agencies on Elance-oDesk’s sites and more than $75 million in earnings), followed by software development (11,000 agencies, $159 million in earnings), marketing (3,000 agencies, $13.1 million in earnings), and translation (2,500 agencies, $11.2 million in earnings).

4. Freelance management will become a core skill.

As the talent gap for technical skills increases, standout professionals will be those who are adept at managing freelancers and distributed team members. Developers on Elance-oDesk earned more than $486 million last year (the largest category of online work). These engineers are some of the best in the world, and companies that learn to tap into this resource will increase the speed and quality with which their new products are launched.

5. Neighborhood accounting will go by way of the bookstore.

Accountants can now look beyond their backyard for clients without going anywhere and, on the flip side, businesses have a much easier time finding these same accountants by hiring online. Accounting on Elance-oDesk is growing at 40 percent, a number we expect to increase as cloud-based accounting platforms like Xero take off.

6. Chinese-to-English translation will outpace English-to-Chinese for the first time in history.

As their domestic economy stagnates, Chinese businesses are looking to U.S. and Western European markets for growth. Translators who serve this market are in high demand, growing more than 50 percent in the second half of 2014 alone, and making it to the top 10 list of language translation requests.

7. World-class customer service will be the norm, not just for the Fortune 1000.

With increased adoption of cloud-based customer service tools and a larger-than-ever pool of premium freelance customer service professionals, 24/7 customer support will be achievable for all businesses, not just the Fortune 1000.

In 2014, customer service agent was the fastest-growing position on Elance-oDesk (92 percent growth), and Zendesk was one of the fastest-growing skills hired for (with 145 percent year-over-year in 2014).

 

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A 2015 Commitment to Quality https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/2015-commitment-quality/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/2015-commitment-quality/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:00:39 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34070 Quality matters on oDesk today, more than ever. With a workplace of more than 7M freelancers and clients, how can we do more to help talented and determined freelancers succeed? What programs can we put in place to reward your hard work and connect you with more opportunities?

This year you’ll see several new programs that aim to answer these questions.

Today, we’re introducing My Stats to help freelancers manage and understand their performance on oDesk. My Stats enables freelancers to deliver higher quality experiences to clients by providing clarity into where they excel and how they can improve.

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Dear oDesk Community,

I hope your new year is off to a great start!

We returned from the holidays excited about many of the programs planned for 2015. Topping this list are a host of initiatives that will do more to help our best community members find success as well as provide more resources and support for those that need assistance.

Quality matters on oDesk today, more than ever. With a workplace of more than 7M freelancers and clients, how can we do more to help talented and determined freelancers succeed? What programs can we put in place to reward your hard work and connect you with more opportunities?

This year you’ll see several new programs that aim to answer these questions.

We’ll soon be launching My Stats to help freelancers manage and understand their performance on oDesk. My Stats enables freelancers to deliver higher quality experiences to clients by providing clarity into where they excel and how they can improve.

Performance related statistics at each stage of the job process will be displayed on My Stats:

  • Is your profile optimized for success?
  • Are your job applications a good fit for the job post?
  • Are you timely and thorough in your client responses?
  • How does your overall performance compare with other freelancers?

Some freelancers will begin to see their My Stats page at the end of the month, with the rest of freelancers having access over the course of the next few months.

Rewards for our best freelancers

A cornerstone of our 2015 plan is to feature and reward freelancers that consistently deliver high quality work and establish long-term relationships with clients. This spring we’ll introduce a program for freelancers with a consistent track record of success with rewards that include:

  • Increased visibility in search
  • More opportunities to secure the best work on oDesk
  • Special recognition

Performance Improvement Programs

Top freelancers want to work in a community of accomplished professionals. For those that are struggling to meet this standard, we’ll do more to help them improve with a program that applies to both freelancers and clients.

  • Customers flagged for consistently worrisome behavior will be alerted
  • Time will be provided for improvement — those unable to improve may face suspension

At the end of 2014 we issued alerts to clients that routinely receive poor freelancer feedback without justification or that have very low job award rates and/or payment rates. Just as with freelancers, clients that do not improve their performance are suspended from oDesk.

Identity and phone verification

Beyond individual performance, another way we’ll seek to raise the quality standard of the entire community is with identity and phone verification programs. In 2015 you’ll see:

  • Quicker and more reliable identity and phone verification for freelancers on oDesk
  • Phone verification for clients to provide freelancers with an additional layer of reassurance

This touches upon just some of the initiatives we’re working on in 2015 to help our best freelancers shine, new freelancers develop and clients get results. Please stay tuned for more from us on this subject and I wish you a great year ahead.

Best,
Elizabeth Tse
SVP, Operations

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: January 12 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-12/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-12/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 14:00:41 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34064 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights shifts making high-pressure industries more family friendly, the business benefits of keeping employees healthy and happy, and a simple life hack to achieve to work-life balance.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 1/12/2015:

New York Times | Workplaces Remain Averse to Flexibility

Classifying jobs as indivisible — unable to be handed off from one employee to another — is a problematic and outdated practice, according to New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas. Doing so has a profound effect on professionals, especially women, because the required time commitments “…drive lots of mothers out of the workforce, and ensure that those who stay but seek flexible hours are penalized.”

Citing a Harvard economic study on how the pharmacy industry became more family-friendly, Giridharadas argues that many other lucrative careers could begin accommodating flexible work schedules. He writes that doing so requires a shift in two areas: culture and technology.

“Cultural change, because clients must accept, say, meeting one investment banker during daylight hours and another at night. New information systems, because flexibility depends on ever-smoother handoffs.”

Wired | Go Home: The Business Case for Work-Life Balance

Contrary to popular belif, long working hours are negatively correlated with getting more done. Research has shown that employees are more productive, more loyal to their company, and healthier when they have flexible working options.

Even something as seemingly simple as getting enough sleep can be difficult with traditional schedules. A recent study found that work is the most common activity exchanged for sleep, despite the large cognitive benefits of the activity.

Kim Peters, CEO of Great Rated! at Great Place to Work, argues that this setup doesn’t have to be the norm. Even companies in high pressure areas, such as finance and software, can find ways to implement flexible work programs. Simple changes such as focusing on results rather than office hours, offering onsite daycare, and even insisting on a mandatory minimum number of vacation days all can have a profound effect on the employees’ and company’s well-being.

Time | The Simple Calendar Strategy to Achieve Work-Life Balance in 2015

While achieving some form of work-life balance is easiest when supported by your company, you can still adopt strategies to improve your own balance even when that’s not the case. Cali Williams Yost, founder and CEO of the Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit, Inc., argues that simple, organizational hacks can have a profound effect on managing your time.

Keeping a combined calendar for both your professional and personal life, for example, can help you schedule and prioritize deliberately. That way, if and when conflicts arise, you’re aware of the change and can reschedule accordingly.

“As the line between our jobs and our personal lives continues to blur, a combined calendar and priority list helps the naturals reestablish solid boundaries around what they need and want to get done.”

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

 

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Here’s to an amazing 2015! https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/heres-amazing-2015-2/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/heres-amazing-2015-2/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 19:53:06 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34048 With more than 9 million registered freelancers and 3.5 million registered clients, Elance-oDesk is more than just an online workplace. Thanks to you, it’s a vibrant global community that’s changing the way the world works. Check out some of our community stories with the interactive version of our 2014 Annual Impact Report!

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Happy New Year and thanks for making 2014 such an incredible success!

Take a look at our 2014 Annual Impact Report for a glimpse inside the impact you have on a global scale. We talked to freelancers and clients from Bangkok to San Francisco to Sydney to get their perspectives and hear how online collaboration is changing the world.

Click the image below to read a few of the inspiring stories.

The Impact of Online Work [interactive]

With more than 9 million registered freelancers and 3.5 million registered clients, Elance-oDesk is more than just an online workplace. Thanks to you, it’s a vibrant global community that’s changing the way the world works.

Here’s to making 2015 an even greater success together!

Share this post—and the impact of your work—with your friends.

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How Flappy Bird and Tinder Took the App Market By Storm https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/flappy-bird-tinder-took-app-market-storm/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/flappy-bird-tinder-took-app-market-storm/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 18:00:02 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34054 With more than a million mobile apps now available on both the main platforms — Apple and Android — success with app marketing has never been more important.

In this post, I’ll build on that by looking at two case studies of apps that might be considered the breakout successes of 2014, Flappy Bird and Tinder, and discuss what lessons can be learned.

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With more than a million mobile apps now available on both the main platforms — Apple and Android — success with app marketing has never been more important.

In a look at what can make or break your app’s success, I provided an overview of the main established means of promoting your new application. In this post, I’ll build on that by looking at two case studies of apps that might be considered the breakout successes of 2014, Flappy Bird and Tinder, and discuss what lessons can be learned.

Flappy Bird

No app provided more hope for the future of small independent developers in 2014 than Flappy Bird. Built over only a few days in 2013 by Dong Nguyen, it surged to the top of the App Store’s free games chart in early 2014, with its rise becoming an international news story.

At its peak, the simple banner ads it was running were said to be earning Nguyen $50,000 a day. Remarkably, it was at this point that Nguyen removed the app from both app stores, saying he felt guilty over its addictive nature.

Flappy Bird logo

What drove this success?  At face value, it was its back-to-basics, retro approach to gaming.

The graphics in the game recalled the 90s success of Nintendo’s Super Mario, while the gameplay itself was simple: tap the screen for the bird to flap its wings. Fly at certain height to guide the bird through pipe obstacles, gaining a point for every obstacle avoided.

What set it apart was it was incredibly hard to be good at — a very basic-looking game that had experienced gamers pulling their hair out. No matter how much they played — and they played a lot, thus the value in those display ads — they couldn’t achieve a level of mastery that satisfied them. That frustrated them so much, they took to social media to moan about it, causing others to download it and try it for themselves.

The app also prompted to post reviews, which they did in very large numbers — often giving conflicting feedback of high ratings alongside angry and frustrated reviews.

These ratings unquestionably drove the app up through the charts and cast a gray cloud over its success, with several bloggers claiming at the time that these reviews were created by bots — claims Nguyen himself was neutral on. Responding to a Newsweek reporter:

Personally, I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle: perhaps some of the early traction in the game was faked by Nguyen, but when word-of-mouth enabled the game to reach a critical mass of people, it touched a nerve in popular culture which drove it to incredible success.

Flappy Bird became a viral hit not because everybody loved it, but because it left people conflicted and, in that conflict, created addiction. “How can I not be good at this simple game?”

The lasting lessons for game developers? Simple games can still be huge successes and create game play on mobile that can be enjoyed in short bursts.

Tinder

Tinder also crossed into the mainstream this year, although it achieved its success through a completely different marketing mechanic than Flappy Bird.

Tinder is a dating app that allows users to show interest in potential partners within their local area by either swiping right, interested, or left, rejected, on their photos. Users who swipe right for each other “match,” and are then allowed to message one another.

Emerging from the incubator labs of InterActiveCorp (owner of match.com), Tinder would have had the benefit of greater resources than most independent developers.

Tinder logo

However, it also faced a far trickier problem than most apps in that it’s a two-sided platform: success requires a critical mass of both men and women, and it helps if they are also single and attractive. New users will quickly lose interest, and delete the app, if there aren’t other users in their local area already using the app.

While Flappy Bird inadvertently rose to prominence by players tweeting their frustrations, Tinder adopted a strategic, planned approach to build both sides of their user base.

The app launched in August 2012, first targeting the University of Southern California before the same marketing strategy rolled out across college campuses in the U.S. Tinder’s then-vice president of marketing, Whitney Wolfe, promoted the app to women on campus. Once a significant number of local women had created profiles, Wolfe would attend frat parties to promote the app to local men, who would install the app and find a lot of people to interact with.

The initial traction took traditional promotional marketing and in-person demonstrations, which ultimately created a networked, social user experience.

While both apps took very different routes to success, at their core they both offered users an easy-to-understand, simple experience that can be just as easily consumed in 30 seconds as in 10 minutes — products perfectly suited to mobile.

To learn more about app marketing and other aspects that go into designing, developing and launching an app successfully, learn more with AppInstruct’s online course provides all the most critical elements you need to learn how to make an app.


Which app marketing campaigns have caught your attention? Share your favorites in the comments below!

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Escrow Protection is live on oDesk https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/escrow-protection-live-on-odesk/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2015/01/escrow-protection-live-on-odesk/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 17:26:02 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33979 We’re kicking off the New Year with exciting news: Escrow Protection is now available on oDesk! As we told you in December, Escrow Protection provides clients and freelancers with a safer and more secure workplace.

All new and existing fixed-price contracts are now covered by Escrow Protection and the oDesk Guarantee remains in place for hourly work.

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We’re kicking off the New Year with exciting news: Escrow Protection is now available on oDesk! As we told you in December, Escrow Protection provides clients and freelancers with a safer and more secure workplace.

All new and existing fixed-price contracts are now covered by Escrow Protection and the oDesk Guarantee remains in place for hourly work.

What does this mean for freelancers?

Payment protection on fixed-price jobs.

When a client funds a milestone (agreed upon deliverables for a given timeframe and budget) on a fixed-price contract, those funds are now held in an escrow account. Should the client end the contract without releasing all the funds held in the escrow account to you, you can either agree to return those funds back to the client or you can initiate a dispute for the funds.

Milestone deposits matter.

Only deposited funds on an active milestone are held in escrow. If a client creates a $100 job but only deposits $25 into a milestone, once you begin work only the $25 is eligible for Escrow Protection.

Verified payment matters.

Funds from unverified payment methods cannot be held in escrow. If you choose to work with a client that does not have a verified payment method, Escrow Protection will not be available for you. Verified payment status is listed in a client’s information when you are viewing a job post.

You can learn more about fixed-price contracts with Escrow Protection for freelancers here.

What does this mean for clients?

Use milestones to budget and guide work.

The structure of fixed-price contracts has changed over the past year. All fixed-price contracts now include milestones. You work with your freelancer to set the deliverables, timing and budget for a given milestone. Funding, which is held securely in escrow, is only required for the milestone the freelancer is actively working on.

Pay only for the work you receive and approve.

When you fund a milestone on a fixed-price contract, those funds are now held in an escrow account. You only need to release these funds when you have received and approved of the deliverable outlined for that milestone. Should an issue arise, you can choose not to release the funds from escrow and your freelancer can either approve the return of the funds to you or they can initiate a dispute. oDesk will work with you and your freelancer to try and resolve the situation.

You can learn more about Escrow Protection from oDesk client, Matt Keener, who has summed up additional benefits of oDesk escrow on his blog, Executive in Sweatpants.

More information on fixed-price contracts with Escrow Protection for clients is available here.

We look forward to seeing clients and freelancers taking advantage of Escrow Protection this year! Want to learn more about Escrow Protection on oDesk? Join us for one of our live Q&A Webinars: for clients, for freelancers. We will walk you through Escrow Protection on oDesk, with time for live questions and answers with our product team.

Happy New Year!
The oDesk Team

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: December 22 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/future-of-work-december-22/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/future-of-work-december-22/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:00:50 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33960 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup discusses distributed team management, single parents and flexible work, and an argument for unconventional employment arrangements.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 12/22/2014:

Business Vancouver | How to Get the Best Results from Distributed Teams

Although there is no magic bullet for managing distributed teams, implementing the right policies and technology can help remote work run seamlessly. According to Cyri Jones and Ivan Surjanovic, the founder of ZENPortfolios and the CEO of iPower Lab, respectively, spelling out project goals, timelines, and management processes cuts down on miscommunication within and between distributed teams.

Managers should also schedule regular online check-ins to make sure everyone is on track and up to date, but, more than that, they should organize in-person meetings at least once a year. Having annual or semi-annual get togethers gives companies the best of both worlds — the talent sourcing and cost savings that come with distributed teams, but the collaboration and innovation that can happen when everyone’s in the same room.

Huffington Post UK | Why More Employers Should Make a Flexible Working Resolution

The research is in: flexible work benefits both the company and the employee.

IBM cut down on 7500 work spaces after granting 90% of it’s employees work-from-home options, and other studies have shown nine out of ten managers found flexible work options raised staff morale. Happier employees generally feel more connected and loyal to their companies, which in turn increase productivity and retention.

There are humanitarian upsides to flexible work as well. Octavia Holland, Director of Policy, Advice and Communications at the charity organization Gingerbread, argues that work-from-home options can make a huge difference in the lives of single parents. Because they are so often the only care providers for their children, they’re disproportionately affected by rigid, in-office demands: “The persistence of a 9 to 5 working structure can keep these parents out of work — or trapped in the low-paid roles that are more likely to offer flexibility.”

Harvard Business Review | What Happens When All Employees Work When They Feel Like It

Writing about the innovative management consulting firm Eden McCallum, London Business School professor Freek Vermeulen argues that companies who do not demand or even expect employees to keep standard hours gain a significant competitive advantage. By positioning themselves as a business that will let their employees seek out projects that interest them and fit their desired work hours, McCallum has attracted and retained some the industry’s top talent:

“Leaders at the firm realize that for skilled people disillusioned with the employment model of traditional firms, there is a strong attraction to work tailored to their individual requirements. This allows the firm to hire good employees at a good price.”

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

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Best of Tip Tuesday: Motivation https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/best-tip-tuesday-motivation/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/best-tip-tuesday-motivation/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:00:02 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33948 When you're a freelancer or entrepreneur, buckling down and getting work done day after day can be difficult. Ever wondered how oDesk freelancers do it so well? We did too, so we asked the oDesk Facebook community how they motivated themselves on days when they felt low on energy. Here are our favorite answers.

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When you’re a freelancer or entrepreneur, buckling down and getting work done day after day can be difficult. Ever wondered how oDesk freelancers do it so well? We did too, so we asked the oDesk Facebook community how they motivated themselves on days when they felt low on energy. Here are our favorite answers.

Editor’s note: Responses edited for clarity. 

How do you motivate yourself on work days when you’re low on energy?

I use motivation soundtracks and my workout playlists. I alternate between the two because all the songs are high energy and they make me want to move, thus making me excited to work. It has the added bonus of getting me to do a few lunges before working.

– Ashley Hall

  1. Get organized: When you have too many projects to deal with, it is easy to get overwhelmed. I keep a small notebook (or use google sheets at times) to note down project name / details / deadline and most importantly the price. It is then easy to focus on what you need to get done immediately, and what stuff can wait until you are in a better frame of mind.
  2. Stay motivated: Remind yourself of why you freelance and the perks it brings, including the freedom and independence. It helps put things in perspective.
  3. Remember you are only human: You are allowed to have days when you feel low. Cut yourself some slack- read a book, listen to music, dance, cook…do whatever it is that makes you happy. You will be back in a good mood in no time.

– Amardeep Sodhi

Tip Tuesday: Motivation I open up my financial statements in Quickbooks or BodeTree and see how my business is growing thanks to oDesk. That’s all I need.

– Matt Keener

Coffee. Not just one cup, likely two. Additionally, I will work really hard on certain days so I can take a day off to hang out with my daughter, so knowing that I’m earning myself a free day with her is motivation enough on days when I just. can’t. get. started.

– Sara Haley

Sometimes I will give myself a reward after getting a task done. For example, I get to walk on the beach after my usability audit report is completed this afternoon.

– Jennifer K. Mulcahy

 

Which one speaks to you? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to visit us on Facebook to participate in our next Tip Tuesday question.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: December 15 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/perspectives-future-work-december-15/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/perspectives-future-work-december-15/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:00:27 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33941 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights lessons for implementing successful work-from-home strategies and how flexible work could boost the UK economy.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 12/15/2014:

Fortune | 3 Ways to Make Working from Home Work — For Everyone

Although recent research has demonstrated working remotely can increase productivity, many companies still need guidance on implementing flexible work programs. Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 hours, offers lessons she gleaned from this new study that “…could help other organizations achieve the benefits, while avoiding potential pitfalls.”

She argues that work-from-home arrangements need not be “either/or” situations — companies can allow for some flexibility while maintaining certain core office hour requirements. This way, they can enjoy the increased productivity but still have a sense of community and collaboration.

Vanderkam also cautions that employees should have a few months to experiment with different flexible work setups — not everyone can predict how they will react to their work-from-home environments. What most employees will do, however, is self-select into the arrangements where they will excel. By being flexible themselves, managers can ensure success for both their teams and their business.

The Telegraph | Flexible Working Could Boost UK Economy by £90bn

A new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) found that a majority of people in “thinking jobs” (engineers, lawyers, etc.) would embrace flexible work options if available, adding £11.5bn into the UK economy “…through the improved use of employees’ time.”

Moreover, 70% of those surveyed who were unemployed because of retirement or caregiver needs reported they would reenter the workforce if they had the option to work more flexibly. This group could potentially add £78.5bn to the UK economy.

More than just benefitting the economy, this research, along with recent law changes that empower employees to request flexible work, indicates and supports a shift in UK business mentalities about flexible work. Eager to win the talent wars, more and more companies are seeing remote working options as a win-win solution for both sides.

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

 

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Home, Café or Coworking? How to Find the Best Workspace https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/how-to-find-the-best-workspace/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/how-to-find-the-best-workspace/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:00:27 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33896 During our last six months of working from the road (Jeremy is writing a book and Sondra is a Product Manager for Elance-oDesk), we’ve had our share of panicked moments when our workspaces have failed us. Whether it’s a bad Internet connection, lack of quiet privacy for a video call, or rickety chairs better suited to a children’s tea party, in each of these moments we’ve fearfully thought, “Oh no, will we have to go home to a traditional office?”

Here’s what we’ve learned after six months of working from coworking spaces, cafés and apartments.

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Jeremy Orozco left his job as a firefighter and Sondra Orozco is an Elance-oDesk product manager. Follow this newly married couple as they transition into life on the road as Digital Nomads and learn more via their blog, Nomad Life.

During our last six months of working from the road, we’ve had our share of panicked moments when our workspaces have failed us. Whether it’s a bad Internet connection, lack of quiet privacy for a video call, or rickety chairs better suited to a children’s tea party, in each of these moments we’ve fearfully thought, “Oh no, will we have to go home to a traditional office?”

Here’s what we’ve learned after six months of working from coworking spaces, cafés and apartments.

Option #1: Work from Home

Beachfront home office

Our beachfront home office in Santa Cruz, California.

Jeremy: What’s the difference between a prisoner and prison guard? The prison guard gets to go home at night. Turning your home into an office can make the mental escape from work very difficult.

Sondra: On the bright side, working from home comes with all the comforts of home: a desk tailored just for you, a kitchen full of your favorite snacks, and your own personal bathroom. To me, the best part about working from home is that there’s no background noise and I can talk as loud as I need to during my marathon of Google Hangout meetings.

Jeremy: I absolutely disagree. We had an Airbnb apartment in Madrid, Spain, that was about the size of a cruise ship cabin — it was tiny. Sondra’s meetings echoed off the miniature walls, through my noise-canceling earphones, and into my head. A whisper amplified to max volume in our “cozy” home. It was not the best environment for creative writing.

Sondra: Even the best home offices have their limitations. Working from our beachfront apartment in Santa Cruz, California, for example, was wonderful, but we’d go stir crazy if we didn’t leave. When we’re living in new cities, the last thing we want to do is stay cooped up in the house all day.

Option #2: Camp Out at a Café

Sondra: Cafés are great for people-watching, free Wi-fi, and an endless supply of caffeine. When we need to get out of the house, working from a café is the easiest option and it’s a great way to experience the culture of a new city while still getting our work done.

Mür Café, Spain

Working from Mür Café, one of our favorites, in Madrid, Spain.

Jeremy: Cafés are the perfect office for short bursts of work at the low price of a coffee. Cafés in places like Vietnam, Bali, or Spain come with a serious advantage: they allow you to work the entire day and often provide delicious, affordable, and healthy food options. They don’t ever push you to buy or get out. Sondra, remember that guy at the café back home?

Sondra: The one who ruined my favorite café for me? I was a regular customer and on a first-name basis with the owner, but one day a worker rudely asked me to leave because the lunchtime crowd was coming in. What he didn’t know was that I about to order lunch too! Working from many cafés, even if you’re a regular, comes with a dose of anxiety.

Jeremy: Cafés, in general, are unreliable. You don’t know if you’ll find a good seat, and when you do find a good seat, at a good table, with good Internet, what happens when you need to use the bathroom? You can’t leave a two thousand dollar Mac on the table and that’s assuming the bathroom is even operational. I just now snuck into the woman’s bathroom in a café here in Prague, because the men’s is under construction. Drinking multiple coffees and being deprived of a bathroom is a form of torture.

Sondra: You also need to keep your guard up in cafés. Be aware of your surroundings and watch your belongings. Just last week, our friend Stacey tackled a would-be thief who had snatched her iPhone from right under her nose as she worked on her blog from her favorite Starbucks in Madrid.

Jeremy: Bottom line: learn kung fu or, like Stacey, have experience as a teacher in an inner-city school district before café’ing across the world.

Option #3: Create at a Coworking Space

Jeremy: There is nothing like working from a nice big desk, with a power outlet, in an open atmosphere surrounded by the inspiration of entrepreneurs, with food, water, and coffee available, and your own comfy, ergonomic chair that will be there for you at any hour of the day.

Sondra: Unfortunately, coworking spaces are in their infancy and you won’t find consistent greatness at every one you visit. At the high end of the spectrum, there are spaces like Hubud in Ubud, Bali, where you’ll work barefoot in a beautiful bamboo space surrounded by rice fields — it doesn’t get better than that. On the low end of the spectrum you’ll find yourself in a miniature version of the worst of corporate offices — a cramped room with fluorescent lighting and bad acoustics that magnify the voice of the man sitting next to you as he attempts to sell pyramid scam insurance over the phone.

Hubud in Ubud, Bail.

Office with a view: Hubud in Ubud, Bali.

Jeremy: And then there’s the cost… Many coworking spaces charge more than $40 per day and come with Folger’s coffee — bad coffee. What could you get at a café for 40 bucks? In Spain, you could get two orders of the “menu del dia” — that’s more than enough subsistence for the entire day, drinks included — and you would still be left with $20. You could purchase beer with the remaining $20, but that would of course come with free tapas, eliminating the need to even purchase those “menu del dia.” So why the heck would I go to a $40-per-day coworking space?

Sondra:  If you plan to stay in a city for an extended period, most coworking spaces offer multi-day discounts or monthly passes. At Utopic_US in Madrid this brought the daily rate down to $12 per day, and at Impact Hub Praha in Prague (where we are now) we’re paying $14 per day. It’s still a bit pricier than working from a café, but coworking spaces like these are worth the additional cost, especially if you’re looking for hosted events and a built-in community of like-minded people.

Jeremy: And you can’t beat a good chair.

The Workspace of the Future

Sondra: The way the world works is changing. More people than ever are working remotely, and our numbers are growing. As the traditional office becomes a thing of the past, digital nomads’ workspace options will grow.

Jeremy: Starbucks will soon figure out that premium seating and Internet is a luxury that us digital nomads are willing to pay for. It’s like flying first class: the outrageous cost is filled by the demand of people that are willing to pay for comfort. In the future, you’re going to see a big change in what cafés look like.

Sondra: Starbucks may not be there yet, but there are a number of cafés and coworking spaces that already provide that first-class experience for remote workers.

Jeremy: We chose to mix it up with the world’s best cafés, apartments, and coworking spaces in locations where most would be lucky enough to vacation for a mere two weeks per year. It is an ever-changing paradise for digital nomads. It is the variety of workspaces in a new world that make your day consistently exciting, motivating, and surreal. 

Sondra: We didn’t just stumble upon this paradise, and we’ve only seen a glimpse of it. The table below lays out the pros and cons of each type of workspace and resources we use to find them. Use it to build your own digital nomad utopia.

Home Office Café Coworking Space
Pros
  • Comforts of home.
  • Personal bathroom.
  • Pajamas are an acceptable outfit.
  • Free Wi-fi (usually).
  • Caffeine, good food.
  • Hipster décor.
  • People watching, a snapshot of the city’s culture.
  • Community & events.
  • Inspiration & energy.
  • Ergonomic chairs.
  • Your Internet connection and your stuff will be safe.
Cons
  • You’ll go stir crazy.
  • Too easy to take a nap.
  • You’re missing out on a fabulous new city!
  • Will they kick you out?
  • Bathroom breaks.
  • Watch your stuff.
  • Can be expensive
  • Some suck and will remind you of your cubicle life. Watch out.
How to find one 
  • Airbnb!
  • Hire a virtual assistant (VA) on oDesk or Elance who is local to the city you want to visit. Your VA can act as a scout, take pictures and find you the best deal in town.
  • Google “apartments [city] digital nomad.” We found great apartment blogs using this search for Chiang Mai.
Pro tips 
  • Look for Airbnb reviews that talk about how fast the Internet is. If no reviews mention it, contact the host before booking and ask him or her to check the Internet speed on speedtest.net.
  • If you’re a couple and you’re both working from home, think about how much space you’ll need to work comfortably. Avoid any listings that are “cozy.”
  • Bring an extension cord to maximize your work time.
  • Get an unlocked phone with hotspot capabilities. Buy a local SIM and pay extra for lots of data. (Our super fast 10GB data plan in Prague cost $45 and downloads at 7MB/second).
  • Check the Internet speed before you take calls: speedtest.net or play a few YouTube videos.
  • Make sure there’s one in the area before you commit to a destination — when Wi-fi is hard to find at home or in cafés, a coworking space will be your saving grace.
  • Check the coworking space’s website for events. Regular events are a good sign that it has a strong community.
  • Ask for a free trial day before committing to a month.

What has your experience been with coworking spaces, or working away from a traditional office? Share your advice in the comments below!

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What We’re Reading: Holiday Edition https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/reading-holiday-edition/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/reading-holiday-edition/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 14:00:30 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33885 The holiday season is fast approaching, and if you’re looking for gift ideas or a way to fight the “stir craziness” that can set in with too much wintertime/downtime/family time, we have you covered. The solution? Books! Pass the hours cooped up inside with a fire, a glass of hot chocolate, and a good read — or help someone else do the same. If that sounds like a dream, but you need a little inspiration, here’s what the oDesk marketing department is reading this month.

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The holiday season is fast approaching, and if you’re looking for gift ideas or a way to fight the “stir craziness” that can set in with too much wintertime/downtime/family time, we have you covered.

The solution? Books! Pass the hours cooped up inside with a fire, a glass of hot chocolate, and a good read — or help someone else do the same.

If that sounds like a dream, but you need a little inspiration, here’s what the oDesk marketing department is reading this month.

Picks for business

Brennan, our communications manager, recommends Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, by Keith Ferrazzi. “Never eat alone is about, well, never going it alone. Want to be successful? This book shows that success is all about relationships, teamwork, and helping others.”

Another team member, SEO guru Saurabh, is reading Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. He called it a “must read for startup founders, corporate strategy professionals, and anyone who enjoys thinking about businesses.” He added that the book was “created in an innovative way, with hundreds of professors and business professionals collaborating with it.”

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg, is our social media marketing manager Alexia’s choice. She raved that she found it “fascinating, because it looked at habit both from a human psychology perspective (how we can improve our own lives by recognizing and modifying habits) and from a marketing perspective (how we can create campaigns that build products into a customer’s habits).” The other selling point: “It’s a quick and easy read!”

reading book by fireplace

Picks for fun

Not all holiday reading has to be career-focused, of course.

Jaleh, our head of marketing, is currently reading two books: Quiet: The Power of Introverts, by Susan Cain, and The Lives of Others, by Neel Mukherjee. She said of the latter, “It’s not about entrepreneurs but it is shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and for good reason! It is awesome.”

Meanwhile, product marketing manager Anjali is engrossed in Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. The basis for the Netflix series of the same name, this memoir is “a completely compelling page turner…or as much as any book can be when you have a one-year-old at home.”

To end, I’ll share what I’ve been reading on my morning commute: Yes, Please, by comedian Amy Poehler. It’s certainly the silliest pick on the list, but it’s also charming, laugh-out-loud funny, and guaranteed to make even the longest hours spent inside enjoyable.

What books would you recommend this holiday season? Share your favorites in the comments!

 

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: December 8 https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/future-of-work-december-8/ https://www.upwork.com/blog/2014/12/future-of-work-december-8/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:00:57 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33877 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights a new poll that shows workplace flexibility trumps higher pay, a CEO who’s relied on a distributed team to build his global brand, and tips to ensuring your employees (and yourself) have truly flexible work options.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 12/8/2014:

U.S. News & World Report | 3 Work-Life Balance Perks Employees Crave

A new report shows that while American professionals prioritize their family and personal life over work, most think their employers do a pretty good job of providing flexibility and balance.

Of those polled, 67 percent said they’d rather have more flexibility and fewer hours than an increase in salary, showing how important flexible work options are for employee recruitment and retention. A majority are happy with the flexibility they have with their current employers.

Interestingly, 66 percent also said they’d appreciate paid time to volunteer as part of work-life flexibility programs.

The results suggest that, overall, the key to finding the right arrangement for yourself is to figure out which perks matter most to you, and advocate for them and/or seek out companies that already offer those benefits.

Tech in Asia | Scrap Face-time at Work – This CEO Believes That Distributed Teams are the Way to Go

Many startups hope to achieve a global brand. Creating that kind of reach during a business’ early stages can be difficult, however, especially if founders ignore one of the easiest shortcuts: distributed teams.

Toby Ruckert, CEO of Unified Inbox, is a staunch supporter of distributed teams. He recently told Daniel Tay that his team developed a product that could be broadly appealing, with no cultural roadblocks, precisely because the team includes people from Singapore, New Zealand, Germany, the United States, and India.

This arrangement also means Ruckert never feels a talent shortage, and his team can be online and available to their users 24 hours a day. All in all, Ruckert sees distributed teams as the key to running a successful global business.

Mashable | 7 Ways to Instill Work-Life Balance at Your Startup

Thinking of his own growing family and aware that months of 80-hour work weeks can burn out even the most enthusiastic employees, AppLovin’s CEO & cofounder Adam Foroughi began his startup with a deliberate focus on work-life balance.

To ensure his company delivered this promise, Foroughi knew the company’s flexible work options had to be, well, flexible: “The engineer in her twenties probably has different work habits than the dad who leaves early in the afternoon to pick his kids up from school…rather than enforce specific rules, we have a general policy to be flexible and to respect our employees’ respective schedules.”

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

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