oBlog » All Things oDesk https://www.odesk.com/blog oDesk - The Future of Work Fri, 24 Apr 2015 15:41:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A New Chapter, a New Leader: Stephane Kasriel https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/04/new-chapter-new-leader-stephane-kasriel/ https://www.odesk.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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Announcing Our New Name, New Shift To Online Dating https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/04/announcing-new-name-new-shift-online-dating/ https://www.odesk.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

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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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New Job Categories Help Pinpoint Perfect Freelancers https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/03/odesk-category-improvements-update/ https://www.odesk.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:

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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.

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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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Introducing the Top Rated Freelancer Program https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/03/introducing-top-rated-freelancer-program/ https://www.odesk.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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My Stats, including Job Success Scores for Freelancers, is Now Live! https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/03/my-stats-job-success-scores-for-freelancers-now-live/ https://www.odesk.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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Revamped Job Categories = Spot-On Job Invites https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/03/odesk-category-improvements/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/03/odesk-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

[^ 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

[^ main categories list]

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Becoming the World’s Premier Online Workplace for Professionals https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/worlds-premier-online-workplace-for-professionals/ https://www.odesk.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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A Year in Review and Announcing Two New Solutions for oDesk Freelancers https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/announcing-connects-memberships/ https://www.odesk.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.
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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.
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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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Introducing Our All-New iPhone App: oDesk Messenger https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/introducing-new-iphone-app-odesk-messenger/ https://www.odesk.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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2015 Work Predictions: Virtual Is the New Reality https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/2015-online-work-predictions/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/2015-online-work-predictions/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 22:10:28 +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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Announcing Escrow Protection on oDesk https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/announcing-escrow-protection-odesk/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/announcing-escrow-protection-odesk/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 18:40:42 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33853 I am delighted to share that Escrow Protection, a service that many of you have requested, will become available on oDesk this January. Escrow Protection is designed to help you focus on working together, confident that your payments and earnings are secure.

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Dear oDesk Community,

I am delighted to share that Escrow Protection, a service that many of you have requested, will become available on oDesk this January. Escrow Protection is designed to help you focus on working together, confident that your payments and earnings are secure.

Here’s what to expect: Beginning in January 2015, you can take advantage of superior payment protection on oDesk. All new and existing fixed-price contracts will be covered by Escrow Protection and the oDesk Guarantee will remain in place for hourly work.

Over the next several weeks, we will be beta testing a fixed-price product experience that supports escrow in order to get your feedback. We appreciate the patience of those freelancers and clients that participate in such a contract. We encourage your input as we continue to improve and ensure that each step of the escrow process is clear for freelancers and clients.

I hope you are as excited as I am about Escrow Protection. In January, our team will share additional details on how you can take advantage of escrow on oDesk. For now, you can find answers to frequently asked questions here.

Happy holiday season,
Elizabeth Tse
SVP, Operations

 

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New Era of Work: Elance-oDesk’s Annual Impact Report https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/annual-impact-report-2014/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/annual-impact-report-2014/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:45:24 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33807 How are we changing the way the world works? Elance-oDesk's 2014 Annual Impact Report highlights stories from our community, new data, and a fresh perspective on how online collaboration is changing the world.

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Freelancers from around the world have helped 3.7 million businesses get work done this year through Elance-oDesk. They’ve tapped into their entrepreneurial spirit to carve niches, create fulfilling careers, and beat challenging economic times.

Our 2014 Annual Impact Report highlights the way we work with stories from our community, new data, and a fresh perspective on how online collaboration is changing the world.

Our vision — creating an online workplace for the world and, in doing so, reimagining work — is larger than the work itself happening via our sites. It aims to empower people to earn incomes, build their careers and businesses, and better their lives.

Did you know more than 2.7 million jobs are posted each year via the Elance and oDesk online workplaces? We’re grateful every day for the chance to help connect people to these opportunities. Thank you to everyone who is a part of our community — you are changing the way the world works.

Though the year isn’t over yet, if you take a look at the report, you’ll see how much we’ve achieved together already!

 

The Impact of Online Work, by the numbers. Data from the Elance-oDesk Annual Impact Report 2014. (source: http://try.odesk.com/annual-impact-report/2014/)

(click for larger image)

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Wondering About Benefits for U.S. Freelancers? Join this Webinar on November 19 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/benefits-for-us-freelancers-webinar-november-19/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/benefits-for-us-freelancers-webinar-november-19/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:00:57 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33776 Finding great benefits at an affordable price is a real challenge for U.S. freelancers, whether you’re looking for health and dental insurance for yourself or liability insurance for your business. That’s why Elance-oDesk is partnering with Freelancers Union to deliver the National Benefits Platform. Want to learn more? Freelancers Union is hosting a webinar this Wednesday, Nov. 19, to outline benefit options and answer your questions.

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Finding great benefits at an affordable price is a real challenge for U.S. freelancers, whether you’re looking for health and dental insurance for yourself or liability insurance for your business.

That’s why Elance-oDesk is partnering with Freelancers Union to deliver the National Benefits Platform, a program launched in October that offers a new support system for independent workers.

Better access is important, but you should also understand what benefits you need and how the National Benefits Platform works. Freelancers Union is hosting a webinar this Wednesday, Nov. 19, to outline benefit options and answer your questions.

RSVP to attend the webinar today.

Benefits curated specifically for freelancers

Health insurance is a big consideration for freelancers, but it isn’t the only one. The National Benefits Platform provides open enrollment for a number of benefits, including:

  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • 401(k) plans
  • Liability insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Term life insurance

Freelancers Union also released an educational resource that explains what freelancers need to know about benefits.

To learn more, sign up for Wednesday’s webinar or check out the National Benefits Platform to shop for insurance and benefits in your area.

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The Hack Is On! Join In World’s First Exclusively Virtual Hackathon https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/virtual-hackathon/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/virtual-hackathon/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 15:30:16 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33731 For the first time ever be part of an exclusively virtual big time hack — whether you’re in a high-tech hub or a beachside hot tub. Simply enter the Global Virtual Hackathon and impress the judges and the world with your coding talents, no matter where you hack from.
You’ll compete online for $10,000 in cash prizes from organizer Koding Hackathon. Plus the top Elance-oDesk team will earn an additional $2,500 (with other sponsors offering more prizes, too). Not to mention the bragging rights you’ll earn from taking top honors in such a prestigious hackathon.

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Elance-oDesk is excited to co-sponsor a fun and dynamic new hackathon that knows no boundaries. Literally.

For the first time ever be part of an exclusively virtual big time hack — whether you’re in a high-tech hub or a beachside hot tub. Simply enter the Global Virtual Hackathon and do your magic from wherever you are.

You’ll compete online for $18,000 in cash prizes from organizer Koding. Plus the top Elance-oDesk team will earn an additional $2,500, with other sponsors offering more prizes too. It’s also a great opportunity to show off your skills and make your mark in the global community of developers.

Enter as a team, or as an individual programmer or developer.

Sign up now as the application deadline is November 21 (the hack itself is December 6-7), and the competition is limited to 1,000 teams.

Each team will consist of up to five coders and/or developers. If you’re a talented individual looking for a team to hook-up with, you can easily connect through the hackathon’s website. Your specific hack will focus on one of several available themes (which will be announced soon), but think timely topics such as global finance, climate change, education, healthcare, travel and such.

Elance-oDesk is thrilled to help usher in distributed engineering.

The Global Virtual Hackathon is another example of how work is moving online. We’re proud to support our community of developers, and to be a major force in bringing work to talented people wherever they are.

We’re also proud that oDesk Co-Founder Odysseas Tsatalos will be a hackathon judge, joining reps from Fortune 100 and innovative tech companies, as well as noted investors and journalists.

Hackathon organizers report that over 4,000 programmers and developers from around the globe have already signed-up for the event. So register today and get ready to impress the judges and the world with your coding talents, no matter where you hack from.

feature image by matylda via HackNY.org on flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Elevating our Workplace with a New Minimum Rate https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/minimum-rate/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/minimum-rate/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 14:45:13 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33045 Beginning November 15, 2014, we will introduce a minimum rate of $3.00 per hour (including the oDesk fee) for all new hourly contracts.

We will continue to honor the hourly rates of contracts formed prior to this date, and clients and freelancers who have previously worked together at less than $3.00 per hour can form new contracts with no minimum requirement.

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Dear oDesk Community,

As head of Operations at oDesk, I’m here to introduce an upcoming policy change that I believe will make oDesk a better workplace for everyone.

Policy update

Beginning November 15, 2014, we will introduce a minimum rate of $3.00 per hour (including the oDesk fee) for all new hourly contracts.

We will continue to honor the hourly rates of contracts formed prior to this date, and clients and freelancers who have previously worked together at less than $3.00 per hour can form new contracts with no minimum requirement.

Why have we made this decision?

Our vision

Our vision is to be the world’s largest, most trusted online workplace, known for top-notch talent and jobs. This means attracting and retaining freelancers and clients who value quality above all else.

Individual freelancers are in the best position to set their hourly rates according to their experience level, skills, and cost of living realities. However, in certain circumstances, we’ve seen that some freelancers feel compelled to lower their rates too far in order to win new work. This can result in sub-optimal work quality and low customer satisfaction. In this context, we believe the new hourly minimum will benefit the entire community by setting an expectation of higher pay for higher quality work. More importantly, we believe this change will, over time, encourage more great freelancers and clients around the world to work on oDesk.

Introducing a minimum rate

While we recognize the complexity of our marketplace—from the large differences in earnings around the world, to the diversity of work done on our platform—we believe $3/hour strikes the right balance between discouraging low-quality work and minimizing disruption to client-freelancer relationships. Though a single minimum rate is an imperfect solution, we feel it’s an important step toward making oDesk a great place to both work and get work done.

Our customers

Today, only 3% of freelancer earnings are below the new minimum. However, we do not take lightly the impact this policy may have on all the clients and freelancers who rely on us for their businesses and careers. In particular, we’re sensitive to the relationships our clients and freelancers have already formed with one another. Thus, this policy will apply only to new client-freelancer relationships formed on or after November 15, 2014. We will continue to honor the hourly rates of contracts formed prior to this date.

For answers to how this policy impacts you, we’ve developed a detailed set of Frequently Asked Questions:

Client FAQ

Freelancer FAQ

If you have any further questions, we encourage you to contact our support team, who are standing by to help.

I, along with the rest of the oDesk leadership team, truly believe our community as a whole will benefit from this transition. I want to thank you, our customers, for your understanding and support. As we look ahead to the future, we’re excited to work for you —and with you—to build a workplace for the ages.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth Tse
Senior Vice President, Operations
oDesk

 

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Safeguarding for a Better Workplace https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/safeguarding-better-workplace/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/safeguarding-better-workplace/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 08:30:51 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33030 My name is Jeff Chen and I lead oDesk’s Trust and Safety Team. Our charter is to continuously improve and maintain a safe and trusted workplace. Over the coming months I will be reaching out to share updates that will help our community continue to grow and thrive.

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Dear oDesk Community,

My name is Jeff Chen and I lead oDesk’s Trust and Safety Team. Our charter is to continuously improve and maintain a safe and trusted workplace. Over the coming months I will be reaching out to share updates that will help our community continue to grow and thrive.

I’m writing to let you know that this week we will begin closing the accounts of a small number of community members with a history of consistently poor performance, and will initiate the review of additional accounts. Careful consideration went into the decision to take action against these active members’ accounts. We evaluated the entire work history of freelancers who had multiple contracts that resulted in client concerns, poor feedback and disputes. While we recognize that satisfying all clients all the time is not realistic, consistently poor performers weaken the reputation and growth potential of our entire community.

Ultimately, we feel these actions will benefit the vast majority and maximize opportunities for the many great members of our professional community. Freelancers who continue to deliver good client experiences and follow oDesk guidelines will not be impacted. For freelancers in the affected groups, please know that we did not make this decision lightly. Notifications will be sent via email and you can find more information here.

We understand that no process is perfect, including this one, and always welcome your feedback on how we can improve.

Thank you for helping us build a trusted workplace. Please stay tuned for more updates from my team.

Best,
Jeff

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Elance-oDesk Shocks An Industry As First Ever Online Business Included in US Staffing Company Ranking https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/elance-odesk-shocks-as-first-ever-online-business-in-us-staffing-company-ranking/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/elance-odesk-shocks-as-first-ever-online-business-in-us-staffing-company-ranking/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:55:42 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32817 The business world is buying into online work, literally putting their money where the best talent is more accessible today: online. Elance-oDesk is the only online business—and the first ever—to be included in the annual listing of the top U.S. staffing firms by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA).

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The business world is buying into online work, literally putting their money where the best talent is more accessible today: online. Elance-oDesk is the only online business—and the first ever—to be included in the annual listing of the top U.S. staffing firms by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA).

Ranked 29 out of 124 companies listed, Elance-oDesk’s position is remarkable not only because of the innovation in staffing it indicates, but also because it already outranks 75 percent of the traditional firms.

“Staffing Industry Analysts changed its 2014 U.S. staffing and talent engagement market share report to include online staffing companies. Based on revenue managed through their system, Elance-oDesk is the U.S. market leader in the online staffing category,” stated Timothy Landhuis, senior research analyst.

According to SIA, companies spent $1.3 billion on online staffing last year. Elance-oDesk accounted for more than half of that at $750 million.

Online work lets businesses find talent when they need it, hire on demand and work directly with these professionals—a change from traditional staffing firms, which act as intermediaries between organizations and the freelancers they want to engage.

This gives businesses of all sizes control and flexibility. SIA predicts the online staffing industry could grow to $47 billion by 2020.

This shift is making it faster and easier for businesses to hire for the skills they need, when they need them, while freeing professionals to work anytime, from anywhere.

“An average job on our platform fills within three days and about a quarter of jobs fill in 24 hours or less,” said Jon Diller, VP of Enterprise Solutions at Elance-oDesk. “Our customers are delighted by this efficiency because it helps them get to work faster.”

Click here if you’d like to learn more about how to get started hiring online.

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For Your Continued Protection, oDesk Responds Quickly To Industry-Wide Warning. https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/continued-protection-odesk-responds-quickly-industry-wide-warning/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/continued-protection-odesk-responds-quickly-industry-wide-warning/#comments Thu, 10 Apr 2014 00:55:09 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32206 We take security very seriously here at oDesk, and as of 11 am PDT on April 9th we have completed the necessary fixes to eliminate these vulnerabilities. This includes patching all web infrastructure possibly affected by Heartbleed. The team has scanned our infrastructure and found no other points of potential vulnerability, and we’ll continue to actively monitor the situation.

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As you may have heard, the OpenSSL Project issued a Security Advisory on April 7th. The alert was regarding a possible weakness in encryption software used by two-thirds of all web servers in the world.

Nicknamed “Heartbleed”, the issue could potentially allow attackers to retrieve information from encrypted SSL endpoints.

We take security very seriously, and as of 11 am PDT on April 9th we have completed the necessary fixes to eliminate these vulnerabilities. This includes patching all web infrastructure possibly affected by Heartbleed. The team has scanned our infrastructure and found no other points of potential vulnerability, and we’ll continue to actively monitor the situation.

Although we have no evidence of any oDesk accounts being affected, as a precaution and best practice we do strongly recommend that you change your password.

Thanks,

Simon Yeo

VP, Technical Operations

 

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Year in Review: Insights From oDesk Execs in 2013 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/12/year-review-insights-odesk-execs-2013/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/12/year-review-insights-odesk-execs-2013/#comments Mon, 30 Dec 2013 17:00:26 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30458 From the controversial Yahoo remote work announcement to new research on the next generation of workers, we’ve found plenty to talk about in 2013. Over the past year, oDesk executives have shared their thoughts on these topics and more, many drawing from their personal experiences to explore the rapidly shifting world of work. In revisiting 2013's archives, we've pulled together this list of articles; glance through to see the discussions we’ve shared this year!

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From the controversial Yahoo remote work announcement to new research on the next generation of workers, we’ve found plenty to talk about in 2013. Over the past year, oDesk executives have shared their thoughts on these topics and more, many drawing from their personal experiences to explore the rapidly shifting world of work.

In revisiting 2013’s archives, we’ve pulled together this list of articles; glance through to see the discussions we’ve shared this year!

Trends shaping the way we work

Women around the world

Advice for startups

Millennials: The newest generation of professionals

  • In Defense Of Millennials: LinkedIn Influencers, September 2013
    A quarter of new businesses are started by people between the ages of 20 and 34. In this column for LinkedIn, Swart stepped up in defense of Millennials, writing that ”never before…has there been such an entrepreneurial generation.”

  • It’s Not What You Know, But What You Can Do: Vator TV, June 2013
    A new job market reality is emerging—one where career prospects are determined not by educational pedigree, but by skills. In this post, Swart outlined what this shift means for recent graduates.

Talent and business expertise

Did we miss any of your favorite oDesk articles from the past year? Share them in the comments section below!

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We Hear You: A Letter to Freelancers About Yesterday’s News https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/12/hear-letter-freelancers-yesterdays-news/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/12/hear-letter-freelancers-yesterdays-news/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 00:54:32 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30559 After announcing our exciting plan to merge our company with Elance, I was overwhelmed and humbled by thousands of emails. A number of you asked about potential changes to oDesk. Let me be clear: oDesk is constantly evolving and innovating to empower our customers—both our freelancers and our clients. Three freelancer worries from your emails stood out to me and I want to address them immediately so you don’t need to be concerned.

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Yesterday, after announcing our exciting plan to merge our company with Elance, I was overwhelmed and humbled by thousands of emails. Many expressed support and congratulations for this new chapter, and I found myself reading them into the early hours of the morning.

Among your notes I received thoughtful suggestions, as well as your likes, dislikes and other comments. We plan to synthesize and reflect on these ideas and talk about them next year in another blog post.

A number of you asked about potential changes to oDesk. Let me be clear: oDesk is constantly evolving and innovating to empower our customers—both our freelancers and our clients. Examples of innovations we’re already working on include improved support services for freelancers, and enhanced user profiles through even better testing and certification.

But for the moment, three freelancer worries from your emails stood out to me and I want to address them immediately so you don’t need to be concerned.

#1: I like using oDesk, and I’m worried it will go away.
Brandon, an oBlog commenter, made a wonderful analogy as to how the merger will work: just as Apple owns both iPhone and iMac, oDesk and Elance will remain separate platforms under a larger umbrella company. That means if you’re an oDesk user, you can continue using the oDesk website. Of course, Elance users can also continue using the Elance website.

We recognize that you’ve worked very hard to build up your hours, feedback, work history and other elements of your oDesk profile. It’s important to preserve your online reputation on oDesk, and you will.

#2: I’m worried oDesk will adopt membership fees or other aspects of the Elance pricing structure.
Don’t worry! oDesk does not plan fee increases or membership fees based on the merger.

#3: I’m worried there will be more freelancers, making it more difficult to find work.
This is a misperception. We believe the merger will help us make greater investments in marketing, among other things. We plan to use these resources to attract more clients who, in turn, will create more jobs and thus more selection.

Rest assured, even when the merger closing becomes official, we’ll remain first and foremost committed to you, our customers.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, concerns and suggestions with me and please keep the ideas coming. The next chapter is all about creating more opportunities for you.

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Some Big News: oDesk To Merge With Elance https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/12/odeskelancemerge/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/12/odeskelancemerge/#comments Wed, 18 Dec 2013 18:18:33 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30549 We’re excited! Today we announced that we’ve signed an agreement to merge with Elance.

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We’re excited! Today we’re announcing that we’ve signed an agreement to merge with Elance.

First things first: we’ll continue to serve you on odesk.com, and Elance customers will continue to work on elance.com. In other words, oDesk and Elance will operate separately and as usual, even after the merger is complete.

Why, then, are we putting the two companies together?

The answer is pretty simple: we think we can do a better job this way. We are both inspired by a similar vision: to deliver online work experiences that create freedom and boundless opportunity for clients and freelancers everywhere.

The merger has not yet closed, but here are the kinds of things you can look forward to:

Significant technology investments. This includes tools for more successful hiring, seamless online collaboration, better mobile support and freelancer skills development.
Higher quality results. With our combined expertise in engineering and data science, you will enjoy a host of quality improvements, such as superior job and freelancer recommendations over time.
Participation in how we evolve. Please join us in crafting the future together. Email me personally at garyeswart@odesk.com. Tell me your likes, dislikes, suggestions and comments about oDesk — and about Elance if you’ve tried it too. We’ll reflect feedback in future innovations and share back what you’ve taught us in an upcoming blog post.

I also have a personal announcement. I’ve decided that after the merger closes I will step aside and hand the reins of the merged company to Fabio Rosati, Elance’s CEO. I will remain involved as a strategic advisor. We have been spirited business rivals over the years, but I have always respected Fabio. I could not possibly imagine a more dedicated and capable CEO to oversee the merged company. oDesk executive chairman Thomas Layton will also be a leader of the new combined company, continuing his same role.

We’ve prepared a Q&A in case you have more questions. Please note that the closing of the merger, expected to occur in Q1 2014, is subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions (including regulatory review and approval). In the meantime, I am so proud of what our community has accomplished and excited to reach new heights by teaming with Elance. You have my promise that we will work harder than ever to make sure that YOU, our customers, partners, team members and friends truly love the way you work!

Gary Swart
oDesk CEO

 

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oDesk + Elance Merger FAQ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/12/mergerfaq/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/12/mergerfaq/#comments Wed, 18 Dec 2013 18:15:32 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30547 For more information about oDesk signing a definitive agreement to merge with Elance, check out these frequently asked questions.

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Why did oDesk and Elance decide to merge?
Both companies are leading innovators driving the adoption of online work. Combined, we will have the resources to invest in products and services that serve customers better.

For example, specific expected benefits of the merger include:

  • Significant investments in technology, including tools for more effective online hiring, seamless virtual collaboration, improved mobile accessibility and job skills development.
  • Higher quality results. Combining our engineering and data science expertise will deliver quality improvements including better-matched freelancers for clients and superior job recommendations for freelancers.
  • Accelerated growth and scale. The overall global demand for staffing is enormous and is transitioning online. Combined, the companies will be able to help accelerate this transition.

What is the vision for the new combined company?
Just as Amazon reinvented retail, and Apple iTunes transformed the music industry, together oDesk and Elance will revolutionize the way we work. This merger will create unprecedented freedom for people to find job opportunities regardless of their location, and will allow businesses of all sizes to more easily access the best available talent.

What does this mean for current clients and freelancers on oDesk and Elance?
Both odesk.com and elance.com will for now continue to operate as separate, independent services. Your accounts and profile records will not be impacted.

For clients, you will still be able to hire, manage and pay exactly as you have in the past.

For freelancers, your profile and work history and other aspects of your online reputation will not be affected.

After the merger closes, expect accelerated product and quality innovations that help both oDesk and Elance serve you better.

How are you evolving the two platforms so they become more differentiated?
We are inviting feedback from customers on both odesk.com and elance.com, and will be actively incorporating this feedback into differentiating innovations on the platforms moving forward.

Will there be more competition for good jobs among freelancers as a result of this merger?
As both odesk.com and elance.com will continue to operate as separate, distinct online work marketplaces for now, we don’t anticipate any changes in freelancer competition due to the merger. Our goal is to increase the number of jobs available for freelancers as we attract more businesses to hire online.

How much work is happening on oDesk and Elance?
Freelancers will earn about $750 million on the two sites in 2013.

How does this company fit into the overall market for hiring and staffing?
Global staffing is a $422 billion market (according to Staffing Industry Analysts) that we believe is ripe for reinvention. Online work, any type of work that can be done via the Internet, is an emerging sector within it that SIA predicts will reach $5 billion by 2018.

Who will lead the new company?
oDesk executive chairman Thomas Layton will continue in the same role at the combined company, and Elance CEO Fabio Rosati will serve as chief executive officer.

What will the new combined company be called?
As the merger is not yet complete, it’s too early to say. The name will be announced after the deal closes.

Will any of the features I’m used to go away?
We update our platforms on a regular basis and will continue to do so, but clients will still be able to hire, manage and pay as they have in the past, and freelancers’ profile, work history, etc. will not be affected. Login information will remain the same.

Will there be any change in fees or membership structures?
None are planned.

What’s the timeline for concluding the deal?
The closing of the merger is subject to regulatory approval and other closing conditions, and is expected to occur in the next four months.

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How Freelancers Can Help You Celebrate More & Stress Less https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/12/freelancers-can-help-celebrate-stress-less/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/12/freelancers-can-help-celebrate-stress-less/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 15:00:28 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30525 With holidays and the end of the year looming, many business owners are burning the midnight oil—not just at work, but also with personal commitments to family and friends. Bringing freelance help on board gives you an extra pair of hands to help power through your to-do list. Here are 10 ways freelancers can help you manage the holidays and go full steam ahead into 2014.

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With holidays and the end of the year looming, many business owners are burning the midnight oil—not just at work, but also with personal commitments to family and friends.

Bringing freelance help on board gives you an extra pair of hands to help power through your to-do list. Here are 10 ways freelancers can help you manage the holidays and go full steam ahead into 2014.

First, get through the holidays

1. Connect with a personal assistant

There’s a long list of things personal assistants can help with, from getting your holiday cards out the door to researching leads for you to connect with in January. You can search for skilled professionals with a variety of backgrounds—from design and marketing to writing and administration—and find a personal assistant with the skills you need.

2. Prep your website for the holidays

If you expect a rush of web traffic over the next few weeks, get your website ready: you can find a web designer to review your site and recommend steps that will make your site more user-friendly—and more conversion-friendly—today.

3. Send deals to delighted customers

One way to get an end-of-year boost in sales is to offer your fans a deal or discount. Wondering the best way to approach it? Connect with an email marketing specialist who can design a promotion that will get attention and attract sales.

4. Thank clients with a custom holiday card

E-cards are a cost-effective way to connect with customers during the holidays and thank them for their business. If you’re short on time and know-how, a graphic designer can help you create a custom card that will look great and won’t get distorted when it loads in someone’s inbox.

5. Have a bookkeeper prep your tax information

From bookkeeping records to forms you need to distribute to staff or contractors, compiling your records is necessary—and time-consuming, especially if you’ve been too busy to stay up to date during the year. Save yourself the stress and hire a bookkeeper who already knows what they’re doing to prep everything you need for your accountant and the taxman.

Launch into 2014

6. Turn mobile app dreams into realitysuperhero businesswoman

If you’re wondering whether an Android or iOS app is the right step for your business, you don’t have to muddle through the process alone. A mobile app developer can help you decide what functionality is appropriate for your needs, then create it for you.

7. Boost Facebook likes

Keeping up with the changes to Facebook marketing can be a job in itself. Luckily, there are social media specialists who have the knowledge and expertise to do it for you! They can help you come up with—and carry out—a new marketing strategy to maximize your imprint on the Facebook community.

8. Improve your website’s search engine rank

There’s one constant when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO): you need to have good, relevant content on your website to rank well in search results. Writing and researching both topics and trends takes time, but an experienced content writer can help you build a solid library of information.

9. Refresh your website

It’s easy to put off a website redesign, but if your website isn’t equipped to support your big plans for 2014, this is a good time to start thinking about a redesign. An experienced web developer can help create a site that will bring you closer to your marketing and conversion goals.

10. Improve your customer service

Your customers expect a timely response when they reach out with questions, comments or problems. Whether you need ongoing help or just a boost to keep up with seasonal demand, a skilled support representative can field requests, respond to questions, and follow up when needed.

How to hire a freelancer

If you haven’t hired a freelancer before, or aren’t sure the best way to do so via oDesk, our Client Resource Center has all the information you need to build your remote team today and on an ongoing basis.

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Code Your Way to California: oDesk’s First Coding Challenge Attracts Top Developers From Russia and Ukraine https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/11/code-your-way-to-california-odesk-coding-challenge/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/11/code-your-way-to-california-odesk-coding-challenge/#comments Fri, 01 Nov 2013 17:37:37 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30060 At 11:00 am MSK on Saturday, October 19th, over one thousand developers across Russia and Ukraine entered oDesk’s Coding Challenge. Participants had four hours to solve two puzzles, choosing from a list of 15 coding languages. Both experienced oDesk developers and those new to oDesk came out in large numbers for the chance to demonstrate their skills to prospective clients; we had created an exclusive developer group on oDesk open only to the top performers. But they were also vying for the grand prize—a trip to Silicon Valley and an in-person interview with oDesk.

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On your mark, get set, code!

At 11:00 am MSK on Saturday, October 19th, over one thousand developers across Russia and Ukraine entered oDesk’s Coding Challenge. Participants had four hours to solve two puzzles, choosing from a list of 15 coding languages.

Both experienced oDesk developers and those new to oDesk came out in large numbers for the chance to demonstrate their skills to prospective clients; we had created an exclusive developer group on oDesk open only to the top performers. But they were also vying for the grand prize—a trip to Silicon Valley and an in-person interview with oDesk.

Serhiy Bardakov, an experienced oDesk developer, said that in addition to the two reasons mentioned above, he competed because he was excited to test his skills against other top developers. “I like solving complex problems,” he told us, “and of course it is always fun to compete with other professionals.”

oDesk Coding Challenge Champs GroupWhatever their reason for participating, the overall performance of the participants was impressive. Many developers—including Serhiy—aced the contest, with more than 100 developers receiving a perfect score. The top performers were invited to join oDesk’s Coding Challenge group, which is being promoted to oDesk clients with open jobs for developers— helping to connect skilled developers with clients who need their expertise.

To tease out a single winner from this group of top performers, we considered time spent completing the challenge as well as the quality of the code. After carefully reviewing these criteria, we selected Andrew Shulayev as the winner. “I was shocked when I heard the news,” he said. “I’ve never been to the USA before and I’m excited to make the trip.”

While in California, Andrew will receive a guided tour of Silicon Valley tech companies, including oDesk. He will also interview on-site for a spot on oDesk’s engineering team. “I’m really looking forward to going through the interview process and exploring a place where lots of now-famous Internet companies were founded,” he told us.

Many other high-performing developers—while not traveling to California just yet—are benefiting from the increased exposure to global companies brought on by the contest. Kuzma Kudim, for example, received two job invites from oDesk as a result of his strong performance. He says he chooses to work on oDesk because the platform makes it easy to compare earnings and expectations for a wide variety of jobs in one place. He also likes the flexibility: “I had two full-time programming positions before, but I prefer freelancing because of the freedom,” he said.

Serhiy, who is also a member of the Coding Challenge Champs group, agrees that the freedom to choose where, when and for whom he works is a major benefit of being a freelance developer on oDesk. He explains, “What I like most is the flexibility, including the flexibility in projects, time and earnings. Most of my clients on oDesk are very understanding, so I get to set my own hours. I also like being able to choose which projects I work on. For example, I can work in new areas to grow my skills for lower rates. Or, I can work on well-paid projects in areas in which I have a lot of expertise.”

Congratulations to all the developers who participated in the oDesk Coding Challenge!

Want to learn more about the Coding Challenge Champs or the types of jobs that are available for developers on oDesk? Check out the Coding Challenge Champs group here or explore open developer jobs here. Itching for the chance to compete? Stay tuned for future announcements about coding contests in your area!

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Crossrider CTO: New oDesk Partnership Will Help Our Customers Succeed https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/10/crossrider-cto-new-odesk-partnership-will-help-our-customers-succeed/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/10/crossrider-cto-new-odesk-partnership-will-help-our-customers-succeed/#comments Thu, 24 Oct 2013 16:30:33 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=29962 Today marks the launch of a new partnership between oDesk and Crossrider, which has created the Crossrider Developer Marketplace. The marketplace will enable Crossrider clients to access great freelance development talent to build browser extensions, and will provide talented oDesk developers with an opportunity to showcase their browser extension expertise through the oDesk Crossrider group.

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Editor’s Note: This post was written by Shmueli Ahdut, co-founder and CTO at Crossrider.

As co-founder and CTO of a growing company, I know it can be challenging to find and hire the best talent. At Crossrider, we make creating cross-browser extensions easy – but our customers were having trouble finding skilled developers who could build the extensions they wanted.

Often, those customers would turn to us and ask whether we knew of any developers who could assist them. oDesk quickly became our go-to talent resource.

We’d known about oDesk for some time, and decided to informally recommend it as a platform for people to find, hire, manage and pay freelancers. As we heard positive feedback from our clients and saw the quality of the extensions built, it became an easy decision to refer additional customers to professionals on oDesk. This easy access to skills enables our clients to build the great browser extensions they envision, and allows us to focus on our core business.

Because of this mutually beneficial relationship, we’re excited to announce a formal partnership with oDesk as we launch the Crossrider Developer Marketplace. This marketplace gives our customers direct access to skilled programmers and developers on oDesk, while helping members of the Crossrider freelance developer community distinguish themselves on oDesk and access more jobs.

As part of this launch, we also created a custom Crossrider group on oDesk to help developers who use our framework access more job opportunities. If you’re a developer with experience in Crossrider, JavaScript and jQuery, visit www.odesk.com/groups/crossrider and click “Join this Group.”

All group members will receive an official Crossrider badge on their oDesk profile. This badge signifies technical distinction and expertise at a glance, providing a competitive advantage when applying to the many Crossrider-related jobs available right now on oDesk.

We look forward to seeing all the exciting things Crossrider clients and oDesk developers will build together!

Shmueli Ahdut, Founder and CTO at CrossriderShmueli Ahdut is co-founder and CTO of Crossrider, an easy-to-use framework to build cross-browser extensions.

 

 

 

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The Way You Work: oDesk Client Jay Shapiro https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/08/the-way-you-work-odesk-client-jay-shapiro/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/08/the-way-you-work-odesk-client-jay-shapiro/#comments Thu, 15 Aug 2013 13:00:06 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=29337 Ever wanted to start your own business...while simultaneously traveling the world with your wife and two kids in an eco-friendly RV? Well, that’s what oDesk client Jay Shapiro wanted to do — and did. By tapping into online work, he was able to build Infinite Monkeys — a site that allows anyone to easily create a mobile app — while he remained happily on the road. Along the road to success, Jay made some important discoveries about the benefits of online work and developed his own best practices for leveraging remote teams. Here are five of his best nuggets of advice.

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Ever wanted to start your own business…while simultaneously traveling the world with your wife and two kids in an eco-friendly RV? Well, that’s what oDesk client Jay Shapiro wanted to do — and did. By tapping into online work, he was able to build Infinite Monkeys — a site that allows anyone to easily create a mobile app — while he remained happily on the road.

After creating and selling a Singapore-based Internet marketing agency with 175 employees and offices in Asia, London, and Silicon Valley, Jay set out to discover if it was possible to build an entire company in the cloud. Using oDesk as his go-to global talent pool, he created a super-nimble operational structure that relies almost entirely on online workers, and he has no plans to return to the old brick-and-mortar style of work.

“With my former company, I had offices and leases and had to negotiate with governments to be licensed in their country. I was dealing more with bureaucracy than I was with the creative process,” he says. “With oDesk, I can hire people from anywhere — wherever I find the best talent. I don’t have to open offices. I just find talent and hire them. And I go back to the creative end of running my business.”

Today, Infinite Monkeys is up and running, powered by Jay’s unique vision and a crew of about 35 freelancers from New Jersey to New Delhi. His business (ad)venture just passed 50,000 registered publishers, and Jay is currently engineering an expansion that could quadruple his workforce.

Along the road to success, Jay made some important discoveries about the benefits of online work and developed his own best practices for leveraging remote teams. Here are five of his best nuggets of advice.

1. Remote hiring opens up a global pool of talent that is deeper than your local resources.
Online work makes it possible to tap into the best talent regardless of geographical location. Jay explains, “What oDesk allows you to do is not hire the best person for the role who coincidentally happens to live within 30 miles of your office. It allows you to hire the best person for the role.” He adds: “We are totally global.…We have contractors literally on six continents. If there is a contractor in Antarctica, we’ll hire them.”

2. Project managers are well-suited to working remotely, and can smooth the transition to an all- or semi-remote workforce.
Cultivating a team of reliable project managers has enabled Jay to step away from what he calls “day-to-day hand-holding and operational issues” and focus instead on creative development and tasks he enjoys (including traveling around the globe with his family). His project managers decide on the frequency and means of communication with their teams. This often varies by job type and may include basic tools such as email or video chat, or more complex communication software.

3. Hire for skills or tasks rather than for personality or portfolio.
Interviews are not always the best indicator of who will be a great worker, and Jay has found that this is especially true when hiring international workers. “In a lot of countries where we hire, English fluency is not necessarily someone’s best thing and there may be shyness issues,” he says. “A great developer but might not be comfortable getting on Skype and talking in an interview.” Instead, Jay gauges whether to hire someone via email chatting and test projects.

4. Test your recruits with a small but meaty piece of work.
Breaking projects into small chunks allows Jay to test new hires and also helps his bottom line. He says, “Rather than hiring a developer and keeping them for 18 months, we’ll break it up into individual tasks and hire the best person for that task. So they tend to be bite-sized jobs and an individual contractor may have five or 10 contracts with me, but we start a new contract based on the work available at that time.”

5. It pays to focus on cultivating culture and loyalty.
Despite the transient nature of his workforce, employee retention is increasingly important and has driven Jay to focus on creating a good company culture in a remote setting. To foster loyalty, Jay gives his freelancers regular raises and bonuses. Occasionally he goes far above and beyond — after learning one of his freelancers was forced to stop working because she had been put on pregnancy-related bed rest, he sent her a “maternity bonus” to make up the lost income, help with her hospital bills, and just say thank you. Another team member recently asked him to be in her wedding. While he’s not sure if he can attend, the spirit of the invitation means a lot. “It’s a great testament to the remote work relationships that can be built,” he says.

For more about Jay and his best practices, check out our free eBook, our previous blog post about him, or our Client Resource Center. You can also watch his video below!

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New eBook Intro: oDesk CEO Gary Swart Shares His Perspective https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/08/new-ebook-intro-odesk-ceo-gary-swart-shares-his-perspective/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/08/new-ebook-intro-odesk-ceo-gary-swart-shares-his-perspective/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 19:04:46 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=29221 Check out the introduction from oDesk CEO Gary Swart for our recently published eBook: "Make it Work: Smart Advice from Real-Life Clients Who Found Success Using Online Work."

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Editor’s Note: This is an introduction written by oDesk CEO Gary Swart for our recently published eBook: “Make it Work: Smart Advice from Real-Life Clients Who Found Success Using Online Work.” To read the full eBook, click here.

If you’re lucky in your career, you may help build a promising new company. But if you’re very lucky, you may be part of building an entire new industry.

Since joining oDesk in 2006, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness the rapid growth of the online work industry. Back then, the concept of hiring via the Internet was still in its early days. People were hiring programmers for discrete projects they could easily imagine being done from a home office, but hiring for anything larger than that seemed far-fetched and intimidating.

Today, people turn to the online workplace for anything imaginable, from legal advice and financial modeling to bioinformatics experts and data scientists. Businesses everywhere are realizing that hiring online isn’t just a quick solution to an urgent need—it’s a long-term strategy to tap into a broad pool of professional talent. At oDesk, we ourselves have more than 250 full-time equivalent team members who work for us every day, only they come to work via the Internet. There’s no way we could have built our business without these professionals or without this staffing model.

Since you’re reading this book, you’re probably curious about hiring online. But what you’re really doing is figuring out how to make your business more successful. I’m willing to bet many of you are:

  • Building a business you envision as having big potential, but you want to start lean

  • Trying to figure out how to take your business to the next level

  • Managing a team that’s already big and trying to remain competitive

Regardless of which category you fall into, you are first and foremost an innovator. You’re reinventing how you staff and potentially even how you live. You could be building an entirely virtual company (like Govind Davis) or running a business while traveling the world (like Jay Shapiro). You’re taking advantage of the freedom and flexibility of hiring online. In fact, when we asked those using online work what word first comes to mind when they think of oDesk, the word we heard most was “freedom.”

But even beyond freedom, there’s opportunity. It’s easier than ever to build and grow a business, thanks to the rapid proliferation of mobile and cloud technologies. As a result, this new era is a highly entrepreneurial one. And many entrepreneurs (and entrepreneurially minded people at big companies) realize that nothing powers ideas and initiatives better than a good team, which is why we’ve seen online hiring grow at such an astounding rate.

As I write this, we’ve surpassed more than $1 billion spent hiring on oDesk. Businesses are building distributed teams, going global earlier than ever, and adopting technologies that make work more mobile. But in many ways we’ve only just begun.

Adoption of a disruptive way of working doesn’t happen overnight; the last time we saw a shift this major was the Industrial Revolution. So it’s especially important to share insights from businesses paving the way, and it’s my privilege to know many of the entrepreneurs, innovators, and executives running these companies.

Last year I crisscrossed the globe, meeting clients and groups of entrepreneurs from Australia to Germany to Toronto. I loved these meetings. Nothing is more inspiring than talking to people who are building something. And while I made these trips to share insights from years of building businesses (like at this talk in Los Angeles), I easily received just as much wisdom in return.

When I sit down with a client, I ask two things: “How can we help you?” and “What are your best practices for using oDesk?” This book captures a wealth of practical advice gleaned from asking these questions. No one is more in tune with how to work the online workplace than these folks, so we’ve turned the “virtual pages” of this book over to them.

Each featured client uses different methodologies that fit their distinct personalities, management styles, and business needs. So it’s less about recommending a “right” way to use online work, but rather to highlight a variety of practices that have developed organically to suit the needs of very different businesses.

I wanted to close with some thoughts on how to build your teams overall. Whether co-located, entirely virtual, or somewhere in between, your team can only be as good as you set it up to be. This means knowing what to look for when you hire (especially these 4 dimensions) and keeping your team motivated.

For teams with virtual members, it’s especially important to:

  • Treat them as equally valued team members

  • Be an even better communicator than usual—you only get as much as you give

  • Use the tools available to you (see the “Online Management Tools” detailed throughout this book)

  • Create an engaging and inclusive culture

There is one simple truth underlying this all—work is no longer a place. We all want to break free of boundaries and maximize the opportunities that open up in response. I hope this book helps you do so, and I look forward to hearing about your success.

To read more from the eBook, check it out here.

 

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Congratulations, oDeskers! More Than $1B Spent on oDesk https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/08/odesk-1-billion/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/08/odesk-1-billion/#comments Mon, 05 Aug 2013 13:29:52 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=29173 Today we are thrilled to announce an exciting landmark in oDesk’s history — we have reached more than $1 billion of work done through our online workplace.

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Today we are thrilled to announce an exciting landmark in oDesk’s history — we have reached more than $1 billion of work done through our online workplace.

We are proud to be the first online workplace to reach this milestone, while remaining true to our mission: creating freedom and opportunity for the world’s best businesses and best professionals to work together. After all, the simple truth underlying this landmark is that work is no longer a place.

A number in and of itself means very little, but the millions of people feeling the positive impact of online work means everything. So as we take a moment today to celebrate this milestone, we would like to first and foremost celebrate the people that made it happen — our fantastic community of businesses and freelancers. It’s your hard work, advocacy and loyalty that is changing the way the world works for the better. You are true innovators who realize that work today isn’t a time, a place or a role — it’s about bringing together the best people in the world and creating more opportunity for all.

This landmark also hints at what the oDesk community has known all along — online work is here to stay. Not since the Industrial Revolution have we experienced such rapid disruption in the way we work, and this is only the beginning. This shift is a very good thing, as the freedom inherent to online work have the potential to change everything from career paths to organizational structure.

For more information on this landmark and the rise of online work, we invite you to explore the materials here. If you’re considering hiring via oDesk, this new resource center features insights from people who have paved the way, as does our new client eBook. And if you’re hiring or working on oDesk already, thank you for being part of this incredible community. We love the way we work!

$1B infographic

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The Way You Work: Behind the Scenes With oDesk Product Manager Sondra Suazo https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/07/the-way-you-work-behind-the-scenes-with-odesk-product-manager-sondra-suazo/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/07/the-way-you-work-behind-the-scenes-with-odesk-product-manager-sondra-suazo/#comments Thu, 25 Jul 2013 16:00:48 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=29033 Sondra Suazo, a product manager at oDesk, knows all about working flexibly—she recently moved from Silicon Valley (a few towns away from the oDesk HQ office in Redwood City, CA) to Santa Cruz. While she gained a breathtaking beachfront view, she also added more than 40 miles onto her commute—each way! We caught up with Sondra to learn how she made this move work (hint: it involves more frequent work-from-home days), how she works remotely, and what her favorite work-from-home tips are.

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Sondra Suazo, a product manager at oDesk, knows all about working flexibly—she recently moved from Silicon Valley (a few towns away from the oDesk HQ office in Redwood City, CA) to Santa Cruz. While she gained a breathtaking beachfront view, she also added more than 40 miles onto her commute—each way! We caught up with Sondra to learn how she made this move work (hint: it involves more frequent work-from-home days), how she works remotely, and what her favorite work-from-home tips are.

You’re a product manager at oDesk. What does that role entail?
As a product manager, my job is to deliver features that oDesk users need and want. I work closely with our engineering and design teams to manage feature development from concept to launch. I primarily focus on building features to help new clients get started and be successful on oDesk.

Do you always work in the oDesk office?
I usually work from home 2 days a week, and the rest of the time I work in the oDesk office.

sondra 6

Do you work differently at home than you do in the office?
It’s quieter at home than in the office, so when I’m working from home I spend more time on projects that require long periods of focus, like creative tasks and deep dives into our data. When I’m at the office I usually spend the majority of the day in meetings. I try to take advantage of the face-to-face time with others in the office.

What does your workspace at home look like?
I love working in my living room because it has huge windows and a great view of the beach. I have a little desk that I can set up right in front of the windows or even out on the front balcony. The sunshine and fresh ocean air keep me happy and energized all day. When I need to take a call or use a monitor bigger than my laptop’s screen, I’ll move to another room that triples as an office/guest room/storage space for my fiance’s surfboards.

What does your workspace in the office look like?
Well it doesn’t have a view of the beach… ;)  But I do sit near a window so I still get some sunshine at the office. My workspace in the office is pretty standard. I recently ordered a Roost laptop stand and am looking forward to setting that up in the office when it arrives.

You recently moved to Santa Cruz. How do you make that work?
My fiance and I moved to Santa Cruz recently because we love the city’s vibe and he surfs, so we wanted to live on the beach. Santa Cruz is a one-hour drive from the oDesk office when there’s no traffic. The commute is really long, but avoiding rush hour traffic makes it less painful. I get to the office very early and also head home earlier in the afternoon. I log back in to check emails and wrap up projects when I get home. Working from home two days a week also helps a lot.

When you moved to Santa Cruz, you added an extra day of remote work. How did you go about asking for that?
sondra 2
I had been thinking about moving to Santa Cruz for a while, but I didn’t want to commit to adding an extra 40+ miles to my commute (each way) unless I would be able to work from home more. I talked to my manager months in advance to find out if she would be comfortable with me working remotely; I wanted to give her enough time to think about it and discuss it with her boss too. I also gave advanced notice to my colleagues who I work with regularly so we could adjust meeting schedules and communication techniques if necessary. Because of all the upfront planning, the transition was very smooth.

Do you like working remotely? And what are the biggest challenges?
Yes, absolutely. Thanks to a flexible schedule and work-from-home days, I’m able to have a job that I love and also live in a city that I love, despite the geographical distance between the two. The biggest challenge I’ve noticed is that I have less face-to-face time with my colleagues. When I’m remote I miss out on those impromptu hallway meetings and in-office birthday celebrations. To make up for this, I work hard to keep in touch via Skype and email when I’m remote, and to catch up with people in person when I’m in the office.

sondra 3In your role, how much do you collaborate with other people remotely? What are your go-to tools for doing so?
Constantly; I connect daily with several remote developers. For tools, I stay logged in to Skype all day to chat with colleagues. For remote meetings I prefer Google Hangouts, and I always use Google documents and spreadsheets to make sharing files easier.

What do you think are the three most important things you’d advise others to do or consider when collaborating with people remotely?
1. Make sure you have a reliable internet connection. Technical difficulties can eat up the bulk of a meeting, but much of that can be avoided with a reliable internet connection.

2. Keep documents in the cloud for easier sharing. We use Google Drive for sharing written documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Sending a link to a remote colleague via instant chat or email is much faster and more reliable than emailing files back and forth. And real-time, collaborative editing is great.

3. Dress as if you are going to the office. It’s harder to focus on work if you’re in your pajamas all day, plus you never know when your boss will want to video chat with you!

Have you used flexible work arrangements to make a big move or change your working situation? We would love to hear your story in the comments section below!

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Find Me a Match: Updates on oDesk’s Job & Freelancer Match Efforts https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/07/find-me-a-match-updates-on-odesks-job-freelancer-match-efforts/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/07/find-me-a-match-updates-on-odesks-job-freelancer-match-efforts/#comments Tue, 16 Jul 2013 16:00:58 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=29015 In the coming months, we will be rolling out additional features designed to improve your match experience on oDesk. For clients, we want to make it easier for you to quickly identify and hire the right freelancer for your job. For freelancers, we want to make it easier for you to successfully find work.

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The oDesk online workplace has grown into a large and vibrant community that has come a long way since its birth in 2005. Today oDesk is home to millions of freelancers and clients from around the world, with an unparalleled range of work taking place. From software development to transcription, from customer service to web design, oDesk brings talent and businesses together online, changing the way we live and work.

Our enormous growth also raises some big questions for each individual. Clients may wonder, “With all those freelancers, how will I find the one that’s right for me?” Freelancers may wonder, “With all those jobs, how will I find the one that’s right for me?” Each faced a simpler problem when oDesk was smaller: with fewer freelancers or jobs to sift through, finding the right freelancer or job for you was a reasonable task.

In the past, we have largely relied on you — our users — to perform most of the work in finding each other. As we have grown, however, we are hearing from many of you that you’d like to rely more on oDesk to make it easier to find the right match. There are two important reasons we believe we now need to help you. First, in a bigger online workplace — while the perfect freelancer (if you’re a client) or job (if you’re a freelancer) is much more likely to be available — it has become much harder for you to find them. Second, we have the benefit of learning from the volumes of data generated on oDesk — data we can learn from to help you succeed.

What does this mean for you?

In the coming months, we will be rolling out additional features designed to improve your match experience on oDesk. For clients, we want to make it easier for you to quickly identify and hire the right freelancer for your job. For freelancers, we want to make it easier for you to successfully find work.

What this means, of course, is that oDesk will become more of a meritocracy than ever before. Freelancers with appropriate skills and satisfied clients, for example, will earn more visibility for relevant jobs than in the past. Among other efforts, we will improve the freelancer and job search experiences; we will improve the recommendations we make to you; and we will roll out a host of features that help us learn more about what you are looking for, so we can best meet your needs.

We’re excited to leverage oDesk’s scale to improve the experience for all our valued participants. Stay tuned for exciting changes ahead!

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Connecting HQ And Your Remote Team: An Interview With oDesk’s IT Manager https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/07/connecting-hq-and-your-remote-team-an-interview-with-odesks-it-manager/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/07/connecting-hq-and-your-remote-team-an-interview-with-odesks-it-manager/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 18:43:38 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=28925 When it comes to connecting your remote team with a central office, flashy can be fun — but also expensive and potentially unnecessary. How do you build an infrastructure that enables your team to succeed wherever they are, without going overboard? In this Q&A, oDesk’s IT Manager Gordon Thomas shares his practical approach to tech and how it might transfer to other businesses.

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When it comes to connecting your remote team with a central office, flashy can be fun — but also expensive and potentially unnecessary. How do you build an infrastructure that enables your team to succeed wherever they are, without going overboard?

Gordon Thomas, oDesk’s IT manager, takes a practical approach to this issue, drawing inspiration from an unlikely episode of Cold War history.

When Russian pilot Viktor Belenko defected to the West in 1976 with a newly built MiG-25 “Foxbat” fighter jet, American engineers were “astounded to discover that the Russians had used rivets on positions of the wing instead of welds — [the latter being] a much stronger, but more complex and expensive, way of joining metal together,” Thomas recounted.

“However, the Russians — due to their comparatively limited resources — had discovered where they needed to use welds, and where rivets would suffice,” he continued. “That story has always stuck with me, and I constantly ask myself: Do I need to use a weld here? Or will a rivet work just as well?”

Thomas says people have a tendency to embrace new IT systems and solve problems that may not actually matter. Instead, he recommends that each business “look at how they work versus how they want to work, and focus on creating a simple, reliable platform to support their ideal.”

How does this simplicity manifest at oDesk headquarters? In this Q&A, Thomas explains the values that have shaped oDesk’s IT backbone, and how they might transfer to other businesses.

How would you describe oDesk’s IT setup?

Our IT team strives to embrace oDesk’s core values regarding freedom and loving the way you work. We do everything we can to create a level playing field between our remote users and those in the office, so individual employees can decide how and where they want to work without being hindered technologically. Naturally there are some physical items, like printers, that are still “office only.” But in every way possible, we try to move systems and security beyond our office walls.

oDesk has a very open, collaborative office space. Is that something that also factors into your IT planning?

Everyone, from founders to interns, sits together in workspaces in a large open environment. That means there’s a lot of physical movement as people shift between common areas and conference rooms to collaborate across different teams.

Odysseas and Gary

oDesk co-founder Odysseas Tsatalos and CEO Gary Swart, at their seats in the open office space

The resulting need for portability led us to really embrace ultrabooks; the light weight and long battery life is essential for this sort of environment. We have also heavily invested in our wireless network — especially when it comes to roaming between access points — so users don’t feel tethered to their desks. Conference rooms are probably where we invest the majority of our resources, though. We have a home-grown telepresence system that we use to connect our users from around the world with each other and the main oDesk office. We are constantly trying to improve the fidelity of these systems; we want our employees to feel like they can be a part of a collaborative team no matter where they are physically located.

With such a focus on remote work and flexible workspaces, what are your primary considerations?

In general, it requires powerful collaboration tools and a concerted effort to move data/security/compliance away from physical networks as much as possible. We try to move everything we can into redundant cloud environments.

This is also good for security: we have a mindset that every device and network is potentially hostile and compromised. As a result, we don’t take for granted that anything is ever “safe,” and aggressively target threats in a systemic fashion.

Where do you think businesses can splurge? Where can they save?

I don’t think there is ever a reason to splurge on anything — you either need the technology, or you don’t. Deciding which requires a lot of observation and research. Also, something that makes a lot of sense one year might be a poor investment the following year.

Planning and diligence can do a lot to reduce costs. Sometimes a crisis is unavoidable, but there are ways to plan for crises and have a solution ready. It’s also important to remember that cash is not the only cost that technology can incur — downtime and training, for example, are all costs to consider.

What technology do you use to connect your remote team members? Share your solutions in the comments below.

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The Way You Work: Behind the Scenes With oDesk Art Director Lorena Pinon https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/04/the-way-you-work-behind-the-scenes-with-odesk-art-director-lorena-pinon/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/04/the-way-you-work-behind-the-scenes-with-odesk-art-director-lorena-pinon/#comments Wed, 24 Apr 2013 21:56:05 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=28365 Lorena Pinon, oDesk’s Art Director, knows all about the importance of setting up your workspace to maximize creativity and productivity — whether you’re at home or at the office. We sat down with her to hear more about her workspaces, how she collaborates with others remotely, and why she wouldn’t want to work any other way.

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Lorena Pinon, oDesk’s Art Director, knows all about the importance of setting up your workspace to maximize creativity and productivity — whether you’re at home or at the office. We sat down with her to hear more about her workspaces, how she collaborates with others remotely, and why she wouldn’t want to work any other way. 

You’re oDesk’s Art Director. What does that role entail?
My role is a bit hard to define; essentially I’m a design resource for the entire company. So I work on anything from print collateral and office space design to lots of interactive.

Do you always work in the oDesk office? Or do you work at home too?
I work at home two days a week, and at the oDesk office three days a week.

Do you work differently at home than you do in the office?
Yes. When I’m in the office, I use that time to meet with people, ask questions and be accessible to others. When I’m at home, I put my head down and just power through on design projects. I do a lot of execution at home, because it’s usually uninterrupted time.

Lorena home

What does your workspace at home look like? Why did you set it up like that?
I basically have an allocated office space in my house, and I make sure that it’s colorful and creative, so I’m able to be inspired. I do sometimes work in the living room as well, for a change of scenery.

It’s important for me to be in an environment that’s highly creative. Having my own space — my own cave — that I can decorate with whatever inspires me keeps the creativity and productivity going.

What does your workspace in the office look like?
My desk is out in the open, surrounded by all my wonderful, fabulous work buddies. [Editor’s note: She really did say that, through no coercion on my part!] I have my Wacom tablet, which is easier for me to design with. (It also helps me avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.) I have an extra monitor, and I definitely have some visual elements around that inspire me. I love having my Pantone swatch book handy (because color is a big source of inspiration for me), and I have pictures of my family in my line of vision. I also have my T-square and Schaedler ruler on hand, because you never know when you need to measure something!

Lorena office

Do you collaborate with other people remotely on design projects?
Yes, both with coworkers and freelancers.

I work with freelancers mostly for web development, but I also occasionally hire freelance illustrators and photographers. And when I’m working from home, I collaborate remotely with all my coworkers, especially the other half of our creative team (our Creative Director, Laura). It’s really important to have access to her, because when I have a question or something I want to pitch to her, I need to have access to her. If I don’t talk to her about 10 times a day, I feel like I haven’t had enough time to talk to her. We Skype a lot.

How do you do collaborate remotely?
I use Skype, Evernote and InVision to help me show visuals. Skype allows me to make video calls and share my screen, and Evernote and InVision are really helpful because other people can mock up designs directly. Google Docs is also really great because you can see all the changes as they’re made. When you’re working together in a collaborative way, it’s great to see those instantaneous edits.

What do you think are the three most important things to do or consider when collaborating with people remotely, especially on design projects?
1. Find a quiet space, where the people on the other side can hear you clearly. In the past I’ve done remote meetings and the person decides to go to a coffee shop, and then you hear all the ambient noise. Sometimes a headset is not enough. Similarly, make sure you have your mute button handy, because some sounds can be out of your control (like an ambulance driving by).

2. Make sure you have a good Internet connection, so when you’re sending files back and forth or sharing your screen, there are no lag times or dropped calls.

3. Be prepared. You never know when you’ll have to turn on your camera [for video calls], so be in a space that you would be okay with others seeing. You just never know when you need to have that face time. More than anything, you want to project that you’re organized and put-together. If you’re presenting designs via Skype, for example, make sure they’re all ready in a pdf document or a gallery of images, so you don’t have to search around your computer during the call.

Why do you like working remotely?
It gives me freedom. Especially with creative stuff — it’s hard to be creative only from 9 to 5. Sometimes your best ideas or best designs will pop up at night, or early in the morning. For example, if you’re having a design roadblock, it can take some time to get yourself out of that haze. So you can answer emails, go get a coffee, do whatever you need to do. And then all of a sudden you have an amazing idea, so you prop up your computer and burn the midnight oil. Being creative, there is no 9 to 5. So for days that I work in the office, a lot of the times during the day I use that time to do administrative types of things, like emails, answering people’s questions, collaborating on upcoming projects, etc. And once I get home and settle in, I’m inspired to get back on the computer, and that’s when I start doing some design that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.

What has been your biggest challenge collaborating with people remotely?
When you’re in a meeting that has four or five people together at the office and you’re remote. It becomes a little chaotic and it can sometimes make you feel a little left out for not being physically there. Those tools I just mentioned are great, but a lot of voices at once kind of muffles the sound.

Do you have any last advice for other designers who work remotely?
1. Make sure to surround yourself with things that inspire you, whether they’re visual things or particular music playlists. If you’ve hit a roadblock, it’s always great to pause, put the computer down, take a walk, etc., and when you least expect it, the answer will come to you. Especially when you’re working remotely, a lot of the times it’s just you there by yourself. In the office there are more natural breaks and distractions, but when you’re at home, you’re in a bubble. So avoid working in a vacuum; try to go get a coffee, do something to activate your creativity.

2. Cloud technology is your friend. A tool like Dropbox is great, because you’re able to upload and save files into your Dropbox folder, and you can access them anywhere. For example, I have an art assets folder that I can’t live without; it has a lot of my essentials that I need (all my color palettes, branding stuff, etc.). So with Dropbox I can access my source files there, regardless of whether I’m at the office or at home, or if I’m on my iPad or work laptop.

3. Try to go to events that get you connected with other creative people. Remote work can be isolating, so find ways to get out and talk to other people — whether it’s a membership to a museum, or something like the monthly art walks we have in Oakland. Be moved, create!

Do you work differently in the office than at home? How have you set up your workspace? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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What Does ‘oDesk’ Mean Anyway? Our Startup Story https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/03/what-does-odesk-mean-anyway-our-startup-story/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/03/what-does-odesk-mean-anyway-our-startup-story/#comments Tue, 26 Mar 2013 22:25:19 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=28053 Ever wonder how oDesk came to be? Or what our name even means? Then today is your lucky day — come along on our trip down memory lane!

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Ever wonder how oDesk came to be? Or what our name even means? Then today is your lucky day — come along on our trip down memory lane!

Where it all began

As our co-founder Odysseas Tsatalos likes to say, oDesk was born out of the best entrepreneurship inspiration there is — “personal pain.”

At his previous startup, Odysseas wanted to work with one of his closest friends, Stratis Karamanlakis. The two grew up together in Greece; Odysseas had become an entrepreneur (he was then on his third startup), and Stratis had become a talented developer. They were a perfect pair for Odysseas’s new venture, but there was just one problem — Odysseas and his startup were in Silicon Valley, and Stratis was still living in Athens, with no plans to move anytime soon.

Co-founder Odysseas Tsatalos

Co-founder Odysseas Tsatalos

The co-workers at Odysseas’s startup knew Stratis was truly the best person for the job, but how could they be comfortable working with someone who happened to be halfway around the world? In response, Odysseas and Stratis created a new technology platform to provide visibility into ‘remote’ work and instill trust in work relationships happening via the Internet.

The technology and remote work arrangement went so well that the two realized their solution had much broader value. They were confident that many companies could benefit from gaining access to a broader pool of quality talent, and that workers would want the freedom and flexibility to work on the projects they choose, whenever they like, from wherever they are. They decided to found a company based on the technology, and oDesk — an abbreviation of ‘online desk’ — was born.

oDesk as we know it officially launched in 2005, when the network of clients and freelancers were added to our tech platform.

Chickens, eggs, and a remote work culture

As is all too familiar to any business with a marketplace model, oDesk initially experienced the ‘chicken and egg’ dilemma — trying to balance acquisition of both clients and freelancers. We had to build out both sides at the same time, knowing that clients wouldn’t join a network with no freelancers and freelancers wouldn’t join a network with no clients.

Stratis Karamanlakis

Co-founder Stratis Karamanlakis

“It was really high-touch,” oDesk CEO Gary Swart says of building out the platform at this stage, adding that we hand-screened each freelancer and personally matched every client with the right worker. “But we quickly realized that wasn’t scalable. We also got a wake-up call when a client asked us to accept a freelancer he knew was great and wanted to hire, but who we had already rejected in the phone screen. We thought, you know what, maybe we’re not the best judge of which freelancer is right for which business. So we opened the floodgates.”

From there, demand exploded. Today, our market (the online work market) is more than $1B, and is expected to reach $5B within five years, according to Staffing Industry Analysts.

PS: Wondering what happened to Stratis? He is still happily living in Athens, helping guide the company’s direction from thousands of miles away. His remote presence has shaped a culture of remote-friendliness — in addition to having 250 full-time-equivalent oDesk contractors that work for us every day from around the world, our office has big-screen TVs in every conference room for Skype and Google Hangouts, and we have company-wide work-from-home days every Tuesday. Stratis visits our Silicon Valley headquarters several times a year, but we’re still keeping our fingers crossed for a company retreat to the Greek islands…

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You Can Always Get What You Want: oDesk, Uber & Etsy Discuss On-Demand Access https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/02/you-can-always-get-what-you-want-odesk-uber-etsy-discuss-on-demand-access/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/02/you-can-always-get-what-you-want-odesk-uber-etsy-discuss-on-demand-access/#comments Thu, 14 Feb 2013 17:00:21 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=27730 We all know the Internet is driving disruption in just about every industry, but one of the biggest trends is the shift towards on-demand access, changing how we access what we want. The first generation of online marketplaces (like Amazon) brought fast, direct access to all types of consumer goods, including books, appliances, and electronics. But these early marketplaces mostly address mass-market, physical goods. Could this model apply to services as well? Last week, thought leaders from oDesk, Uber and Etsy gathered in Sydney, Australia, to discuss how their businesses are stripping away friction and providing consumers with direct access to what they want: staffing, transportation, and craftsmanship, respectively.

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We all know the Internet is driving disruption in just about every industry, but one of the biggest trends is the shift towards on-demand access, changing how we access what we want. The first generation of online marketplaces (like Amazon) brought fast, direct access to all types of consumer goods, including books, appliances, and electronics. But these early marketplaces mostly address mass-market, physical goods. Could this model apply to services as well?

In the old days, you could only hire people who would commute to your office every day, you had to call ahead for a car service, and you were limited to choosing from a pre-selected display of artisan goods at a local store. A new generation of online platforms is reimagining the marketplace model by providing on-demand, frictionless access to these types of services. We can now directly access talented workers, luxury drivers, and handmade products with the click of a button.

Last week, thought leaders from oDesk, Uber and Etsy gathered in Sydney, Australia, to discuss how their businesses are stripping away friction and providing people with direct access to what they want: staffing, transportation, and craftsmanship, respectively.

The engaging panel generated some great live tweets—we’ve selected a few of our favorites below. You can see the entire #ondemandaccess Twitter stream here.

For a related discussion of ‘direct access,’ check out Gary’s recent blog post reflecting on this year’s DLD conference.

What are your thoughts about on-demand access? What services or goods do you access directly? We’d love to hear your perspective in the comments section below!

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Your Go-To Guide to Working on oDesk: The oDesk Freelancer Manual https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/01/your-go-to-guide-to-working-on-odesk-introducing-the-new-odesk-contractor-manual/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/01/your-go-to-guide-to-working-on-odesk-introducing-the-new-odesk-contractor-manual/#comments Thu, 10 Jan 2013 17:12:06 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=27395 The freedom to work whenever you want, from wherever you want—plus the opportunity to earn more money and set your own rates—is a tantalizing prospect for anyone. This is why millions of professionals have left the office behind to join the world of online work. But what does online work really mean? And how do you become good at it? We thought freelancers on oDesk should have one unified, comprehensive guide to online work success, so we're thrilled to introduce the first ever oDesk Freelancer Manual. From finding great jobs that fit your skills to increasing your earnings and getting stellar feedback, this manual has you covered. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re already well on your way to success, the oDesk Freelancer Manual can give you the edge in landing more jobs and growing your business.

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The freedom to work whenever you want, wherever you want—plus the opportunity to earn more money and set your own rates—is a tantalizing prospect for anyone. This is why millions of professionals have left the office behind to join the world of online work.

But what does online work really mean? And how do you become good at it? These are questions we hear everyday. If you search on Google, you’ll find several articles discussing the ins and outs of freelancing. Go on Facebook, and you’ll find several groups dedicated to online work topics. And even on our own forums, there are hundreds of freelancers sharing their wisdom about working online. There’s a vast wealth of information out there, but we found that it’s not well-aggregated or focused enough to outline a clear path for success.

We thought freelancers on oDesk should have one unified, comprehensive guide to online work success. And who knows that topic better than our very own users? So we talked to many successful oDesk freelancers, to find out what it really means to build a career in online work.

We heard a lot of great stories, and it became clear that everyone had his or her own online work style. Amid all the nuances, though, there was a thread of consistency throughout the stories—and these best practices make up the holy grail of online freelancers. It’s this path that we have woven into the new oDesk Freelancer Manual, our first ever comprehensive freelancer guide.

In this manual you’ll find not only guidance from oDesk staff experts, but also tips from leading freelancers. For example, oDesk freelancer Sayeed Islam advises: “For your first few jobs, I recommend working with clients who have oDesk experience. They understand how to manage an online project, how the Team App works, and how to budget for your hours. This helps you showcase your skills, get acquainted with the platform, and improve your chances for positive feedback.”

From finding great jobs that fit your skills to increasing your earnings and getting stellar feedback, this manual has you covered. We recommend paying particular attention to the sections about marketing your services through a profile that showcases your value, and about crafting cover letters that sell. You’ll also find practical tips for project management, a productive workspace, and effective communication.

We invite you to crack it open and learn from some of the most successful freelancers on oDesk. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re already well on your way to success, the oDesk Freelancer Manual can give you the edge in landing more jobs and growing your business.’

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oDesk Data Reveals the Future of Work: Our Top Posts for 2012 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/01/odesk-data-future-of-work-top-posts-2012/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/01/odesk-data-future-of-work-top-posts-2012/#comments Tue, 08 Jan 2013 17:00:31 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=27345 Here at oDesk, we analyze data to better understand trends and growth — plus, we just like exploring the world of online work. As it turns out, you find the numbers just as interesting as we do! All but one of our top five oDesk posts from 2012, as determined by viewership, center around the “oConomy” — not just the world of online work, but the role oDesk plays in this ecosystem. Here’s a quick recap of the year's most popular posts.

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Numbers, numbers, everywhere: With the rapid pace of change, businesses increasingly turn to data to anticipate what’s coming next and interpret what’s already happened.

Here at oDesk, we analyze our data to better understand trends and growth — plus, we just like exploring the world of online work.

As it turns out, you find the numbers just as interesting as we do! All but one of our top five oDesk posts from 2012, as determined by viewership, center around the “oConomy” — not just the world of online work, but the role oDesk plays in this ecosystem. Here’s a quick recap of the year’s most popular posts.

1. Visualization of the oDesk “oConomy”: Exploring Our World of Work

In July, we launched the oDesk Country Dashboard — an interactive way for everyone to dive into oDesk’s data and explore who’s doing what across 180 different countries. The dashboard provides an easy way to visually:

  • compare activity between countries by day and time;
  • follow oDesk’s overall level of activity; and
  • explore the types of work being completed in each country.

Check it out, and let us know if there are other data cuts you would like to see visualized!

2. The Blackouts in India, Seen in oDesk Data

At the end of July, India was hobbled by a nationwide blackout; some 620 million people were left without electricity (roughly half of India’s population).

India is one of the most active countries on oDesk, so our staff economist John Horton was curious to see how such a widespread disruption might impact online work. “The Blackouts in India” post presents his data-driven look at the oConomy during those disconnected hours.

3. Contractors Average 190% Earnings Growth in 3 Years: What’s Driving This Potential?

We’re always excited to hear about oDesk success stories, but anecdotal evidence highlights limited parts of the big picture; only data can reveal whether that success is widespread.

By analyzing information from 90,000 contractors, Horton found that tenure on oDesk translates to significantly higher earnings for contractors. He also identifies other non-tenure factors that can influence this earnings potential.

4. Digitization of the Supply Side of the Labor Market

The growing use of vast amounts of information to analyze and predict behavior (also known as “big data”) has made a significant impact on how information is presented to us — particularly in retail, where we increasingly see highly customized promotions and content.

So far, the impact of “big data” on the labor market has been limited, at least for the “supply side” of the market (i.e. the job seekers, as opposed to the job openings). However, Horton predicts that this is changing, led by sites like LinkedIn and oDesk. One day soon, instead of the traditional job search, our ideal jobs may come find us.

5. Welcome to the New Home of oDesk’s oConomy

When we introduced the oDesk Country Dashboard (see post #1), we wrote this accompanying article that describes some of the who, what and how of the larger effort behind it — known as the oDesk oConomy.

Classic Advice for Online Work

Beyond the popularity of data-driven posts, these older blog articles — which focus primarily on the essentials of online work — continue to make their mark.

  1. How to Write a Cover Letter. You get one chance to make a first impression; this post explains how a great cover letter can help you shine.
  2. Top 25 Project Management Blogs. If you want to manage projects — and your teams — more effectively, the blogs highlighted here are a great place to start.
  3. Top 10 Online Resources to Learn and Master Microsoft Excel: Training and Tools. Complementing the interest in oDesk data is the number of people learning to use Excel to analyze their own numbers. From forums to training programs, these free resources can help you figure it out.
  4. 5 Steps to Improve Your Online Resume. Making the most of your oDesk profile is a big step towards finding success. Use this list to improve and refocus the way you present yourself.
  5. 7-Item Contractor Checklist for Finding Remote Work. The first question most new oDesk contractors ask is: “How do I get started?” This checklist will walk you through seven key steps to get you on your way.

What posts influenced your work over the past year? Add your favorites in the comments section below.

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Thanks for a Great Year! https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/01/thanks-for-a-great-year/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2013/01/thanks-for-a-great-year/#comments Tue, 01 Jan 2013 17:00:53 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=27290 I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for choosing oDesk this year. I am proud to be part of such an engaged, hardworking and innovative community of clients and contractors. By making oDesk your work home, you have continued to make it the largest and fastest-growing online workplace in the world. Thank you.

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Welcome to 2013, oDeskers!

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for choosing oDesk this year. I am proud to be part of such an engaged, hardworking and innovative community of clients and contractors. By making oDesk your work home, you have continued to make it the largest and fastest-growing online workplace in the world. Thank you.

You’ve done some remarkable work this year. Contractors, you have continued to amaze us with the impressive (and still expanding!) breadth of skills you bring to oDesk, from animation and mobile app development to project management and statistical analysis. Our team was fortunate to meet many of you this year, especially at Contractor Appreciation Day events in Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Texas, and we loved hearing your stories about the careers you’ve built on oDesk. We wish you all the best for your continued success in 2013.

Clients, we loved hearing about your successes and best practices as well. From meeting with various startup groups throughout the year — such as General Assembly most recently — and at various user groups we’ve hosted, we have met so many remarkable businesses that are using oDesk in really exciting ways. One of my favorite stories of the year is that of Jay Shapiro, whose mobile app business is powered exclusively by 30 to 40 oDesk contractors across the globe; Jay runs the business from a 33-foot trailer as he and his family travel the world. We learned how clients like Jay and so many others use online work, including what they would like to see on oDesk. We are eager to put that feedback to good use in the coming year.

Here are a few more things we did this year that will help us make oDesk the best it can be in 2013:

  • Based on your feedback, we redesigned major flows on our web site. This includes a unified ‘My Contractors’ page that enables clients to find — in one place — their current team members, their past hires, candidates they’ve interviewed, and contractors they’ve saved. It also includes a streamlined Message Center, which now features easy links to a thread’s attachments as well as to the profiles of those you’re communicating with.
  • We’ve also made significant investments in our matching algorithms — which help clients find the best contractors for their job and helps contractors find the best jobs for their qualifications — starting with a substantial upgrade to our skills infrastructure.
  • We launched a new look and feel for the oDesk brand, which better reflects the long-lasting professional relationships users build on oDesk. Love the way you work!  

(But it wasn’t all work and no play — we did have some fun in 2012 too.)

So thanks again, oDeskers, for making the past year such a great one. You are the heart of oDesk, and you are also trailblazers for the rest of the world — you have shown that incredible things are possible when you embrace the freedom and boundless opportunities that working from anywhere, with anyone in the world, can bring. I look forward to seeing all the wonderful things you will accomplish in 2013, and I hope the New Year is a happy, healthy and prosperous one for all of you.

GS

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A Voyage into International Event Planning https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/11/a-voyage-into-international-event-planning/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/11/a-voyage-into-international-event-planning/#comments Mon, 26 Nov 2012 20:00:18 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=26912 Planning an international event is certainly not easy — at least, that’s what I thought as I planned two large events in Bangladesh and the Philippines for oDesk this year. I had never been to Bangladesh or the Philippines, nor do I have relatives there. Plus, in addition to planning the events from 7,000 miles away, I was working with a rather conservative budget. At first this project seemed extremely daunting and nerve-wracking, particularly when one event was estimated to have 1,000 attendees! But with a little prep and on-the-ground support, I’m happy to say that these events were a success. We had excellent feedback from our members and we learned a lot about contractors, their countries and ourselves in the process. As a result, I wanted to share my experiences to help future event planners. I won’t sugarcoat it, it does involve a lot of work. But with the tips laid out here, I hope you can benefit from my experience.

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Planning a trip to a foreign country in the past was quite an effort — and without a travel agent, it was close to impossible. Now, with tools like Trip Advisor, Kayak and other online travel sites, the average person can create a dream vacation in hours.

I wish planning an international event was now that easy — at least, that’s what I thought as I planned two large events for oDesk this year.

Early in 2012 we decided to recognize our most active contractors by hosting oDesk events, which we named Contractor Appreciation Days, in a city near them. We held a Facebook contest to determine which locations had the most active and engaged contractor communities, and two of the winning countries were Bangladesh and the Philippines. The goal was to host fun events in each country, where we could engage with a large group of our members, reward top earners, share news from oDesk and enable contractors to network.

I had never been to Bangladesh or the Philippines, nor do I have relatives there. Plus, in addition to planning the events from 7,000 miles away, I was working with a rather conservative budget. At first this project seemed extremely daunting and nerve-wracking, particularly when one event was estimated to have 1,000 attendees! But with a little prep and on-the-ground support, I’m happy to say that these events were a success. We had excellent feedback from our members and we learned a lot about contractors, their countries and ourselves in the process.

As a result, I wanted to share my experiences to help future event planners. I won’t sugarcoat it, it does involve a lot of work. But with the tips laid out here, I hope you can benefit from my experience.

Tip #1: Leverage local talent

One of the best things you can do is find a local event planner — one that lives in the area where the event will be held — who has a lot of experience planning previous events in the area. For Bangladesh, I found a contractor on oDesk who specialized in project management. After an interview over Skype, I knew Saidur would be knowledgeable, capable and proactive. We started with a small task: send me three locations where we can host at least 500 people. I requested pictures of the locations, quotes, and availability. Within a matter of days we had a venue selected and Saidur proved himself invaluable in helping with all the other logistics.

In the Philippines, the event was much larger and needed more than one local contact. This is where a few great contractors came in, two of which were Judy and Jasmine. Judy is a professional event planner who not only works on oDesk, but who also works for an event planning company in Manila — which means she had the connections we needed to secure a facility, food, A/V and security. Jasmine connected with a large network of oDesk contractors. She scoured the talent of colleagues in that network and found us a DJ, registration desk staff, photographers and entertainers.

The big lesson I learned here is that online talent is not just for online work! These contractors were my eyes, ears and feet on the ground, helping to pull these events together in ways that I couldn’t.

Tip #2: Preparation is key

With the proper planning, you’ll find that putting together an event is easier than you thought. First, create a planning document that can be easily understood by both you and anyone you may pull in to help with the event. I’m a big fan of checklists — mine included the basics like the facility, travel, and presentation content. It also included uniquely international items like getting vaccinations, hiring security, and packing every type of AV adaptor we could possibly need.

And when it comes to materials, over-prepare. For example, bring back-up copies of all your presentations (we had copies in an email inbox and a thumb drive, on our laptops, and sent to our local staff) and bring printouts of the attendee list, the presentations and nametags. Try to order all of your promotional items and giveaway products through local vendors. Don’t be afraid to hire an assistant event planner to manage these details.

Tip #3: Plan ahead with payments

In many locations, cash is the only payment option, particularly if you are looking to minimize costs. Some contractors are willing to make payments and be reimbursed; others would like the cash upfront. For any expense that was paid by a contractor, I requested a signed and scanned official receipt from the vendor. Make sure you have the vendor’s contact information, so if you have any concerns, you can call him or her to verify the expense before you send a payment. Remember that it can take several days for a contractor to be able to withdraw the funds they receive through oDesk.

The day of the event is when the bulk of the expenses need to be paid. If you are uncomfortable traveling to a country with upwards of $3,000 with you, there are a couple of options: You can wire funds to a local Western Union outlet and pick it up when you arrive, or you can contact your bank to pre-approve the ability to withdraw a large sum of funds from a bank or ATM in the country you are visiting.

Tip #4: Communicate early and often

It’s good to check in with your online team once a week, over the phone or via Skype. As you get closer to the event, increase the frequency of your calls. You can also keep everyone on the same page between calls by having a daily email check-in and a shared spreadsheet with the budget and task lists. After you have hired people to staff the event, you can make on-the-ground collaboration easier by creating and distributing a document with all their photos, names and mobile numbers. And don’t forget to have a call with all of them in the weeks prior to the event to address any questions or concerns.

Tip #5: Make the most of your trip

Flying halfway across the world is a big investment. Depending on how many people you send, one-third of your costs can be the flight alone. We had about four days on the ground for each trip and not a second was wasted. Prior to the trip, we contracted with a PR specialist for that region and had interviews scheduled with target media outlets. Through our networks we were able to secure meetings with government officials to discuss online work opportunities, and our contractors also organized a little sightseeing trip. (Clearly, sleep was not a priority.)

While we did put a great deal of time and effort into these events, in retrospect it really was a treat to be able to plan and attend them. Not only did I meet many great contractors and establish a team of resources in the local community, I learned so much about each culture and now can better visualize the daily lives of the people I work online with every day.

If you are planning an international event, I wish you the best of luck and a bon voyage!

For those who have already experienced planning an international event, what did you find most important? We would love to hear your tips in the comments section below!

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“Straight-Shootin’” Insights from oDesk’s Events in Texas https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/10/straight-shootin-insights-from-odesks-events-in-texas/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/10/straight-shootin-insights-from-odesks-events-in-texas/#comments Thu, 18 Oct 2012 15:45:07 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=26589 The oDesk team recently traveled down to the thriving startup hub of Austin, Texas, to host both a client user group and a Contractor Appreciation Day (and to have some really great barbecue). We met with an extremely entrepreneurial and passionate group of both clients and contractors, who had some great insights to share about how to build a business on oDesk. Here were the top three highlights.

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The oDesk team recently traveled down to the thriving startup hub of Austin, Texas, to host both a client user group and a Contractor Appreciation Day (and to have some really great barbecue). We met with an extremely entrepreneurial and passionate group of both clients and contractors, who had some great insights to share about how to build a business on oDesk. Here were the top three highlights:

1. Use all the tools at your disposal to make hiring and managing as successful as possible.

When it comes to hiring, panelist Govind Davis—CEO of MCF Technology Solutions—advised clients to pay attention to information like work history, ratings, and skills test, to filter potential candidates. Clients can then further refine the list and identify the best people by interviewing them through Skype.

As for managing, several clients recommended utilizing oDesk teams and task codes to stay organized. Other suggestions included using a global cloud service such as Amazon Web Services, which can enable faster uploads by allowing contractors to have a local access point instead of needing to access a remote server, and OneLogin, a password management system that can help ensure contractors have the access they need for important sites and services.

2. Have realistic expectations and stay a step ahead.

Jack Miller, CTO at The Good Life, advised businesses not to treat online work as a “magical solution” to staffing issues, as these expectations can result in disappointment. Instead, Jack recommended, “Think about it as an effective way to hire people to quickly. Give yourself time to do it, treat it as a skill, and find good contractors.”

Along the same lines, businesses were advised to stay a step ahead, to avoid getting into a situation where they have a critical project and are unsure if a contractor will deliver. Experienced users recommended that clients develop a trusted relationship with one or two contractors before they have a critical project they need done, to ensure that when crunch time comes, they are ready.

3. Clearly communicate at all stages to build trust and work as partners.

Both clients and contractors reinforced the importance of clear and frequent communication to getting the best possible result. Contractors noted that they are able to do their best work when they are clear on the project’s background, deliverables, and expectations; one contractor even noted that clarity on those topics is a key criteria when selecting which jobs she applies to.

For clients, this means that defining the project and providing as much information as possible will not only result in more qualified candidates, but more successful results. For contractors, the key takeaway was that if the client is having trouble defining requirements,
contributing your expertise to help them think through this process is a win-win for both parties.

Both clients and contractors expressed that long-term relationships are the ideal, and that those relationships cannot develop or exist without trust. For contractors, this means not only delivering consistently high-quality results on time, but also being a trusted partner—working with the client to strategize, over-communicating about deliverables, and even sharing a project management system with the client so they are as informed and involved as possible during the process.


Overall, we had a great time meeting our Texas clients and contractors, and getting a firsthand look into the city’s thriving startup community—a great model for a startup ecosystem that is very tight-knit, where everyone goes the extra mile to help each other. In particular, Capital Factory—the coworking space and accelerator where we held the events—and Conjunctured, a coworking community we visited with, are great examples of how Austin is nurturing its startups.

Most of all, it was extremely valuable to hear users’ perspective on both best practices and areas where oDesk can improve. We are looking forward to hosting similar events in the future!

Do you have any best practices to share about building your business through oDesk? We would love to hear them! Please add them to the comments section below.

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oDesk Hosts Panel on “Talent Wars” Moderated by TechCrunch https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/10/odesk-hosts-panel-on-talent-wars-moderated-by-techcrunch/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/10/odesk-hosts-panel-on-talent-wars-moderated-by-techcrunch/#comments Mon, 15 Oct 2012 15:44:26 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=26548 Last week, oDesk held a panel in San Francisco on “Talent Wars: How Startups are Fighting Back,” discussing the critical role of talent to growing startups as well as the approaches startups are taking to build successful teams. TechCrunch reporter Colleen Taylor moderated the panel featuring Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk; Kevin Harvey, General Partner at Benchmark Capital; Rob LaFave, Co-Founder and CEO of Foodzie; and Sandra Miller, Managing Director of New Venture Development at Singularity University. The panel confirmed that many businesses are finding it extremely difficult to access the right people, and that the problem is especially acute for startups — which are in dire need of talent in order to grow, but do not have the resources to compete with large companies.

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Last week, oDesk held a panel in San Francisco on “Talent Wars: How Startups are Fighting Back,” discussing the critical role of talent to growing startups as well as the approaches startups are taking to build successful teams.

The panel confirmed that many businesses are finding it extremely difficult to access the right people, and that the problem is especially acute for startups — which are in dire need of talent in order to grow, but do not have the resources to compete with large companies.

Top tips from the panel:

  1. “Talent is everything,” but we are experiencing a “nuclear talent war” — in Silicon Valley especially, which has a 20% turnover rate.
  2. Startups are looking for new ways to scale, and many are using online workers to empower their teams (60% – 80% of Benchmark’s portfolio).
  3. “At the end of the day it’s about execution” and finding the right people able to perform the tasks needed.
  4. Empower your team to make an impact. Not only does this lead to more engaged and productive teams, but it is key for recruiting efforts.

#1. “Talent is Everything”

“When it comes to startups, I think talent is everything,” said Benchmark’s Kevin Harvey. “Recruiting technical talent … is probably the key gating item for most of our startups. I think that the unemployment situation masks the reality that we all know of how hard it is to find people right now.”

A key point in the discussion was that once you find the best people, not only is it competitive to attract them, but it’s difficult to keep them there. Harvey noted that the average Silicon Valley company has a 20% turnover rate, calling what we are currently experiencing a “nuclear talent war.”

#2. Startups are Looking for New Ways to Scale

Consequently, many startups are looking for new ways to access the talent they need to grow. A study released last week by oDesk found that 64% of businesses surveyed were actively looking for an alternative to traditional hiring.

Harvey estimated that 60% to 80% of Benchmark’s portfolio companies are hiring contractors online.

Singularity University’s Sandra Miller added that learning how to leverage online workers as well as on-premise employees is “setting the groundwork so that your company has the potential to scale.”

Harvey agreed, noting that “learning how to have people work somewhere else is a key attribute that [startups] have to learn as a company, early … The constraint of Silicon Valley is very localized. And if you have only local capabilities, you’re hamstrung.”

With online work still in the early stages of widespread adoption, some startups may be concerned that investors will not be supportive of this hiring model. Foodzie, for example, found that to be the case, so they scaled gradually with individuals working remotely from Buenos Aires. They worked with a team of three individuals for six months, and even sent their VP of Engineering to meet with them, before they started scaling their remote team.  “It was a gradual transition into doing that that built confidence for our team and the people that were backing Foodzie,” co-founder and CEO Rob LaFave said.

#3. “At the End of the Day, It’s About Execution”

Panelists also discussed how you know when to hire online versus on-premise.

“One of the first questions we ask ourselves is, ‘Can this job be done online?’ If not, then let’s hire locally,” said Swart. “And typically locally, we’re looking for more the ‘figure-outers’ — people who can figure out the what, the why and the how.” For the people that are the ‘do-ers,’ those who will actually execute on that strategy, Swart advised hiring online.

Foodzie’s Rob LaFave agreed. “The ones that we would really go to battle for are leads,” he said, noting that he specifically looks for “VP-level types of individuals who are going to be managing and recruiting for talent beneath them.”

“At the end of the day it’s about execution,” said Miller. “Sometimes that means having the expert in something very specific,” and that person may or may not be local. If they’re not, she added, you have to figure out a way to work with them, and you have to determine how much value they are adding for your startup at that particular point. “Because that’s what it’s about every day in the trenches, is making progress,” she said.

#4. Empower Your Team to Make an Impact

One of your best resources in winning the Talent Wars is creating a culture where people are empowered to make an impact, said Swart. Perhaps the most powerful way to appeal to great talent is offering the opportunity to make a big impact on the company and on the world, and to own a meaningful part of the company’s mission.

“People want to work for a great company with high growth and good people, but those are table stakes,” he said. “They’re looking for impact. People want a job where they can make a difference and can get recognized for making an impact. And if the company is doing something impactful, that’s even better.”

If you’d like to read more about this discussion, check out these great posts from ZDNet and Staffing Industry Analysts.

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Behind the Scenes: Testing oDesk’s WebApp https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/09/behind-the-scenes-testing-odesks-webapp/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/09/behind-the-scenes-testing-odesks-webapp/#comments Wed, 26 Sep 2012 18:28:57 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=26427 Since testing Web applications can be challenging, we wanted to share insight into how we approached testing for oDesk's site redesign. We focused on four types of testing: Unit testing, functional testing, UI testing and performance testing. Yiota Tsakiri, a Product Architect at oDesk who led the development side of oDesk’s recent redesign, shares a closer look at how we approached each one.

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Editor’s Note: Yiota Tsakiri, a Product Architect at oDesk, led the development side of oDesk’s recent site redesign. Here is a follow-up to her last blog post, which was an inside look into the redesign. This post originally appeared on Yiota’s personal blog, YiotaBytes.

Since testing Web applications can be challenging, we wanted to share insight into how we approached testing for oDesk’s redesign. We focused on four types of testing:

  1. Unit testing
  2. Functional testing
  3. UI testing
  4. Performance testing


Here’s a closer look at how we approached each one.

Unit Testing

We invested quite a bit of time to cover our code with as many unit tests as possible. Of course the decision on how to develop unit tests was pretty easy, given that we are working on Django. We used Django’s testing framework and standard library unit test from Django utils. Currently we have an overall coverage of ~85%, and here is an example of how it changes over time.

 

Functional Testing

Selenium is the standard way to perform functional testing, as it simulates a user’s browsing behavior on a site. This is also what we used for oDesk’s functional testing. Since version 1.4, Django supports native selenium testing.

[…] LiveServerTestCase allows the use of automated test clients other than the Django dummy client such as, for example, the Selenium client, to execute a series of functional tests inside a browser and simulate a real user’s actions.

For every basic group of pages the oDesk visitor site supports, extensive functional tests are written to identify and report broken pieces of the site.

UI Testing

This is where things got really interesting. When we talk about UI testing, we mainly refer to testing the actual visual result that the user sees in their browser, and also making sure that the structure of the page is as expected. To give some examples of what our expectations were, we wanted to detect:

  • broken images in the site
  • broken layout on a page
  • missing text

There are various tools that can do this, but integration is not always easy. The tools that we ended up researching were:

  1. Quality Bots
  2. Fighting Layout Bugs
  3. validator.nu

All of those looked pretty promising and are open source.

1. Quality Bots

This tool is especially promising. It is developed by Google and its primary goal is to reduce the regression test suite and provide free web testing at scale, with minimal human intervention. Usually UI testing that happens by different frameworks is through image comparison, but even if it sounds promising, it is not an industry de facto quality assurance methodology. As described in the Quality Bots site:

[it] will crawl the website on a given platform and browser, while crawling it will record the HTML elements rendered at each pixel of the page. Later this data will be used to compare and calculate layout score.

This approach sounded good, but integration of such a tool in our infrastructure turned out to be more time-consuming than we wanted, so we decided to defer this for a later time. However, I strongly recommend to anyone working on testing that they read through Quality Bots’ wiki/code, to understand how it works. Even if you don’t end up using the tool, you can definitely get ideas from Google’s testing procedure.

2. Fighting Layout Bugs (FLB)

Fighting Layout Bugs is an automatic library for the detection of layout bugs. It currently supports detection for the following scenarios:

  • invalid image URLs
  • text near or overlapping horizontal edge
  • text near or overlapping vertical edge
  • text with too low contrast
  • elements with invisible focus

All these scenarios are commonly found in software. Instead of catching them manually, we integrated FLB with our framework so detection happens automatically. FLB is written in Java and we integrated it in Django with py4j. The Py4j gateway server is run automatically by a fabric script executing tests. FLB is used with Firefox via the WebDriver implementation provided by Selenium. FLB test cases are invoked each time the selenium.get method is executed. Here’s how this is implemented:

3. validator.nu

As a sanity/lint check, we also validate the structure of our HTML, as invalid HTML usually leads to ugly layout bugs. validator.nu is used by w3c for HTML5 validation. It validates HTML5, SVG, MathML, RDF, IRI and more. It also runs as a standalone service, so for us it was a no-brainer to use it. We integrated it by implementing a middleware, which sends content to a local instance of validator.nu on process_response. An HtmlValidationError is thrown when the html is invalid. In this case, we added a list of html errors in the response and output this list of errors at the bottom of the page; here’s an example of how it looks:

Performance Testing

We used—and continue to use—various tools to test our site’s performance. A well-known tool we use is Apache’s ab tool, used for benchmarking Apache’s HTTP server. It shows how many requests per second (RPS) an Apache installation is capable of serving.

We also use Apache’s JMeter and bash scripts to produce heavy load on our servers to test their strength on different load types. With those tests:

  • we check response codes for various groups of pages
  • we measure the minimum, maximum, and average response times for accessing these links
  • we display the success rate for accessing all of the links
  • we issue random requests to our servers with various concurrency levels

Last but not least, something that we are currently looking into is a log replay mechanism to measure our performance. In general with performance testing, we can test with various loads and for some specific URLs, though the traffic we produce is not realistic. With log replay functionality we have the ability to “replay” requests based on Apache’s access log. This way, we have the ability to measure our performance under traffic that is produced by real users.

I would strongly recommend, if you’re interested in reading about performance testing, to go through this very useful resource.

Testing Results Presentation

All our tests are run with a single Fabric command, to which we can pass arguments to disable specific stages if we want to. This command is invoked in every build we run via Jenkins, and if our tests fail, the build also fails. Code coverage, counts of failing tests, screenshots of broken layouts (found via UI testing) and soon performance results are all presented through graphs in Jenkins. Here are a few example screenshots:

Screenshots of broken URLs in UI

 

Counts of successful vs broken tests

 

Example of text overlapping with edge

 

Testing a large webapp, like oDesk’s visitor site, can be really challenging. We heavily invested in our testing infrastructure, because we strongly believe that this is an essential component for the project’s success. We still continue our research and experimentation with various tools, as we strive to provide the best possible user experience.

What testing tools have you had success with? We would love to hear your experience in the comments section below!

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Veteran oDesk Users Share Their Best Practices at Recent Bay Area Client User Group https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/09/veteran-odesk-users-share-their-best-practices-at-recent-bay-area-client-user-group/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/09/veteran-odesk-users-share-their-best-practices-at-recent-bay-area-client-user-group/#comments Fri, 21 Sep 2012 01:54:58 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=26329 Did you know that you can find a CEO on oDesk to run your company? Or that you can hire a contractor in a country where your family is from, to research your family history? You can — and both have been done before, as we heard at the latest Bay Area Client User Group last week.

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Did you know that you can find a CEO on oDesk to run your company? Or that you can hire a contractor in a country where your family is from, to research your family history? You can — and both have been done before, as we heard at the latest Bay Area Client User Group last week.

The user group — oDesk’s second to date — featured an introduction from oDesk CEO Gary Swart and a presentation on product initiatives by oDesk Vice President of Product Strategy Michael Levinson. It also included a panel with Sigma Partners Senior Associate (and former oDesker) Josh Breinlinger, TalentBin founder Peter Kazanjy, and Stanford Fulbright Scholar Tayyab Tariq (an oDesk contractor). The panel, moderated by oDesk’s Client Marketing Manager Shareen Lal, centered on online work best practices. Here were some of the most helpful tips from these veteran users:

1. When evaluating candidates, ask contractors for sample work or hire them for a small test job. Tayyab said, “That to me as a contractor is more important than an interview over Skype. There’s only so much you can know about a person’s skills from a 10-minute Skype interview, and you don’t want to miss out on a great contractor because they’re having a bad day. It’s very important to take the time to work out a small mini project on the fly that they can do, and use that as a benchmark for short-listing or hiring.”

2. Speaking of test jobs, think outside the skill-evaluation box with real-time tasks. Tayyab noted that one client he has worked with requires contractor candidates to write code in a Google Doc, so they can observe the coding process in real time. This can be a great way for clients to get a sense of how a contractor works, and for contractors to showcase their skills in action.

3. Leverage long-term relationships; they are a powerful thing. Both Peter and Josh are no stranger to long-term projects. In fact, Josh’s oDesk contractors are almost all long-term, since it’s more efficient than finding and training people for each short-term project, he said.

From a contractor’s perspective, Tayyab added that it’s important for clients to make their timeline commitment clear upfront. “What motivates contractors is the promise of a long-term, healthy relationships,” he said. “It’s very important for contractors to know that clients aren’t going to disappear. It’s good to give people job security, or at least be upfront about when the project is going to end. Tell your good contractors you want to work with them for a long time. It’s the same whether you’re in a brick-and-mortar office or online — you want to make the people you hire feel secure and enjoy their work.”

As a testament to the power of long-term projects, Josh told the story of how, in the early days of oDesk (when he used to work for the company), he wanted to hire someone for voiceover work and needed a female voice. There was only one female contractor on all of oDesk at the time, named Stephanie, and he hired her. That project has long ended (and of course there are many female contractors on oDesk now!). But eight years later, not only is Stephanie still on oDesk, she leads a Customer Support team for oDesk itself.

4. Keep an open mind — the possibilities are unlimited. Who says work can’t be fun? Peter talked about one of his most interesting oDesk projects, which involved hiring comedy writers on oDesk to turn a standard questionnaire into an entertaining experience. He even used a crowdsourcing site to grade the questions for humor, and picked the 10 most successful writers out of the original 100 to bring on board.

Or, on a more serious note, Josh told the story of how one entrepreneur decided he wanted to move on from his startup, and found someone on oDesk to be the CEO and take over the company reins.

Josh also reminded attendees that just because it’s online work, doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of geographic perks — for example, one user uncovered his family history in Belgium by finding a contractor in that country to do in-person research. The contractor found postcards the client’s grandmother had written 80 years ago, and helped piece together the family history. “Most of what you can do with online work is location-agnostic, but you can also leverage the fact that there are millions of contractors just about everywhere in the world,” Josh said.

What are your top online work best practices? We’d love to hear them, so share yours in the comments section below!

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An Inside Look at oDesk’s Recent Site Redesign https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/07/an-inside-look-odesks-recent-site-redesign/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/07/an-inside-look-odesks-recent-site-redesign/#comments Wed, 18 Jul 2012 14:00:58 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=25543 Yiota Tsakiri, a Product Architect at oDesk, helped lead the development side of oDesk’s recent site redesign. She and her team worked tirelessly to launch the new site—which includes the new blog you see here! Here is an inside look at some of the changes they made.

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Yiota Tsakiri, a Product Architect at oDesk, helped lead the development side of oDesk’s recent site redesign. She and her team worked tirelessly to launch the new site—which includes the new blog you see here! Here is an inside look at some of the changes they made.

One of the reasons I love my job at oDesk is because I actually have the freedom to choose and implement technologies I like, while at the same time having the opportunity to impact the lives of millions of people around the world who use our site for their work. In my time at oDesk so far, the visitor site redesign was one of the most challenging and exciting projects I have worked on.

We had to essentially rewrite the entire visitor site, and as a first step of this process, we had to move our homegrown CMS into a more robust and full-featured one. Knowing that we’ll eventually need to develop the rest of the visitor site in the same infrastructure, and after benchmarking drupal vs django-cms (see here for the analysis), we picked django-CMS. So currently, all of our static pages are built via our django-CMS installation.

Building static pages with reusable SCSS components

One of our primary goals was to be able to use reusable CSS components in our static pages, so we don’t end up with a high level of customized CSS in our static pages. We were using Compass to define CSS components but we wanted to expose them in our CMS also, so we had to create a custom plugin for django-CMS. The plugin includes five basic fields, which you can see here:

And the way this works is as follows:

class SassStylesheetPlugin(CMSPlugin):
    name = models.CharField(...)
    css_media = models.CharField(...)
    scss_body = models.TextField(...)
    compiled_css_body = models.TextField(...)
    upload = models.BooleanField(...)

    def _get_compiled_css(self):
        compiled_body = scss_compiler.compile_scss(self.scss_body)
        content = '<style type="text/css" media="%s">%s</style>' % (
        self.css_media, compiled_body)
        if not self.upload:
            return content
        return compressor.output()

    def save(self, commit=False):
        self.compiled_css_body = self._get_compiled_css()
        return super(SassStylesheetPlugin, self).save(commit=commit)

 

The plugin reads the input SCSS and compiles it to a CSS output. The compressor we use is django-compressor and the SCSS compiler we use is pyScss.

Writing static pages this way in our CMS becomes easier and less messy. CMS administrators can @import reusable SCSS components that are globally defined in our stylesheets and use them in their pages. As a result, we can have static pages that are using less CSS code and actually look and feel similar to the rest of the site.

Using S3 as a shared resource

One of the things we always have in mind while developing the visitor site is that we are operating in a distributed environment in the cloud—our services are replicated on multiple EC2 instances in multiple availability zones. As a result, a single server instance failure or even a whole availability zone failure should not impact our reliability.

When admins create static pages or upload content such as images, these files need to be stored in a central location so that they can be accessed by all servers. S3 provides an ideal solution for this, as it is a storage service that can also serve the content directly to the visitors.

Every time a page on the CMS is modified we automatically compile the SCSS to CSS, we create a file and upload it to S3 (just as we do with images and other files) and then just append in the HTML of the page a link to the stylesheet.

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Love the Way You Work https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/06/love-way-you-work/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/06/love-way-you-work/#comments Fri, 29 Jun 2012 03:00:36 +0000 https://s-www.odesk.com/blog/?p=25378 This week we’re pleased to share a new look and feel on our website, Facebook page, and beyond—something that was directly inspired by oDesk users. When you log in now, you’ll see a new logo, with the ‘o’ pulling double duty as the head and shoulders of a person. This speaks to the essential, human aspect of the way you—clients and contractors—work together.

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This week we’re pleased to share a new look and feel on our website, Facebook page, and beyond—something that was directly inspired by oDesk users.

After I arrived at oDesk last fall, we surveyed more than 7,000 clients and 8,000 contractors in depth. While the feedback pointed out plenty of challenges to keep us busy, we were amazed at people’s dedication to oDesk and to the world of online work.

We found that oDesk users care deeply about building long-lasting, professional relationships, and that an emphasis on these relationships is critical for both contractors and clients.

We also found that:

  • Almost nine out of 10 of our contractors and two out of three clients agree with the statement, “I love oDesk.”
  • Three out of four of our contractors agree, “oDesk has improved the quality of my life.”

So, wow. That so many of you “love” the way you work on oDesk was humbling.

When you log in today, you’ll see a new logo, with the ‘o’ pulling double duty as the head and shoulders of a person. This speaks to the essential, human aspect of the way you—clients and contractors—work together.

Check out odesk.com as a logged-out “visitor,” and you’ll really see the new look, with a spectrum of colors mirroring the diversity and richness of the oDesk community.

And we tried to capture the feeling of freedom, joy, and opportunity we heard from so many of you with the new oDesk tagline:

“Love the way you work.”

From all of us at oDesk, we want to thank you for continuing to inspire us. And we look forward to helping you “love the way you work” for many years to come.

Happy working!

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An Introduction and Invitation from oDesk’s New VP of Product https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/06/an-introduction-invitation-odesks-new-vp-product/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/06/an-introduction-invitation-odesks-new-vp-product/#comments Thu, 21 Jun 2012 18:34:33 +0000 https://s-www.odesk.com/blog/?p=25158 The potential to make a significant impact on the world is a unique and exciting opportunity, which is why I am thrilled to join oDesk this week as the company’s new Vice President of Product. In this role, I lead the direction of oDesk’s platform, building and refining the technology to help our clients and contractors work the way they want—whether it’s from their couch, the beach, or the coffee shop. My goal is to make the oDesk experience as successful and enjoyable as possible—and that’s where feedback from our community comes in.

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The potential to make a significant impact on the world is a unique and exciting opportunity, which is why I am thrilled to join oDesk this week as the company’s new Vice President of Product.

The way the world works is changing. Work is no longer a place, and with that shift comes incredible freedom and opportunity for both businesses and workers around the world. With more than 3 million hours worked on oDesk’s platform in May 2012 alone, oDesk is at the leading edge of this movement, but there still remains a great deal of innovation ahead of us. I am looking forward to taking on this exciting challenge alongside my talented co-workers here at oDesk.

As the Vice President of Product, I lead the direction of oDesk’s platform, building and refining the technology to help our clients and contractors work the way they want—whether it’s from their couch, the beach, or the coffee shop. My goal is to make the oDesk experience as successful and enjoyable as possible—and that’s where feedback from our community comes in.

In the comments section below, share your thoughts on what we can do, change, or design to help make oDesk great. From hiring and getting hired to paying and getting paid, please let us know how we can make oDesk work for you.

Happy working!
Stephane

Learn more about Stephane

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Bangladesh: An Online Work Success Story https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/06/bangladesh-an-online-work-success-story/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/06/bangladesh-an-online-work-success-story/#comments Wed, 06 Jun 2012 08:30:45 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=23122 Matt Cooper, oDesk's VP of Marketplace Operations, recounts his recent trip to Bangladesh and discusses why the country has found such tremendous success with online work.

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Bangladesh for the second time in six months. My first trip was in December, when oDesk was invited to present at the eAsia conference. I gave a presentation at a special freelancer segment of the conference, and was completely blown away by the reception, hospitality and level of excitement around oDesk and online work. oDesk had achieved rockstar status. Luckily I had 26 hours of return travel in a coach seat to bring me back down to reality.

This most recent trip was part of our new Contractor Appreciation Day event series. When you manage a marketplace business, it’s very easy to be fixated on the demand side of the equation — the clients that are spending money on your platform. We want to be sure that we similarly recognize the impact of the supply side — the hundreds of thousands of talented professionals that have made oDesk the largest and fastest-growing online workplace in the world. When planning the Contractor Appreciation Day series, we launched a Facebook poll to determine which cities we would visit, and Dhaka — the capital of Bangladesh — was the runaway winner.

Bangladesh has a fascinating story on oDesk. In 2009, Bangladesh accounted for only 2% of the total hours worked on oDesk. Today, it accounts for 10%, making Bangladesh the #3 country for contractors, behind only the Philippines and India. I did some digging around to see what was driving Bangladesh’s tremendous success, and my guess is a combination of three factors.

The first factor is the demographics. Bangladesh has a young, educated and rapidly grouping population. Of the country’s 150 million people in 2010, almost 56 million were under the age of 18. In 2010, 46% of Bangladeshis used mobile phones. While the unemployment rate is officially estimated to be around 5%, almost 40% of the country is underemployed, working only a few hours a week at very low wages. Net: Bangladesh has a young, educated workforce that is eager for more economic opportunity.

The second factor is population density. Bangladesh is the most densely populated large country in the world, and the city of Dhaka has 16 million people, with almost 60,000 residents per square mile. Net: Things spread quickly in this type of environment.  

And finally, you have an enormous potential for significant earnings growth. The per-capita gross national income in Bangladesh was $700 in 2010. Assuming the average contractor earns $10 an hour, a Bangladeshi contractor can earn the average annual income in less than 2 weeks of work on oDesk. Net: There’s a huge financial upside to working online — for both individuals and the country’s overall economy — compared to local opportunities.

So my assessment is that when you combine…

  • A young, educated population eager for opportunity, and then
  • Pack them all into a small geographic area, and introduce
  • Compelling economics…

… you get a country that grows from 2% to 10% of oDesk’s total hours worked in only 3 years.

In my discussions with people in Bangladesh, there’s a clear sense of lost opportunity when it comes to traditional BPO and IT outsourcing. They’ve seen countries like India and Philippines gain tremendous resources and economic growth, and then evolve from doing someone else’s production work to becoming their own centers of innovation. Traditional outsourcing is still relatively small in Bangladesh, and many people I talked with shared feelings that they’ve missed the boat.

The analogy I drew for them was telephone communications in Africa. The developed world went from telegrams to traditional wireline communications, stringing phone lines all over the country. Over the last 20 years, we have moved from wireline to wireless. Africa never had a widespread wireline infrastructure — they are going straight to wireless. I like to think that Bangladesh is going to skip the BPO/IT outsourcing phase and evolve straight to independent professionals working online in a global marketplace. So far, it seems like they are on the right track.

While the macroeconomic analysis is fun to think about, what makes any working relationship successful is the people involved. The individuals I met and their personal stories are what impressed me the most. The economics, demographics and geography may be drivers, but there’s an eagerness for opportunity that was unique. These professionals see the opportunity available on oDesk, and they are willing to put in the hard work to succeed. I wanted to share one particular story with you from a graphic designer I met:

From my early childhood I grew up loving colors and shapes. I had a dream to be an artist and to have appreciation from the world for my artwork! But there were obstacles between reality and my dreams. When I had just started my diploma course in fine arts, my father passed away. We suddenly had severe financial problems in our family. A job to run my family became crucially important to me. I was desperate trying to get a job anywhere – part-time art instructor, restaurant waiter, sales agent, part-time teacher in coaching center, customer support person in call center. Eventually, I got a job at a local customer care center as a customer manager. Over there I had to handle more than a thousand calls every week – along with sales targets and everything. It was a lot of pressure for me – I was not really a sales person. But I had no other choice.

Almost three years passed in that way. I became totally frustrated. I could neither concentrate on my study, nor manage time for any creative work like painting and drawing. I was becoming hopeless. On that time, I heard about oDesk. One of my friends (now my fiancé!) started working on oDesk and he told me that it could also be the perfect place for me to get work that I like. He suggested me to take a short graphic design course and start working through oDesk – because that way I can use my creative/painting skills in crafting digital arts. I listened to him and now I am an established freelance graphic designer on oDesk.

I have logged more than a thousand hours for my clients from several countries like USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia… My clients are happy with my work and I have much appreciation from them. I left my call center job a year ago. Now I work full-time on oDesk and run my family very smoothly. I can buy gifts for my mother on special occasions and even when there is no occasion at all! I love to see her smile when she is surprised and happy. Now there are many vacations in my life! Wherever I go, I go with my laptop and wireless internet connection. My office is everywhere. Now I am independent, confident and happy.

This is why I work for oDesk. This is why I can tell people to try online work — whether as a contractor or client — and not feel like I’m giving a sales pitch. It’s easy to give earnings and financial impact as the drivers of oDesk’s viral growth, but you can see from the story above that it’s much more than that. When your opportunities expand from what’s nearby to what’s anywhere in the world, magical things happen.

Success is what happens when 1) you are in the right place at the right time, 2) you’re smart enough to recognize the opportunity in front of you, and 3) skilled enough to execute on the opportunity. Watching the professionals in Bangladesh pull these three things together and hearing their personal stories has been an extraordinary experience.


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Insights From the World Bank’s Technology & Jobs Panel https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/05/insights-from-the-world-banks-technology-jobs-panel/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/05/insights-from-the-world-banks-technology-jobs-panel/#comments Wed, 30 May 2012 20:05:54 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=23127 I was excited to participate in a panel at the World Bank last week about “An Open Conversation on Technology and Jobs,” presented by the Jobs Knowledge Platform and led by World Bank Managing Director Mahmoud Mohieldin. Online work is quickly becoming a large piece of the global employment picture, and its impact on economies around the world (especially developing economies, according to the Financial Times) is already an important topic of discussion. As a result, there is a growing need for the world’s policymakers, government officials and industry leaders to have an open dialogue about the policies and best practices surrounding online work.

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Hosted by the World Bank’s Knowledge and Learning Council and presented by the Jobs Knowledge Platform, the panel was led by World Bank Managing Director Mahmoud Mohieldin and was moderated by The Wall Street Journal’s economics editor David Wessel. In addition to myself, the panel included Jonathan Donner of Microsoft Research and Souktel CEO Jacob Korenblum.

We heard about the fascinating work being done on how technology can equalize employment opportunities around the world. It became apparent that there is a large gap between what technology could do and what technology is doing in these emerging markets, a gap that companies like oDesk and Souktel are trying to close.

Souktel, for example, is using mobile phone services to connect job seekers and businesses. In the majority of countries where Souktel operates (which is primarily the Middle East and Africa), the lack of reliable Internet access often affects people’s employment prospects. Souktel addresses that need by allowing mobile phone users to access a database of employees and employers.

oDesk focuses more on overcoming geographic barriers, bringing work to the worker instead of the worker to the work. We believe that it doesn’t matter where you are born; you should have access to any job you’re qualified to do, regardless of where that job is. We break down those barriers through eWork, which makes location essentially irrelevant — for developing economies, the Internet provides roads to jobs where previously there were none.

Yet there remains a lot of work to be done. Jonathan of Microsoft Research noted that there is still the question of how people without smartphone access can utilize online resources, and it remains to be seen how one country with multiple languages can use the same SMS system. He also discussed how further attention is needed on the availability, speed and quality of Internet access in developing countries, in addition to pricing models.

However, the future looks bright, Jonathan said. He discussed how the growth of digital technologies in the developing world is creating a climate of experimentation that is “supercharging the labor market.” While the first phase of shaping these labor markets has focused on putting the infrastructure in place to support this experimentation, the next phase is developing the platforms that enable networks of opportunity and economic exchange.

It was clear that the next frontier will be political and economic initiatives and programs to support this new way of accessing jobs. This is something that we at oDesk have already confronted — both with international money transfer and worker compliance — but there are still miles to go. Standing at the leading edge of this space are the countries that have already recognized the impact of mobile technology on their economies; Bangladesh, for example, recently declared that all money earned through online work platforms is tax-free.

Whether it concerns Internet and mobile technology access, international and national regulations and compliance, skills development, reputation management, or employer/job-seeker matching, there are many areas ripe for further research and discussion, as evidenced by last week’s event. We look forward to participating in this dialogue, and I am eager to see what exciting developments emerge as a result.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on which discussions are important for this space going forward, from global online work initiatives to mobile technology access in emerging markets. Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

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Insights From oDesk’s First Bay Area User Group https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/04/insights-from-odesks-first-bay-area-user-group/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/04/insights-from-odesks-first-bay-area-user-group/#comments Tue, 17 Apr 2012 15:45:44 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=22377 Last Thursday, we were thrilled to welcome a great group of oDesk clients to our office in Redwood City, California, for our first Bay Area User Group. Here are some of the insights and best practices that were shared.

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Last Thursday, oDesk was thrilled to welcome a great group of oDesk clients to our office in Redwood City, California, for our first Bay Area User Group.

The evening started with a welcome from oDesk CEO Gary Swart, who discussed the evolution of the online work industry and oDesk’s vision for the future of work.

“Talent is the single biggest lever we have, yet with traditional hiring, it’s harder than ever to find and retain great people,” Gary said. But thanks to the growth of online work, we can now access talent on demand and virtually. “We are just scratching the surface of this new way of working,” Gary said. “The possibilities are endless.”

Gary was followed by Mollie Carter, oDesk’s Director of Customer Marketing, who presented the results of a recent independent survey of more than 7,000 oDesk clients. The survey found that early adopters are the first to embrace online hiring, and that these adopters are savvy and highly educated; the majority hold a post-graduate degree.

The survey also found that those who try online work don’t go back — 76% characterized online hiring as a “long-term strategy” instead of a “temporary solution,” and 89% agreed that online work makes their business more competitive. “You’re really using online work as a strategic weapon,” Mollie said of the clients in attendance.

Mollie also moderated a panel of oDesk clients, representing a wide range of company sizes. The panel included Mike Todasco of SketchMaven (a one-person startup), Austin Vedder and Garrett Smallwood of Redbeacon (a small startup with just over 20 people, but which was acquired by Home Depot in January), and Mike Shwe of Google.

The panel discussed best practices and common challenges for three of the most important aspects of online work — hiring, onboarding and scaling.

Hiring

Regarding hiring, Mike from Google discussed how one of the biggest advantages of online work is that it enables him to spin up a team “practically overnight as opposed to in six to 12 months,” he said. “It allows us to be more reactive according to our priorities.”

Mike from SketchMaven noted that the best way to find a contractor online is by networking and asking for recommendations, just like you would do with local hiring. “It’s no different than in the physical world,” he said. “Ask people who they’re using.”

Aside from that, Mike presented his top three best practices for hiring:

  • Ask specific questions in the job post,
  • don’t overlook feedback scores, and
  • consider doing a test project.

“Give them a little piece of the project, a day’s work. You can learn a lot about someone in a day,” he said.

At Redbeacon, they have developed their own process for hiring — they test out the role themselves first. “It helps to know what you’re hiring for,” they said. To ensure they know exactly what to look for, they perform the work themselves first, figuring out exactly which process is best, what tools are needed and what skills they are looking for.

Onboarding

When discussing onboarding — orienting new team members to your company — Mike from Google reinforced the importance of building a community. “Working from home can be isolating,” he said. “It’s important to build a sense of community and engagement. We want team spirit and for people to be excited about their work.” To do so, Google provides coaches and mentors for new contractors, and has implemented a way to identify and leverage high performers.

To streamline onboarding, Redbeacon has implemented an extensive training process. “We use Google Docs. We set everyone up with our own internal tools like Gmail and Skype. We do a lot of internal role-playing. We hire two contractors at once who work together. We have coaches who we’ve already defined to help with onboarding. We have Skype meetings daily,” Austin and Garrett explained. “We’ve had some bad experiences when we’ve approached it with the ‘just throw the project over the wall’ mentality, but really you’re hiring a team. Coaching and training are just as important as with an in-person team.”

Mike from SketchMaven added that he is still working with some of the first contractors he ever hired, in 2009. Though he is not always able to give them full-time work, “I promise them that I will refer the heck out of them,” he said. “It doesn’t feel at all like a contractor relationship; you really get to know them. You build relationships with them. I will sometimes work really late nights with them, and get to know a bit of their life story. They are your team, and it’s no different than if they were in the office.”

Scaling

To make scaling a team as fast and efficient as possible, Mike from Google suggested nailing down all your processes and documentation. “Knowing that we’ve built the team to a certain size so far, we can build a much larger team with this repeatable process,” he said. “We have automated the testing and training, really the whole hiring process.”

Meanwhile, Austin and Garrett at Redbeacon recommended hiring slowly and moving on quickly if the contractor isn’t working out. “The good people quickly rise through the ranks and help coach and train,” they said. “We relied heavily on our earliest high-performers, and many of them are still with us — the first five people we hired still are.”

Mike from SketchMaven also suggested moving on quickly, but added that you should “love the ones who are good.” He makes sure his stellar contractors know they are appreciated; for example, he recently sent pictures of his conference booth to the designer that created the graphics, as a way of thanking him. 

To close out the presentations, oDesk’s Director of Marketplace Hayden Brown discussed some exciting developments the product team is working on. “We’re making it easier for the right contractors and employers to find each other,” she said.

The group then split into more informal, topic-based sessions, where clients could ask questions about everything from finding a technical contractor to custom APIs.

Overall, the event was a great success, and we loved meeting our users and hearing their stories. Stay tuned for more user groups in the future!

Do you have any hiring, onboarding or scaling tips to share? Leave them in the comments section below!


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What the oDesk Team is Reading: Books & Blogs Edition https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/04/what-the-odesk-team-is-reading-books-and-blogs-edition/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/04/what-the-odesk-team-is-reading-books-and-blogs-edition/#comments Tue, 10 Apr 2012 16:15:04 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=22251 oDesk employees from all departments have been busy with novels and nonfiction, but this time we have added a new category of recommended reading: blogs!

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It’s been a few months since we’ve checked in with the oDesk team here in California about what books are on their nightstands and Kindles. oDesk employees from all departments have been busy with novels and nonfiction, but this time we have added a new category of recommended reading: blogs! Here are some of their book and blog recommendations:

Best Business Picks

Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success was a popular pick among the marketing team — both Shareen and Adrian just finished it. “I really liked how it emphasized the fact that you actually have to work hard to be good,” Adrian said. “It showed that often the people who are the most successful are the ones that work the hardest.”

Our Director of Communications, Shoshana, is reading both Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow’s Big Changes. “I love learning about spawning data and trends, and getting insight into what the future will hold,” she said. “It also serves as inspiration for how we can use oDesk’s own data as it points to the future of work.”

Meanwhile, Matt — our Director of Business Development — is reading The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by LinkedIn Cofounder and Chairman Reid Hoffman. He said it provides an “interesting perspective on bringing a startup mentality to your overall career.”

Brianna, also in the business development department, likes her business reading to be real-time and tech-centered, so she makes a point to read TechCrunch every day. “It has the most updated information on IT companies in Silicon Valley, and has very intelligent posts,” she said.

Best Historical Books

Several oDesk employees have traveled back in time for their current reads. Laura, our Senior Copywriter, is reading The Autobiography Of Eleanor Roosevelt. She calls it a “really interesting snapshot of a crucial, formative part of history.”

Shreeraj from the product team prefers the historical fiction route, and is reading the classic Around the World in Eighty Days for the second time. What keeps him reading are the great glimpses of destinations around the world, and the insight into what life was like in the 1900s.

Meanwhile, on the marketing team, Mollie was captivated by The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the story of a woman whose cells have been used for hundreds of medical discoveries, yet they were taken without her knowledge or consent. “This woman had such an impact on scientific research and discovery of cures, yet no one knows anything about her,” Mollie said. “It is definitely thought-provoking regarding ethical and moral questions.”

Expert Recommendations

Many oDesk team members naturally gravitated towards reading about their areas of expertise. One of the most fascinating was QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, which our Labor Scientist Greg Little is reading. Author Richard P. Feynman “does a great job of explaining physics in layman’s terms,” Greg noted.

Several design blogs also emerged as popular reads — our Art Director, Lorena, is an avid follower of Design*Sponge, while Shipra, one of our Interaction Designers, is a fan of Design Staff, which is dedicated to helping startups design great products. “My friend writes for it and he has really good insights,” she said.

Do you have any great books to recommend, or blogs you couldn’t live without? Please share them in the comments section below!


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The Results Are In: Online Work is Here to Stay https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/03/the-results-are-in-online-work-is-here-to-stay/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/03/the-results-are-in-online-work-is-here-to-stay/#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2012 13:20:18 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=21966 A recent independent survey of more than 7,000 oDesk clients who have recently hired oDesk contractors indicates that online work is a growing trend being leveraged by savvy managers, and that it is seen as a strategic, long-term source of competitive advantage.

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Today oDesk announced that we just closed a $15 million funding round and are welcoming a new CFO, Greg Stanger. Greg is former CFO of Chegg and Expedia, and has served on the Board of Directors at Expedia, Netflix, Drugstore.com and Kayak.com. We’re all feeling part of something big, as we build the future of online work.

While preparing for these exciting announcements, we also received the results from a recent survey of our clients. We wanted to share them with you, and highlight two overall findings that are quite fascinating:

1)   oDesk clients hiring via our platform are savvy

  • Our clients are highly educated — 41% have a Master’s degree or beyond, and three out of four have at least a Bachelor’s degree
  • They know how to guide teams — four out of five respondents have management experience
  • They are early adopters — 62% categorize themselves as among the first to adopt new technologies

2)   Online work is here to stay, and is viewed as a source of competitive advantage

  • 76% of respondents characterized hiring remote contractors online as a long-term strategy
  • 89% agree that remote work makes their business “more competitive”
  • Almost as many (87%) believe that “remote hiring will soon be a common business practice”

Bottom line: Those who spot trends first and leverage them wisely reap competitive advantage, and our clients are the smart ones riding the online work trend relatively early in its evolution. That said, the market for online work is already expected to reach $1 billion by the end of this year.

We constantly hear stories from our clients about how hiring a virtual team of online workers on oDesk opened up tremendous opportunities for their businesses and helped them compete. If you have thoughts on the survey results or a story of your own, we’d love to hear it!

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Bring oDesk to Your City! https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/03/bring-odesk-to-your-city/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/03/bring-odesk-to-your-city/#comments Thu, 08 Mar 2012 17:20:21 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=21828 We’d like to say ‘thank you’ to our amazing contractor community by hosting a series of oDesk events around the world. Help us decide where to go by voting for your favorite city!

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We’d like to say ‘thank you’ to our amazing contractor community by hosting a series of oDesk events around the world.

These ‘Contractor Appreciation Days’ will be local gatherings that bring oDesk experts, learning opportunities and a professional photographer for free profile pictures to select cities around the world.

We are gathering your votes on our Facebook poll over the next 10 days to determine which cities to add to our travels. Want us to come to YOU for a Contractor Appreciation Day event? Vote today to help your city top the list!

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Innovation, Competition, and an Offer for Solvate users https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/03/innovation-competition-and-an-offer-for-solvate-users/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/03/innovation-competition-and-an-offer-for-solvate-users/#comments Fri, 02 Mar 2012 02:01:04 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=21658 We recently heard that Solvate, the company that brought a high-touch, hands-on approach to online work, has discontinued its service this week. While some might welcome this news about a competitor, the atmosphere here at oDesk is one of reflection. It is a loss to us all in the online work space, but especially hard for Solvate clients and contractors, who have been left without a workplace to call their own. We'd like to invite those users to try oDesk, and will help them get a good start with a hands-on, high-touch welcome.

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We recently heard that Solvate, the company that brought a high-touch, hands-on approach to online work, has discontinued its service this week. While some might welcome this news about a competitor, the atmosphere here at oDesk is one of reflection.

Time and again throughout history, we see examples of innovation fueled by competition. Accomplishments like putting a man on the moon, a Blu-ray player in your home, and a cold Coca-Cola in your hand all have the competition to thank (along with some well-placed marketing efforts.)

It is a loss to us all in the online work space, but especially hard for Solvate clients and contractors, who have been left without a workplace to call their own. We’d like to invite those users to try oDesk, and will help them get a good start with a hands-on, high-touch welcome.

With that in mind, we are offering free courtesy one-on-one appointments to help both contractors and clients transition to oDesk. Whether bringing your existing team or taking on new projects, our experts will walk you through the necessary steps to get your business back on track.

To take advantage of this offer:

  1. Sign up for a free account at www.odesk.com
  2. Logged in to your new account, visit our one-on-one appointment schedule to select the day and time that works best for you

While we’re sorry to see Solvate go, hopefully our one-on-one team can ease the transition for users and set them on the path to success on oDesk!

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Thanks For A Great Year, oDeskers! https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/01/thanks-for-a-great-year-odeskers/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2012/01/thanks-for-a-great-year-odeskers/#comments Wed, 04 Jan 2012 19:18:26 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=20255 As we head into 2012, I want to personally thank all of you for making the past year an absolutely amazing one. We are just scratching the surface of Work 3.0, a world where work is on demand, virtual and remote; for both businesses and workers, the opportunities and possibilities here are endless. We look forward to all the exciting opportunities 2012 will bring, and we can’t wait to share them with you.

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Welcome to the new year! As we head into 2012, I want to personally thank all of you for making the past year an absolutely amazing one.
I would like to express how grateful I am to be part of such an inspiring and thriving community. From the thousands of innovative entrepreneurs that are building their businesses on oDesk, to the more than 1.5 million contractors that are taking advantage of the boundless opportunities online work has to offer, I am truly inspired by our incredible users.
Last year, you found new opportunities and incredible freedom through online work. As contractors, you earned more than $225 million on oDesk. You built your own successful online businesses, like Josh Warren, whose web development company aims to surpass $1M in earnings in 2012. You took charge of your careers and set lofty goals for yourselves — a great example is Bernard Vukas, who adjusted his rate to his target of $100/hr and left his home in Croatia to live the lifestyle of a digital nomad.
As clients, you created over 1M new online jobs in 2011. You hired thousands of online contractors to access talent as needed, to tap into skills beyond your existing staff, and to scale your businesses rapidly. You filled your teams with trained contractors to fulfill users’ needs, like online ticket forecaster SeatGeek did. You leveraged online work to expand your businesses aggressively, such as local service site Thumbtack.com’s impressive 150X growth.
As contractors and clients, your work on oDesk supports causes beyond your own businesses: thanks to your successes with online work, we have committed online training resources to Connect to Compete (a non-profit supporting broadband Internet access and training, launched in 2011 by the FCC), created the industry’s first international university program for online work training, and dedicated $1M to support entrepreneurs through Startup America.
This was a remarkable year, and we believe it was just the beginning of a massive shift in how the world works. We are just scratching the surface of Work 3.0, a world where work is on demand, virtual and remote. For both businesses and workers, the opportunities and possibilities here are endless.
As our team continues to work hard in 2012 to make oDesk the best online workplace for contractors and businesses, here are a few ways you can make the most of your oDesk experience this year:
  • Check out some of our fastest-growing categories of work, like mobile development, graphic design and social media. Consider growing your own skill set in these areas, or expanding your team by hiring contractors with these skills.
  • Get guidance from the online work experts on the oDesk blog — learn how to determine the value of online work, get tips on online hiring practices, and find advice on working successfully with people around the globe.
  • Join the conversation about online work in our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter communities. Learn from online work success stories, engage with oDesk team members, and connect with your fellow oDeskers from around the world.
We look forward to all the exciting opportunities 2012 will bring, and we can’t wait to share them with you. Thank you again for your continued support, and may the new year bring you happiness, health and prosperity!
Best wishes for your future success on oDesk,
Gary Swart
oDesk CEO

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What Are You Reading? The oDesk Team Shares Their Recommendations https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/12/what-are-you-reading-the-odesk-team-shares-their-recommendations/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/12/what-are-you-reading-the-odesk-team-shares-their-recommendations/#comments Wed, 21 Dec 2011 16:00:35 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=19924 Looking for the next book to help you pass the time during holiday travel? Or are you looking for a book to give as a gift? The oDesk team may be able to give you some ideas — here is a quick glimpse into what we are reading right now.

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Looking for a new book to help you pass the time during holiday travel? Or are you looking for a book to give as a gift? The oDesk team may be able to give you some ideas — it turns out we are quite a literary bunch. Here is a quick glimpse into what the oDesk team is reading right now!

The most popular:

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This biography has captured the attention of readers around the world, and our team is no exception. Four different team members are either reading this book or just finished it (interestingly, three out of four are on the marketing team). Here are some of the reasons why our team has not been able to put it down:

Erica: “Apple is leading the industry in innovative products, so I wanted to get more insight into the man that was the genesis of those products.”

Mollie: “I think he created brilliant products and customer experiences. I’m saddened by his passing, and want to know more about him.”

Not your typical business books:

The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You by Eli Pariser

As you can imagine, here at oDesk we are all quite interested in the Internet and its potential. Keith from our product team is reading a book that certainly reflects this — it discusses how personalization (specifically, personalized filters) can control the information that we see, consume and share online. According to author Eli Pariser, this can impact online privacy and even the way we view our world.

Dancing Corndogs in the Night: Reawakening Your Creative Spirit by Don Hahn

While some members of our engineering team are reading books like High-Performance JavaScript (I’m talking to you, Yiota!), Jeff — our VP of Engineering — breaks the mold by reading this book by legendary Disney producer Don Hahn. Jeff said it has some very interesting insights into creativity, from one of the most creative people of our time — Hahn produced “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Lion King” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” among others.

Not your typical parenting book:

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

This book got quite a lot of attention this year for its controversial parenting methods. While marketing team member Shareen is not sold on becoming a tiger mom, she loved it because “all parents wish there was a formula for raising perfect kids.”

For the food lover:

Maman’s Homesick Pie: A Persian Heart in an American Kitchen by Donia Bijan

Our CEO, Gary, is currently reading this memoir by award-winning chef Donia Bijan. She tells of her family’s escape to California from the Islamic revolution in Iran and recounts her journey to chef stardom. Interspersed throughout the book are thirty recipes from her childhood and her culinary career. Not only is it a “well-written” and “uplifting” story, said Gary, but he also happens to know Bijan and can attest to her culinary prowess.

For the informed reader:

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis

While Michael Lewis’ baseball tale Moneyball is currently captivating movie audiences, his best-selling account of the U.S. financial crisis has enthralled Subha from our product team. She called it “fascinating” and said “she can’t put it down,” mostly because “it is just amazing the stupidity of some of the decisions that were made, and the fact that this all happened in our time.”

The time machine:

The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

This novel, set in New York City in the 1930s, is already a favorite for Jaleh, our VP of Marketing. “The writing is exquisite, and I felt like I was in the 1930s reading it. It captures the era in a stunning way,” she said. This is a great choice for readers who like being transported back to another time, as well as those who “love really good writing for its own sake,” she said.

The classic:

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

One member of the marketing team, Monica, went back a couple hundred years to find her current read. She is revisiting this classic by Elizabeth Gaskell, which she loves because it reads like a combination of two of her favorite authors: Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

The grown-up comic book:

Y the Last Man by by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

Hayden, one of our graphic designers, stuck to graphic storytelling for his recommendation. In this comic series — which comes highly recommended by Hayden — only one man (and his monkey) survives the simultaneous death of every male mammal in the world due to a horrible plague.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Do you have any recommendations to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section below!


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Work 3.0: The Office Has Left the Building https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/12/work-3-0-the-office-has-left-the-building/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/12/work-3-0-the-office-has-left-the-building/#comments Mon, 12 Dec 2011 17:45:43 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=19622 Imagine a world where employers have access to the best global talent, with just a click. One where people can work whenever they want, wherever they want, however they want. In this world, businesses can hire talent on demand, without worrying about complicated compensation packages, long hiring cycles or expensive overhead. In this world, people […]

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Imagine a world where employers have access to the best global talent, with just a click. One where people can work whenever they want, wherever they want, however they want. In this world, businesses can hire talent on demand, without worrying about complicated compensation packages, long hiring cycles or expensive overhead. In this world, people can work with companies from across the globe, instead of just those within commuting distance.

This world is not imaginary — it’s Work 3.0, and it’s already here.

In his presentation last week at the GigaOm Net:Work 2011 conference, oDesk CEO Gary Swart explained what Work 3.0 looks like, and how it is changing the world of work. Though many companies are already taking advantage of the technologies that power it, Work 3.0 is just getting started. Given the tremendous possibilities of this way of working, Work 3.0 will likely become commonplace much sooner than you may think. Here’s why:

Every business runs on talent. “It’s the single biggest lever we all have in our companies, regardless of the size, yet we’re all struggling to find good talent,” Gary explained. Traditional hiring is expensive and time-consuming, especially when you consider how competitive it is to attract and secure the best talent, and that “typically the talent doesn’t live where the jobs are located.”

But the times, they are a-changing. In the past two decades, we have gone from Work 1.0 — rigid, structured, on-premise work for one employer — to Work 2.0, where work is performed on site, but improvements in technology infrastructure have brought more flexibility to the workplace.

And now, with further improvements in software and cloud-based applications, we are passing through the gates of Work 3.0 — a world where work is on demand, virtual and remote.

A number of companies and workers have already found tremendous success with this model — Gary presented two examples — but the possibilities are endless.

“I don’t even think we’re at the knee of the curve of what’s to come,” Gary said.

Watch the video:

Watch live streaming video from gigaomnetwork at livestream.com
Over the next few months, we will present some of our predictions for the future of work as well as our vision for the changing workplace, and outline how to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities of Work 3.0. Stay tuned!


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Employers: Quick and Easy Management with Contractor Drop-Down Menus https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/12/contractor-drop-down-menus/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/12/contractor-drop-down-menus/#comments Fri, 09 Dec 2011 22:20:51 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=19598 Have you wondered how to give your contractor a bonus? Or what time it is in your contractor’s locale?  Well, we have now made it much easier to do the most common management tasks, all in one place.As part of our ongoing efforts to improve usability and enhance the My Contractors hub, we have added […]

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Have you wondered how to give your contractor a bonus? Or what time it is in your contractor’s locale?  Well, we have now made it much easier to do the most common management tasks, all in one place.As part of our ongoing efforts to improve usability and enhance the My Contractors hub, we have added a drop-down menu next to each contractor’s name, where you can easily perform key actions related to the contract. The tasks include: send a message, view the Work Diary, change the Weekly Limit, end the contract, and more.
To take advantage of the new drop-downs, be sure you are using the new My Contractors page. If you are in the old Team Room, click on the link, “Test drive our new Manage Home Page”    Let us know what you think of the new drop-down menu, what’s working and what other improvements you would like to see.  Visit our community forum post to discuss with other users, or send us direct feedback via our survey.

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Introducing the oDesk Skills Dictionary https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/12/odesk-skills-dictionary-right-words-to-land-the-right-jobs/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/12/odesk-skills-dictionary-right-words-to-land-the-right-jobs/#comments Thu, 08 Dec 2011 02:37:40 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=18373 As a contractor, you are always trying to make a great impression on potential employers. The right words matter in making that impression, so we’re thrilled to announce the oDesk Skills Dictionary — a comprehensive list of standardized skills on oDesk. Standardization helps ensure you find and receive the most relevant jobs for your experience […]

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As a contractor, you are always trying to make a great impression on potential employers. The right words matter in making that impression, so we’re thrilled to announce the oDesk Skills Dictionary — a comprehensive list of standardized skills on oDesk.

Standardization helps ensure you find and receive the most relevant jobs for your experience and expertise by ensuring everyone is using the same terms for the skills they are searching on. This diminishes any cultural and language obstacles encountered when selecting skills on oDesk, and removes the need to list multiple versions of the same skill (“PHP, PHP programmer, PHP developer, PHP expert,” etc.).

As a testament to how important your skills are, they are now showcased at the top of the new contractor profile. Updating your skills will allow you to best take advantage of the new profile design, so make sure you do so. Read more about the new contractor profile here.

How it Works

When selecting skills for your profile, begin typing your skill, then choose from the available suggestions.

Newly registered contractors are already taking advantage of the new system.

For existing contractors, we will guide you through the process of updating your skills. The next time you log in to oDesk, you will be directed to a list of suggested skills from the oDesk Skills Dictionary, based on the ones currently listed on your profile. You will then have until January 13, 2012, to verify the suggestions, rank the skills, and approve your own custom list. The changes will go live on your profile after you complete the transition form. Starting January 13, all matched skills will be transitioned and any remaining non-standardized skills will be removed from profiles.

The new profile style has phased out skills descriptions and experience information. You may want to make a copy of these descriptions for your own records before updating your skills (to do so, press the View Skills button in the profile editor). For contractors who do not complete the transition form, the descriptions we remove will be sent to you in an email for future reference, as you may wish to put this information in your profile objective, or include it in cover letters when applying for jobs.

FAQs:

  • What should I do if I cannot find a skill in the Skills Dictionary? How can I add a skill? Don’t worry — there is likely a similar skill already listed in the Dictionary, and suggesting a new one is easy.
  • How is the Skills Dictionary used within oDesk? It is used to help you attract the right jobs by using the right words.
  • How will the skills appear in my profile? Take a look at an community forum.

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New on oDesk: Streamlined Contractor Profiles https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/12/streamlined_profiles/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/12/streamlined_profiles/#comments Thu, 08 Dec 2011 01:51:29 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=19304 Today we are really excited to announce a brand new design for contractor profile pages! The contractor profile is at the heart of oDesk. Employers depend on it to assess the capabilities of any contractor, and contractors depend on it to attract employers and grow their careers. Knowing how important the contractor profile is, we […]

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Today we are really excited to announce a brand new design for contractor profile pages!

The contractor profile is at the heart of oDesk. Employers depend on it to assess the capabilities of any contractor, and contractors depend on it to attract employers and grow their careers.

Knowing how important the contractor profile is, we have redesigned it to be more useful and intuitive. The new design presents all key information in one clean, streamlined page; this makes it easier for employers to assess the capabilities of contractors, and for contractors to showcase information they want employers to see.

Here are some of the highlights of this new design:

  • One simple page. All key profile information is now on a single page.
  • Skills are at the top. Employers often look to the skills section first to determine if the contractor would be a good fit for the position. We are also standardizing skills across oDesk to make it even easier for employers to identify the right contractor for the job. Contractors: make sure to update your skills so you can get the most out of the new contractor profile design. Read more about transitioning your skills here.
  • Cleaner, modern design.  It’s easier to read, and we’ve removed extraneous information so employers can focus in on what’s most important to them.

Check out the new profile design today, and share your thoughts about it with the oDesk community.

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New! Use PayPal to Pay on oDesk https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/11/new-use-paypal-to-pay-on-odesk/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/11/new-use-paypal-to-pay-on-odesk/#comments Thu, 01 Dec 2011 01:17:52 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=18925 We are proud to announce that PayPal is now a primary payment option on oDesk! In addition to credit and debit cards, you may now choose to use your PayPal account to make payments to contractors on oDesk, without any additional verification.

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Here at oDesk, we are always looking for ways to improve how employers hire, manage and pay their online teams. As part of this effort, we are proud to announce that PayPal is now a primary payment option on oDesk!
In addition to credit and debit cards, you may now choose to use your PayPal account to make payments to contractors on oDesk. As a verified PayPal user, you’re immediately ready to post a job, and pay for online work using your PayPal balance or through your bank account, without any additional account verification.

To select PayPal as your primary payment option, simply log on to your Payment Methods page. Once you’ve used PayPal, drop us a note at billing-feedback@odesk.com and tell us what you think. Or, discuss this new offering with our community.

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The New oDesk Site — Online Work at Your Fingertips https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/11/the-new-odesk-site/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/11/the-new-odesk-site/#comments Thu, 17 Nov 2011 02:15:47 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=18539 Today we are very excited to announce the launch of oDesk’s brand new navigation and site design! We have been transitioning to this new look for several months, and we have received great feedback from our users. The site is designed to be more intuitive, highlighting the most important features by displaying them front and […]

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Today we are very excited to announce the launch of oDesk’s brand new navigation and site design! We have been transitioning to this new look for several months, and we have received great feedback from our users. The site is designed to be more intuitive, highlighting the most important features by displaying them front and center. The new design also gives us the flexibility to continuously improve the site to meet our users’ needs.

If you have any questions about the new site, please see our FAQs (for employers and contractors) or the “Where Is” table (for employers and contractors).

The site is now organized around core functions. Here’s a quick tour:

 

If you have not tried the new site yet, check out these enhancements:

For contractors:

  • Find Jobs. Found under the “Find Work” tab, this is your home page when looking for work. Get the latest status on your job applications, search for job opportunities that fit your skills, and easily update your profile.
  • My Jobs. This is your home page when doing client work. Check all your active contracts, track your time billed this week, and see total earnings available to withdraw.

For employers:

  • Job Postings. Found under the “Recruit” tab, this is your home page for finding the perfect person for your project. See all your open jobs and the latest activity, easily post a new job, and search for the right contractor.
  • My Contractors. Found under the “Manage My Team” tab, this is your home page for managing contractors. Track who is currently working or see the last time they worked, view total hours billed this week, and see upcoming payments.

If you have feedback about the new site, we want to hear it! Please visit our community forum to share your thoughts.

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New tools to manage your applicant list and find your best candidates https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/09/manage-your-applicant-list/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/09/manage-your-applicant-list/#comments Tue, 13 Sep 2011 17:20:13 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=17598 It’s exciting to receive a lot of applicants to your job.  But, then you need to turn your attention to figuring out who is the best fit for your job.   And, the more applicants you have, the harder this can be.  We’ve learned that most employers at oDesk do a quick, initial assessment of […]

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It’s exciting to receive a lot of applicants to your job.  But, then you need to turn your attention to figuring out who is the best fit for your job.   And, the more applicants you have, the harder this can be.  We’ve learned that most employers at oDesk do a quick, initial assessment of each applicant, shorten their list to their top candidates, and then review their shortlist in more detail.  To make this process easier, we’ve added some new tools.

From your applicant list, you can:

 See a summary of each applicant.  Quickly flip through each of your applicants without loading a new page.

 For applicants that are a good fit, shortlist them.  You can then review in detail only these  shortlisted candidates.

 For applicants you are less interested in, hide them.  You can unhide them later if you need more candidates.

Here’s a view of the new Quickview pane, or see our short video here.

If you have big applicant lists, we know list management is critical.  Along with these new tools, you can also still decline applicants that are not right for your job, and flag applicants that aren’t appropriate.

We think these new tools will lead to easier list management and faster hires – which is good for employers and contractors.  Let us know what you think, in our community forum.

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How You Can Help oDesk Customer Support Help You https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/09/how-you-can-help-odesk-customer-support-help-you/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/09/how-you-can-help-odesk-customer-support-help-you/#comments Mon, 12 Sep 2011 15:00:25 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=15948 Let's help oDesk Customer Support help us. After interviewing members of oDesk Customer Service and Support, we've managed to get a clearer perspective of how the CS team works to better understand and help them resolve issues and problems on the site.

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Who do we call for help whenever there are problems with payments and withdrawals? Who do we send our bug reports when something strange happens to the oDesk Team 3? Who saves the day when the oDesk site bogs down or when an employer or contractor violates a user policy? oDesk Customer Support, of course.

These guys are the people who answer our questions, mediate disputes, and ensure that our user experience with oDesk is always 100% smooth and easy. Call them the oDesk Supermen, if you’d like.

Unfortunately, we users tend to forget that oDesk Customer Support is still a team of people, humans who can only go as far as answering tickets and handling live chat sessions everyday. A slight delay in response or a vague answer can spark a nasty remark or a day-long rant over at the forums, but I think we can be more constructive in our approach as customers.

Let’s help oDesk Customer Support help us. After interviewing members of oDesk Customer Service and Support, we’ve managed to get a clearer perspective of how the CS team works to better understand and help them resolve issues and problems on the site.

The most common issues reported to oDesk CS

So far the most common issues users report to CS include:

  • Account/registration requests (closure and suspension)
  • Payment inquiries (payment disputes, cancellation, returning funds to credit card, not receiving funds after withdrawal)
  • Problems when hiring contractors (in the case of employers — apparently there are contractors who still scam employers and disappear out of sight)

The good news is that we users take full advantage of the resources oDesk’s customer support has already put out there for us. It seems 75% of the issues reported are unique cases, with only 25% already addressed in the oDesk Help Center — this means most of us are reading through common issues before hitting the panic button.

Some issues that need direct assistance from a CS representative

If you encounter a technical problem that can’t be solved through the oDesk Help Center, want to close your oDesk account permanently, or have issues regarding security (security answer resets, etc.), contact oDesk Customer Support. Period.

These are the kinds of user issues and requests that only the CS team can help you with. You’ll save more time and energy if you let them handle these types of problems.

Files/data users should provide when seeking help from oDesk Customer Support

To speed up the process of analyzing and processing reports and issues on oDesk, have these types of files or data on hand:

  • Tech issues: Team logs, OS specifications, and browser information
  • Work-related issues: information/proof/documentation that could assist oDesk CS in analyzing the problem (contract ID, transaction date and amount for payments, emails, messages, screenshots, etc.)

I personally encourage fellow oDesk users to save messages, IM archives, possible screenshots, and emails from the start of the contract up to the end. All these can act as proof of your claims just in case something goes wrong and you find yourself in a dispute with your client/contractor.

Factors to consider when reporting an issue to oDesk Customer Support

As much as the CS team would like to completely solve your problems on the site immediately, you have to consider certain factors.

For instance, the amount of time an issue will take to be resolved would depend on who’s available and in charge of handling it. Is your issue more likely to be handled by someone outside of the general CSS department? Did you report the problem during a holiday or on the weekend when some of the departments are not available?

Instead of stressing too much over the wait, just be patient and occupy yourself with work. If you really need to get in touch with a representative, you can use the Live Chat feature if it is available.

Tickets or Live Chat?

We’re given the choice to either use the ticketing system or the live chat when contacting oDesk CS. Although they’re both good communication lines, one can be more useful than the other depending on the issue at hand.

Tickets are best for:

  • oDesk Team 3 issues in which logs must be submitted
  • Request for a security Q&A reset
  • Account closure
  • Issues involving sensitive/private information

Live chat is best for:

  • Guidance and best practices
  • Level 1 tech support issues
  • Problems with withdrawals

Tips from the oDesk Customer Support Team

If we expect oDesk Customer Support to provide the best help possible for all of our issues (and on a timely manner), what should we do to help them facilitate our requests quickly and successfully? Here are a few helpful and specific tips:

  • Be aware of any system or network-wide issues. Check the ‘Alert’ area at the top of the Help Center homepage.
  • Consult relevant Help Center articles for guidance before contacting CSS.
  • Proactively provide information upfront that will be useful to CSS in resolving the issue.
  • Summarize the ‘question’ (subject) of the issue as clearly as possible (while still being brief) when prompted to do so in ticket creation.
  • Be as descriptive and clear as possible when explaining the issue in the ticket.
  • Use the English language, if at all possible.
  • Ensure that the severity selected clearly represents the urgency of your issue.
  • Refrain from creating duplicate tickets.

As an oDesk user, what are your opinions and experiences with the oDesk Customer Service and Support team so far? What other tips and suggestions can you provide that could help facilitate problems and issues on the site better?

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New for Contractors – My Jobs Application on oDesk https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/09/new-for-contractors-my-jobs-application-on-odesk/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/09/new-for-contractors-my-jobs-application-on-odesk/#comments Thu, 08 Sep 2011 01:45:59 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=17635 On the My Jobs application, you will have access to all the tools that allow you to successfully manage and complete your active contracts on oDesk.

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Following the launch of our new navigation and Find Work application, we are pleased to announce the launch of our second contractor-specific application: My Jobs.

On the My Jobs application, you will have access to all the tools that allow you to successfully manage and complete your active contracts: My Jobs, Contracts and Reports.

Let’s take a closer look at the new My Jobs application…

My Jobs Home – NEW!

 

Here, you will see the list of jobs that you have been hired for, the time you have logged, and your earnings for each position.

  • Track work progress
  • See all your active jobs and easily message your employer.
  • Manage proactively
  • Review your jobs that are starting soon.
  • For Hourly Jobs – See the hours and earnings logged so far this week and review the Work Diary, Timesheet and Contract Details for a particular job.  Easily know when you’re approaching (or have surpassed) a weekly limit.
  • For Fixed-Price Jobs – Review the total payments received next to the original bid price.
  • Track financial activity
  • Review current earnings and time logged.
  • Conveniently access your available earnings.

 

Contracts

On Contracts, you can easily review the details of your work contracts – both current and past.

  • Access details about your contracts – rate, weekly limits, weekly and total hours worked, etc.
  • Search on all contracts – both current and past.
  • Download contracts in CSV form for easy integration with accounting systems.

 

Reports

 

Reports gives you a set of snapshot views into your work history.

  • Timelogs – An easy view into the payments and the work done during the week.
  • My Weekly Time Sheet – A summary of work done by you for each employer during a given week.
  • My Timesheet – A detailed report of work done by you during a custom time period.
  • Time Analyze – A configurable report of hours or earnings during a selected time period.

We’d like to hear from you–what’s your perspective on our new navigation and My Jobs application?

Send us direct feedback via our survey or visit our community forum post.  We look forward to hearing from you!

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oDesk’s Chrome Extension – now search on demand for contractors and jobs https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/08/chrome-extension-for-odesk/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/08/chrome-extension-for-odesk/#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2011 20:09:10 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=17494 oDesk's Chrome Extension allows you to search for jobs and contractors on the spot from anywhere on the web.

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One of the nice features of browser extensions is that they let you quickly access features & information from web-based services without having to visit the actual service providers’ pages.   As an oDesk employer, often times I’ve been browsing the web and had a “I wonder if I could hire an oDesk contractor to do X” moment. I imagine that oDesk contractors might have similar “I wonder if there are any jobs available for skill X” moments.

Both of these contractor and employer use-cases seemed like natural features for a browser extension, so I hired an oDesk contractor who specializes in browser-extensions to help us make a prototype.

We started with a limited–but slick–set of features, all running off our APIs:

  • Clicking on the extension logo brings up a quick contractor & job search dialog
  • If you highlight words on a page and right-click, you get a “Search in oDesk” command that returns a list of contractors or jobs with that highlighted skill.
  • On StackExchange sites, an oDesk logo is inserted next to the skills associated with a question; clicking on that logo brings up a search.

Add the oDesk extension to your Chrome browser today.

This is still a prototype, but we think it’s a great way to find contractors and jobs when you are in a “moment” and not on the oDesk site.  If our community finds it useful, we will look to add more features (and potentially make a Firefox or IE version).  Give it a try and let us know what you think in our community forum.

 

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Employers can now pay with PayPal https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/08/paypal/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/08/paypal/#comments Thu, 18 Aug 2011 04:08:05 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=17238 We have great news about your payment options.  Whether you are in the U.S. or one of the many countries supported by PayPal, you can now use PayPal to pay for your work on oDesk! Here’s how it works: Use PayPal to pre-fund your oDesk account balance, with any amount you choose. Your balance is drawn […]

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We have great news about your payment options.  Whether you are in the U.S. or one of the many countries supported by PayPal, you can now use PayPal to pay for your work on oDesk!

Here’s how it works:

  • Use PayPal to pre-fund your oDesk account balance, with any amount you choose.
  • Your balance is drawn down as you accrue charges.
  • Add to your balance at anytime.

Currently, PayPal is only available to U.S. or international employers with a verified credit card on file with oDesk.   For U.S. employers, you will need either a PayPal linked bank account or PayPal balance to fund your payment.  And, please note, payments are currently only accepted in USD.

Go to your Payment Methods, to Pay with PayPal now.

This is just one of the many enhancements we’re making to the way you pay.  Look for more options to pay with PayPal coming soon.

We’re interested in your feedback!  Take our short survey to share how you want to pay.  Or, discuss this new offering with our community.

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New for Employers – see custom contractor matches https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/07/contractor-matches/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/07/contractor-matches/#comments Fri, 29 Jul 2011 00:38:51 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=17098 Want a little more help finding the right contractor? Employers, we’ve got a new offering tailored just for you.   After you post a job on oDesk, if we find contractors that match the skills you’re looking for, we will present them to you for consideration. If you see someone you like in your short […]

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Want a little more help finding the right contractor? Employers, we’ve got a new offering tailored just for you.   After you post a job on oDesk, if we find contractors that match the skills you’re looking for, we will present them to you for consideration. If you see someone you like in your short list, you can then easily invite them to apply to your job.

You don’t need to do anything special to see these matches, but your results will improve by writing a detailed job description. When you include specific skills in your job posting, we’ll instantly show you a list of well-qualified contractors with those skills. If you’re not sure you want to invite the resulting contractors to interview for your current job, you can save them to your Saved Contractors for later review, or move on to search for more contractors filtered by category, feedback, price or other criteria that matter to you.

This matching is intended to supplement your own detailed contractor search and evaluation, and will give you a jumpstart as additional contractors apply directly to your job.

Try posting a job today and see your customized list of contractor matches! If you have feedback, please visit our community forum to share your thoughts.

______

Note, if you are an oDesk contractor, you can improve your chances of being shown in these custom matches! Be sure your profile is up-to-date and includes the specific skills supported by your portfolio and work history. Learn more on our forum post for contractors. This is one more way we are working to match you up with the jobs that suit your skills, and introduce new employers to qualified contractors like you!

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Search Update https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/07/search-update/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/07/search-update/#comments Wed, 20 Jul 2011 18:00:14 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=16915 Search is a frequently used and very powerful tool on oDesk. Be it contractor search or job search, oDesk’s primary concern is in creating the best match. When we deliver relevant jobs to strong, qualified contractors, we succeed in delivering good matches. And when matching works, we all win. Today we focus on contractor search […]

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Search is a frequently used and very powerful tool on oDesk. Be it contractor search or job search, oDesk’s primary concern is in creating the best match. When we deliver relevant jobs to strong, qualified contractors, we succeed in delivering good matches. And when matching works, we all win.

Today we focus on contractor search and share with you our thinking on the elements of a successful contractor search.

Are you an employer interested in finding the best contractor for your open job? Are you a skilled contractor making sure that you rank well in contractor searches? Read on…

What is oDesk contractor search made up of?

Our search currently focuses on 3 primary factors:

  1. Keyword match: To determine the match, we examine a contractor’s entire profile, including the objective, skills listed, tests, and past jobs to determine if the contractor would be a good match for this particular search.
  2. Availability: With our search algorithms, we give preference to contractors who are actively and appropriately applying to jobs.
  3. Effectiveness: Effectiveness measures the contractor’s ability to select and be hired for appropriate jobs. New to oDesk? Consider creating the best profile that you can and applying to jobs that match your skills and capabilities. New contractor profiles are ranked based on skills and availability.

We’ve been testing this new search for a couple months and have seen very strong results. Employers are seeing more relevant contractors for their specific jobs, resulting in more invitations and more hires.

Try contractor search today and let us know about your experience. We are listening.

What are some of the things that you can do to get the best search results?

Search tips for Employers:

  • When searching for contractors, start by selecting the appropriate job category and sub category. Include relevant search terms and use the filters on the search page to further refine your search results.
  • When posting your job, provide a detailed description of the job, your requirements and expectations, and fill in the specific skills you’re looking for in the “Skills” field.
  • When reviewing contractors, look at the whole picture. Rates are important and can signal the level of experience and quality the contractor offers. But, more important is reviewing the contractor’s skills, past work history, tests taken, and portfolio items to identify whether they are right for your job.  Contractors new to oDesk won’t have a history and feedback on oDesk. But, they may still be a great match for you. Feel free to ask them for references.

Search tips for Contractors:

  • Choose your job categories carefully.
  • Focus on a small list of skills. What are you best at? What are you an expert at?
  • If you are available, be sure to apply to relevant jobs (see KEYWORD MATCH above).
  • Keep your profile up to date. As you conclude jobs, add the experience to your profile information.
  • If you are unsure of your availability, consider not applying to jobs.
  • Be responsive to the invitations that you receive from employers. If you are not interested in the job, politely let the employers know that you don’t see a fit with the job.
  • When hired, do high quality work that meets your employers’ needs. By doing so, you are more likely to get strong feedback scores and comments, be retained for additional work, and earn more dollars. All of these will increase your ranking in search.
  • New to oDesk? Focus on completing your profile and taking tests that differentiate you. Choose your job categories carefully and focus on a narrow set of skills where you are an expert. Apply to appropriate jobs and show your commitment to the job application by creating specific cover letters addressing the needs of the employer. Detailed profiles, specified skills and appropriate job applications increase your standing in search.

Let us know about your experience with contractor search. We are eager to hear your comments. For more details, or to discuss search with the community, please visit our community forum.

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New for Contractors – Find Work application https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/07/find-work/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/07/find-work/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2011 00:02:31 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=16813 Following the launch of our new navigation scheme, we are pleased to announce the first contractor-specific application: Find Work. Find Work Application Find Work brings together in one place, all things necessary for a successful job search. Here you can find a list of appropriate jobs that match your skills, your saved searches (Find Jobs) […]

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Following the launch of our new navigation scheme, we are pleased to announce the first contractor-specific application: Find Work.

Find Work Application

Find Work brings together in one place, all things necessary for a successful job search.

Here you can find a list of appropriate jobs that match your skills, your saved searches (Find Jobs) and the ability to modify and present yourself via profile information and test results (Profile and Tests).

The Find Work application also helps you manage the jobs that you have applied for (Job Applications) and keep track of interviews and next steps on a job search.

Let’s take a closer look at what is available and what is coming soon.

Find Jobs

  • Suggested Jobs: Here you have a list of jobs that may be of interest to you. This list is created based on the categories that you have chosen.
  • Saved Searches: Get a daily email of the jobs you’re interested in. You can create a saved search easily.
  • New messages: Note that your active candidacies and job invitations are now listed in one convenient place for you. New messages are called out.

Job Applications

  • Details about your active job applications, including active candidacies, invitations and sent job applications are listed here.
  • Active candidacies are job applications that you are discussing actively with employers.
  • Invitations to interview are initiated by employers based on your job applications or via finding you in the marketplace.
  • Sent job applications list all the jobs that you have applied for, where a response has not yet been received.

Profile

  • The more you tell employers, the easier it is for them to determine the fit between your skills and their job. Complete your profile and watch the green bar grow.
  • Be sure to keep your profile up to date. Have you done any exciting projects lately? Take a moment and add them on to your profile.
  • Don’t forget portfolio items. They show the type of projects that you have done and indicate your level of experience and success.

Tests

  • Tests are a quick way of showing mastery of topics and your skills. Taking tests helps identify you as a serious and committed contractor. Over 340 tests currently are available from oDesk.

We’d like to hear from you. What’s working and what’s not working with our new navigation and our new applications?

Send us direct feedback via our survey or visit our community forum post. We look forward to hearing from you. (see screenshot below)

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oDesk: Your “Small Business Influencer” https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/07/odesk-your-small-business-influencer/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/07/odesk-your-small-business-influencer/#comments Mon, 11 Jul 2011 15:49:17 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=16761 We were recently notified by Small Business Trends and SmallBiz Technology that oDesk was nominated for their Small Business Influencer Award. According to the website, a small business influencer is: … a person, company or other organization that has made a meaningful and lasting impact on the North American small business market. Impact may mean […]

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We were recently notified by Small Business Trends and SmallBiz Technology that oDesk was nominated for their Small Business Influencer Award. According to the website, a small business influencer is:

… a person, company or other organization that has made a meaningful and lasting impact on the North American small business market. Impact may mean (i) providing products widely used by significant numbers of small businesses, or (ii) influencing significant numbers of small businesses by being a thought leader, or (iii) providing information or services of note to significant numbers of small businesses.

The team at oDesk is thrilled with this recognition, though we know from experience that small businesses aren’t limited by geographical boundaries. Our employers and contractors run their businesses successfully from all over the world – and we’d be honored if the votes for oDesk reflected the widespread and diverse community of oDesk users. Many of today’s most innovative businesses are taking advantage of the borderless economy and hiring those workers with the best skills, regardless of their location — and workers are connecting with opportunities to create their own small businesses with clientele from around the globe.

This is the future of work: Online work offers an alternative for businesses and workers, a path beyond the traditional employment headaches. While unemployment holds steady at an all-time high, opportunities in online work are doubling year over year. Through our platform, more than $18M in work is performed every month, and over 86,000 new job opportunities are presented to workers from more than 150 countries. The businesses and workers that make up our incredible worldwide community are truly changing how the world works.

Please vote for oDesk as a Small Business Influencer, and ask your friends, colleagues and coworkers to vote and help spread the word!

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New For Employers – My Contractors Hub https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/07/manage-home/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/07/manage-home/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2011 22:05:30 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=16622 Last week we released a new navigation scheme and shared with you our plans for creating a new platform that promises to personalize your oDesk experience and deliver more successful online work relationships. The initial step in these plans is to create more useful and tailored applications for our users. The first of these, announced […]

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Last week we released a new navigation scheme and shared with you our plans for creating a new platform that promises to personalize your oDesk experience and deliver more successful online work relationships. The initial step in these plans is to create more useful and tailored applications for our users. The first of these, announced last week, is oDesk Recruit which combines everything employers need to find, evaluate, and connect with their next remote worker.

Today, we unveil our 2nd application for employers, oDesk’s Manage My Team, which combines everything employers need to monitor work across their teams, manage their team rosters and payroll, and easily communicate and collaborate on current assignments.

This new application comes with a brand new My Contractors hub – one simple control panel to manage all your current remote work. Look for the opt-in link to this new Manage home page from your Team Room to explore this new hub and quickly and easily:

Manage Active Contractors

  • See your team roster, know who is online and review the latest activity
  • Quickly see the total amount worked to ensure you’re on budget
  • Send a message, make a payment, or edit a contract using quick links

Review Payroll

  • See all weekly hours billed (to date)
  • Review last week’s timelog & get notified before payment is due
  • Quickly access all other reports

Get Help

  • Alerts tell you when a contractor started working, when to review a timelog, and when a payment is pending
  • Tips and advice help you know what to do each step of they way

And, we’ve still got more to come in the next few weeks with our new navigation. Up next, a new application for contractors to help you grow and manage your remote work career.

We’d like to hear from you. What’s working and what’s not working with our new navigation and our new applications? Visit our community forum post to discuss with other users, or send us direct feedback via our survey (see the link at the top right of the My Contractors page).

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A Powerful New oDesk https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/new-navigation-part-2/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/new-navigation-part-2/#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2011 01:44:29 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=16375 A little over a month ago we quietly rolled out a Beta of our new site navigation.  We’ve received tons of great feedback and it’s now time to let everyone in on our little secret. Starting tomorrow, all active users will see the new oDesk when you log in.  We are in the midst of […]

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A little over a month ago we quietly rolled out a Beta of our new site navigation.  We’ve received tons of great feedback and it’s now time to let everyone in on our little secret.

Starting tomorrow, all active users will see the new oDesk when you log in.  We are in the midst of creating a whole new platform on oDesk that allows us to deliver rich, personalized working environments.   It’s a new, highly tailored world on oDesk, and we think you’re going to love it – now, and even more in the months to come!

To start, employers and contractors are no longer mixed together and served the same dual-purposed pages.  Instead, we have built specific applications for employers and contractors to give you everything you need and nothing you don’t.

Also, team members can be given role-specific permissions.  As a manager of others, you can set up your team to only give access to the areas of your oDesk application that workers need to effectively do their jobs.  You set who sees what, giving you a whole new level of privacy and control.

And, best of all, this is a platform we can all grow with.  As employers and contractors, as teams of one and teams of hundreds, you have unique needs.  Rather than a one-size fits all, or a few added features, we will be giving you powerful new applications tailored to your specific work situation.

Today we also launch our first application, oDesk Recruit – a great example of where we’re going with the new platform.  oDesk Recruit is designed specifically for employers and gives them everything they need to find, evaluate and connect with their next remote worker.  Read more about it here.

Stay tuned for more!  In the coming weeks, we’ll be unveiling several more rich applications for contractors, employers, and agencies.

For details on how the new platform is organized, and what’s already available, read our previous announcement.

Have feedback?  Visit our community forum post to discuss the new oDesk platofrm with other users, or send us direct feedback via our survey (see the link at the top of every page in the new oDesk).

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New For Employers – oDesk Recruit https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/odesk-recruit/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/odesk-recruit/#comments Thu, 30 Jun 2011 00:57:27 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=16522 Today we announced a whole new platform we’re developing to give our users personalized work environments tailored to their specific needs.  With this new platform, we are excited to announce the first of our new applications, oDesk Recruit.  This application, designed specifically for employers looking to hire, combines everything an employer needs to find, evaluate […]

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Today we announced a whole new platform we’re developing to give our users personalized work environments tailored to their specific needs.  With this new platform, we are excited to announce the first of our new applications, oDesk Recruit.  This application, designed specifically for employers looking to hire, combines everything an employer needs to find, evaluate and connect with their next remote worker.

oDesk Recruit offers employers a brand new hub – a kind of command central for all your hiring needs.  Everything you need on one, simple page to make finding your next contractor simple and effective:

Manage active jobs

  • Get vital information at a glance, e.g., see when you have new applicants and messages awaiting your response.
  • Take action on your job with links to edit your post, make it private or public, or close it.

Find contractors

  • Post a new job
  • Start a new search
  • Access your saved contractor list (yes, this is now easy to find!)

Get Help

  • Helpful alerts when you need to take action on your account
  • Relevant tips to make a great remote hire

 

And, this is just the beginning.  Coming very soon, we’re launching a new work management application to help employers more easily manage your work and stay in touch with your team.  And, for contractors, we’ve got something in store for you too!  Look for the first contractor specific application, launching in the next few weeks. It’s designed to help you more effectively manage your career and find your next great work opportunity.

Have feedback?  Visit our community forum post to discuss oDesk Recruit with other users, or send us direct feedback via our survey (see the link at the top of every page in the new oDesk)

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Know what’s happening on your job – an improved Work Diary https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/know-whats-happening-on-your-job-an-improved-work-diary/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/know-whats-happening-on-your-job-an-improved-work-diary/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2011 21:12:44 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=16350 The Work Diary is a critical tool used by employers and contractors alike to understand and literally see what work is being done. Experience has shown – those who regularly review the Work Diary have fewer surprises and are happier with the work they get done. Yesterday, we released an enhanced Work Diary making it […]

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The Work Diary is a critical tool used by employers and contractors alike to understand and literally see what work is being done. Experience has shown – those who regularly review the Work Diary have fewer surprises and are happier with the work they get done.

Yesterday, we released an enhanced Work Diary making it even easier to track work being done and stay in lock step with your team.

Bigger snapshots
We know, those little snapshots are hard to view and clicking to see the full screen version takes time. Now, simply hover over a snapshot to see a larger view with additional activity information.

Clearer blocks of time
Memos now span across time segments, quickly showing you how time is being spent. All non-working time segments are left empty to make the important working hours easier to read.

Calendar with clear activity markers
Quickly see what days had time billed and know where to drill down.

Clearer time categories
Bolder formatting makes it easier to differentiate between each category of time to be reviewed. Please note, we’ve also simplified the terms we use for each category of time:

  • Auto-tracked time (green): Logged through the oDesk Team application, containing snapshots and activity levels. Subject to the oDesk Guarantee.
  • Manual time (yellow): Entered manually in the Work Diary. As always, this time in not covered by the oDesk Guarantee.
  • Over Weekly Limit time (brown): Not billed. See Overtime alerts feature below.

New preferences
Choose to view window titles for more information on applications being used.

Overtime alerts
You get alerted at the top of the Work Diary if any time during the week goes over your weekly limit. Hours over the weekly limit are not billed, but employers and contractors should discuss why time went over the limit, whether a bonus is warranted for the extra hours worked, and whether a higher weekly limit is needed or hours need to be cut back.


Check out the new Work Diary today!  It’s a highly effective tool to see when and what work is being done, and to signal when you need to check in for an update with your team. Please visit our forum post if you have any feedback or questions.


Bigger snapshots
Work Diary Hover Preview

Clearer blocks of time
Work Diary Block of Time

Calendar with clear activity markers
Work Diary Calendar

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Survey: From Free Agent Nation to On-Demand Workforce https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/survey-from-free-agent-nation-to-on-demand-workforce/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/survey-from-free-agent-nation-to-on-demand-workforce/#comments Tue, 28 Jun 2011 14:46:30 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=16434 Work is thriving — and 9-to-5 employment has nothing to do with it. Survey results show a significant shift in how businesses and workers succeed today.

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We recently conducted an Online Work Survey, whose results draw on 16,065 responses from employers and contractors worldwide. What did businesses and workers think of their online work relationships? Read on.

oDesk survey infographic

Diving into the Results:

“Location, Location, Location” Has Little Meaning

According to the survey results, building a distributed core workforce has become a key element to the success of both businesses and workers. The workplace itself has become virtual, reflecting a shift toward a truly borderless economy. Work happens regardless of location, and the majority of both employers and workers cite “non-preference” on the location of the other party.

“We are seeing a new employment reality,” states Gary Swart, oDesk CEO. “Location is less crucial to thriving employers and workers than it used to be, and today’s workplace is even more interconnected and global than Daniel Pink anticipated. There has been a substantial shift in the entire employment model.”

Addressing the Talent Shortage

Connecting local talent and opportunity has persisted as a challenge for businesses and workers alike. As stated recently in Manpower Group’s 2011 Talent Shortage Survey, as many as 34 percent of employers are having difficulty filling vacancies locally, making finding online talent to fill that gap even more imperative. According to oDesk’s survey, 28 percent of employers indicated the primary reason for building a distributed team is to access talent that is hard to find locally. Additionally, 21 percent of employers said that the ability to hire an online workforce enabled them to scale up or down quickly, responding in a nimble fashion to the real-time needs of their businesses.

Distributed Teams Plug In

Distributed teams may be geographically remote, but workers and employers consider themselves connected and engaged. According to the survey, as a result of frequent communication and collaboration on critical tasks with employers, online workers feel engaged, empowered and connected. 55 percent of employers assign “core” or “critical” work to remote contractors, while 87 percent of contractors, in turn, feel that they are an integral part of their employers’ staff.

Employment Loyalty Is Sprawling

The survey also found that workers have shown increased interest in growing their own horizontal networks and building reciprocal networks that lead to job opportunities. So, while workers collaborate in their work for employers, they are also developing loyalties to other workers. Daniel Pink called this dynamic “the new loyalty:”

Horizontal loyalty (is the) successor to vertical loyalty, which flowed upward — from an individual to an institution or authority figure…. By contrast, the new loyalty flows laterally. It is a fierce, and usually reciprocal, allegiance to: teams, colleagues, and ex-colleagues, to clients and customers; to industries and professions; and to family and friends.

Workers are harnessing their horizontal networks to support one another and network professionally, with 35 percent of contractors primarily finding work from other contractors referrals, and 59 percent of contractors participating in online groups/forums around their work.

“Big” Isn’t the Only Business in Town

The distributed workforce model is changing the nature of the business world. Access to global talent allows businesses of all sizes to grow and prosper. Contractors, specifically, are evolving into entrepreneurs and establishing their own small businesses. In other words, individuals are increasingly thinking of themselves not strictly as employers or workers, but as both.

Workers in distributed teams are growing their own businesses, and 77 percent of contractors currently consider online work as their own businesses. In addition, the majority of workers is reporting a higher expected income in 2011 than in 2010. Specifically, 66 percent of online contractors are expecting higher income this year than last, and 57 percent of workers are reporting a higher hourly rate.

Conclusion

Businesses and contractors are thriving — and 9-to-5 employment has nothing to do with it. While national unemployment rates remain frustratingly high and traditional staffing firms are touting a global “employment crisis,” the survey results show encouraging trends towards an interconnected online workforce.

Businesses that are building distributed teams, and the workers that are engaging in online work relationships, are succeeding in ways that are drastically different from the generations of workers and entrepreneurs before them.

How does the online workforce affect your business? Does the survey reflect how you typically interact with coworkers/employers online? Let us know in the comments!

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BYOC: Bring your own contractor https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/byoc-bring-your-own-contractor/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/byoc-bring-your-own-contractor/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2011 17:53:27 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=16324 New! Bring your own contractors onto oDesk & manage everyone on one platform. oDesk has made it quick and easy to bring any contractor you work with onto oDesk. Manage all your contractors in one place Only pay for hours worked with the oDesk Work Diary and Work Guarantee. Automated payments to contractors anywhere in the […]

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New! Bring your own contractors onto oDesk & manage everyone on one platform.

oDesk has made it quick and easy to bring any contractor you work with onto oDesk.

  • Manage all your contractors in one place
  • Only pay for hours worked with the oDesk Work Diary and Work Guarantee.
  • Automated payments to contractors anywhere in the world

To add your contractor, all you need is your contractor’s email address:

  • Click “Bring Your Own Contractor” from the oDesk Team Room
  • Fill in your contractor’s email address and the terms of your contract
  • Your contractor will receive an email with your contract terms.  They will click to create an account and instantly be added to your team.

Have feedback? Visit our community forum post to discuss this new feature with other users.

BYOC Form

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2009 Failed Extortion Attempt – Important Clarifications https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/2009-failed-extortion-attempt-important-clarifications/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/06/2009-failed-extortion-attempt-important-clarifications/#comments Fri, 17 Jun 2011 22:19:57 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=16273 While we cannot comment extensively on the details surrounding the alleged failed extortion attempt mentioned in recent news, I want to take the opportunity to clarify a few critical items.

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As was reported in the crime blotter of the San Jose Mercury News yesterday, a federal grand jury has indicted Chetan Suresh Bendale for an alleged failed plot to extort payments from oDesk in 2009.

While we cannot comment extensively on the details surrounding the alleged extortion attempt, I want to clarify a few critical items:

In 2009, an unauthorized user attempted to access our domain registry account. We became aware of the unauthorized activity very quickly –within minutes– and shut down their method of access. oDesk user information was not compromised during this unauthorized access. The incident, and the ensuing communications from the party involved, was reported to the appropriate authorities. We will continue to work with law enforcement to ensure that the person who unlawfully accessed our domain registry in 2009 is held accountable for their actions.

I hope that this news article has not caused you undue concern. Let me reiterate that we are entirely certain that no user information was revealed during the attempted unauthorized access of our domain registry account, and that our oDesk community would be among the first to know if personal information was accessed in such a manner.

Best regards,

Gary Swart, oDesk CEO

 

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Our New Navigation – A simpler, faster way to use oDesk. https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/05/new-navigation/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/05/new-navigation/#comments Thu, 19 May 2011 01:18:54 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=15644 We know you are busy building businesses and taking on challenging work from all over the world. You need a site that can keep up with you! Starting today, oDesk is sporting a new design and simplified navigation. The new look is simpler, less cluttered, and makes working with oDesk faster and easier than ever before.

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Over the next few days, we will be rolling out a simplified navigation.  The new look is simpler, less cluttered, and makes working with oDesk faster and easier than ever before.

We know you are busy building businesses and taking on challenging work from all over the world.  You need a site that can keep up with you!  Now you’ll find that:

  • The site is organized around major task areas (e.g., recruiting or managing a team for employers; finding work or managing your jobs for contractors.)
  • The things you use most often are now easily accessible.
  • You get instant views into new messages and notifications.

To see the new navigation for yourself, log in and look for the “New Navigation” link at the top of the page.   If you don’t see it right away, don’t worry.  To ensure everything runs smoothly, we’re turning this on for all users over the next few days.

This has been in the works for many months and we want to thank all our beta users for your incredible feedback and support .  With your help, we were able to quickly iterate on the design and create a new version of oDesk that is better organized, more intuitive, and really slick to use!

Please note, the new navigation is currently optional.  We wanted to give you a chance to explore the new site on your own time, but we think you’re going to find it an overall easier way to work on oDesk.  If something about the new navigation isn’t easier for you, we want to hear about it. Look for the “Share Feedback” link at the top of every page in the new navigation — we’ll be using your input to iterate and continually improve the site.

You’ll also see us adding new functionality and updating many other pages in the weeks and months to come – including some new landing pages that will display for each critical task area the most vital information at a glance.

Have questions?  Get more details for Contractors and Employers, including FAQs and a “Where Is. . .” directory.

Have feedback?  Visit our community forum post to discuss with other users, or send direct feedback via our survey (see the link at the top of every page in the new navigation).

 

 

 

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International Payments Made Easy https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/04/international-payments-made-easy/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/04/international-payments-made-easy/#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2011 16:06:31 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=15182 More than 89% of work performed online is for employers outside a worker's home country. The borderless economy created in this environment presents new challenges to workers around the globe to access their online earnings.

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More than 89% of work performed online is for employers outside a worker’s home country. This creates a borderless economy and presents new challenges to workers around the globe — especially in accessing their online earnings. High-cost bank transfers, capped deposits and reliability issues around transferring funds have hindered companies from tapping into the global talent pool, and workers from collecting earnings from the tens of thousands of jobs available each month outside their local area.

oDesk believes in the opportunities available in a truly borderless economy, and the global workforce created when both work and money can flow smoothly across borders. We are continuing our mission to empower this global workforce with the introduction of International Payments. With these new withdrawal methods, contractors’ earnings are deposited directly into their bank accounts, in their local currency, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional wire transfer.

The term “International Payments” refers to the suite of withdrawal options that allow contractors to directly withdraw their online earnings to their bank account. This includes Local Funds Transfer and Wire Transfer (Local Currency). While the mechanism that powers these transfers differ slightly, the end result is the same: easy, low-cost access to earnings in local currency.

International Payments are currently available in 47 countries worldwide, with more in development. We are working hard to bring low-cost, direct withdrawal options to as many online workers worldwide as possible — and deliver with it the potential of a truly borderless economy.

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oDesk Drives the Galaxy to 0% Unemployment https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/04/odesk-drives-the-galaxy-to-0-unemployment/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/04/odesk-drives-the-galaxy-to-0-unemployment/#comments Fri, 01 Apr 2011 17:24:54 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=15058 Thanks to online work opportunities, a report from oDesk and the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the galactic unemployment rate has hit a new low.

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REDWOOD CITY, Calif.—April 1, 2011—oDesk, the largest and fastest-growing universal  employment platform, with the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, today unveiled the results of the first Joint Universal Employment Report. Thanks to online work opportunities, and the rebounding economy, the report revealed that the unemployment rate for the Milky Way has officially hit a new low of 0 percent.

oDesk took the Obama Administration’s vow to create a nation rich in work to the next level, and created a marketplace where a galaxy of employers and workers can build successful remote work relationships. The company harnessed satellite technology to bounce signals to far corners of the universe, enabling remote work that crosses millions of miles of space to create a truly borderless economy. Now humans and intergalatic species can work together in a galaxy full of work opportunities.

“Previously, our communication was limited to crop circles,” said Marvin the Martian. “But with tools like oDesk, communication and collaboration through space and time, and also across species, has become much more seamless.”

Data from the Joint oDesk & Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Report:
Since 2010, oDesk has seen a 520% increase in extraterrestrials using remote work, since it allows access to job opportunities outside their local areas.

  • Mars has seen an increase of 98%, the previous 2% being limited to those hired by college kids and conspiracy theorists to create the aformentioned crop circles.
  • Pluto, although recently downgraded from it status of dwarf planet to asteroid, houses a surprisingly talent-rich community of translators in a wide variety of planetary dialects.
  • Areas of expertise within these intergalactic regions include: Astronomy, Transporter Technology, Linguistics and Meteorology.
  • Additionally, with the universe working in harmony, innovation is at an all-time high:
    • Earthlings and Mercureans have partnered to create the Flux Capacitor of Doc’s dreams.
    • Scientists on Neptune claim to be near completion of the cure for space rot.
    • Startups are cropping up across Jupiter and Saturn, overloading TechCrunch with pitches to cover their latest rounds of funding.

“The galaxy is full of fantastically talented creatures, and we’re thrilled to give them all a platform to work together,” said oDesk CEO Gary Swart. “The quality of intergalactic work has been out of this world!”

 

About oDesk
With more than 1,000,000 contractors in over 150 countries and billions of workers in the far reaches of our galaxy, oDesk (www.oDesk.com) is a universal employment platform that enables employers to hire, manage, and pay a flexible, online workforce.

Find oDesk on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/oDesk

Follow oDesk on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/oDesk

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oDesk increases security with full encrypted site https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/03/odesk-increases-security-with-full-encrypted-site/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/03/odesk-increases-security-with-full-encrypted-site/#comments Thu, 31 Mar 2011 04:28:19 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=15030 Starting today, we have enabled HTTPS across the entire oDesk site, giving our users an extra layer of security.  Our logged in pages were already fully encrypted, and thus your logged in sessions have always maintained a significant level of privacy.  But, as people spend more time on the Internet, many banking and e-commerce sites […]

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Starting today, we have enabled HTTPS across the entire oDesk site, giving our users an extra layer of security.  Our logged in pages were already fully encrypted, and thus your logged in sessions have always maintained a significant level of privacy.  But, as people spend more time on the Internet, many banking and e-commerce sites are adding SSL encryption across their sites – both logged in and non logged in pages – as a standard practice.  We too want to ensure our users have the highest level of protections available across our entire site.

To use the new fully encrypted HTTPS wide site, just go to www.odesk.com as you normally would.  We will default you to our new full HTTPS site.

For more information on HTTPS, see the “HTTP Secure” article on Wikipedia for complete details.  Basically, HTTPS is a protocol that establishes a secure connection between your browser and our servers.   In contrast, HTTP is unsecured and is subject to man-in-the-middle and eavesdropping attacks which can let attackers gain access to website accounts and sensitive information.  HTTPS is designed to withstand such attacks and is considered secure against such attacks.

Special information for API users. All of our public APIs are currently available over HTTPS.  To start using the HTTPS versions, please just update your app to use HTTPS rather than HTTP.

Special information for Internet Explorer Users (IE 7 & IE 8). We are aware of a Security Warning box that appears when you land on one of the contractor search or contractor profile pages.  This is not actually a security issue and you are safe to view the oDesk pages.  We have made these changes specifically to improve security.  We will be fixing this issue over the next 24 to 48 hours.  In the meantime we recommend using Firefox or Chrome as your browser.  Or, you can disable this warning message in IE by going to the Tools menu, selecting Internet Options, and clicking the Security tab.  Select Custom level, and scroll down half way to “Display mixed content” and change the button to Enable.

To share your feedback and discuss these changes with the community, please visit our forum post here.

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SMB Trend Report: Businesses Grow Using Contractors https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/02/smb-trend-report-businesses-grow-using-contractors/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/02/smb-trend-report-businesses-grow-using-contractors/#comments Tue, 15 Feb 2011 14:42:16 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=14529 We released today the SMB Trends Report: a survey of data from our more than 1 million contractors and employers. What did we discover?

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We released today the SMB Trend Report: a survey of data from our more than 1 million contractors and employers. What did we discover? Small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are using remote contract workers in record numbers as part of core growth and staffing strategies, long-term contract hiring is on the rise, and contractors are building careers around their contract work relationships.


Growth of the SMB in a Borderless Economy
Today’s SMBs are no longer limited to just their local area to build their workforce. Once reserved for the Fortune 500, the global talent pool is easily accessible to companies of all sizes, thanks to recent advancements in technology. oDesk alone represents nearly 1 million remote contractors, based in 150 countries spread throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Today, any business can use online tools to identify and retain top talent, regardless of the workers’ location.

Growth of Long-Term Contracting and Contractor Teams
Since 2008, SMBs have increasingly turned to long-term contractors and contractor teams. According to the report:

  • The number of employers hiring contractors on an on-going basis has increased 800 percent
  • Contractor assignments lasting longer than six months have risen by 540 percent
  • The number of SMBs tapping contractor teams of 10 or more has increased by 214 percent

Contractors provide a compelling alternative to the costs associated with full-time, traditional hiring — an option that any business owner with an eye on the bottom line can appreciate.

Growth of Skilled and Highly Paid Contractors
The SMB move from traditional hiring to the use of an on-demand workforce creates a need for highly skilled professional contractors. In many cases, contractors have developed a career by marketing their services to the same SMBs on an ongoing basis.

Contractors are also hiring other contractors, building specialized teams and managing the workflow of multiple contracts. In this way, career contracting is not only enabling individuals to thrive and SMBs to grow, but it’s blurring the lines and enabling career contractors to build their own SMBs from the ground up.

Curious about the workforce trends for SMBs and contractors? Check out the SMB Trend Report here. What’s your take on the SMB-contractor relationship? Let us know in the comments below!

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The Heart of America is Hard at Work — Online https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/02/the-heart-of-america-is-hard-at-work-online/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/02/the-heart-of-america-is-hard-at-work-online/#comments Wed, 02 Feb 2011 17:03:52 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=14399 According to this month's Online Employment Report, small towns are outperforming their big-city counterparts in online work activity and number of hours worked per contractor. Towns with populations less than 15,000 are going toe-to-toe with large cities--and winning.

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“Workers in small towns need access to jobs, and the Internet can put them in consideration for job opportunities on a global scale,” said Gary Swart, oDesk CEO. “Online jobs are giving workers a viable way to find employment, enhance their skills and build their own businesses — beyond their local economy.”

Small Towns Big Winners in Online Work

According to this month’s Online Employment Report, small towns are outperforming their big-city counterparts in online work activity and number of hours worked per contractor. Towns with populations less than 15,000 are going toe-to-toe with large cities–and winning.

When looking at the number of online workers per capita, small communities are meeting or beating nearly every major U.S. city – with San Francisco being the notable exception – and have proportionally higher “actively working” online populations.

In comparing the hours worked per online contractor, small towns like Kanab (UT), Wagoner (OK), and Newalla (OK) surpass New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles:

US city comparison

Online Hiring Hits Record High

Overall, demand for online work reached an all-time high in January, maintaining over 90% growth year-over-year and outstripping the slow hiring growth in local jobs.

Other key findings from the January Online Employment Report:

  • 2011 Starts Strong for Online Hiring
    • A record 71,000 online job opportunities posted
    • More than $13M spent on online work in January alone
  • Voice Talent and Presentations break into the Top 50 Categories
    • Businesses hiring creative talent

What do you think – are small towns the next big thing for online work?


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Find the contractor you need – check out our latest enhancements! https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/01/find-the-contractor-you-need-check-out-our-latest-enhancements/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/01/find-the-contractor-you-need-check-out-our-latest-enhancements/#comments Thu, 13 Jan 2011 02:36:04 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=14257 Finding the right contractor to work on your job is job #1 on oDesk. We are continuously working to improve how easy it is for you to locate the contractor that best meets your needs. This month, we’re introducing new ways to find contractors scoring in the top of their class, and returning the applicant […]

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Finding the right contractor to work on your job is job #1 on oDesk. We are continuously working to improve how easy it is for you to locate the contractor that best meets your needs. This month, we’re introducing new ways to find contractors scoring in the top of their class, and returning the applicant list sorting capabilities you’ve asked for!

They say they have the skills. But are they top of their class?

The tests contractors take on oDesk help verify a contractor’s skill level. You’ve always been able to see whether a contractor has taken a particular test and what they’ve scored. But now, we’re making it super easy to target your search results to those contractors who have scored well on the tests most relevant to your job.

Now, when you search for a contractor, you can limit your search to contractors scoring in the top 10% or top 30% on any number of tests you specify. You are no longer limited to searching just one test at a time, and we will automatically suggest the top 5 tests for the category you are searching in. Simply select all the tests you feel are relevant, and whether you want to see the top 10% or top 30% of scorers. You will instantly see a list of contractors meeting your test criteria. Try it today!

Sorting is back

We heard you loud and clear: you want to be able to sort your applicants based on rates, feedback scores, hours worked, and when they applied. We’ve put back into place this sorting ability for your applicant list. And, we’re not stopping there. We’re working to give you even more control over how you review your applicant lists. For example, we’re building tools to enable you to set targeted ranges of rates or feedback scores, allowing you to quickly narrow your list to your top candidates. Look for this in the next couple of months!

We’d love to hear your feedback. Please see our forum post on these topics if you’d like to discuss with the oDesk community!

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In-Demand Skills in a Borderless Economy https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/01/in-demand-skills-in-a-borderless-economy/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2011/01/in-demand-skills-in-a-borderless-economy/#comments Tue, 04 Jan 2011 17:03:25 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=14172 Online work is creating an economy of opportunity — where work is not linked to location, but to skills, experience and abilities. For employees and contractors, this allows them to manage their own work-life balance, get paid based on merit, and access an entire world of work opportunities. But what skills are in demand when the talent pool is worldwide?

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“The growth in the number and variety of online job opportunities has been driven by businesses’ needs for flexibility, on-call expertise and access to a wide range of skills,” said Gary Swart, oDesk CEO. “Online jobs are giving workers a viable way to find employment, enhance their skills and grow their own businesses — and in-demand skills can be the cornerstone of a successful contracting career.”

Online work is creating an economy of opportunity — where work is not linked to location, but to skills, experience and abilities. For employees and contractors, this allows them to manage their own work-life balance, get paid based on merit, and access an entire world of work opportunities. But what skills are in demand when the talent pool is worldwide? Today, we announced findings from the December Online Employment Report, a monthly analysis on the state of the online workforce.

Online work shows steady growth

Overall demand for online work held steady in December, maintaining 103% growth year-over-year, and surpassing slow hiring growth in local positions. December’s earnings for online workers topped a record $13M. During the past year, online workers have earned more than $115M, an amount which is expected to double in 2011.

Top skills in demand

Based on a sample of nearly 60,000 postings for online jobs, there has been ongoing interest from employers in hiring for mobile development, internet and social media marketing, and a new emphasis on translation. Specifically, the top skills requested in December included increases in the number of employers looking for iPhone application development and language expertise. Translation jobs were up 319% in 2010, highlighting businesses’ increasing interest in international transactions. Primary languages requested were Spanish, German and Korean.

Planning for the new year was also a top priority, with 123% increase in hiring for business planning and market strategy professionals over the same month last year.

What about your area of expertise?  You can see the entire list of Top 50 Skills below. Use it to help determine how in-demand your expertise is, and see what related skills might net you some of the top online jobs of 2011.

Top Skills (by jobs posted Dec 2010)

Rank Skill MoM YoY
1 PHP
2 HTML
3 English +3
4 CSS -1 +2
5 WordPress +5 -1
6 Photoshop -1 -1
7 SEO +1
8 MySQL -4
9 Javascript -2 +2
10 Writing -1 -1
11 MS Excel +3 -2
12 Data Entry -2 -1
13 Graphic Design -1
14 Research +5 +1
15 Flash -4 -2
16 Link Building +9 +1
17 Joomla +1 -3
18 Article Writing +22 +20
19 Blogging +8 +2
20 Web Design +21 +22
21 Ajax -9 -1
22 Jquery +9 +6
23 Social Media +15 +9
24 Java -2
25 MS Word +8 +4
26 .Net -11 +14
27 Facebook +3 -11
28 iPhone +8 -5
29 Drupal +3 -2
30 Magento +9
31 SEM -5 -7
32 Adobe Illustrator +60 +37
33 C# -12 +159
34 SQL -14 -3
35 XHTML -13 -9
36 Creative Writing +38 +26
37 XML -9 -2
38 Illustrator -9 -13
39 Typing +24 +4
40 Twitter -5 -6
41 C++ -18 -4
42 Linux -8 -6
43 Transcription +64 +32
44 Marketing +1 -5
45 Logo Design +15 +33
46 IIS -30 -28
47 MS SQL -30 -28
48 Copywriting +4 +3
49 MS Office +90 +98
50 Internet Marketing +35 +75


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Contractors: Update your Profile Categories by February 28th! https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/12/category-selection/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/12/category-selection/#comments Sat, 01 Jan 2011 04:03:32 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=14041 Employers come to oDesk to find and work with the best contractors from all over the world. For this to work, employers need to be able to easily find contractors who have the specific skills and interests that match their needs. To improve this matching process, we are updating the way contractors select their profile […]

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Employers come to oDesk to find and work with the best contractors from all over the world. For this to work, employers need to be able to easily find contractors who have the specific skills and interests that match their needs. To improve this matching process, we are updating the way contractors select their profile categories to allow contractors to stand out in the areas they are most qualified.

What’s changing?

Starting today, contractors will be able to choose up to 10 sub-categories that best reflect their professional experience. This is a change from the current system in which contractors can choose an unlimited number of categories and sub-categories.

Take Action Before February 28, 2011

You have until February 28, 2011 to update your profile categories and select up to 10 sub-categories:

  • Only select sub-categories where you have expertise.
  • Starting March 1st, if you have more than 10 sub-categories selected, we will automatically update your sub-categories to select up to 10 based on the job categories in which you have applied to the most.

Why is this good for contractors?

We’ve found that contractors who specialize in a few types of work are able to command higher wages and better establish long-term relationships with their employers. Specializing in the sub-categories where you have expertise will help your profile better stand out from the competition. Employers will have an easier time finding the contractors who match their needs, which means better hires and more successful working relationships — and that’s good for everyone!

Keep in mind, this does not change what jobs you can apply to. You should only apply to jobs you are qualified for, but this change in profile categories will not limit which jobs you can apply to.

Update your Categories in your Profile now — click here.

If you have any comments, please visit our community forum.

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12 Days of oDesk https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/12/12-days-of-odesk/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/12/12-days-of-odesk/#comments Fri, 24 Dec 2010 17:03:18 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=14134 In the spirit of the season, oDesk Customer Service representative Suzanne Davis has written "The 12 Days of oDesk Christmas." Sung to the tune of the classic "The 12 Days of Christmas," Suzanne's rendition is fast becoming our favorite carol.

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In the spirit of the season, oDesk Customer Service representative Suzanne Davis has written “The 12 Days of oDesk.” Sung to the tune of the classic “The 12 Days of Christmas,” Suzanne’s rendition is fast becoming our favorite carol. Sing along with us:

On the 12th day of Christmas oDesk gave to me:

Happy holidays from all of us here at oDesk! Don’t forget to let your team know if you are taking time off to celebrate

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Thinking about Inc. & the Demand Economy https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/11/thinking-about-inc-the-demand-economy/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/11/thinking-about-inc-the-demand-economy/#comments Mon, 15 Nov 2010 17:03:19 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=13765 For its November issue, Inc. Magazine focuses on the “demand economy” and profiled seven businesses that are succeeding by adapting to changing times.

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For its November issue, Inc. Magazine focuses on the “demand economy” and profiled seven businesses that are succeeding by adapting to changing times. When they had to choose the cover, they went with our very own CEO, Gary Swart. Read Inc.’s story here—it’s a good look at the changing landscape. With the issue sitting on almost every newsstand in North America, we asked Gary to discuss how small and medium-sized businesses can adapt to take advantage of the demand economy.

Q: What’s the biggest shift, in terms of perspective, that managers are going to have to make to embrace an “on-demand” model for talent?

Gary: The difference comes in how they value their workers and the work performed. Much like overstocked warehouses, people don’t thrive when put on a shelf. A worker who sits in a cube every day is not necessarily more productive than one who works from her home office. Employers need to recognize which skills they should keep on-demand, what roles have full-time responsibilities, and how to effectively establish context for a workforce with varied roles.

Q: The Inc. article talks a lot about “demand” in terms of selling to consumers, and it points out a growing global middle class, and a growing number of households led by single women, as the key markets to sell to. Since oDesk is about the global labor pool, how do these growing demographics affect the talent supply?

Gary: The global talent supply is going to keep growing. The flexibility of the online contracting model spreads the available talent pool to a wider demographic than is available in a local area—and with a larger pool of applicants to choose from, employers are more likely to be able to locate the right person to get their work done quickly and reliably.

Q: In oDesk’s early years, remote contractors were a fairly novel idea for medium and small businesses.  These days, where does contract work fall on a spectrum from “novelty” to “necessity”?

Gary: For SMBs, it’s definitely far to the “necessity” side. Businesses of all sizes are trying to do more with less and mitigate extra costs. Contractors are becoming a core part of the business model — the combination of a scalable, customizable workforce, then access to worldwide talent, and the decreased costs of maintaining office space and HR overhead keeps businesses of all sizes nimble, fast and competitive.

Q: What would you say is the key for employers to get comfortable with remote work — to take it from “we do this in rare cases, with a few specific functions” to “this is an ongoing part of our overall business model”?

Gary: I’d begin by encouraging them to think of a contract worker as a valuable, on-demand team member. This is how we, at oDesk, are able to run a business affecting over a million users with only 38 employees — we have over 150 contractors who are valuable additions to our team.

We use three main criteria to think through our hiring process:

1. Do we need work done fast? The recruiting, hiring and ramp up for a contractor can take hours or days, not weeks or months. This is valuable time to a small business.

2. Do we need flexibility? This is important if you have an idea of what you want to accomplish, but little understanding of what is required to get it done. Contractors allow you to keep your business nimble and flexible, and you can scale your team up and down based on how much work needs to be done.

3. Can we use different expertise? As a small business, you may not need a person to fill every seat at your table every single day. Getting ready to launch a new product? Consult a PR pro. Need a logo and basic website design? Grab a graphic designer. As your business needs grow and change, you’ll find plenty of examples of problems that need specific expertise that is beyond your in-house team’s abilities. Contractors fit the bill to have an expert handy only when you need one.

Q: Lastly, how’s it feel to be the literal poster boy for the demand economy and the remote workplace?

Gary: For me, it really is the culmination of work done by so many people over the years. Not just oDesk’s incredible employees, but also the hundreds of thousands of contractors and employers who come to work through oDesk every single day. While it’s my face on the cover, I’m just a representative of something so much bigger — a movement of career contractors and employers who are connecting, innovating and creating an economy that is borderless and where the opportunities are boundless.

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oDesk Contractors Earn More than $200M https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/10/odesk-contractors-earn-more-than-200m/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/10/odesk-contractors-earn-more-than-200m/#comments Fri, 15 Oct 2010 17:41:41 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=13473   A little over an hour ago, the odometer at oDesk’s oConomy rolled over a major milestone. Our contractors have earned over $200 million dollars on oDesk – a fantastic achievement that made our Redwood City office erupt in cheers. Hard to believe it was just 1 short year ago that we were celebrating our first $100M […]

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A little over an hour ago, the odometer at oDesk’s oConomy rolled over a major milestone. Our contractors have earned over $200 million dollars on oDesk – a fantastic achievement that made our Redwood City office erupt in cheers.

Hard to believe it was just 1 short year ago that we were celebrating our first $100M earned by oDesk contractors. Just last month, our users gave us another reason to celebrate by surpassing 1M hours worked in a single month. As the largest and fastest-growing global employment platform, more remote work is done on oDesk than anywhere else.

So congratulations again to our fantastic contractors, and to the employers who hire them. You guys are truly changing how the world works!

Update: You can watch the oDometer roll over $200M in this video.


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The 1M Hours Infographic: How We Did It https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/10/the-1m-hours-infographic-how-we-did-it/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/10/the-1m-hours-infographic-how-we-did-it/#comments Wed, 13 Oct 2010 16:03:13 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=13249 Our one million hours infographic project is an incredible example of what can be created, with the help of oDesk, in less than 24 hours. Wanna know how we did it?

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A few weeks ago, oDesk announced that it had just surpassed one million hours worked in a single month. However, rather than simply put out a press release, we decided to create a nifty infographic to show what exactly can be accomplished in one million hours.

This infographic — something we put together in less than a day — was published by TechCrunch and shared by thousands of people over the days that followed. What we didn’t realize when we started was that this 1M hours infographic project was going to be an incredible example of what can be created, with the help of oDesk, on an incredibly tight timeframe. Wanna know how we did it? Here’s how a gal with no design skill created a compelling visual aid in less than 24 hours:

one million diarySeptember 1, 1:15 pm PT

The Discovery: While reviewing the previous month’s data, our oDesk team discovers the 1M hours per month milestone has been reached. In order to wrap our brains around the reality of a million hours, we decide to measure the hours in different terms. A fun discussion ensues about what one million hours actually looks like (114 years!) and what can be accomplished in that many hours. The result of the brainstorming session: a short list of fascinating things we quickly realize is worth sharing with the people who made reaching the 1M milestone possible. (Some of the “Things you can do in 1M hours”  didn’t make the final cut. A personal favorite was Watching all the Star Wars movies 75,187 times, with a few hours to spare to watch your favorite movie just one more time!)

September 1, 5:43 pm PT

The Job: I post a job for an “infographics expert” on oDesk. I intentionally don’t structure this as a traditional job post — I want someone who can think on her feet and bring a strong design sense to the table. I also know I need the infographic created quickly, and I’m willing to hire multiple people for the assignment in order to have options to choose from. So, after posting the job, I search the marketplace with the keyword “infographic” in the category of “graphic design” and come up with three candidates. I invite them to the position based on the experience and relevant items in their portfolios. Yes, it takes a little research, but within three hours I have a likely candidate in Ernesto, who — as it turns out — is up for the challenge of making an infographic happen under a tight deadline.

September 1, 9:00 pm PT

The Contractor: I make the hire and send Ernesto the brainstormed list of “1M hours” ideas from my coworkers, along with links to two existing infographics and an explanation of what I like about each. (One has a lot of text, but blocks the data out visually to make it easy to read. The other has a great sense of fun and the visual presentation is fantastic, but the data is a bit simplistic for our needs). In other words, I let Ernesto know what I have in mind — with concrete examples, not just a wordy description of a graphic that doesn’t yet exist. Ernesto assures me he’ll get right to work, and I leave the project in his capable hands, knowing I’ve communicated all I can.

infographic_pencil[1]September 2, 7:15 am PT

The Progress Report, Part 1: Good morning, sunshine! While I’ve been sleeping the night away in the U.S., Ernesto has been hard at work on the other side of the world in Spain. He sends me a pencil sketch of his idea, which I review first thing in the morning. A quick check of his oDesk Work Diary reveals that he has (in a brilliant move) grabbed the color scheme off our website, and is well on his way to turning the pencil sketch into a vector graphic. I send him a quick note to let him know he is on the right track, and I eat some breakfast.

September 2, 9:38 am PT

The Collaboration: Rough draft, first vector graphic received! I make a few suggestions, based on standardizing the format of the “red dot highlights” and add pithy callouts to the top of each data section. (Look, Ma! I added value!) Feeling the excitement of knowing we are almost there and we are a great team, I send the draft and my suggestions back to Ernesto.

one_million_graphic_580September 2, 3:15 pm PT

The Progress Report, Part 2: I receive Ernesto’s revised draft of the infographic, with my revisions made and the lorem ipsum text replaced by his stab at the written content. I share the draft among our internal designers and marketing team for input, draft in my “wordsmithed” content and return the feedback to Ernesto.

September 2, 4:53 pm PT

The Job Well Done: I open my email to receive the (almost) final draft, with our last round of revisions. Loving it! One of our design team points out a small improvement in the intro text that would improve readability, so I transfer the file to him. He makes the suggested change from two columns of text to one. Finito! I write the blog post to introduce the infographic and queue it for release the following morning.

WE DID IT! A job started, hired, and completed in less than 24 hours on oDesk!

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Customer Service Week: oDesk keeps the Spirit Going https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/10/customer-service-week-odesk-keeps-the-spirit-going/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/10/customer-service-week-odesk-keeps-the-spirit-going/#comments Fri, 08 Oct 2010 16:03:04 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=13423 Customer Service Week: oDesk keeps the Spirit Going The oDesk Customer Support Team was very busy during Customer Service Week, having tons of fun and honing their customer support skills, as they participated in the various Customer Service Week activities, events and honors recognitions. Although we keep connected with meetings, and Skype group chats and […]

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Customer Service Week: oDesk keeps the Spirit Going
The oDesk Customer Support Team was very busy during Customer Service Week, having tons of fun and honing their customer support skills, as they participated in the various Customer Service Week activities, events and honors recognitions. Although we keep connected with meetings, and Skype group chats and messaging, we wanted to continue our goals of team building and creating strong friendships in a fun, upbeat way.
We held various games and gave special awards to our best and brightest oDesk Customer Support Representatives. We feel it is important to note that management instructed all oDesk support representatives to enjoy the planned activities between Live Support chats and phone calls, as well as Support tickets. That way, despite the festivities, we continued to follow our goals of putting oDesk users first, by providing the excellent customer service they have grown accustomed to at oDesk.
On Monday, we held an interesting group scavenger hunt. Each team searched oDesk for various bits of oDesk trivia to complete the scavenger hunt form. On Tuesday, team members enjoyed filling out the oDesk 101 Crossword Puzzle in their leisure time. Wednesday brought our hilarious Name the Baby Contest. Thursday included an activity and an event. First, each support representative received the oDesk Word Jumble, to solve as a group, with respective team members. Then, in the spirit of team involvement, we held a CSS All-Hands meeting, where oDesk management shared company goals and achievements, as well as CSS departmental goals and achievements, for the previous and current quarters with everyone.
Customer Service Week ended on Friday with “The Communication Game,” a group activity designed to help strengthen the communication and understanding skills of each support representative here at oDesk.
And, who doesn’t love a free T-shirt? As a lasting reminder of Customer Service Week, each Customer Support Representative received a T-shirt with both the oDesk and CSS logos emblazoned on them. They also received a letter from our management team to thank each one of them for their hard work and dedication and for serving our oDesk members with patience, knowledge and empathy.
We would like to issue a special thank you to Suzanne Davis, who worked very hard to plan and create all of the week’s games and activities. She did a wonderful job, and is the major reason the week was so enjoyable and productive for everybody.
During Thursday’s All-Hands meeting, management gave special recognition to customer service representatives and announced the winners of the Customer Service Week.
They are, as follows:
Newest Customer Service Representatives – Althea and Sol.
Newest Phone Representatives – Andy and Ferdinand (both were internally promoted!).
Customer Service Promotions to Level 2 CSR – May, Allan and Thea.
Longest-Serving Customer Support Representatives – Bernadette, July 11, 2008, and Karissa, July 15, 2008.
Longest-Serving Team Leaders – Alfa, July 11, 2008, and Michelle, December 18, 2006.
Highest Hours in Customer Service and Support (CSS) – Bernadette, with 4,526 hours.
Highest Hours at oDesk – Thea, with 7,938 hours.
Highest Customer Satisfaction for September 2010 – Barbara, at 96.83 percent and Janice, at 95.83 percent.
Customer Service Week Game Winners include the following:
Scavenger Hunt Team Winner – Alfa’s Team, including Roselle, Karr, Janice, Rina, James and Boo.
Name the Baby Contest Winner – Yen, with nine out of 16 correct answers.
As you can see, we thoroughly enjoyed our first official celebration of National International Customer Service Week. But, it doesn’t have to stop there. Please let our Customer Support Representatives know how much you appreciate them the next time they assist you. They will be very gratified for the good feedback in exchange for their hard work and dedication.
We want to continue to show our appreciation for those dedicated and empathetic customer support services teams, by using the momentum of Customer Service Week to implement ongoing award programs, including Customer Support Representative of the Month. Customer Service Week was a huge success here at oDesk, and we can’t wait to observe it again next year!

By: Barbara Wright

The oDesk Customer Support Team was very busy during Customer Service Week, having tons of fun and honing their customer support skills, as they participated in the various activities, events and honors recognitions. Although our team keeps connected with meetings, Skype group chats and messaging, we wanted to continue our goals of team building and creating strong friendships in a fun, upbeat way.

We held various games and gave special awards to our best and brightest oDesk Customer Support Representatives. oDesk support representatives enjoyed the planned activities during downtime between Live Support chats, phone calls, and support tickets. Despite the festivities, we continued to provide the excellent customer service our users have grown accustomed to at oDesk.

On Monday, we held group scavenger hunt. Each team searched the oDesk site for various bits of oDesk trivia to complete the scavenger hunt form. On Tuesday, team members enjoyed filling out the oDesk 101 Crossword Puzzle in their leisure time. Wednesday brought our hilarious Name the Baby Contest. Thursday included an activity and an event. First, each support representative received the oDesk Word Jumble, to solve as a group with their respective team members. Then, we held a CSS All-Hands meeting, where oDesk management shared company goals and achievements, as well as CSS departmental goals and achievements, for the previous and current quarters with everyone.

Customer Service Week ended on Friday with “The Communication Game,” a group activity designed to help strengthen the communication and understanding skills of each support representative here at oDesk.

And, who doesn’t love a free T-shirt? As a lasting reminder of the fun we’ve had this week, each Customer Support Representative received a T-shirt with both the oDesk and CSS logos emblazoned on them. They also received a letter from our management team to thank each one of them personally for their hard work and dedication and for serving our oDesk members with patience, knowledge and empathy.

We would like to issue a special thank you to Suzanne Davis, who worked very hard to plan and create all of the week’s games and activities. She did a wonderful job, and is the major reason the week was so enjoyable and productive for everybody.

customer service fourDuring Thursday’s All-Hands meeting, management gave special recognition to customer service representatives and announced the winners of the Customer Service Week.

They are, as follows:

Newest Customer Service Representatives – Althea and Sol.

Newest Phone Representatives – Andy and Ferdinand (both were promoted internally!)

Customer Service Promotions to Level 2 CSR – May, Allan and Thea.

Longest-Serving Customer Support Representatives – Bernadette (since July 11, 2008) and Karissa (since July 15, 2008)

Longest-Serving Team Leaders – Alfa (July 11, 2008) and Michelle (December 18, 2006)

Highest Hours in Customer Service and Support (CSS) – Bernadette, with 4,526 hours.

Highest Hours at oDesk – Thea, with 7,938 hours.

Highest Customer Satisfaction for September 2010 – Barbara and Janice

Customer Service Week Game Winners included:

Scavenger Hunt Team Winner – Alfa’s Team, including Roselle, Karr, Janice, Rina, James and Boo.

Name the Baby Contest Winner – Yen, with nine out of 16 correct answers.

As you can see, we thoroughly enjoyed our first official celebration of Customer Service Week. But, it doesn’t have to stop there. Please let our Customer Support Representatives know how much you appreciate them the next time they assist you. They’ll appreciate the good feedback!

We want to continue to show our appreciation for those dedicated and empathetic customer support teams, by using the momentum of this past week to implement ongoing award programs, including Customer Support Representative of the Month. Customer Service Week was a huge success here at oDesk, and we can’t wait to celebrate it again next year!


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Mandatory Upgrade for oDesk Team https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/10/odesk-team-upgrade/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/10/odesk-team-upgrade/#comments Wed, 06 Oct 2010 21:37:49 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=13373 Do you have the latest version of the oDesk Team desktop application? To ensure you can continue recording time and collaborating with your team, download now. Old versions of oDesk Team no longer work. Do I need to download the new version? If you rely on oDesk Team to track time and collaborate with your […]

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Do you have the latest version of the oDesk Team desktop application? To ensure you can continue recording time and collaborating with your team, download now.

Old versions of oDesk Team no longer work.


Do I need to download the new version?

If you rely on oDesk Team to track time and collaborate with your team, and you do not have the latest version, you will need to upgrade.

Here is a list of the minimum required versions of oDesk Team based on operating system:

  • Windows 3.2.79
  • Mac 3.2.41
  • Linux 2.0.0

If you have this version already, no action is needed. To check what version you are on, open the oDesk Team application, go to Help > About oDesk Team. If you do not have one these versions, please download it now.

What’s in the new version?

With the new version of oDesk Team, you get full chat functionality, an improved interface, a full team roster, and more! And, with your whole team on the same version, you will help ensure you can continue to check in with each other and stay in touch.

How do I download?

Downloading the new oDesk Team application is a simple process and takes just a few moments. Visit our downloads page now.

What if I have questions?

First, please visit our general Team app and platform specific (Windows, Mac, Linux) help pages.

For Windows and Mac users: if you have any additional questions, please reach out to customer support by going to Help in the oDesk Team application, and submitting a ticket. By going through oDesk Team rather than the oDesk website, your ticket will include log files that will help our support reps resolve your problem more quickly.

For Linux users: if you have questions, please submit a ticket to customer support here.


Thanks for your help. By having everyone on the same version, it helps us help you! We can spend our time enhancing oDesk Team to make your life easier, rather than supporting outdated versions.

If you have any comments, please visit our community forum.

The oDesk Team

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oDesk Celebrates Customer Service Week https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/10/odesk-celebrates-customer-service-week/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/10/odesk-celebrates-customer-service-week/#comments Mon, 04 Oct 2010 16:03:17 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=13375 There’s only one thing to do when you have one of the best customer support teams around – celebrate Customer Service Week, of course!

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By: Barbara Wright

There’s only one thing to do when you have one of the best customer support teams around – celebrate Customer Service Week, of course! In the United States, this is a national event held in the first full week of October, created by a proclamation of the U.S. Congress, who felt it was important to recognize and honor customer support representatives.

We’re always looking for ways to help the oDesk Customer Support Team feel connected as an important part of our company, and celebrating this week gives us the opportunity to recognize special customer support achievements – such as the team member that has served the longest, the team member with the most hours, and the team member with the highest customer satisfaction scores.

About our Customer Support Team

customer service threeThe oDesk Customer Support Team, which now totals 39 contractors and employees, is a good example of how to keep a remote team close-knit and connected. Due to the large volume and variety of help requests, some support representatives handle tickets; others staff the LiveChat support, while the recently-implemented phone support team makes help response calls. In fact, most support representatives perform multiple tasks while working with the many other teams that assist them, such as the oDesk Marketplace Quality Team, the Finance Team and our Technical Support Group.

How do we keep everyone on the same page with such a large group of contractors?

Support teams are broken up into smaller groups that include a Team Leader. Each support team confers with each other continuously throughout their shift, using Skype chat. Individual team members also keep in touch with Skype messaging. Team Leaders hold weekly meetings to share information, ask questions and bring up current issues.

It doesn’t stop there.

customer service twoAll-hands meetings include the entire oDesk organization and provide an overview of the company direction, performance metrics and plans for the future. Gary Swart, oDesk CEO, sends out a monthly email to everyone, to let us know how oDesk did in the previous month or how we’ve done since the last quarter. Emails, sent regularly by our marketing communications manager, lets us all know when television, radio or other media outlets feature a story about oDesk. It’s not surprising that our team members have formed personal friendships because of working together and communicating regularly.

We asked our customer support representatives what they like most about working as an oDesk Customer Support Representative, and here’s what they had to say:

“What I like best about my job with oDesk is that I am working with great people. Everybody is very helpful and friendly. The Team work is awesome and because of this my job becomes easier and simple.”

“I like being a part of such a great company that offers a vision for the future. It is wonderful to be part of such a great platform.”

“Working with an international team of coworkers, learning every day, and helping people to be successful in their online work.”

“Helping customers who are appreciative of the extra effort I put forth for them.”

customer serviceWe understand the challenges of working in a remote team are many. Communication can sometimes be difficult. When you add to that the lack of direct interaction, such as a smile or even a simple handshake, it’s easy to see how some remote workers would feel isolated and out of touch with team members. Our support representatives are dedicated and empathetic – they understand these challenges, face them head on, and lead our users through them every day. Customer Service Week is one more way that we can show the oDesk Customer Support Team how important they are to the success of oDesk.


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midVentures LAUNCH https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/midventures-launch/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/midventures-launch/#comments Mon, 27 Sep 2010 16:04:06 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=13327 We're excited to announce that oDesk will be sponsoring the upcoming midVenturesLAUNCH conference in Chicago, Illinois scheduled for September 27-28th. As the largest startup and entrepreneurship conference in the Midwest, midVentures will welcome more than 3,000 attendees and speakers from well-known companies such as Google, Groupon, CrowdSPRING, OpenTable, Hipmunk, OkCupid, and Reddit.

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We’re excited to announce that oDesk will be sponsoring the upcoming midVenturesLAUNCH conference in Chicago, Illinois scheduled for September 27-28th.  As the largest startup and entrepreneurship conference in the Midwest, midVentures will welcome more than 3,000 attendees and speakers from well-known companies such as GoogleGrouponCrowdSPRINGOpenTableHipmunkOkCupid, and

The conference will also feature an exciting startup competition where 25 startups will have a chance to demo their websites, and the winner will receive cash and prizes worth more than $100,000. oDesk will giving all the competitors credits to help them get started on oDesk and show them how they can do more with less by finding software programmers, web designers, virtual assistants and other professionals on-demand.

If you live in the Chicago area, come on out and meet us at the Sync Tech Center. We hope to see you there!

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A Better Way to Review, Connect with and Hire Your Next Contractor https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/new-applicant-tracking/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/new-applicant-tracking/#comments Thu, 23 Sep 2010 03:45:38 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=13209 After you post a job on oDesk, you want to evaluate applications and make a great hire - quickly and easily. We have introduced new applicant tracking tools to help you do just that!

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After you post a job on oDesk, you want to evaluate applications and make a great hire – quickly and easily.  We have introduced new applicant tracking tools to help you do just that!

  • No more hunting for interview threads. All messages between you and your applicants are now embedded in the candidate detail page.  Review the applicant’s cover letter and profile, read incoming messages and reply to them – all in one place.
  • New negotiation tool. Get to an agreement fast with contractors you wish to hire.  Easily propose a new hourly rate, weekly salary or other terms.  No back and forth messages – just a simple offer screen.
  • Views to easily manage your applicants. Separate tabs for candidates who have applied and those you have begun interviewing. Declined applicants are also kept out of your way in their own tab.
  • More responsive interface. You’ll notice significantly faster performance, allowing you to zip through the hiring process faster than ever.

Building your own global dream team of top contractors at reasonable rates is what oDesk is all about.  Our new applicant tracking tools are one more way we help you to easily leverage the power of remote work.  Check out the new tools and let us know what you think! Post comments to our community forum.

Quickly see an applicant’s cover letter, experience and qualifications.

Quickly see an applicant’s cover letter, experience and qualifications.

Send messages, hire, offer new terms, or decline a candidate. . . all from one page!

Send messages, hire, offer new terms, or decline a candidate. . . all from one page!

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Crowdsourcing Meetup https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/crowdsourcing-meetup/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/crowdsourcing-meetup/#comments Wed, 22 Sep 2010 16:07:51 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=13294 We're thrilled to be hosting a Crowdsourcing Work Meetup tomorrow night (Sept. 23), at our office in Redwood City. Join us for free food, drinks and lively conversation on the future of work and developments in modern crowdsourcing.

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We’re thrilled to be hosting a Crowdsourcing Work Meetup tomorrow night (Sept. 23), at our office in Redwood City. Join us for free food, drinks and lively conversation on the future of work and developments in modern crowdsourcing. Leading the discussion will be:

iStock_000007842779XSmallGary Swart, CEO of oDesk. He’s got a unique perspective on the future of work, influenced by over 750,000 remote contractors and 220,000 employers who hire them online.

James Davis, an Associate Professor in Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research areas include Computer Vision, ICTD, Technology for Global Social Issues, Computational Photography, and Computer Graphics.

Matt Mireles, CEO of SpeakerText, which turns video into text so that it can be found, read, and shared by everyone.

Patrick Meier, Director of Crisis Mapping and Strategic Partnerships atUshahidi, a nonprofit organization that is building an open-source platform that allows people or organizations to collect and visualize information.


Want to join us? Here are the details (and don’t forget to RSVP!):

Where

oDesk Office
901 Marshall St, 2nd Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063

The office is a short walk (~10 min) from the Redwood City Caltrain station.
Click here for a train schedule.

When
September 23 from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Speakers start at 6:30 p.m.
Please RSVP through this Meetup page.

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Getting Started with Version Control: a No-Brainer for Business Owners https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/getting-started-with-version-control-a-no-brainer-for-business-owners/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/getting-started-with-version-control-a-no-brainer-for-business-owners/#comments Thu, 09 Sep 2010 17:03:08 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=13143 Your developers often work on projects simultaneously from around the world. You hope they won’t cross wires, lose track of versions, or overwrite each others’ changes - any scenario that might set your upcoming release or project delivery date back by days. Sound familiar?

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A guest blog post by Guy Marion, CEO of Codesion – a provider of version control hosting in the cloud.

Your developers and designers often work on projects simultaneously from around the world. They need to modify the same files, make updates, and deploy multiple versions of the website or code across different sites. All the while, you hope they won’t cross wires, lose track of versions, or overwrite each others’ changes, any which scenario might set your upcoming release or project delivery date back by days. Sound familiar?

Why You Need Version Control

Having a version control or source code management (SCM) system provides a safety net against human error or corruption. A version control system compiles a complete change history and a set of natural restore points within the repository, providing peace of mind for developers and project managers alike. A good version control system lets you do the following:

– Roll Back Changes
When you make a mistake or discover a bug, you’ll want to roll back to previous changes. Just like in Apple’s Time Machine backup application, version control for your files let’s you roll back to any point in time and restore it if needed.

- Quick Undo
We all work on autopilot from time to time, or make changes in the middle of the night when we’re not thinking clearly. If your developer makes a quick change and commits it, then realizes he made a mistake, a version control system allows them to quickly undo the last change(s).

- Merge Changes Seamlessly
What happens when one developer is working on a file, makes a change, then tries to save it just as another developer is doing the same? Now you’ve got two different versions needing to be resolved (the “split brain” effect). Version control allows teammates to merge changes seamlessly, which is critical when you have multiple developers working on the same project.

- Track Changes and Ownership
As files are created or modified, you can annotate changes with comments (“commit logs”), which are tracked as your repository or file evolves over time. The version control system also tags each change with the name of the person who made it, making it easier to give them credit.

- Branching and Merging
You can break off a piece of your code (“branch”) into a separate area and modify it in isolation. Typically, developers use branches when developing a new feature or fixing a bug – to avoid polluting the main branch. Later, you can merge the code back into the common area.

- Provide visibility and insight
By monitoring commit and activity usage, you can extract detailed metrics and gauge the performance of your development team. There are many 3rd party tools you can plug into an SCM to provide these useful metrics and reporting data.

- Support for multiple file types
You can track changes made to source code (text files) as well as binary files, such as Word documents, media files, and presentations or spreadsheets. This is “track changes” on steroids!

Choosing the Right Type of Version Control System
With the abundance of free (open source) and commercial version control systems in existence, how do you choose which to use? Most professional developers today prefer open source options, which, according to a recent Forrester survey, are closing in on 50% market share. The three most common are Subversion, Git and CVS.

Subversion
Subversion, the most widely used version control system today, is a centralized version control system. Developers pull down or “check out” the latest version of the central repository (“trunk”) to their local workstation, make changes, and merge (upload) those changes back in to the trunk. It’s probably the easiest of the version control systems to learn, allows for fine-grained (sub-directory level) user access control, and  is easy to back up.

Pros

  • Centralized control, meaning its easier to keep one official history. Good for backups, accountability and security.
  • Security: Native subdirectory-level user access restrictions
  • Branches are easy and stored centrally
  • Gentlest learning curve for newbies, and operations like branching become quite intuitive as you progress
  • Ability to lock files, ensuring that others don’t work on the same binary files assets like documents & media files simultaneously
  • Widest adoption amongst developers
  • History of changes can’t be modified
Cons

  • Working offline means you can’t commit changes to the centralized repository until you have Internet connection, although this does not prevent developers from working on their local copy.
  • Generally slower than Git, since most operations need to synchronize with the central server, especially when merging large branches
  • Possible to revise history and preserve only their successes, not their failures

Git
Built for development of the Linux operating system, Git is a distributed version control system that has an emphasis on being fast. Because a Git project lacks a central repository, every working directory is a full-fledged repository of its own, and is not dependent on network access or a central server. Git is great when you want to code offline, or have many developers working together independently on a branch, which is why Git is favored in so many open source projects.

Pros

  • Decentralized model means many operations are faster, and makes offline work more practical
  • More merge options which are generally faster than Subversion
  • Branching is easier and faster
  • Comes with many tools like ‘bisect’ that can partly automate the process of finding where a bug was introduced
Cons

  • The local copy model means you need to be more careful of backing up your own workstations
  • The large set of commands can be esoteric and present a steeper learning curve
  • There are no locking for files which can cause issues with binary files
  • History can be changed, being able to edit past commits might not leave the strong paper-trail you’d prefer

CVS
CVS is a legacy system which was replaced by Subversion in 2004. If you’re considering CVS you should probably use Subversion instead, unless you need compatibility with old systems.

Ready to Start Using Version Control?
oDesk has partnered with Codesion to offer free version control hosting to all oDesk users for one year. Log into your oDesk account, select Manage & Work > Team Room, then choose Subversion (SVN) from the Team Tools menu to sign up. Codesion offers Subversion, Git and CVS hosting in the cloud.

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oDesk Surpasses 1 Million Hours Per Month https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/odesk-surpasses-1-million-hours-per-month/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/odesk-surpasses-1-million-hours-per-month/#comments Fri, 03 Sep 2010 14:00:06 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=13067 More than 1 million hours were worked online via oDesk during the month of August. We're showing you just how much can get accomplished during that amount of time in a nifty infographic.

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We’re tickled to announce that oDesk saw more than 1 million hours worked online during the month of August. Just in time for Labor Day here in the United States, this milestone shows just how far the working world has come since the holiday was first initiated in 1882, and marks an increase of 118% in hours worked on oDesk over the same period just last year.

But a million is a big number, and a long time when you’re counting in hours. So, we tapped one of our 720,000 talented contractors to show you just how much can happen in one million hours.

one_million_graphic_580
To accomplish so much in such a short period of time, it’s obvious that online work is truly changing how the world works. The entire team at oDesk is so proud to have reached this milestone with our employers and contractors. In honor of Labor Day and this tremendous accomplishment, we congratulate online workers around the world over for many jobs well done!


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oDesk How-To: Verify Your Credit Card https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/odesk-how-to-verify-your-credit-card/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/09/odesk-how-to-verify-your-credit-card/#comments Thu, 02 Sep 2010 16:03:35 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=12992 You are anxious to get started as an employer at oDesk, so you set up your employer account and submitted the form on the Payment Methods page to add a credit card to your account. But, what is this about verification? We're here to demystify the process and get you back on your way to your first hire as quickly as possible.

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You are anxious to get started as an employer at oDesk, so you set up your account and submitted the form on the Payment Methods page to add a credit card. But, what is this about verification? We’re here to demystify the process and get you back on your way to your first hire as quickly as possible.

Verification may seem like an unnecessary aggravation at this point; however, it is an important step in the oDesk payment process, put in place to help make the oDesk marketplace a more secure place to do business.

Gather the Two Small Amounts

Once you submit the credit card form, our finance system submits two small verification charges to your credit card issuer immediately. All you have to do is gather these two amounts, then go back to the Payment Methods page and submit them into the verification form. You can find them on your credit card statement, by calling your credit card company or by logging in to your credit card company’s website and reviewing your charges online. You can use your local currency – just add the amounts exactly as you see them listed on your credit card statement and don’t worry about converting them. Once you have entered the two small amounts and activated your card on oDesk, those small verification amounts will be refunded to you.

small charges

Speed Up the Process

As stated above, you shouldn’t have to wait for your monthly statement in order to get the two small verification charge amounts. If you use a credit card with online account access, just check there, or you can call your credit card issuer directly to find out the amounts of the two small charges. The date you entered in your card information on our site is the same date that we’ll send the charges, so use that information to locate the charges. These charges will be automatically refunded if your credit card has not been verified within seven days. However, you can still use those amounts to verify your card – even after the charges are refunded to you!

Ask for Help

If you get an error message or have any other problems, use the link on the verification form to contact Customer Support. They can give you the necessary information, walk you through the process and, if necessary, ask management to manually verify the card for you.

Protect Your Account

We recommend that a backup or secondary payment method be added, just in case the primary method fails or expires. This will protect the active status of your oDesk account. You can change which payment method is the primary or backup method as needed via the Payment Methods page under the Payments tab.

You can find more information about verifying your credit card in our help center. As the largest and fastest-growing global employment platform, we’re striving to keep oDesk running smoothly and securely for all users. I hope better understanding the verification process will help you on your way to becoming the next successful oDesk employer!

Barbara Wright joined the oDesk marketplace in 2007, after more than three years on staff at a national community newspaper company. She is a lifelong writer with two decades of published works. Wright is on the oDesk Support Team, but wears many other hats, helping at the forums and lending a pen whenever possible.

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How to Earn Five-Star Feedback https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/08/how-to-earn-five-star-feedback/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/08/how-to-earn-five-star-feedback/#comments Thu, 26 Aug 2010 16:33:58 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=12968 For contractors, good feedback provides an edge over others when looking for work. Here are our tips for earning that important 5-star rating on every contract.

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Just as how the feedback system of eBay allows you to decide who to buy from, the feedback system of oDesk is designed to give employers the chance to review, evaluate, and decide who they would like to interview, hire, and work with based on the contractor’s profile and feedback ratings.

For contractors, good feedback provides an edge over others when looking for work. Here are our tips for earning that important 5-star rating on every contract:

1. Follow instructions. You read the job description, applied to the job, got hired, and are expected to do what you were hired to do.  Follow instructions and don’t hesitate to ask questions if there is confusion or misunderstanding with regards to the work.

progress report2. Send work progress reports. Employers appreciate being informed of the status of their projects.  It only takes a couple of minutes to compose a short email about the work you’ve done over the last week, so make it a habit to inform your employers of anything and everything to do with the work assigned to you.

3. Ask for feedback. I would suggest asking for feedback after the first few days so that you can get a good idea of what the employer thinks about the work you’ve done so far.  After receiving feedback, you can then adjust your work and proceed from there.

4. Give suggestions.  One of the greatest things about being a freelancer is that you have more freedom to use your creativity.  If you have an idea or a concept that you believe could make the final product even better than what the employer is expecting, don’t hesitate to give suggestions.  He may or may not accept your ideas, but it’s worth a try and it shows that you value the outcome of your employer’s assignment.

5. Be honest and reliable. If you don’t want to be scammed out of payment or have your time disputed, maintain complete honesty and reliability throughout your term as a contractor.  Always be honest with yourself and with whatever you do, even if the employer turns out to be less reliable than you had hoped.

6. Meet the deadlines you’ve set. Never take your deadlines for granted, especially if you were the one who set them in the first place.  If you feel that you might not make the deadline, inform the employer as soon as possible and do your best make up for the delays.

feedback

7. Always maintain excellence in your work. Keep your work at its highest quality and you’re sure to win that 5-star feedback rating from your happy employer.  This also means applying to jobs that you know you can be excellent in and being consistent until you’ve completed all of your tasks.

If you’re new or if you haven’t received a lot of five-star ratings lately, it’s okay.  There are always plenty of opportunities to earn glowing feedback and lots of ways to impress your present and future employers. Just follow these tips and motivate yourself to become an awesome contractor and you’ll soon enjoy the incoming job offers and invites to interview.

Got other tips to winning 5-star feedback ratings?  Share them in the comments below!

Stephanie Gonzaga is a freelancer on oDesk who specializes in writing topnotch web content, such as product copy, articles, and blog posts for clients all over the globe. During her free time, she writes on her blog The Freelance Pinoy, a site dedicated to providing Filipino freelancers with tips, advice, and strategies to help them reach freelancing success.

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Remote Work at SXSW – Vote for your favorites! https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/08/remote-work-at-sxsw-vote-for-your-favorites/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2010/08/remote-work-at-sxsw-vote-for-your-favorites/#comments Mon, 16 Aug 2010 16:13:12 +0000 http://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=12851 After having such a blast presenting at SXSW last year, we were excited to see that the 2011 SXSW Panel Picker was finally open for voting! Even more thrilling is the number of panels suggested that remote team members and managers would find valuable (including two from oDesk executives!). Here are our top picks for […]

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After having such a blast presenting at SXSW last year, we were excited to see that the 2011 SXSW Panel Picker was finally open for voting! Even more thrilling is the number of panels suggested that remote team members and managers would find valuable (including two from oDesk executives!). Here are our top picks for your SXSW Interactive panel votes – log in and give us the ‘thumbs up’ to make sure you’ll get all the tools you need to succeed at SXSW!

Remote Work and Competition

Not About Price – Competition in the Global Economy – In 2006, 26 million Americans worked from home at least one day per week. By the end of 2010, that number is estimated to be over 100 million. People are making a shift away from rigid corporate structures towards a more flexible, more online way to work. But with that shift comes increasing accessibility to a worldwide workforce. Gary Swart, oDesk CEO, will be joined by top educators on the global economy, successful freelance contractors and champions of the online workforce to answer the question: “When facing competition from a world full of people with similar skills, many of whom can afford to be paid less, how can you come out ahead?”

Superhero Telecommuter – Productivity in Your Pajamas – This presentation will focus on giving attendees tips and advice on being a superhero telecommuter. It will also include advice on how to avoid common pitfalls such as “out of sight out of mind” and avoiding distractions of everyday home life, as well as some of the personality traits that fit best for a telecommuter and advice on how to pitch telecommuting to your boss.

Why Remote Work?

Working on a (Temp) Dream – We are living at the dawn of the freelance world, as more and more people find themselves working as consultants, contract workers or freelancers. This change is as profound as the shift that occurred during the industrial revolution. Matt Cooper, oDesk Director of Marketplace Operations, will be joined by top authors Kate Lister (Undress for Success) and Ed Gandia (The Wealthy Freelancer), as well as workplace experts and freelancers to investigate the impact of the gig economy on workers and businesses.

Agile Ain’t Just for Developers: The Agile People Manifesto – Programmers may be familiar with the Agile Manifesto – but how can an Agile approach change the future of work?

Remote Team Management

Team Dynamics with a Remote Team – One team shares their experiences managing a team in multiple locations — this includes working with round-the-world contract houses, and even volunteers.

Getting the Most from Distributed Work Teams – In today’s work environment, it’s not unusual to find yourself in a different city (or even country) than your colleagues and your managers. How can you meet expectations, spark your creativity and foster innovation when the nearest friendly ear is hundreds of miles away? As a manager, how do you effectively manage a team that you may never see face-to-face? Experts from businesses big and small, along with leading figures in higher education, talk about how to get the most from a distributed team.

Deleting the Workspace: Is the On-Site Office Needed? – Times are a-changin! Gen-Y is moving into managerial/leadership positions and they may have a different idea of how a business should be run. Technology allows for efficiently run virtual offices, with employees working from different ends of the globe! What will the future workplace look like? How can businesses properly integrate the changes that are being pushed by young professionals?

What panels would you love to see at SXSW? What other conferences are you itching to go to? Let us know in the comments!

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