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New Oxford report finds Fortune 500 companies turning to online freelancing sites to expand their workforce capabilities

Findings outline key steps companies can take to successfully embrace a more agile workforce through online freelancing platform adoption

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – August 29, 2017 – Upwork, the largest freelancing website, today announced findings from a new report by an independent research team from the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford, which found that usage of freelancing sites has increased 26% over the past year alone as enterprises evolve their workforce models to find the talent they need for project demands.

“Companies are evaluating their workforce needs as skilled professionals increasingly seek out non-traditional career paths,” said Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel. “Traditional sourcing channels often fall short in helping companies meet the project demands of today’s fast-paced global market. As a result, the most effective enterprises are extending their workforce capabilities by leveraging sites like Upwork to gain access to a diverse pool of outside talent.”

Oxford reports: Online freelancing platforms as a growing sourcing strategy
Online freelancing platforms are radically transforming the access that enterprises have to freelancers, their talent and services — but little is known about how and why firms use them. The new report from the Oxford Internet Institute, “Platform Sourcing: How Fortune 500 Firms Are Adopting Online Freelancing Platforms” is funded by the European Research Council. It explores use cases from nine Fortune 500 firms and multinational enterprises on how they’re tapping into online talent to extend their workforce capabilities.

“Enterprise adoption of online freelancing platforms is an emergent phenomenon that is likely to grow as companies realize the need to innovate and expand their sourcing strategies,” said lead author Greetje Corporaal, a postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute. “This is part of a larger transformation where organizations move away from relatively static hierarchical models towards more fluid and dynamic ones. Online platforms enable managers to extend project teams with freelancers. This creates speed and flexibility for companies aiming to stay innovative and competitive in today’s global business environment.”

The report suggests that the unique value of online freelancing platforms lies in their ability to provide firms with flexible and timely access to a global talent pool, enabling them to get high quality work done in a cost-effective manner. As companies increasingly embrace a more agile workforce, here are the key steps they’re taking to help ensure successful platform adoption:

  • Create space for experimentation. Start with a pilot or experimentation program inside your organization. This enables companies to test, learn and ideate in a safe environment.
  • Add a program management layer. Instead of relegating platform adoption to a departmental manager, appoint a dedicated program manager to serve as an internal advocate and take the day-to-day lead in the adoption process.
  • Allocate sufficient resources for experimentation. A lack of funding can be a barrier to implementation. Starting off with a small test budget allows program managers to test the platform and explore its potential for generating greater business value.
  • Involve key stakeholders early on. It’s important to involve key stakeholders, particularly those in finance, legal and HR, to help secure successful adoption. Working closely with these stakeholders, and making them part of the implementation process, can help to mitigate risks and drive better outcomes.

Initial findings from Oxford were recently presented to an audience of Fortune 500 executives from Samsung and Microsoft among others at Upwork’s inaugural Work Without Limits Summit. These forward-thinking executives are exploring ways to tackle hiring challenges and embrace a 21st century workforce.

To access the Oxford Internet Institute’s “Platform Sourcing” report, click here.

About Upwork
Upwork is the largest freelancing website. Upwork Enterprise combines technology and services, giving companies a single solution that makes it simple, quick and cost effective to access qualified freelance talent.

Twenty percent of Fortune 500 companies and other notable companies utilize Upwork to find and engage freelancers, including organizations such as Airbnb, Dropbox, Pfizer and Juniper Networks. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., with offices in San Francisco, Chicago and Oslo, Norway. For more information, visit our website at www.upwork.com, join us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Katie Evans