The Way We Work
April 5, 2013 by Jenna Weiner

oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on labor markets, innovation, and online work.

Week of 4/5/2013:

Inc.: Trouble With Telecommuting? Technology May Be To Blame

A close-knit company culture is a huge boon for worker engagement and productivity, but do you really need to be in the same room to achieve it? John Brandon argues that whether your employees work from the office, a coworking space, or even a houseboat, the right technology can keep them intertwined with the company culture. An experienced nomadic professional, Brandon highlights a number of key technologies that can help dispersed teams stay connected.

Fast Company: Tips For Transitioning An Office-Based Company To Remote Work

As more companies ditch the water cooler in favor of the chat room, collaborating with global teams is becoming an increasingly important skill. In an interview with John Mancini, president of the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), David Lavenda discusses different ways firms can embrace telecommuting and the strategies that helped AIIM become a successful remote organization. Frustrated by traffic congestion, AIIM began allowing employees to telecommute in an appeal to flexibility. Finding the policy a success, AIIM decided to unleash their workforce, hiring new remote workers and allowing formerly in-office employees the freedom to work as they desired. Mancini shares the story of their success, as well as 10 key lessons he learned along the way.

Forbes: Every Employee Should Work From Home

Despite decisions by Best Buy and Yahoo! to end remote work programs, fans of dispersed labor continue to share their reasons for supporting and implementing flexible work. Dan Schawbel interviews 37Signals partner David Heinemeier Hansson about the benefits of remote work, great tools for dispersed teams and the impact of millennials on the growth of remote labor.

The Guardian: America’s Silent Freelance Army

A rapidly evolving economy has changed the face of the workforce, as more and more professionals decide to abandon the 9 to 5 and pursue the independent ‘gig economy.’ While the contingent workforce is large and growing, there is a dearth of information on this key demographic. Writing for The Guardian, Helaine Olen argues that new information about the freelance workforce—both its size and the unique challenges freelancers face—is necessary to define the needs of today’s workers and give them the legal protections they deserve.

Forbes: Flexible Workspaces: Employee Perk Or Business Tool To Recruit Top Talent?

By 2020, an estimated 1 out of every 3 professionals will be hired to work online. Reflecting the emergence of distributed teams, this projection is driven by the significant value-add remote professionals can bring to the job. Jeanne Meister reframes the flexible work discussion and considers the relative merits of remote work as an employee perk versus a business strategy. Her conclusion? Flex work can truly provide the best of both worlds.

Did we miss anything? Are there any insights you find particularly interesting? Let us know in the comments section below!

Jenna Weiner

Content Marketer

Jenna Weiner is the former content marketing manager at oDesk and was the editor-in-chief of the oDesk blog. With a background in business and technology writing, she specializes in content marketing and strategy, public relations, and branding. Before joining oDesk, Jenna was a writer and editor for Monitor Group’s marketing department (now Monitor Deloitte) and was the Business & Technology Section Editor for Brafton Inc.… read more

  • Timothy Smalls

    Ms. Weiner,
    I love the CONCEPT of Odesk, and the whole freelance/work-at-home idea, but I’m frustrated by the fact that the large majority of jobs I’ve seen on here seem to be in SOME sort of violation of federal labor statutes, primarily minimum wage laws. I mean, your company can advertise whatever jobs it wants to, it’s a free country, but other than Mitt Romney, I can’t fathom anyone looking forward to working for $2.70/hr or the like. Isn’t there any twinge of remorse or conscience in the Odesk offices about promoting sub-minimum wage jobs? Or is the only consideration the collection of the Odesk fee? Also, I cannot believe for a millisecond that I am the FIRST person to ask these questions. Wouldn’t it be prudent to, AT LEAST, mention the subject in the FAQ’s or on the “legal” page or SOMEWHERE?

    • Jenna Weiner

      Hi Timothy,

      We appreciate your feedback and have given lots of thought to the way oDesk is set up. Our ultimate priority is the people who use oDesk, especially the millions of workers. Our average wage is in fact well above the wages you are citing, and many skilled workers command rates in the triple digits. There are other workers for whom the projects you are citing represent earnings well above what they could earn in their own country. It’s also eye-opening to note that the typical freelancer on oDesk increases their wage by 190% on average over 3 years (as we explored here:

      We’ve seen very quality earnings, but nothing brings us more happiness than the stories themselves, which really bring these earnings to life. For example, we’ve spoken with these professionals recently: Bernard Vukas, who uses his $100+/hour earnings to travel the world (, Angela Irizzary, who uses the flexibility of online work to spend more time with her family ( and these freelancers, who take advantage of the freedom online work provides by living wherever they choose to call home (

      Our mission is to be an open and transparent marketplace for all workers. A simple glance at the listings themselves is a very difficult way to see the vivid stories of positive impact that are being created every day.