A Letter to Our Community Regarding COVID-19

Hayden Brown
Hayden Brown
March 9, 2020
March 9, 2020
A Letter to Our Community Regarding COVID-19

In troubling and uncertain times like these, we find more meaning than ever in our company mission, which is to create economic opportunities so that people have better lives. It is through this lens that we are responding to the current COVID-19 crisis. I want to update everyone on the steps we are taking and the ways we can help both businesses and freelancers navigate the current challenges.

To ensure the safety of our team members as well as our business continuity, Upwork has moved from a hybrid to a fully remote model. We were built on a strong distributed team model, with the majority of our 1,700 team members already working remotely from their home offices in more than 800 cities before this crisis. Those who regularly work in one of our three corporate offices have shifted to working remotely as well.

We realize the rapid pivot to adopt fully remote work is jarring for many, and I want to assure everyone that you can do this. As people increasingly adapt their behavior to curb the spread of the virus, two big questions we are hearing from our customers are “How can my entire company work from home successfully?” and “How can I still get critical things done when my teams and usual business operations are so disrupted?”

Our entire team at Upwork is here to help, and I want to share some of the resources our clients have been finding useful as they navigate these uncharted waters:

  • Businesses can do amazing work while working remotely. We have been a leader in remote work for more than 20 years, so we know firsthand the incredible outcomes that distributed teams can deliver. To help those who are just beginning to work in this manner, we will regularly share our best advice and tips for building and managing remote and distributed teams, starting with Best Practices for Rapidly Adopting a Remote Work Strategy and Tips for Understanding the Remote Work Model.
  • Businesses can quickly access the talent they need. In the past few days, we’ve seen an influx of additional skilled professionals join Upwork’s existing communities of highly skilled mobile developers, designers, writers, and more. We have a global network of talented professionals available to help. Continuing to post critical projects to these professionals is an important way to help them maintain income continuity in this tough time.
  • Businesses can continue to work seamlessly with temporary employees, independent pros, and agencies. Our Bring Your Own Talent offering can help manage distributed workforce programs from end to end in one centralized platform. Organizations can maintain transparency into their team’s work via screenshots in our hourly time tracker, leverage our collaboration tools for easy communication with talent, and opt to pay their team using our time-tested, safe payroll solution. If you are interested in gaining access to these capabilities, please let us know here.

As Upwork’s CEO, I’m also very aware that self-employed individuals and small-business entrepreneurs often face heightened risks in economic downturns. We appreciate that these professionals are doing the critical work of helping customers keep their businesses moving at a time when disruption and stress are very high. Upwork is committed to supporting independent professionals through this trying time, and we are working hard to ensure that clients know that their skills and talent may be exactly the thing they need to get through the current crisis. In particular we are working to:

  • Help self-employed individuals and entrepreneurs maintain business continuity. We are working hard with our clients around the world to ensure that their changing business needs are translating into work opportunities—particularly in this time when the need for work done remotely is at an all-time high. We are investing in developing new job pipelines so that independent professionals can find meaningful work opportunities on our platform even as this crisis unfolds. We are also helping our clients successfully adapt to remote work.
  • Support freelancers in a time of need. We are a Founding Partner of the Freelancers Relief Fund, established by the Freelancers Union to assist independent workers experiencing financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. For more information, visit here.
  • Facilitate earnings from non-Upwork clients. We are testing a program that gives independent professionals the ability to leverage our escrow services and directly invoice non-Upwork clients. We are here to help freelancers get paid at a time when prior solutions such as cash and checks may not be viable. If you are interested, please sign up here.
  • Accelerate receipt of payments. We have heard a heightened desire to expedite payments from Upwork clients. We have established an internal task force that is working on how we might do this, and we will keep everyone up-to-date on these efforts in our community forum.

Our team is working around the clock to develop new resources, and we will continue to share more as the situation evolves. In the meantime, our thoughts continue to be with our clients and community during this challenging time. Please stay safe, stay healthy, and stay connected—and let us know how we can help.


Hayden Brown

President and CEO, Upwork

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Hayden Brown

Hayden Brown is president and CEO of Upwork, the world’s work marketplace. She was previously the Chief Product and Marketing Officer and held increasingly senior roles overseeing product, design, and marketplace after joining Upwork in 2011. She joined Upwork inspired by its mission to create economic opportunities so that people have better lives. With a new era of work underway, Hayden is leading Upwork to help companies and talent unlock their full potential.

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