Upwork & Microsoft partner on solution to enable enterprises to build freelance teams at scale

Today, we’re excited to announce that Microsoft has chosen Upwork as its launch partner for the Microsoft 365 freelance Toolkit. The toolkit is an integrated workforce collaboration solution that helps enterprises work with freelancers at scale and is powered by Microsoft 365 and Upwork Enterprise.

Enterprises are increasingly recognizing the need to transform the way they work in order to compete in a global economy. While enterprises today spend $3.5 trillion on contingent labor, existing models for engaging external talent are outdated and restrictive.

Technology is enabling new ways of working by opening the door for enterprises to access flexible freelance talent. Together with Microsoft, we’re empowering organizations to adopt a flexible workforce model that delivers better visibility, greater access to skills, and richer reporting capabilities than can be gained through traditional workforce models by leveraging their most valuable asset -- talent.

“Technology and changing worker preferences are driving demand for new skills and sources of talent. Enterprises are increasingly struggling to attract highly specialized talent at a time when speed and agility are more important than ever before,” said Stephane Kasriel, CEO at Upwork.

“By partnering with Microsoft, we’re empowering enterprises to build effective workforce models that enable them to be more agile, innovate faster and create opportunities for growth. Enterprises can embrace workforce change by engaging the right talent where they are, hiring them on-demand in a few hours instead of a few months and helping their teams get more work done.”Inspired by its own journey towards embracing a flexible talent model, Microsoft partnered with Upwork to officially launch a new Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit.

The toolkit provides tools, templates and best practices to help organizations effectively launch, execute and scale an enterprise freelance program. Built-in product features and integrations with Microsoft Power BI, Teams, SharePoint and Flow guide enterprises through the freelance engagement process.In addition to partnering with Upwork to launch the Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit, Microsoft is using the Upwork Enterprise solution to launch a pilot program for specific teams at Microsoft in order to give employees access to a large pool of flexible, freelance talent.“With 56 million people freelancing in the U.S. and unemployment at historic lows, enterprise companies are seeking new ways to access experts and flexible talent that help us accelerate projects,” said Peter Loforte, General Manager for Microsoft Office.

“At Microsoft, we have embraced the freelance model within specific teams to increase efficiencies and access the expertise of freelancers from around the world. Together with Upwork, using the Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit, we’re also empowering other enterprises with a robust solution that leverages their existing Microsoft tools to extend workforce capabilities and simplify work with freelance teams.”Supported by a training and compliance framework, Microsoft’s pilot freelance program has delivered substantial cost and time savings for the teams involved.

“Our journey toward embracing a freelance talent program was born out of a need to scale specific programs,” said Paul Estes, Senior Director of Content Strategy for Microsoft Office.

“Working with Upwork, we spearheaded a pilot program leveraging a team of freelancers to strategically complement our existing workforce and increase the team’s productivity and efficiency.”Microsoft used the Upwork Enterprise solution, to launch an enterprise-grade freelance program, that allows them to give their employees access to a large pool of flexible, freelance talent. Within the past year, Microsoft has completed over 2,000 projects on Upwork ranging from writing, research, video editing, translation, design and data science, with adoption spanning across 25 internal teams and hundreds of employees.

For full details and videos showing these offerings read on.

Getting Started with Ready-made Projects

As part of the partnership, we are offering a limited beta release of Ready-made Projects to a select number of customers. Ready-made Projects are pre-packaged projects that help make it easier for enterprises to work with freelancers. This feature helps take the guesswork out of working with freelancers by providing companies with detailed project descriptions, pre-defined project rates and a list of verified freelance experts. We’ll be including six custom-ready projects to start featuring Microsoft-related skills such as Power BI, Sharepoint, Microsoft Flow, as well as presentation enhancement, content writing and infographics.

Automate workflows and processes with the Microsoft Flow connector

Customers can create automated workflows and processes when working with freelancers on the Upwork Enterprise platform through an integration with Microsoft Flow. Using Flow, customers can turn repetitive tasks into multi-step workflows. For example, customers can auto-schedule monthly reports to gain greater visibility into freelancer activity.

Fostering Communication and Collaboration with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams brings teams together around one hub for chat, meetings, document collaboration and working in their favorite business apps. To streamline communication and collaboration once a freelancer is hired, we’ve built an integration that supports the auto-provisioning of freelancers onto the Teams environment. Enterprise customers will have the option to customize the experience to match the way they engage freelancers today, including:

  • Managing provisioning and access
  • Scheduling tasks and due dates for project deliverables
  • Viewing and collaborating on projects at scale

Measuring Success with the Power BI connector

Power BI delivers insights by collecting real-time data from multiple sources to create customized, easy-to-understand reports and dashboards. Enterprise customers using both Upwork Enterprise and Microsoft Power BI can leverage the new Power BI connector to directly export Upwork reporting data into their Power BI installations to create custom dashboards and reports to measure the impact and success of their freelance program.

By connecting Upwork Enterprise data to Power BI, users can:

  • Display freelancer and contract activity on an administrator or user level
  • Report on financial data by per user or contract
  • Analyze data on project categories, spend, freelancer regions and skills
  • For existing Upwork Enterprise and Office 365/Microsoft 365 Enterprise users, there is no cost to start. Enterprise customers can install the Upwork connectors, load their data and start exploring these tools immediately. New enterprise customers can access the toolkit by subscribing to Upwork Enterprise and Office 365/Microsoft 365 Enterprise.To learn more about Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit, click here, and join us Tuesday, December 11th for a live webinar where Paul Estes from Microsoft will discuss how the toolkit helps enable enterprises to effectively work with freelancers at scale. Register here.