oBlog » The Way We Work https://www.odesk.com/blog oDesk - The Future of Work Thu, 05 Mar 2015 18:24:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 2 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-2/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/03/future-of-work-march-2/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 14:00:46 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34405 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the best ways to manage a remote team, how female entrepreneurs can shape work-life balance, and a new school of time management theories.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 03/02/2015:

Entrepreneur | 4 Effective Ways to Manage a Remote Team

Working with a distributed team can seem challenging, but implementing a few best practices will help things run as smoothly as (or better than) a traditional office. Deborah Mitchell, CEO and founder of Mitchell Media Associates, offers her own tried-and-true tips for managing remote employees.

Some of Mitchell’s advice, like organizing a weekly work plan or scheduling “face time” with the team (think Google Hangouts), may already come naturally. However, there are others you may not think of right away: she recommends daily phone calls with your team members so they can questions and get direct feedback, because a lot of information can get lost in translation through email alone.

These check-ins can also help facilitate discussions about the larger career goals of your team members, an aspect of good management that doesn’t always translate to online: “Similar to working in a traditional office, a virtual office should offer an employee the opportunity to grow. Be clear and know what you have to offer them moving forward.”

Huffington Post | Can Women Entrepreneurs Flip the Script re: Work/Life Balance?

As an author, speaker, and founder and CEO of Socially Speaking, Penina Rybak knows a thing or two about the work-life balance challenges entrepreneurs, especially female ones, face. But don’t worry! She’s also written extensively about how to tackle them.

She recommends that you be ruthless with your time. Cut personal and work activities that don’t meet your needs or accomplish something necessary. And the same goes for people, she says: only hire those who truly share your company and cultural vision.

Inc. | The New Way of Thinking About Time

More and more studies are finding that our traditional time-management theories are dead wrong. Working grueling hours, exacerbated by the “telepressure” to continue answering emails at home, may seem like the price you pay to get your startup off the ground, but the reality is that lifestyle is wholly unsustainable. Living this way affects employee morale, sleep, cognition, health, retention and, unsurprisingly, almost always leads to burnout.

As Inc. staff writer Jill Krasny writes, “All of this has given rise to a new school of time management, one concerned with zeroing in on your most important priorities, doing them well, and eliminating everything else—including keeping crazy hours.”

This shift can take many forms. Some companies embrace flexible work days, allowing  people to come into the office when they’re most productive. Bolstered by research showing it takes more than 23 minutes to get re-focused on an interrupted task, Krasny points to one CEO who encourages employees to schedule meetings that rarely last longer than 15 minutes.

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

 

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How to Write the Perfect Email Introduction https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/write-perfect-email-introduction/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/write-perfect-email-introduction/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:00:22 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34375 Most freelancers experience a few hiccups during the process of turning a prospect into a paying customer. When you compose the email that will introduce yourself and/or your services to someone, there’s actually a general “template” you can follow to help make a strong connection with your potential client and pave the way for a good working relationship with them.

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You put yourself out there—your samples, your terms, your fees—and it’s looking good: now you have a chance to get some business. All it takes is a bit of correspondence and an interview with a potential new client, and everything should fall into place.

Well, it should be that simple. The truth is, most freelancers experience a few hiccups during the process of turning a prospect into a paying customer.

When you compose the email that will introduce yourself and/or your services to someone, there’s actually a general “template” you can follow to help make a strong connection with your potential client and pave the way for a good working relationship with them.

Here is a list of what to include:

  1. Be specific in your subject line. Restate exactly why you’re writing. Remember, it’s an introduction so they don’t know who you are. Don’t make them guess. If they contacted you first, simply hit “reply” so they get an “RE:” response. If you are making the first contact, use something simple like “The video quote you wanted” or “About yoursite.com content.”
  2. Open warmly, but professionally. “Dear ___,” is the perfect greeting. If it is your first contact, choose Mr./Mrs./Dr. until instructed otherwise. If they contacted you first, greet them using the same name they used to sign their message. Your first sentence should let them know that you’re glad to speak with them and that you can help them. Mention something that shows why you know you’d be a good fit. For example, “I’m skilled with PowerPoint and would love to create presentations for yoursite.com.”
  3. Show you understand their needs. Building on the opening of your message, make sure your email gives the recipient an easy reason to consider moving forward with you. Take care with this section; it’s the “bridge” of your email, connecting you to them. For example, you could say something like, “I see you have a large client base already. I understand how to manage those contacts and grow them at the same time.”
  4. Relate benefits of working with you. When listing benefits, avoid a clichéd marketing message or a jargon-filled laundry list. Instead, offer distinct solutions. Use “real” language, like, “My forms have helped dozens of bloggers grow their email lists,” instead of “I provide webpreneurs custom forms for maximized list optimization.” Also, if there is a special reference or qualification that adds to your ability to perform this work, mention it here. Example: “In fact, my B.A. was in philosophy, so I’m well-versed in your topic.”
  5. Touch on your work habits. Is there a timing restriction for a project like this? Will you only accept certain types of payments? A couple of sentences briefly outlining the way you work in your introduction can save you and your client from trouble later on. No one likes surprises regarding money or missed deliverables. Be straightforward, cheerful, and polite: “Some notes: I book my work a week in advance. When we agree on a timeframe and milestones, I will send regular updates to let you what I’m working on and how work is progressing.”
  6. Close with action points and expectations (and a thank you). How will your recipient know what to do next to start working with you or to ask you any questions? Inviting them to contact you and referencing any action items at the end of your email helps them stand out. And leave the final action up to you: “I would need to hear from you by Friday to start work by the 10th. Please email me back with your thoughts. You can also add me on Skype; my username is below. If we haven’t connected by Friday, I’ll send you a note to follow up. Thank you!”

You can typically write a generic “base” email and modify it for each prospect. If you follow the suggestions above, you should have seven to nine sentences in three or four very short paragraphs.

Going beyond these introductions, there is a wide range of needs and audiences for emails and letters in the professional environment: apologies, requests, sales, and more. We cover all types of correspondence in our Effective Business Writing Course at GoSkills.com, where the right tone, length, and structure are all spelled out for you.

There are few things more important to get right than making a first impression, and when you’re working online, that’s usually done with written communications. A little time spent perfecting your email introductions can translate into more jobs, and happier freelancing overall!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 23 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-23/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-23/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 13:45:10 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34352 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights human resources ‘must-haves’ for winning the talent war, the personality trait that distinguishes entrepreneurs from employees, and the strength of the European startup community.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 2/23/2015:

Forbes | 7 HR Must-Haves for 2015: Winning the Talent War

Drawing on the Oxford Economics report “Workforce 2020,” Susan Galer of SAP cites seven human resources trends that organizations need to adopt to remain competitive.

From more effective leadership to better collaboration and training opportunities, Galar says businesses can’t hold back now or fail to plan for the next few years. “2015 looms as a ‘do or die’ year for organizations that depend on quality, qualified people to leap ahead of the competition.”


VentureBeat | How Europe is Producing ‘Super Startups’

The U.S. isn’t the only home for successful startups: European startups are attracting more investors and enough talent to thrive. Alex Depledge, CEO and co-founder of Hassle.com, and Julien Codorniou, director of partner platforms at Facebook, write that part of the European startup community’s success comes from its past struggles.

“Over the years it’s been much harder for Europeans to access venture capitalist funding,” they said. “This legacy means that European startups have had to operate under huge pressure to develop business plans that were viable from day one.”

Depledge and Codorniou add that this pressure, combined with other challenges like the recession and the fractured European marketplace, force startups to adapt in ways that make them stronger and better prepared for expansion.


 

Business Insider | Scientists Have Discovered a Personality Difference Between Entrepreneurs and Employees

What differentiates people who run their own companies and people who work as employees? A desire for job or income security is one factor, but Drake Baer reports that it isn’t the only one.

“According to a 2013 Swiss-German study, the difference lies in disposition: While an employee is a specialist, an entrepreneur is a jack-of-all-trades,” he wrote. Even an internship or apprenticeship can predict against entrepreneurship, as they help lead to specialization.

The study’s authors found that broad experience and a large personal network also support entrepreneurship, thanks to the diversity of relationship as well as viewpoints. “None other than Steve Jobs used to say that creative people have a more diverse ‘bag of experiences’ than everybody else,” Baer said.

What news about the future of work has caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 16 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-16/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-16/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 14:00:16 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34242 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights work-life balance between your startup and family, the freedom to control your time, and how to properly motivate your employees.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 2/16/2015:

Entrepreneur | A Web Entrepreneur’s 3 Tips for Matching the Love of Family With the Love of Work

Running your own business, especially during the early phases of a startup, can and will pull even the most committed family member away from the “life” part of work-life balance.

As Adam Toren, co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com, knows all too well, “many entrepreneurs chose this path thinking the balance will pan out at some point in time, only to find themselves year over year without it.”

His solutions for these problems are deceptively simple. Setting a schedule, and sticking to it, can help counteract the feeling that there’s no time to take a break or pack up for the evening.

Another aspect to keep in mind is that your plan will shift as your family does. Having kids is a game-changer, Toren says, and entrepreneurs need to be flexible — because their children won’t be.

Inc. | Success Is Controlling How You Spend Your Time

Peter Cohan, founder of Peter S. Cohan & Associates, argues that today’s definition of success should not be measured solely in money, but in how much you can control and enjoy your time.

Of course, he says, this kind of freedom usually happens because you already know you can pay your bills. However, he advises young professionals to think critically about three aspects of any job they want to embark upon: “Am I passionate about the work? Am I one of the world’s best at doing this work? Will the market compensate me well enough for it?”

Keeping these aspects in mind, especially when considering the gruelling road of founding a startup, can help keep you focused and on track to get the most out of your professional career.

Fast Company | Stop Trying to Bribe Your Employees and do This Instead

Engaging employees is one of the biggest challenges companies face. J.T. O’Donnell, CEO of Careerealism, argues that perks, while a nice gesture, ultimately do very little to actually motivate your staff. Instead, you should try upping their intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivation.

By encouraging intrinsic motivation — the drive to work hard “without any expected reward or external motivation” — O’Donnell says businesses will be able to get the most out of their employees.

The truth about this drive, she explains, is that it is entirely based on life outside of work: “Our work selves are only one part of our whole selves — the other parts are the internal self, the external self, and relationships — and it’s important for employers to adopt a holistic approach to understanding employees.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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For the Love of Your Back! Home Office Gadgets For Comfort and Health https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/home-office-gadgets/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/home-office-gadgets/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 14:00:13 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34209 Are you sacrificing comfort and health with a poor home office setup? Here are some great gadgets that can make working at home a little more comfortable and a whole lot more awesome.

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When I started freelancing, it was my intention to make some extra income while I was a student. All I had for a home office at the time was a laptop and a desk — and since I didn’t even use my desk for studying, I certainly wasn’t using it for work.

As the years passed, I discovered I enjoyed freelancing from home way more than I enjoyed commuting to an office. I also discovered that working in a reclining chair is not the best setup for productivity or for my personal health.

I get so much more accomplished when seated comfortably at a desk with the proper ergonomics. I have fewer headaches and backaches, and I feel more like a professional business owner, which translates into more confidence in myself as a service provider — not to mention more clients.

Here are some great gadgets that can make working at home a little more comfortable and a whole lot more awesome.

1. Wireless Mouse and Keyboard

Wireless mouse

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop

via Microsoftstore.com

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I spent several years working from home using just a laptop with no accessories. If you know anything about ergonomics, you know that your screen should be at eye level. This means it’s impossible to have a healthy setup if you are tied to a laptop’s keyboard and trackpad.

2. Proper Screen Height

Ergotron Sit-Stand desk mount LCD Arm

Ergotron Sit-Stand desk mount LCD Arm

via Ergotron.com

For the best posture and back health, the proper screen height is directly at eye level. Use a desk mounting system for external monitors, like this one from Ergotron, or DIY by placing your laptop or monitor on a shelf, box, or stack of books on your desk that will boost it to the correct height.

3. A Reduction on Eye Strain

PaperLike: 13.3″ E Ink Monitor by Dasung Tech

PaperLike: 13.3″ E Ink Monitor by Dasung Tech

via TheeBookreader.com

Fresh out of Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2015 is an e-ink external monitor for those of us who spend hours staring at text on our screens. This monitor uses technology that’s similar to popular e-readers and mimics the look of ink on paper.

Since there’s no backlight it’s glare free, which makes it easier on the eyes. The blue light from traditional monitors can wreck havoc on our sleep patterns, so using e-ink instead for late night sessions could also improve sleep quality. Plus, with the ability to see the screen in direct sunlight, it will also make working outdoors on beautiful days an actual option.

4. A Great Chair

The Gesture Chair by Steelcase

The Gesture Chair by Steelcase

via Steelcase.com

Posture is important for whole body health and the types of postures we use most often are rapidly changing — as often as we change our mobile devices. The ergonomic Gesture Chair supports your body just as well when using mobile devices as it does when you are typing on your laptop.

5. A Reminder You’ve Been Sitting Too Long

Darma

Darma

via Darma.co

I know I don’t move enough, but it is something I don’t think about during my work day. Having a reminder that I need to take a break is something that has been a lifesaver for my health. The Darma tracker tracks your inactivity — unlike the majority of the trackers on the market, which focus on your activity.  It will tell you if you need to improve your posture, suggest stretches that will help, and will tell you when it is time to get up and move around for a while.

6. An Easy Way to Move More

Cubii, the under desk elliptical

Cubii, the under desk elliptical

via Fitnesscubed.com

If you have a major inactivity problem, and find it almost impossible to make it to the gym or to fit in other types of activity, products like the Cubii have you covered. Not only is this designed to be at the optimal position for elliptical motion under a desk, it doesn’t take up much space and can be used without distraction from other tasks.

Do you have a favorite gadget that has helped improve your health and productivity? Tell us in the comments! And join us on Pinterest to discover more great gadgets for the future of work.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 9 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-9th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-9th/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 14:00:06 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34200 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the work-life balance disconnect between HR and employees, tips for getting the most out of part-time staff, and a new vision for the future of IT.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 2/9/2015:

Entrepreneur | Yes, There is a Disconnect Between Employers and Employees on Work-Life Balance

A new study conducted by Millennial Branding and CareerArc has discovered that, while 67 percent of human resources respondents felt their employees enjoyed work-life balance, 45 percent of employees claimed they did not have time during the week for personal activities.

Moreover, 20 percent reported working more than 20 extra hours each week, mainly because they’re expected to be “on call” long after they’ve left the office.

There is clearly, according to Millennial Branding founder Dan Schawbel, a large disconnect between employees and employers when it comes to work-life balance — one that companies should rectify quickly. Flexible working options are a priority across professions and age brackets, and businesses that want to attract and retain top talent should shape their policies accordingly.

Inc. | 5 Ways to Get Full Time Engagement From Part Time Staff

Part-time and project-based workers are a great talent resource, but managers often have issues properly motivating such employees. Human resources expert Suzanne Lucas and LaSalle Network’s chief human resources officer Sirmara Campbell Twohill have five tried and true tips for getting the most of non-full-time employees.

They suggest, perhaps counter-intuitively, that “if a manager wants full-time engagement, they should treat part-time staff as full-time employees.” That means providing complete onboarding materials and introductions to other team members, connecting them with higher up employees who can model typical career progressions, and setting opportunities for feedback. Even simple inclusions — company holiday presents, invitations to company lunches — can inspire loyalty and dedication from your part-time staff.

Medium | Deloitte on The Future of IT

Researcher and “web anthropologist” Stowe Boyd has written extensively about the nature of IT work, most recently using Deloitte Consulting’s Tech Trends 2015 as a jumping off point for his own predictions about the future of IT.

Boyd argues that soon, the most successful CIOs will expand their role to include both technology and business strategy. Their skills will include what we currently think of as necessary — analytical and technological — as well as the “…capability to get others to believe in a potential tomorrow.”

Along these same lines, Boyd writes that future IT workers will need to expand their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) orientation to include and arts and design component—turning STEM into “STEAM.”

“So, IT leaders need to deal with the serious challenges how to bring in the DNA needed for this sort of organization, based on those skills. And we are starting at a time of immense and growing demand for STEM skills, today, and STEAM skills in the out years.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 2 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-2nd/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/02/future-of-work-february-2nd/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:00:46 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34172 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights how to make working from home work, the best places to found your startup (hint: you’re already there), and more tips for achieving work-life balance.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 2/2/2015:

Entrepreneur | 6 Best Practices for Working from Home

Although operating out of a home office has countless benefits — no commutes, no costly office rentals, and no co-workers to distract you — it can also prove challenging to stay motivated and efficient with no social or managerial accountability. Jaqueline Whitemore, author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals, offers some tried-and-true suggestions to avoid these pitfalls.

Despite the flexibility that comes with remote work, Whitemore argues that structure and consistency are key for a home working environment. Sticking to a morning routine (which should include changing out of pajamas!), a specific workspace, and set office hours helps erect psychic barriers between “work time” and “home time,” even though they happen in the same area.

Of course, Whitemore says, the benefit of working from home is that these guidelines are at your discretion. That means you can and should tailor them to maximize your productivity. The arrangements are endless, you just have to find the one that works best for you.

Inc. | The Best Place to Start a Company? Right Where You Are

For entrepreneurs and startups, the draw of aiming for the Silicon Valley or New York is clear. Renowned hotbeds of innovation, collaboration, and potential investors, these coastal cities might seem like an obvious choice. However, Avalon Ventures’ managing director Brady Bohrmann argues that it’s actually better to launch your business from wherever you happen to be right now.

It might seem slightly counterintuitive, but operating outside the homogenous “tech world” can give your company much-needed perspective, Bohrmann said. When founders source their talent from hot startup areas, they can wind up with an unbalanced team, none of whom provide different opinions. Setting up shop in your hometown helps you keep a clear vision for your organization and users.

Moreover, he added, it’s easier to gain many of the advantages Silicon Valley offers — support, advice, insights, etc. — through a computer. With hangout technologies, virtual startup groups, and telecast conferences, your physical location has never mattered less. As Bohrmann said: “The world is getting smaller and there is a vibrant community unlimited by a physical place — right at your fingertips.”

Forbes | 5 Tips For Achieving Work/Life Balance In 2015

Work-life balance is hard. Even with flexible work options, there are still both professional and personal obligations that simply must get done on time. To maximize your efficiency in the office and your time outside of it, productivity expert Anne McGurty has a few deviously simple suggestions.

Making incremental changes, she said, can have far reaching effects. Going to bed early or turning your laptop off at the end of the day are changes that can impact other areas of your life.

Maximizing your efficiency at work is also crucial. Studies show it can take more than 20 minutes to resume an interrupted task, and McGurty said it’s imperative you minimize these distractions: “Turn off automated email, Twitter and Facebook alerts and silence your phone (unless you use these tools to generate business) whenever you’re doing something that requires your full attention.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

 

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: January 26 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-26/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-26/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:00:27 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34150 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights the upcoming shift towards a “care economy,” the biggest wants for employees in 2015, and a new system to optimize the “work” part of work-life balance.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 1/26/2015:

The World Post | How the Future of Work May Make Many of Us Happier

Prioritizing professional flexibility over professional stability may seem like a millennial point of view, but in reality no one craves fluid work arrangements more than people trying to balance making money with caregiving.

Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of the New American Foundation, argues that the rise of independent workers and project-based employment will set the stage for a new “care economy” — a situation that “allows people time to both make a living and do what they most care about.”

This arrangement ensures parents and other caregivers can remain employed — and unpenalized — without sacrificing personal responsibilities. For workers without such commitments, the care economy will allow time for travel and other passion projects.

Allowing employees to thrive both professionally and personally, rather than forcing them to sacrifice one for the other, will ensure the coming generation of workers are happier, healthier, and more productive.

Entrepreneur | 6 Things Your Employees May Be Wishing for This Year

Put simply, being a stellar manager is hard. That’s why Raphael Crawford-Marks, co-founder and CEO of Bonusly, has curated data from the recent Tinyhr workplace report into his own predictions for employee wishlists in 2015.

The list includes: more transparency, better feedback and recognition, strengthened office relationships, and, unsurprisingly, more flexible working options.

Although some of these desires involve office overhauls, others can be easily implemented. For example, flexible work can be rolled out on a gradual and more individual basis, but still have huge productivity and work-satisfaction effects.

“Provide more options for employees to work outside the office, especially if it makes sense for their roles,” Crawford-Marks said. “Employees involved in highly creative digital projects may fare better working in environments that inspire them, say, a coffee shop or a cozy home office.”

Huffington Post | Zeroing in on the ‘Work’ in ‘Work-Life Balance’

Working with Harvard Business School professors, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) global people team chair Matt Krentz developed a new, scalable work-life balance system: Predictability, Teaming, and Open Communication (PTO).

Krentz notes that discussion about work-life balance usually focus on “life” more than “work”. PTO was designed around the idea that for high-achieving companies, personal lives can’t be prioritized or enjoyed without a rewarding and efficient work environment.

The program has two key components: predictable, mandatory “offline” hours for all team members, and weekly team meetings to discuss ongoing projects and personal development. This model forces people to find new ways to be productive and efficient with great results, which then frees up time for other passion projects or personal obligations.

And BCG doesn’t just talk the talk — they’ve implemented PTO at their own company, with measurable results: “Internal surveys show 10 to 50 percent improvements in all elements of job satisfaction at the firm. Turns out that one of the best ways to make employees’ personal lives better is to rethink how they work.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: January 19 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-19/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-19/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 19:10:25 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34121 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights advice from entrepreneurs who’ve managed to strike balance in their lives between work and personal commitments.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 1/19/2015:

Business Insider | How A CEO Who Just Raised $80 Million Nails Work-Life Balance While Launching A Startup

According to Jet.com CEO Marc Lore, consistency — rather than periods of being an engaged CEO, then an engaged father — is the key to balance.

Lore told Business Insider that, despite being mid-launch on an $80 million e-commerce site, he’s determined to remain just as present for his family as he is for his startup.

“Instead of staying at the office late during busy weeks then spending a pile of time with his family, he opts to get home in time for dinner every night, log offline, and then log back on when his kids are heading to bed,” Alyson Shontell reported.

Inc. | Finding Happiness at Work

“The struggle for work/life balance is over. Now, we talk of work-life integration,” wrote Matthew Bellows, CEO of sales software company Yesware. Technology has made us so accessible, he says, that the lines between work and home life are too blurred to be considered separately.

When we think about happiness — an aspect that affects the mental health, creativity, and productivity of employees in measurable ways — Bellows recommends that managers collaborate with their team to create work-life integration that works for everyone.

Some of his suggestions? Setting goals, encouraging the interests or your team members, building a great work community, and making time to get to know each other. “When employees have strong, compassionate relationships in the workplace, they are happier, perform better, and are more likely to show up,” he said.

Entrepreneur | How I Built a Startup While Traveling to 20 Countries

Jay Meistrich, co-founder and CEO of organization-focused Moo.do, built his startup while traveling the world — visiting 45 different cities during the past year. After a stop-and-go adjustment to the nomadic lifestyle, he began to realize that traveling is “cheaper, more productive and more inspiring than sitting in one place.”

Crunching the numbers and tracking how he spent his time, Meistrich found that he was more productive abroad, and — perhaps unsurprisingly — also felt less prone to burnout. He says he was able to find global mentors, as well as a much truer and more accurate global perspective.

In his own words, “the digital nomad revolution is just beginning and I’m excited to help it grow. I hope you and I will meet some time, somewhere out there.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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The Best Colors For Business and Productivity https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/best-colors-for-business/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/best-colors-for-business/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 14:00:12 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34105 Have you ever wondered how color affects how you do business and how you can use it to your advantage? Chromology, the psychology of color, has been used by companies for years to improve the moods and reactions of their customers and workers, in turn improving their business goals. Here’s a look at what each color can do and how you can use it.

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A new year has arrived, and that often means a fresh set of business goals and a renewal of energy geared toward making the upcoming year the best one yet. For some of you, this could mean anything from rebranding your business to redecorating your workspace.

Have you ever wondered how color affects how you do business and how you can use it to your advantage?

Chromology, the psychology of color, has been used by companies for years to improve the moods and reactions of their customers and workers, in turn improving their business goals.

Depending on your business, choosing different hues can help achieve different things. For example, choosing the right color can help you be more productive, trigger feelings in your customers that can in turn support sales, or even improve the opinion potential customers have of you before they try your product or service.

After all, the study titled “Impact of Colour in Marketing” found up to 90 percent of snap judgements of a product could be based on the color of a company’s branding or packaging!

How do you decide which color is the best for you and your business? Here’s a look at what each color can do and how you can use it.

Red

Displayed with other colors, red will appear to be the closest to the viewer — it stands out and grabs our attention. This is why it is universally used for traffic lights and stop signs around the world.

Red has physical effects on the body: it increases the heart rate, raises blood pressure, and gives the illusion that time is passing faster than it is¹. Red also increases appetite by revving the metabolism².

Applications for business:

  • If your work has physical aspects where you would benefit from an increased heart rate, red surroundings can make you more productive.
  • If you want to have a particular message stand out in design — like a “call to action” button on your website, for example — using red to highlight that information can make it appear closer to the viewer and be noticed first.
  • If you are in the food business, decorating your dining room, store, or website with red may result in higher food sales.

Blue

Blue stimulates the mind. Strong blues clear thought while soft blues aid concentration and have a calming effect. It has been found that this calming effect comes from stimulating natural tranquilizers in the brain.

Studies have shown that blue rooms improve study capabilities in students and increase production line productivity³. Blue also slows heart rate, decreases appetite, and is associated with feelings of trust and dependability.

Applications for business:

  • Paint your office in blue tones to aid in concentration and increase productivity.
  • If you sell food, blue may not be the best choice for your decor or staff uniforms —  unless you run an all-you-can-eat buffet, in which case a decreased appetite will work in your favor.

Yellow

Yellow is a color that speaks more to our emotions than the others and is often associated with optimism, confidence, fun, and happiness. Using the wrong tone, however, can trigger anxiety! This is why studies of students have found that they can perform 10-15 percent better when they take tests in yellow rooms, but also that babies cry more often, and for a longer time, in yellow rooms.

Applications for business:

  • The right shade of yellow can improve creativity and may be the best choice of decor color for those in creative fields like graphic design. If you have small children who often share your space, you might consider a more soothing wall color; instead, opt for pops of yellow in accessories and artwork.
  • The positive associations of yellow with happiness and fun can give consumers a warm feeling about your brand.

Green

Green is associated with nature and new life. One study found that 95 percent of university students associated the color with positive emotions, and it is the color most often used in institutions because it has been found to be soothing.

Darker shades of green are associated with wealth and money. The wrong shade, however, can leave people feeling sick, with a perception of illness and stagnation.

Applications for business:

  • If your business is one that usually makes people nervous, decorating with a pleasing shade of green can help customers feel more comfortable.
  • If you are prone to anxiety in your everyday life, a soothing shade of green can aid in helping you feel comfortable while working.
  • Using green in branding can provide an image of a firm that is environmentally conscious, or one that is for the wealthy and enviable.

Whatever the color, it’s the intensity that triggers the strongest response. To get the full effect, use bright colors as they have a stimulating effect. Subdued colors have a more soothing effect on both the mind and bodyⁱ⁰.

For decorating a workspace, be sure to ask yourself how the color will make you feel personally as personal preference is always a factor. When it comes to color choice for branding, physical and emotional responses are not enough. Keep in mind that fit is also very important. How well does the color you choose match your brand personality?

Do you have any personal experiences with color psychology to share with us? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to follow oDesk on Pinterest for more great info on using color for business and productivity.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: January 12 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-12/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/future-of-work-january-12/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 14:00:41 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34064 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights shifts making high-pressure industries more family friendly, the business benefits of keeping employees healthy and happy, and a simple life hack to achieve to work-life balance.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 1/12/2015:

New York Times | Workplaces Remain Averse to Flexibility

Classifying jobs as indivisible — unable to be handed off from one employee to another — is a problematic and outdated practice, according to New York Times columnist Anand Giridharadas. Doing so has a profound effect on professionals, especially women, because the required time commitments “…drive lots of mothers out of the workforce, and ensure that those who stay but seek flexible hours are penalized.”

Citing a Harvard economic study on how the pharmacy industry became more family-friendly, Giridharadas argues that many other lucrative careers could begin accommodating flexible work schedules. He writes that doing so requires a shift in two areas: culture and technology.

“Cultural change, because clients must accept, say, meeting one investment banker during daylight hours and another at night. New information systems, because flexibility depends on ever-smoother handoffs.”

Wired | Go Home: The Business Case for Work-Life Balance

Contrary to popular belif, long working hours are negatively correlated with getting more done. Research has shown that employees are more productive, more loyal to their company, and healthier when they have flexible working options.

Even something as seemingly simple as getting enough sleep can be difficult with traditional schedules. A recent study found that work is the most common activity exchanged for sleep, despite the large cognitive benefits of the activity.

Kim Peters, CEO of Great Rated! at Great Place to Work, argues that this setup doesn’t have to be the norm. Even companies in high pressure areas, such as finance and software, can find ways to implement flexible work programs. Simple changes such as focusing on results rather than office hours, offering onsite daycare, and even insisting on a mandatory minimum number of vacation days all can have a profound effect on the employees’ and company’s well-being.

Time | The Simple Calendar Strategy to Achieve Work-Life Balance in 2015

While achieving some form of work-life balance is easiest when supported by your company, you can still adopt strategies to improve your own balance even when that’s not the case. Cali Williams Yost, founder and CEO of the Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit, Inc., argues that simple, organizational hacks can have a profound effect on managing your time.

Keeping a combined calendar for both your professional and personal life, for example, can help you schedule and prioritize deliberately. That way, if and when conflicts arise, you’re aware of the change and can reschedule accordingly.

“As the line between our jobs and our personal lives continues to blur, a combined calendar and priority list helps the naturals reestablish solid boundaries around what they need and want to get done.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

 

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Here’s to an amazing 2015! https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/heres-amazing-2015-2/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/heres-amazing-2015-2/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 19:53:06 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=34048 With more than 9 million registered freelancers and 3.5 million registered clients, Elance-oDesk is more than just an online workplace. Thanks to you, it’s a vibrant global community that’s changing the way the world works. Check out some of our community stories with the interactive version of our 2014 Annual Impact Report!

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Happy New Year and thanks for making 2014 such an incredible success!

Take a look at our 2014 Annual Impact Report for a glimpse inside the impact you have on a global scale. We talked to freelancers and clients from Bangkok to San Francisco to Sydney to get their perspectives and hear how online collaboration is changing the world.

Click the image below to read a few of the inspiring stories.

The Impact of Online Work [interactive]

With more than 9 million registered freelancers and 3.5 million registered clients, Elance-oDesk is more than just an online workplace. Thanks to you, it’s a vibrant global community that’s changing the way the world works.

Here’s to making 2015 an even greater success together!

Share this post—and the impact of your work—with your friends.

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Escrow Protection is live on oDesk https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/escrow-protection-live-on-odesk/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2015/01/escrow-protection-live-on-odesk/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 17:26:02 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33979 We’re kicking off the New Year with exciting news: Escrow Protection is now available on oDesk! As we told you in December, Escrow Protection provides clients and freelancers with a safer and more secure workplace.

All new and existing fixed-price contracts are now covered by Escrow Protection and the oDesk Guarantee remains in place for hourly work.

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We’re kicking off the New Year with exciting news: Escrow Protection is now available on oDesk! As we told you in December, Escrow Protection provides clients and freelancers with a safer and more secure workplace.

All new and existing fixed-price contracts are now covered by Escrow Protection and the oDesk Guarantee remains in place for hourly work.

What does this mean for freelancers?

Payment protection on fixed-price jobs.

When a client funds a milestone (agreed upon deliverables for a given timeframe and budget) on a fixed-price contract, those funds are now held in an escrow account. Should the client end the contract without releasing all the funds held in the escrow account to you, you can either agree to return those funds back to the client or you can initiate a dispute for the funds.

Milestone deposits matter.

Only deposited funds on an active milestone are held in escrow. If a client creates a $100 job but only deposits $25 into a milestone, once you begin work only the $25 is eligible for Escrow Protection.

Verified payment matters.

Funds from unverified payment methods cannot be held in escrow. If you choose to work with a client that does not have a verified payment method, Escrow Protection will not be available for you. Verified payment status is listed in a client’s information when you are viewing a job post.

You can learn more about fixed-price contracts with Escrow Protection for freelancers here.

What does this mean for clients?

Use milestones to budget and guide work.

The structure of fixed-price contracts has changed over the past year. All fixed-price contracts now include milestones. You work with your freelancer to set the deliverables, timing and budget for a given milestone. Funding, which is held securely in escrow, is only required for the milestone the freelancer is actively working on.

Pay only for the work you receive and approve.

When you fund a milestone on a fixed-price contract, those funds are now held in an escrow account. You only need to release these funds when you have received and approved of the deliverable outlined for that milestone. Should an issue arise, you can choose not to release the funds from escrow and your freelancer can either approve the return of the funds to you or they can initiate a dispute. oDesk will work with you and your freelancer to try and resolve the situation.

You can learn more about Escrow Protection from oDesk client, Matt Keener, who has summed up additional benefits of oDesk escrow on his blog, Executive in Sweatpants.

More information on fixed-price contracts with Escrow Protection for clients is available here.

We look forward to seeing clients and freelancers taking advantage of Escrow Protection this year! Want to learn more about Escrow Protection on oDesk? Join us for one of our live Q&A Webinars: for clients, for freelancers. We will walk you through Escrow Protection on oDesk, with time for live questions and answers with our product team.

Happy New Year!
The oDesk Team

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: December 22 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/future-of-work-december-22/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/future-of-work-december-22/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:00:50 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33960 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup discusses distributed team management, single parents and flexible work, and an argument for unconventional employment arrangements.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 12/22/2014:

Business Vancouver | How to Get the Best Results from Distributed Teams

Although there is no magic bullet for managing distributed teams, implementing the right policies and technology can help remote work run seamlessly. According to Cyri Jones and Ivan Surjanovic, the founder of ZENPortfolios and the CEO of iPower Lab, respectively, spelling out project goals, timelines, and management processes cuts down on miscommunication within and between distributed teams.

Managers should also schedule regular online check-ins to make sure everyone is on track and up to date, but, more than that, they should organize in-person meetings at least once a year. Having annual or semi-annual get togethers gives companies the best of both worlds — the talent sourcing and cost savings that come with distributed teams, but the collaboration and innovation that can happen when everyone’s in the same room.

Huffington Post UK | Why More Employers Should Make a Flexible Working Resolution

The research is in: flexible work benefits both the company and the employee.

IBM cut down on 7500 work spaces after granting 90% of it’s employees work-from-home options, and other studies have shown nine out of ten managers found flexible work options raised staff morale. Happier employees generally feel more connected and loyal to their companies, which in turn increase productivity and retention.

There are humanitarian upsides to flexible work as well. Octavia Holland, Director of Policy, Advice and Communications at the charity organization Gingerbread, argues that work-from-home options can make a huge difference in the lives of single parents. Because they are so often the only care providers for their children, they’re disproportionately affected by rigid, in-office demands: “The persistence of a 9 to 5 working structure can keep these parents out of work — or trapped in the low-paid roles that are more likely to offer flexibility.”

Harvard Business Review | What Happens When All Employees Work When They Feel Like It

Writing about the innovative management consulting firm Eden McCallum, London Business School professor Freek Vermeulen argues that companies who do not demand or even expect employees to keep standard hours gain a significant competitive advantage. By positioning themselves as a business that will let their employees seek out projects that interest them and fit their desired work hours, McCallum has attracted and retained some the industry’s top talent:

“Leaders at the firm realize that for skilled people disillusioned with the employment model of traditional firms, there is a strong attraction to work tailored to their individual requirements. This allows the firm to hire good employees at a good price.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: December 15 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/perspectives-future-work-december-15/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/perspectives-future-work-december-15/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:00:27 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33941 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights lessons for implementing successful work-from-home strategies and how flexible work could boost the UK economy.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 12/15/2014:

Fortune | 3 Ways to Make Working from Home Work — For Everyone

Although recent research has demonstrated working remotely can increase productivity, many companies still need guidance on implementing flexible work programs. Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 hours, offers lessons she gleaned from this new study that “…could help other organizations achieve the benefits, while avoiding potential pitfalls.”

She argues that work-from-home arrangements need not be “either/or” situations — companies can allow for some flexibility while maintaining certain core office hour requirements. This way, they can enjoy the increased productivity but still have a sense of community and collaboration.

Vanderkam also cautions that employees should have a few months to experiment with different flexible work setups — not everyone can predict how they will react to their work-from-home environments. What most employees will do, however, is self-select into the arrangements where they will excel. By being flexible themselves, managers can ensure success for both their teams and their business.

The Telegraph | Flexible Working Could Boost UK Economy by £90bn

A new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) found that a majority of people in “thinking jobs” (engineers, lawyers, etc.) would embrace flexible work options if available, adding £11.5bn into the UK economy “…through the improved use of employees’ time.”

Moreover, 70% of those surveyed who were unemployed because of retirement or caregiver needs reported they would reenter the workforce if they had the option to work more flexibly. This group could potentially add £78.5bn to the UK economy.

More than just benefitting the economy, this research, along with recent law changes that empower employees to request flexible work, indicates and supports a shift in UK business mentalities about flexible work. Eager to win the talent wars, more and more companies are seeing remote working options as a win-win solution for both sides.

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about them in the comments below!

 

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What We’re Reading: Holiday Edition https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/reading-holiday-edition/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/reading-holiday-edition/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 14:00:30 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33885 The holiday season is fast approaching, and if you’re looking for gift ideas or a way to fight the “stir craziness” that can set in with too much wintertime/downtime/family time, we have you covered. The solution? Books! Pass the hours cooped up inside with a fire, a glass of hot chocolate, and a good read — or help someone else do the same. If that sounds like a dream, but you need a little inspiration, here’s what the oDesk marketing department is reading this month.

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The holiday season is fast approaching, and if you’re looking for gift ideas or a way to fight the “stir craziness” that can set in with too much wintertime/downtime/family time, we have you covered.

The solution? Books! Pass the hours cooped up inside with a fire, a glass of hot chocolate, and a good read — or help someone else do the same.

If that sounds like a dream, but you need a little inspiration, here’s what the oDesk marketing department is reading this month.

Picks for business

Brennan, our communications manager, recommends Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time, by Keith Ferrazzi. “Never eat alone is about, well, never going it alone. Want to be successful? This book shows that success is all about relationships, teamwork, and helping others.”

Another team member, SEO guru Saurabh, is reading Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. He called it a “must read for startup founders, corporate strategy professionals, and anyone who enjoys thinking about businesses.” He added that the book was “created in an innovative way, with hundreds of professors and business professionals collaborating with it.”

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg, is our social media marketing manager Alexia’s choice. She raved that she found it “fascinating, because it looked at habit both from a human psychology perspective (how we can improve our own lives by recognizing and modifying habits) and from a marketing perspective (how we can create campaigns that build products into a customer’s habits).” The other selling point: “It’s a quick and easy read!”

reading book by fireplace

Picks for fun

Not all holiday reading has to be career-focused, of course.

Jaleh, our head of marketing, is currently reading two books: Quiet: The Power of Introverts, by Susan Cain, and The Lives of Others, by Neel Mukherjee. She said of the latter, “It’s not about entrepreneurs but it is shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and for good reason! It is awesome.”

Meanwhile, product marketing manager Anjali is engrossed in Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. The basis for the Netflix series of the same name, this memoir is “a completely compelling page turner…or as much as any book can be when you have a one-year-old at home.”

To end, I’ll share what I’ve been reading on my morning commute: Yes, Please, by comedian Amy Poehler. It’s certainly the silliest pick on the list, but it’s also charming, laugh-out-loud funny, and guaranteed to make even the longest hours spent inside enjoyable.

What books would you recommend this holiday season? Share your favorites in the comments!

 

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: December 8 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/future-of-work-december-8/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/future-of-work-december-8/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:00:57 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33877 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights a new poll that shows workplace flexibility trumps higher pay, a CEO who’s relied on a distributed team to build his global brand, and tips to ensuring your employees (and yourself) have truly flexible work options.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 12/8/2014:

U.S. News & World Report | 3 Work-Life Balance Perks Employees Crave

A new report shows that while American professionals prioritize their family and personal life over work, most think their employers do a pretty good job of providing flexibility and balance.

Of those polled, 67 percent said they’d rather have more flexibility and fewer hours than an increase in salary, showing how important flexible work options are for employee recruitment and retention. A majority are happy with the flexibility they have with their current employers.

Interestingly, 66 percent also said they’d appreciate paid time to volunteer as part of work-life flexibility programs.

The results suggest that, overall, the key to finding the right arrangement for yourself is to figure out which perks matter most to you, and advocate for them and/or seek out companies that already offer those benefits.

Tech in Asia | Scrap Face-time at Work – This CEO Believes That Distributed Teams are the Way to Go

Many startups hope to achieve a global brand. Creating that kind of reach during a business’ early stages can be difficult, however, especially if founders ignore one of the easiest shortcuts: distributed teams.

Toby Ruckert, CEO of Unified Inbox, is a staunch supporter of distributed teams. He recently told Daniel Tay that his team developed a product that could be broadly appealing, with no cultural roadblocks, precisely because the team includes people from Singapore, New Zealand, Germany, the United States, and India.

This arrangement also means Ruckert never feels a talent shortage, and his team can be online and available to their users 24 hours a day. All in all, Ruckert sees distributed teams as the key to running a successful global business.

Mashable | 7 Ways to Instill Work-Life Balance at Your Startup

Thinking of his own growing family and aware that months of 80-hour work weeks can burn out even the most enthusiastic employees, AppLovin’s CEO & cofounder Adam Foroughi began his startup with a deliberate focus on work-life balance.

To ensure his company delivered this promise, Foroughi knew the company’s flexible work options had to be, well, flexible: “The engineer in her twenties probably has different work habits than the dad who leaves early in the afternoon to pick his kids up from school…rather than enforce specific rules, we have a general policy to be flexible and to respect our employees’ respective schedules.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: December 1st https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/future-of-work-december-1/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/12/future-of-work-december-1/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 14:45:45 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33864 This week's Future of Work roundup highlights the benefits of online work, advice for virtual teams, and running a Chinese startup from California.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 12/1/2014:

Forbes | Should You Hire Remote Workers?

Reporting on a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, entrepreneur and Forbes contributor Neil Patel writes that the concrete benefits of remote workers are undeniable.

For example, researchers found that telecommuting employees were overwhelmingly more productive, gaining the equivalent of an extra day of work per week over a nine month period of observation. Factor in the money saved on office space and furniture, and remote work seems like an obvious choice.

Patel warns that managers should evaluate different situations and workers specifically, but says at the very least to “give it a try… to take remote working for a spin, try hiring an assistant, a ghostwriter, a social media professional, or someone else who works in an office-independent setting.”

Harvard Business Review | Getting Virtual Teams Right

Keith Ferrazzi, author and CEO of the research and consulting firm Ferrazzi Greenlight, knows a thing or two about making businesses more efficient.

Citing both reputable studies and his own research, he argues that successful remote work stems from four “must-have” areas: “the right team, the right leadership, the right touchpoints, and the right technology.”

Ferrazzi goes into so much detail on each area it’s impossible to quickly summarize the article; if you’re thinking of starting or already managing a virtual team, his insights are invaluable. 

Fast Company | How to Run a Chinese Startup from Silicon Valley

Expanding your business abroad is, of course, tricky. But as Si Shen, CEO and cofounder of PapayaMobile, found out, “opening up an office on the other side of the planet would be the easiest part. The hardest part would be running it.”

After launching his Chinese startup in the Silicon Valley, Shen’s biggest concerns were the cultural differences between Chinese and American management (the former tend to be much more hands on), finding the right Bay Area manager to bridge that gap, and trusting that person’s hires and insights on the American market.

The final piece? Accepting that roadblocks will inevitably crop up, but empowering and supporting the local team to tackle them.

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: November 23 https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/future-of-work-november-23/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/future-of-work-november-23/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:00:52 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33802 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup includes an analysis of the coworking movement, how to use freelancers to bootstrap your business, and the best way to manage a virtual team.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 11/23/2014:

Time | Why Coworking Is Hot

Coworking spaces — collaborative work environments that appeal to a wide range of independent and remote workers, as well as small businesses — are undeniably on the rise: more than 150,000 people worldwide now have memberships.

The modern design and amenities of many coworking spaces are surely a draw, but those aspects can’t completely account for their sharp rise in popularity. What’s driving this trend?

Peter Bacevice, a researcher with the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, set out to answer that very question. His study found that coworking spaces offer a few unique advantages, such as a sense of community, the chance for collaboration, and opportunities for personal and professional development.

“It’s the authentic sense of community where intrinsically motivated people who experience a sense of purpose in their work and thrive together that substantiates the coworking movement,” Bacevice said, adding that he expects more workers — and employers — to embrace coworking spaces for their workforce.

CNBC | How Freelancers are Fueling the New Economy

Leaving a dependable job to strike out on your own is scary, especially when your startup has essential talent needs that can’t be filled within your bootstrapped budget.

Sourced Adventures founder Kyle Davidson navigated this hurdle by hiring trusted, skilled freelancers to fill the gaps. Having worked in the industry for years, Davidson knew exactly who he wanted to contract and was able to leverage their talent to get his business up and running.

Michael Parrish DuDell, a small business expert, says Davidson’s story isn’t an anomaly: “The work environment is changing from thinking about long-term careers, which is what sort of we used to do in the past, to thinking about work on a project basis.”

Forbes | How to Manage a Virtual Work Environment

“If you haven’t considered using a remote team, you may be handicapping your business—it’s likely that your competitors are already taking advantage of its benefits,” writes Michael Batalha, founder and CEO of Admailr.

He notes that the benefits of remote work — such as cutting overhead costs, saving employees time and money, and getting access to the best talent — can only be realized through effective virtual management.

In an article that highlights best practices for a remote team, Batalha prioritizes good communication, including regular meetings, genuinely listening to feedback, and recognizing good work: “One of the most important things you can do is provide public and private accolades. Few companies do this enough.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: November 17th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/future-of-work-november-17/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/future-of-work-november-17/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:45:31 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33772 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup includes a CEO’s perspective on remote work, advice to help integrate freelancers into your organization, and a look at the facts about flexible work — including its benefits on the bottom line.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 11/17/2014:

VentureBeat | Why I’m a remote CEO

David Hassell, founder and CEO of 15Five, knew San Francisco was right for his business, but wrong for his burgeoning family. Instead of sacrificing one for the other, he moved to his dream location — Sedona, Arizona — and runs the business remotely. Secure in his hires, the company’s vision, and their ability to communicate as often as needed, Hassell is confident both the business and his family will thrive.

“Living in Sedona instead of San Francisco actually puts me 800 miles closer to the New York office that houses our development team,” Hassell wrote. “My company is globally distributed… we’re all committed to embracing freedom and flexibility. Nothing drives that home more than a top executive who you see in person only once or twice each quarter.”

Huffington Post | 4 Steps to Maintain Organizational Culture With Freelance Employees

Finding a freelancer with the right skills can be hard; integrating them into the larger business structure even harder. Many managers, adept at communicating company culture to new, in-person hires, struggle when it comes to remote staff.

Leadership coach Anne Loehr offers tips to head these problems off before they start by considering work style during the hiring process: “If your organization values teamwork, hiring a very independent freelancer may not be a good fit.”

Once a freelancer has been hired, taking steps to integrate them and help them feel like part of the team can be help avoid other miscommunications.

One suggestion to ensure that happens? “Pair your freelancer with a seasoned employee who embodies your organizational culture. After an initial introduction, tell your freelancer that they can turn to this employee with any questions they may have.”

Harvard Business Review | Let Employees Choose When, Where, and How to Work

The importance of workplace flexibility has grown steadily, especially among millennials. Not only to do such programs help attract and retain top talent, they also add to a business’s bottom line.

Studies have shown that companies with work-from-home policies were more likely to report yearly growth of at least 10 percent when compared against companies who didn’t offer that option. Other businesses have reported huge savings because of the productivity gains of remote work.

When implementing flexible work programs, entrepreneur and strategist Nathaniel Koloc has three tried and true tips for success: “1. Ask your employees which kinds of freedoms they want, and be prepared to act on their requests, 2. Spend time understanding remote communication tools, 3. Be vocal about your work policies related to freedom.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: November 10th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/perspectives-future-work-november-10th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/perspectives-future-work-november-10th/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 12:35:40 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33728 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup includes hacks to help you manage boundaries between work and personal life, key strengths needed to manage remote teams, and confirmation that today’s workforce has prioritized flexibility in the workplace.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 11/10/2014:

Forbes | 4 Work-Life Balance Tips For People In Work-Hard Cultures

Even if you’re consciously trying to maintain work-life balance, sometimes scaling back office hours isn’t feasible. When you come up against immovable barriers — such as huge projects, intense industries or seasonal demands — it’s still possible set some healthy boundaries.

Among other clever solutions, management consultant Alex Nuth says he looks for small wins during the day, such as skipping the subway and walking to work, leaving the office for a cup of coffee, or meeting a friend for a quick lunch.

Business Standard | Managing Remote Teams

Studies have found that virtual teams can actually be more effective than traditional models, but it’s important for leaders to understand managing a global team demands a different skillset.

As HR professional Kuldeep Singh explains, virtual empathy — the ability to nurture relationships remotely — cultural sensitivity and, above all, great communication are vital for remote teams’ success.

Entrepreneur | Your Workers Want Work Flexibility But Companies Benefit Most

“People from all ages, careers, and life stages consider flexible work options a priority,” said Sara Sutton Fell, citing a recent survey by FlexJobs.

Flexible work options not only facilitate work-life balance and reduce commute costs and time for employees, the survey confirmed, but also create tangible benefits for the company at large.

Among other benefits, Fell highlights the advantage for recruiting and retention as businesses continue to report talent shortages. “A huge majority (82 percent) of professionals said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. Thirtynine percent have turned down a promotion, have not taken or have quit a job because of a lack of flexible work options.”


What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Five Mind-Bending Desks to Inspire Your Home Office Decor https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/five-mind-bending-desks-inspire-home-office-decor/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/five-mind-bending-desks-inspire-home-office-decor/#comments Wed, 05 Nov 2014 13:00:14 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33650 Putting away my summer wardrobe and pulling out the warmer clothing always puts me in the mood to redecorate. What better way to boost creativity in my home office than to do some updating?

I’ve scoured the web to come up with some inspiring office desk ideas that are sure to make the cooler days more bearable.

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For us folk in the northern hemisphere, the days are getting shorter and fall is well underway. Putting away my summer wardrobe and pulling out the warmer clothing always puts me in the mood to redecorate. What better way to boost creativity in my home office than to do some updating?

I’ve scoured the web to come up with some inspiring office desk ideas that are sure to make the cooler days more bearable.

Go with the WorkFlow

This very Escher-esque design concept called Workflow, from o4i, is a combination desk and chair that has both sitting and standing height surfaces. I’ve always wanted an optical illusion in my office.

 

WorkFlow Chair

Via o4i


Unbox yourself…

Don’t like the boxed-in feeling your monitors can create? You don’t need to buy anything for this spruce up. Simply make your monitor wallpapers give the illusion that they are transparent.


…or box yourself in

Never worry about unintentionally violating a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) due to roommate nosiness ever again. This great desk from Yanko Design has a retractable hood to keep your private stuff private.

 

Make it mobile

Feel like a change of scenery? This desk is both compact and mobile. And the best part: it’s great for racing down hallways!

 

Start your engines

Would this list really be complete without a Corvette desk? I think not!

Of course, if you’re not quite ready to let summer go and you don’t need a new desk, there are other options…

For more awesome home office ideas, join oDesk on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/odesk

Which desk is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: November 3rd https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/future-of-work-november-3/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/11/future-of-work-november-3/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 12:15:09 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33630 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup includes communication tips for global teams, advice about successfully implementing flexible work programs, and best practices for managing remote employees.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 11/3/2014:

Harvard Business Review | Communication Tips for Global Virtual Teams

Hiring regardless of geographical location can give businesses a serious competitive edge, but managing talent spread across different time zones can be uniquely difficult. Paul Berry, the founder and CEO of RebelMouse,  knows this all too well. He’s come up with some tried and true tips for overcoming communication issues across a global team.

For example, he says that understanding cultural differences, over communicating, and having an overly positive attitude can all help bridge the geographical divide: “It’s way too easy for things to sound negative in an email. Without tone, body language or anything else, it’s extra important to make sure emails don’t turn into hurt feelings…being friendly and approachable – even if it means using lots of emoticons – is always welcome.”

Forbes | 5 Ways To Make Workplace Flexibility The New Way Of Working

As companies like Reddit and Yahoo revoke their flexible work options, other businesses have begun to question their own programs. Jeanne Meister argues that this pushback is misplaced, misses the larger goal of employee retention, and ultimately stems from poorly implemented programs.

She offers five suggestions in detail in this article for Forbes, emphasizing the need for perspective, training, research, communication, and measurement.

Fox Business | Keep Remote Employees Enthused, Energized and Engaged

Telecommuting rose by 79 percent between 2005 and 2012. Knowing how to keep your remote employees not just productive but engaged with your company can be difficult.

Maximizing face time (through programs like Skype or Google Hangouts), ensuring your remote team members have a way to contribute to larger company discussions, and taking the time to connect on things other than work all help build an ideal “connection culture” when working with both local and remote employees.

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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New Study: The 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/new-study-2015-millennial-majority-workforce/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/new-study-2015-millennial-majority-workforce/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:00:21 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33597 Co-sponsored by Gen Y consulting firm Millennial Branding and Elance-oDesk, the 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce study gives insight into hiring, retaining, and working with this demographic. Whether you’re a millennial worker or hiring manager looking to fill a position, we think you’ll find the study illuminating. The results show how millennials are poised to reinvent what it means to be successful in a rapidly changing, technology-driven world.

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A note to our community from Jaleh Bisharat, SVP of Marketing at Elance-oDesk and Dan Schawbel, Founder and Managing Partner of Millennial Branding 

In 2015, millennials will become the single largest generation in the U.S. workforce, according to recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment projections.

This is great news for businesses, as a recent study of hiring managers and millennials confirms that this young generation (those between the ages of 22 and 31) have unique and desirable talents. This is especially true when it comes to innovation, where compared to past generations millennials are well-positioned to drive the future of work.

Co-sponsored by Gen Y consulting firm Millennial Branding and Elance-oDesk, the 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce study finds that hiring managers view millennial professionals as more tech-savvy and adaptable than previous generations. They also report that millennials have fresh ideas that help businesses remain competitive by staying agile.

Yet despite the fact that 45% of the workforce will be millennials by 2015, the study also reveals that businesses have a difficult time hiring and retaining members of this youngest professional generation.

Why the disconnect? Millennials are seeking more flexibility and control over their lives and careers, and are looking for something different than traditional employers provide.

As the nation’s workforce shifts, expect changes in how we work.

We invite you to view the study to discover its enlightening facts, including:

  • 58% of millennials expect to stay at jobs less than 3 years
  • 66% of millennials see themselves in management positions within 10 years
  • 79% of millennials would consider quitting their job to freelance
  • 55% of hiring managers focus more on “hard skills” than personality
  • 53% of hiring managers have difficulty recruiting millennials

Whether you’re a millennial worker or hiring manager looking to fill a position, we think you’ll find the 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce study illuminating. The results show how millennials are poised to reinvent what it means to be successful in a rapidly changing, technology-driven world. 

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: October 27th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/future-of-work-october-27/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/future-of-work-october-27/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:25:17 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33591 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup is all about work-life balance: how to negotiate for better flexibility, how work-life standards affect dads, and tips for self-managing balance in your life.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. 

Week of 10/06/2014:

NBCNews | Life Ed: How to Negotiate Workplace Flexibility

As flexible work programs become increasingly commonplace, it’s important to understand how to negotiate a schedule that helps you find better balance in your life.

Begin with an honest self-assessment about your needs and which aspects of your job are best suited to remote work. Then come up with a personalized proposal. Allow for a trial run period and, perhaps most importantly, be prepared to make adjustments to your original plan.

Read the rest of Maria Shriver’s article for more advice on negotiating for flexible work, as well as a list of helpful resources.

Money Magazine | Why Work-Life Balance Is Just As Impossible for Dads

Work-life balance is often framed as a working mother’s concern, but new Pew Research suggests that half of working dads experience the same time-management issues. Sharing his own experience, Taylor Tepper says the tug between professional and parental responsibilities weighs on fathers, too.

Tepper ties his observations to other recent research: “…more than three in four fathers wished to advance to a position with greater responsibilities and three in five demonstrated a strong desire to reach senior management… [but] on the whole, we don’t feel like we’re living up to the dad role.”

Forbes | 6 Tips For Better Work-Life Balance

Establishing appropriate boundaries between professional and personal lives can be difficult, especially now that most people’s smartphones now act as mini workstations. That’s why Deborah Jian Lee has come up with these tried and true tips for maintaining your own work-life balance.

One example? “Let go of time wasting activities and people: First, identify what’s most important in your life. This list will differ for everyone, so make sure it truly reflects your priorities, not someone else’s. Next, draw firm boundaries so you can devote quality time to these high-priority people and activities.”

What changes in the workplace have caught your attention recently? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: October 20th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/perspectives-future-work-october-20th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/perspectives-future-work-october-20th/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:38:36 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33573 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights work-life flexibility between different workforce generations, tips for successfully running a business of one, and a new study confirming what we always suspected: flexible work is here to stay.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 10/20/2014:

Staffing Industry Analysts | SHRM: Flexible Work Options Successful, Set to Increase

A new study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that flexible work programs have proven successful and are on the rise. The adoption of such programs in large part hinges on managers and their public support for flexible work. According to Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s survey programs, “The role of managers is central to the success of flexible work arrangements. Managers need to work with HR to communicate to employees what options are available and how they benefit the goals of both employees and the organization.”

The Huffington Post | Work/Life Balance for the Generations

Most savvy businesses understand that encouraging their teams to find work-life balance benefits not only their employees, but also the business itself; however, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to implementing such programs. As author Cathy Leibow points out, today’s workforce is comprised of three distinct generations who have different priorities when it comes to work satisfaction. Businesses that understand and meet each demographic’s most salient needs will likely be more successful in motivating and retaining top talent—at all ages.

Business Insider | 5 Habits of the Most Successful Freelancers

Striking out as a solopreneur creates a unique set of challenges, ones that Jason Nazar, as co-founder and CEO of Docstoc, knows all about. He offers his insights for successfully combating some of the most fundamental mistakes made by small business owners, such as holding onto funds now that, if used correctly, could ultimately create more revenue down the road:

“Being a business of one doesn’t mean you need to do everything alone. It’s not a sustainable way to grow your business. Time is your most valuable asset. Be willing to spend money so you can buy more time so you can focus on the business. With more time, you’ll be able to work on the most important thing for your business. Often the most important thing leads to new customers.”

What news have you been talking about this week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: October 13th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/perspectives-future-work-october-13th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/perspectives-future-work-october-13th/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:30:43 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33553 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights how flexible work is benefiting the UK, a CEO’s successful digital nomad lifestyle, and how to make sure you’re doing all you can to personally optimize your work-life balance.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 10/13/2014:

The Guardian | Flexible Working: Why do We Treat it as a Women-Only Issue?

Although the UK has made systematic changes to support better work-life balance among its working professionals, stigmas and misconceptions about what flexible work really is still persist. Tracey Eker, founder of Flexiworkforce.com, explains that the main difference between flexible scheduling and part-time work is that flexible work is actually a type of full-time work. Eker goes on to outline the many benefits flexible work provides both businesses and professionals (filling talent gaps and preventing absenteeism are just two examples), and the potential it has to solve a wide array of business issues:

“It is my belief that increased flexible working across the board would ultimately contribute to a fairer society, and that the gender pay gap might even vanish after increasing the availability of flexible working opportunities in higher-paid occupations.”

Business Insider Australia | How One Startup CEO Leads A Radically Remote Workforce

Founder and CEO of Ecquire, a sales productivity startup, Paul DeJoe doesn’t think running a successful tech company requires a Silicon Valley address. Quite the opposite, in fact: Dejoe collaborates with his small yet elite team of five while traveling the world, arguing that by eliminating the physical workplace, he attracts the best talent while saving on the costs and stressors of an office. The article delves into the details of how he manages his remote team and reaps the benefits of the digital nomad lifestyle.

Huffington Post | The Work-Life Equation

No matter how many programs aimed at work-life balance a company embraces, it is ultimately up to each individual employee to tailor them to meet their personal needs. Accurately prioritizing your commitments inside and outside of the office, managing your time well, and even just taking care of your physical health can help you achieve a fair and successful work-life balance.

“Whether you work in an office, a store or a warehouse (for a large corporation or for yourself) you are responsible for decisions that affect your work-life… It is all about managing both work and other life priorities in a way that allows you to succeed and thrive. When companies and individuals both do their part well, it can equal great success for both.”

What news have you been talking about this week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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The Best Low-Cost Places to Work Outside the Office https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/best-low-cost-places-work-outside-office/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/best-low-cost-places-work-outside-office/#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 12:15:50 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33507 A change of scenery can help remove a mental block, escape construction, or avoid nosey neighbors. But where can you find a great space to work outside the office? Melanie Feltham shares her top five.

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Whether you work in an office or from home, sometimes a change of scenery helps remove a mental block, escape construction, or avoid nosey neighbors.

But where can you go to shake off the doldrums? Here are some of the best places to work outside the office, to find Wi-Fi and inspiration or just a spot where no one will find you.

1. Not just a coffee shop

This list would not be complete without the obvious go-to, the coffee shop. If you are in Russia or the UK you can check out a spin on the old classic, Ziferblat — a pay-by-the-minute cafe that takes the guilt out of nursing your beverage for far longer than it stays hot.

Out of office, cafe

Image via TheGuardian.com

2. A museum

Often overlooked, many museums have public areas that don’t require paid admission and have free Wi-Fi.

Out of office, museum

image via getty.edu

3. A fast food joint

There is something to be said for a spot with Wi-Fi, ice cream, and a children’s play area.

4. Hotel lobby

Many hotels offer free Wi-Fi in the lobby and restaurant — even when they don’t offer free in-room service for guests. If you need a break from the regular office, and don’t want to smell like coffee at the end of the day, this is a great option.

Out of office, lobby

image via Lifehacker.com

5. The library

My go-to when I need some quiet time is one of the several local libraries in my city. There’s no charge and you don’t have to worry about wearing out your welcome. Most importantly, it smells like books and can make you feel smarter just by being inside.

BONUS: Travel by train

They’re perhaps not a place you’ll work regularly but, if you need to travel, trains can take the pain out of attending a weekend event in another city — they have comfy seats and often offer Wi-Fi. This means that you won’t have to miss work to make time for travel, or sacrifice part of your weekend to get there.

Out of office, train

image via ViaRail.ca

Do you have a favorite escape for your quality work time? Tell us about it in the comments!

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New Platform Offers Benefits to U.S. Freelancers https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/national-benefits-platform-elance-odesk-freelancers/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/national-benefits-platform-elance-odesk-freelancers/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 12:10:13 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33491 In an economy where nearly 1 in 3 people is an independent worker — more than 53 million Americans — freelancers know firsthand that the way we work is changing. Often, the services they need haven't kept pace. That's why Elance-oDesk and Freelancers Union, the leading freelancer advocacy group in the U.S., are joining forces to help professionals get the support they need to thrive through the National Benefits Platform.

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In an economy where nearly 1 in 3 people is an independent worker — more than 53 million Americans — freelancers know firsthand that the way we work is changing. Often, the services they need haven’t kept pace.

That’s why Elance-oDesk and Freelancers Union, the leading freelancer advocacy group in the U.S., are joining forces to help professionals get the support they need to thrive.

The National Benefits Platform, now available to Elance-oDesk freelancers in the U.S., is built by and for the independent workforce, offering tailored benefits like health care and 401(k)s, as well as life, disability, and liability insurance for freelancers in all 50 states.

Getting support through a program tailored to your needs can be the difference between winning or losing a contract. “I was in the process of collecting estimates from a few different sources — beyond the couple that rejected me outright because they don’t cover writers,” said Colleen Diamond, a content developer, writer, and editor.

Colleen DiamondColleen needed a small professional liability policy, but the options she had wouldn’t work for her business. She was facing quotes of $1,400, “largely because the carriers would not separate out the professional liability from public liability and property damage coverage, but also because they did not seem to understand the small risk my case presented.”

Through the National Benefits Platform, she got insurance from a company that understood what she needed.

“They quoted me on a professional liability policy for $500, just $41 /month. All those days spent filling out applications, and this company approved me on the spot. Big difference!”

Without that coverage, she says, she would have had to let a writing contract go. “More and more publishers and other companies hiring for creative content require that we show proof of insurance when we finalize our contracts.”

“Business as usual” has changed, and professionals have the flexibility to work anytime and anywhere — if they have the support they need. Elance-oDesk and Freelancers Union are working together to find ways to help us all all build more stable, healthy lives.

What benefits are available to you? Search for benefits now!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: October 6th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/future-of-work-october-6/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/future-of-work-october-6/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 12:40:31 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33482 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights Reddit’s new remote work policy, a startup that can help you travel the world while advancing your career, 10 tips to help you implement a flawless flexible work program, and a personal story about work-life flexibility guilt.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 10/06/2014:

VentureBeat | Why Reddit’s new ‘no remote worker’ policy is upsetting

Reddit recently gave its remote employees an ultimatum: move to San Francisco or find a new job. On Twitter, blogs (including this response from Elance-oDesk), and Reddit itself, the Internet has responded with surprise — and not a little disappointment.

“Like it or not, Reddit is a business — one that has to justify the $50 million it just took on,” writes Tom Cheredar, explaining the context of Reddit CEO Yishan Wong’s decision. “But if this strategy doesn’t work (and Reddit remains unprofitable), he may have sacrificed an important aspect of his company’s identity that won’t be easy to recreate.”

AOL Jobs | 10 Rules of Engagement to Avoid Flexible Work Failure

As cutting-edge businesses begin to embrace flexible work programs, some concerns have been raised over the potential for employees to misuse the freedom. A Flex+Strategy Group study found, however, that problems stem from a lack of training and understanding about how to properly take advantage of this system, rather than intentional abuse.

Of those surveyed, 97 percent reported some degree of work-life flexibility but only 40 percent had ever received any sort of training: most people “were flying-by-the-seat-of-their-pants trying to figure out how to flexibly manage their work and life on their own.” The report goes on to share some great tips and guidelines for successfully implementing flexible work guidelines.

Fast Company | Want to Work While Traveling the World for a Year? This Startup Might be Able to Help

As businesses increasingly adopt flexible work programs, and as online work becomes more commonplace, many who are interested in working from the road don’t know where or how to start.

Enter a new startup: Remote Year. It will enable 100 professionals to travel the world while continuing their careers. Promising to take care of itineraries, lodging, activities — and, in some cases, the jobs themselves — Remote Year will send the chosen 100 to 18 different locations over the course of a year, helping them explore the globe while still earning a paycheck.

Deseret News | Balancing act: Different kinds of guilt affect quest for work-life balance

Discussions around work-life balance are typically focused on the guilt people feel about missing important family events. As the scales begin to tip in the other direction, however, some professionals are actually experiencing those same pangs when they spend more time out of the office — even if their work doesn’t suffer.

Offering an interesting interpretation of what increased flexibility can mean, Greg Katz shares his perspective on the appreciation he feels for being able to spend more time with his children, but also the newfound anxiety he has developed as a result of being away from the office.

What news have you been talking about this week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Dear Reddit Employees: No Desire to Move? Let’s Talk https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/dear-reddit-employees-desire-move-lets-talk/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/10/dear-reddit-employees-desire-move-lets-talk/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 13:50:49 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33468 As Reddit reigns in its workers with a "relocate or be fired" decision, its remote workers aren't the only ones in shock. Why would a company reverse its remote work policy? Stephane Kasriel, Elance-oDesk's SVP of product and engineering, explains why he thinks the move is a step backwards—and invites Reddit employees who don't want to make the move to get in touch.

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“Relocate or be fired.” 

Can you imagine being told that? Reddit’s remote workers were this week:

It’s likely that remote members of Reddit CEO Yishan Wong’s team (@yishan) are still in shock. I’ll share my perspective here, but before I do let me say this: Some of you will very understandably decide not to move to San Francisco. Don’t worry. There are lots of opportunities. In fact, we’re hiring and I would love to talk to you.

Why would we be happy to hire Reddit employees?

Because this is a failure of an organization’s ability to set up effective management processes, not a failure of the remote employees themselves.

To the Reddit employees who might be reading this: Reddit wouldn’t have hired you in the first place if you weren’t good!

The fact that your management couldn’t make the arrangement you started out with work is sad. Reddit is a company based on connecting people via the Internet. They use tons of open source software, which is usually the work of self-assembled remote teams composed of passionate and talented developers.

Management of remote teams is a critical skill businesses need today. Reigning remote workers back into the office is a step backwards.

Why did Reddit hire remote in the first place?
(good question @swilliams)

A lot of really good talent happens to live outside the San Francisco Bay Area! In fact, most of the best talent in the world doesn’t live in the Bay Area, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves.

There’s an enormous skills gap. Our CEO, Fabio Rosati, puts it like this:

“Talent is distributed equally around the world; opportunity is not.”

The Internet, however, now allows businesses to find the best people, regardless of where they happen to be. Reddit started out with resources that were more constrained, and in order to find the talent they needed they no doubt had to search a broader talent pool. Obviously they think this need has now changed…

Why would a company reverse its remote work policy?

There’s the reason I already gave: A failure to make remote management a success. But there’s another: Being big and wielding the resources to be able to demand the convenience of “one roof over all.” Did I mention Reddit just raised $50 million?

As an example, per the book “How Google Works” (released last week), Google doesn’t believe in remote teams and only hires locally.

The Economist reviewed the book and said: “The experience of Messrs Schmidt and Rosenberg is so coloured by Google’s accomplishments that many of their recommendations best apply to managing teams of aces in lucrative, fast-growing markets, not to… the life of most managers.”

Sure, having the same quality of talent working under one roof is arguably better than having some people elsewhere, but that strategy is not realistic for the majority of businesses.

Who wants to be marched back into the office today?

No one really. Work today is about results, not about logging hours at a desk. Professionals expect respect for their accomplishments, not babysitting for their hours and location.

Forcing people to live a lifestyle they don’t want is ludicrous. Some of Reddit’s non-San Francisco team members will decide to stay where they live and, in doing so, they will choose to work for someone else. Some of Reddit’s San Francisco people may also decide to leave after this demoralizing decision. We’d be happy to talk to these people — there are plenty of openings at Elance-oDesk.

Why is Stephane so passionate about this conversation? He manages a team of 200+ spread all over the world and recently wrote this article about it. His tweets in response to Reddit’s decision to force employees’ moves are below:

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: September 29th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/future-of-work-september-29/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/future-of-work-september-29/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 12:49:31 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33396 What's the latest news about the future of work? This week's roundup highlights why you should work with people who add different perspectives and experiences, how innovation can start with the relationships you already have, ten phrases that fall flat with potential investors, and advice about choosing the right tax professional for your business as year-end approaches.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 9/29/2014:

Entrepreneur | To Build Your Strongest Team, Don’t Hire Your Clones

Many business leaders hire like-minded team members. After all, it’s human nature to gravitate towards those with similar interests, perspectives, and goals.

However, a team member who’s different than you can add unique skills and experience that can be a real benefit to the business.

Dr. Paul White, co-author of “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” says that to benefit from diversity, you need to learn how to lead different types of people.

“Find out how each team member is motivated, what is important to them, what makes them feel valued and appreciated. Then, almost as an act of faith, do what they tell you is important to them, even if it doesn’t make any sense to you.”

Huffington Post | Innovation Starts with You

Where do you start when you want to create change, whether on a small or global scale? The recent Business Innovation Factory summit (#BIF10) brought together innovators to discuss what it takes to create real change.

Tim McDonald of Be The Change Revolutions highlights his top takeaways from the event, including his observation that change begins within our own networks.

“Imagine what would happen if we started looking at innovation through the relationships we create that begin with being vulnerable ourselves,” he asked. In other words, your most valuable assets — and the keys to your success — may already be right in front of you.

Forbes | 10 Entrepreneur Approaches That Turn Off Investors

Once an idea strikes, it can be tempting to start sharing your excitement with potential investors. Martin Zwilling, founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, says if you’re not already a known and proven entrepreneur, you should proceed with caution.

“The best professional investors receive dozens of proposals a day, so they are conditioned to look for quantitative data, rather than passion, for credibility and potential,” he said. In this post for Forbes, Swilling highlights ten phrases that are more likely to turn a potential investor off than win their support.

Fox News Business | How to Select a Tax Professional for Your Small Business

Even though tax season is months away, it’s never too early for a business owner to start researching qualified tax professionals.
Bonnie Lee, author of “Taxpertise, The Complete Book of Dirty Little Secrets and Tax Deductions for Small Business that the IRS Doesn’t Want You to Know,” gathers smart advice from two tax professionals about why certification matters.

She also explains why, in addition to their qualifications, you should also consider the needs of your particular business. Lee said: “A good tax professional tracks your progress in the business world, understands the ins and outs of incorporating and the tax consequences of each entity selection.”

Did any news about the future of work catch your attention this week? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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The Talent Sharing Economy: 5 Factors Driving Change https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/talent-sharing-economy-5-factors-driving-change/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/talent-sharing-economy-5-factors-driving-change/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:00:53 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33371 The sharing economy has influenced everything from where we sleep when we’re on vacation to how we commute to work. In a two-part series for the Huffington Post, Elance-oDesk's Jaleh Bisharat explains the five major disruptions driving this change.

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The sharing economy has influenced everything from where we sleep when we’re on vacation to how we commute to work.

As Jaleh Bisharat, senior vice president of marketing at Elance-oDesk, recently wrote for Huffington Post, the likes of Airbnb and Uber are just the beginning.

“The most exciting sharing opportunity is the one we have barely begun to talk about — and it is not a thing. It is our talent — and the time we have available to share it,” Bisharat wrote in the first of two blog posts.

What’s driving this shift in the way we value our time and talent?

In “The Way We Work Is Changing – What You Need to Survive Will Surprise You,” part two of the series, Bisharat describes five major disruptions:

  • Corporate loyalty is dead
  • Social networks have changed how we hire
  • The best talent isn’t necessarily within driving distance
  • Businesses of one will be the new normal
  • Work is no longer a place

The talent sharing economy is changing how we live in, and interact with, the world around us. How has it changed your life? Tell us about it in the comments below.

To read Bisharat’s commentary, see part one and part two from the Huffington Post.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: September 22nd https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/future-of-work-september-22/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/future-of-work-september-22/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:56:31 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33337 What's the latest news about the future of work? In this week's roundup, an article by Carlota Zimmerman explains why "re-branding" isn't a dirty word, Stefan Haubold lists five apps he thinks every entrepreneur should have, Steve Viuker explains a new option for small business financing, and Jeanne Sahadi outlines a plan to help bring balance back into the lives of "workaholics."

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 9/22/2014:

Huffington Post | 6 Tips to Start Re-Branding Yourself

Are you stuck in a career rut? Do you feel unsure how others in your field perceive you? Do you struggle to reach the goals you set forth for your business? Carlota Zimmerman, social media expert, offers six tips that will help you re-brand yourself and achieve your professional goals.

Some people see branding as negative, as if it’s less authentic or simplifies us too much. But Zimmerman says it’s actually something we do naturally: “Branding, for humans, is how we convince ourselves, and others, to help us create the opportunities we need to achieve our goals.”

To re-brand yourself and work toward change, first identify who you are and what you want, then commit to that vision.

Entrepreneur | 5 Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs to Stay Organized

Organization, efficiency, and productivity are essential for any entrepreneur’s success, but who has time to keep track of yet another “thing?”

Whether you’re using too many apps or none at all, writer Stefan Haubold gives you the skinny on five of the most useful apps for entrepreneurs:

  • Evernote and Dropbox will sync all of your devices in a few easy steps.
  • Need to set a travel reminder but don’t have a pen and paper handy? TripIt will alert you.
  • About to miss an annual meeting because you’re stuck in the airport due to an unexpected layover? Conduct a conference call with ease by downloading UberConference.

The Guardian | Want a Loan for Your Business? The Loan Officer is Checking Your Facebook and Twitter Comments

Since big lenders are often reluctant to approve a small business loan, small business owners are resorting to alternative, small lenders for funding. One such lender is Kabbage Inc., a firm that looks beyond a business’ projected revenue to consider its reputation on social media when evaluating loan applicants.

Kathryn Petralia, co-founder and COO of Kabbage.com, says this practice isn’t anything to fear: “Most small business lenders aren’t using social data to make a credit decision. They may use it to confirm the business’ identity and validate the length of time they have been in business.”

Ultimately, smaller and more nimble lenders could lead to more competition in the field and more options for small business owners.

CNN | Workaholism: Regain Balance Before You Burn Out

No two workaholics are the same. Even working after hours or while on vacation doesn’t necessarily constitute “workaholism.” As Jeanne Sahadi reports, however, experts agree that anyone who is a “workaholic” will exhibit particular traits.

Cecilie Andreassen, a psychosocial science researcher at the University of Bergen in Norway said, “People can work many hours without being addicted to work. Workaholics, however, are heavy work investors at all times… demonstrating a chronic loss of perspective.” This loss can lead to exhaustion and burnout.

If you recognize a “workaholic” in your life, Sahadi offers advice to help find balance, such as leaving work at the same time every day — without checking email or taking work calls from home — getting physical exercise regularly, and setting realistic limits.

Did any news about the future of work catch your attention this week? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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The Freelance Revolution Is Upon Us! https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/freelance-revolution-upon-us/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/freelance-revolution-upon-us/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:30:38 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33275 53 million Americans are freelancing, and many people feel the best days of the freelance job market are still ahead. We are on the cusp of a revolution where "labor" is breaking free of traditional management structures to experience unprecedented autonomy. These changes mean big changes for managers and workers. 15Five's David Hassell explains four trends he feels are shaping this "eyes on/hands off environment."

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By David Hassell, Founder and CEO of 15Five

A survey released by Elance-oDesk and the Freelancer’s Union earlier this month found that 53 million Americans are freelancing. Not all are full-time contractors, but a majority are positive about this new economy: nearly eight in ten said the best days of the freelance job market are still ahead.

We are on the cusp of a freelance revolution, where “labor” is breaking free of traditional management structures to experience unprecedented autonomy. Today’s knowledge workers demand freedom from micromanagement and the punch-clock, and major shifts in the way we work mean big changes are ahead for managers and workers alike.

Labor pains in today’s workforce

If you look up the origins of the word “labor,” the definitions you’ll find are unsettling: “work hard, toil, struggle, have difficulty, endure pain and suffering…” Is it any wonder that more and more of the workforce wants to work on their own terms?

We live and work in an age where employment can be decentralized, incentives are far more than monetary or benefit-based, and technology drives innovation at a lightning pace.

The demand for top talent has never been greater, so how can organizations benefit from this rapidly shifting workplace landscape?

Four trends shaping an eyes on/hands off environment

That all depends on how business leaders adjust to cope with staffing changes in a competitive global economy. Four trends have created new challenges and opportunities:

  • Access to a talent pool that spans the whole world, with distributed teams and remote workers.
  • Always-on communication; mobile technology has created the 24-hour workday.
  • A new generation of workers with different demands and desires.
  • Consumer awareness. The dawn of social media means a world where consumers have significantly more insight into the way companies do business and treat employees — with the power to react and heavily influence others.

Because of these shifts, the traditional worker-manager relationship is changing. In fact, the future ‘worker’ will largely have to manage him or herself through self-discipline and time management. Technologies like cloud-based computing, mobile devices, and a variety of communication applications have created an environment that supports remote, independent workers.

Technology can also help managers and owners stay in touch with people they may never meet in person but who are squarely responsible for work that contributes to business growth. Rather than leaving things to chance, regularly asking your team questions and soliciting feedback is a sure-fire way to maintain visibility for a manager as well as autonomy for the independent worker.

Managers will see that true power is surrender

From a manager’s perspective, power is the capacity to produce an outcome.This is a fading paradigm where managers feel that they need to have tight control over people who report to them.

Looking at these relationships in terms of power and control is the first thing that needs to change.

Control in the form of micromanagement actually decreases power for everyone involved. When every detail of someone’s work is scrutinized, managers don’t have the bandwidth to perform their own tasks. People who are never given the autonomy to grow can’t become masters of those particular duties.

When managers give up control and provide freelancers and full-time employees with an opportunity to step up, both parties become more empowered. When talent can assume the myriad responsibilities that company leaders have to delegate, everyone wins.

Independent workers are setting a new demand curve

As the nature of employer/worker relationships shift, organizations still need to attract the best talent and experts.

The best people increasingly have options and leverage. Those who can create and produce at the highest level generally get to create some of the terms for how they are going to work — and they often choose to do so remotely, as a contractor or consultant.

Independent workers who are really good at what they do are scarce, compared to the demand for their services. Demand also increases exponentially at higher levels of knowledge, skill, and experience. Considerably more pay can be required to attract or retain top talent who can help differentiate a company in a highly competitive marketplace.

Find talent that fits like a glove

As the traditional model becomes “passe,” the criteria for quality talent is also changing. For many organizations, culture-fit is as important as skills and experience.

One way to build relationships with people who will remain part of your team in a marketplace that’s full of opportunities is to seek people who share the same values and motivations. The transforming world of work makes it easier to connect with people who are just as passionate about the work you do.

Managers are sensing the shift in the talent pool and are changing how they manage their teams. Using the power of employee feedback software, they are staying on top of the needs, challenges, triumphs and ideas that come up for everyone who works for them.

Technology makes it easier and more efficient to communicate with independent workers and align them with company culture and values. In this freelancer revolution, talent can retain the freedom and flexibility they crave, while management can confidently provide a space where they can do their best work.

This article was inspired by this post on the 15Five Blog.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: September 15th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/future-of-work-september-15/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/future-of-work-september-15/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:59:40 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33259 oDesk's weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week's roundup highlights the importance of learning for both leadership and productivity, advice for entrepreneurs with their sights on significant growth, business wisdom from an unexpected source, and tips for people who get trapped by their own perfectionism.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 9/15/2014:

Harvard Business Review | The Best Leaders Are Insatiable Learners

Feeling bored or unmotivated at work? Do you perform the same ritual every day with little or no satisfaction? Personal growth is central to leadership and productivity, but author Bill Taylor wonders whether people have lost sight of that in the rush to compete with everybody else.

In 1990, the late John W. Gardner, a former Stanford Professor, delivered a speech that has since circulated among countless business professionals. “Boredom is the secret ailment of large-scale organizations,” he said. “Someone said to me the other day ‘How can I be so bored when I’m so busy?’ I said ‘Let me count the ways.'”

Gardner warned that ambition was not enough to assuage the “same old, same old.” Instead, he claimed that “Everyone wants to be interesting, but the vitalizing thing is to be interested… As the proverb says, ‘It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.'”

Forbes | How to Move Your Business From 6 to 7 Digits (And Get on the Path to $50M and Beyond)

Some entrepreneurs endeavor to reach and surpass a six-figure revenue bracket. But William Hirsch, CEO of The Elevation Group, told writer Cheryl Conner that thinking too far ahead can be detrimental. “The skills that get your firm to seven digits, if you get there, are the very traits that will cause you to fail as you strive to get from seven digits to eight,” she said.

How can you move past those hurdles?

First, Hirsch explains that humility is essential. He also describes six factors that he feels every business needs to get on the path to growth, from the importance of building an organization with integrity to remembering that “Your success is directly proportional to the number of people you help.”

Entrepreneur | How Inspiration From Leo Tolstoy Can Drive Your Business

Let’s face it: 19th century literature doesn’t top the list for business advice. A particularly unlikely source might be Leo Tolstoy, the late Russian novelist who wrote epic literature like War and Peace, about Napoleon’s 19th century invasion of Russia, and sexy love affairs like Anna Karenina.

On the other hand, Ray Hennessey, Entrepreneur.com’s editorial director, found plenty of relevant and inspirational quotations that apply directly to today’s entrepreneur — particularly those that allude to patience, time, determination, and control over success.

For example, an entrepreneur should never fear competition. Tolstoy supports this axiom (among others) in War and Peace: “One must be cunning and wicked in this world.”

Huffington Post | Four Ways to Move Past Perfectionism and Get Stuff Done

Do you ever feel your best effort isn’t good enough? Imagine the masterpiece you could produce if only you had an additional hour, or just one more day past a deadline.

The fear of failure will fuel perfectionism. But, as life coach Mercedes Maidana observes, it can also be immobilizing. She offers four steps to help anyone persevere past perfectionism:

  • First, give yourself permission to produce “bad” work. By ignoring your own “perfect” preconceptions, you will free yourself to create and, therefore, to begin.
  • Second, work privately. In other words, dance as if no one is watching and “unleash your creativity to the fullest.”
  • Next, prepare to share. Circulate your work among a group of trustworthy friends.
  • Finally, open yourself to constructive feedback by letting go of past criticism.

If this advice seems easier said than done, Madaina offers her advice to help you conquer each of these challenges.

Did any news about the future of work catch your attention this week? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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5 Healthier Ways to Save Time at Meal Time https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/5-healthier-ways-save-time-meal-time/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/5-healthier-ways-save-time-meal-time/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 12:45:47 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33203 One of the things Melanie Feltham struggled with when she first started freelancing was living a healthy lifestyle. Before long, she found that frequently busy days led to more high-fat, high-sugar, ready-made items from local restaurants, delis, and grocery stores. The results weren't good, but she soon figured out how she could save time and eat well.

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One of the things I struggled with the most when I first started freelancing was living a healthy lifestyle. Choosing food for convenience on the busiest days often meant splurging on high-fat, high-sugar, ready-made items from local restaurants, delis, and grocery stores.

Before long, those busy days were more frequent than not and those splurges became the norm. This led to my attention lagging, a drop in productivity, and an increase in the amount of time I wanted to spend sleeping.

Have no fear! This doesn’t have to happen to you. Here’s how I managed to save time in the kitchen and still make healthy choices.

1. Prep for the week

There are a lot of great items that can be made in just an hour or two on the weekend, then stored in the fridge or freezer. My favorite are these baked oatmeal cups that not only make breakfast a breeze but also allow for some variety throughout the week.

Personal Sized Baked Oatmeal with Individual Toppings via SugarFreeMom.com

Personal-Sized Baked Oatmeal with individual toppings via SugarFreeMom.com

2. Get a slow cooker

I think the slow cooker is probably the best investment I have made for my kitchen since becoming a freelancer. Ten to fifteen minutes prep in the morning not only makes a great meal, it also gives me time for my brain to wake up. The only downside is having to smell the deliciousness for most of the day.

Jammin’ Jambalaya via Prevention.com

Jammin’ Jambalaya via Prevention.com

3. Choose items that take less than 10 minutes

There are a surprising number of healthy meals out there that can be created, cooked, and on your plate in less than 10 minutes. By keeping these options in mind while grocery shopping, you can save a boatload of time during the week.

Savory Shrimp Scampi via iVillage.com

Savory Shrimp Scampi via iVillage.com

4. Snack fresh

When your tummy starts grumbling part way through the afternoon, don’t reach for the chips and cookies. Choosing fresh fruit or vegetables is a delicious way to curb that hunger — which may very well be caused by smelling dinner in the slow cooker — and it takes less than five minutes to prepare.

Tropical Fruit Parfait via WholeLiving.com

Tropical Fruit Parfait via WholeLiving.com

5. Take advantage of leftovers

I fully admit that I’m not a big fan of eating leftovers the next day; I crave variety in my diet. However, less time to prepare lunch and the need to cut back on convenience foods led me to discover how great leftovers can actually be if I give them a little twist. Now, I make sure I cook a little extra of whatever protein I have in the evening so I can transform it into a great lunch the next day.

Beef, Watercress, and Peach Salad via RealSimple.com

Beef, Watercress, and Peach Salad via RealSimple.com

What is your favorite quick and healthy meal? Tell us in the comments!

For more quick, easy, and healthy food options, join us on Pinterest.

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Summer Camp Unites Entrepreneurs and Freelancers https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/summer-camp-unites-entrepreneurs-freelancers/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/summer-camp-unites-entrepreneurs-freelancers/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 12:45:00 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33207 A summer camp for grown-ups? In August, Elance-oDesk paired up with the NYC-based coworking community WeWork for their annual Summer Camp — a weekend-long event that was part festival and part startup/freelancer bootcamp, with a good dose of outdoor fun.

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By Libby Tucker, Entrepreneur and Elance Mobilizer

A summer camp for grown-ups? In August, Elance-oDesk paired up with the NYC-based coworking community WeWork for their annual Summer Camp — a weekend-long event for entrepreneurs, freelancers, and members of the WeWork community.

With a good dose of outdoor activities, Summer Camp is part festival and part startup and freelancer bootcamp. This year’s camp featured talks from UPS, Coach, and Restoration Hardware; they spoke about everything from small company logistics and the power of brands to creating the perfect startup culture for teams.

Hosted in upstate New York at an actual Boys & Girls Club campground, Summer Camp brought nearly 1,500 entrepreneurs and freelancers together for a break from work and a chance to be a kid again. And, just like childhood, it was a weekend of experiences that can bond people for life.

We had to get in on the fun. Elance-oDesk organized one of the most coveted competitions at camp: the Human Skee Ball Competition — a super-sized slip-n-slide, with bragging rights for the team that traveled the furthest in the air! The winning team, “Almost YouTube Famous,” took the trophy for the competition.

WeWork Summer Camp Promo from Elance on Vimeo.

Visit summercamp.wework.com or check out #WWCAMP14 on Twitter for this year’s highlights and watch for more information about how you can get into Summer Camp 2015.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: September 8th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/future-of-work-september-8/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/future-of-work-september-8/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 12:45:08 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33196 oDesk's weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week's roundup highlights the security gap a lot of businesses forget when it comes to cloud-based apps, advice for managing a distributed team, why your organization should have a work-life vision, and encouraging a more 'mindful' work environment.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 9/8/2014:

Fox Business | Is it Safe to Use the Cloud for Your Small Business?

A recent survey found that a lot of small businesses are leaving their data exposed: your former assistant may no longer work for you but, unless you’ve cut their access to cloud-based applications, they can still access your business files.

Many businesses don’t take steps to limit access to and/or cancel a team member’s cloud-based accounts when they move on. Michael Gold, president of Intermedia and Osterman Research, says every business should have specific measures to prevent lingering access as part of the off-boarding process.

Gold’s company conducted a survey of more than 400 businesses and found that the majority of former employees can still access critical systems like email, PayPal, SharePoint, or SalesForce. To protect your business, he suggests writing a detailed checklist of all shared accounts and apps and regularly changing all relevant passwords.

Huffington Post | 4 Tips to Manage Virtually

Despite the number of tools available, communicating effectively with a virtual team is more difficult than it may seem. Tom Gimbel, president and CEO of LaSalle Network, says there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but offers these four ideas to help make your virtual management a success:

  1. Technology: Research available software that can help you collaborate and communicate effectively with your team. Skype and Google Hangouts may be popular, but consider the benefits and limitations of each one as they relate to your specific business needs.
  2. Communication: Communicate directly with your team and learn to use clear and concise language. Doing so will save everyone valuable time.
  3. Goals: Gimbel suggests setting time-specific deadlines, instead of day-specific deadlines, then following up with a phone call or video chat to check on progress. Set reminders for yourself to help you remember to reach out.
  4. Reachability: Working with a distributed team means you may need to communicate with your team at different times of day — when you may not be used to working. Flexibility is important if you want to maintain consistent and effective communication with your team.

Harvard Business Review | Give Your Organization a Work-Life Vision

Research shows that professionals are achieving a better work-life balance — even if it doesn’t always feel that way. The culprit? The difference between policies and culture.

“An organization’s work-life culture – all the unwritten yet well understood norms and expectations about how people are supposed to work, and what it means to be a good employee – has enormous power over behavior,” wrote Monique Valcour, professor of management at EDHEC Business School in France.

She recommends that business leaders create a work-life vision, something she describes as “an overarching point of view that is compelling to people and provides guidance to their daily behaviors, decisions, and practices.”

In other words, a work-life vision can encourage teams to modify behavior and, in effect, redefine their culture so it accurately reflects the balance an organization is aiming for.

Huffington Post | 4 Reasons Older Entrepreneurs Hold All the Cards

Young entrepreneurs may appear to have all the energy and new ideas, but older and more experienced entrepreneurs boast significant advantages. Margaret Manning, founder of Sixtyandme, offers four reasons why experienced entrepreneurs have an edge.

First, they bring years of business skills and experience to the table. Also, since they have more experience interacting with a variety of people, they have a better sense of empathy and perspective.

Furthermore, they are often financially independent and don’t necessarily face the same funding challenges as new entrepreneurs.

Finally, business and personal connections are key to the success of most businesses, and experienced entrepreneurs can have the complete package: a network that boasts both professional and familial contacts.

Entrepreneur | 7 Tips for Merging ‘Mindfulness’ into the Workplace

A work environment is often a noisy, busy, and goal-oriented place. Remember to give yourself personal time not only to counteract a hectic day but to achieve the mindfulness you deserve.

Aaron Small, senior copy editor at ENSO, offers seven tips to create a healthier, more balanced work environment by incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine.

First, devote time for yourself by scheduling a specific number of minutes each day — then sticking to your plan. Next, practice group meditation, then find a meditation guide to help maximize mindfulness.

Check your “achievement-oriented attitude” at the door and focus instead on the present moment. Rest is critical, so quash insomnia once and for all by avoiding your tech devices at night. Finally, remember to breathe and count, which can bring an immediate calming effect.

Has any news about the future of work caught your attention in the past week? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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53 Million Americans Are Freelancing, New Survey Finds https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/53-million-americans-freelancing-new-survey-finds/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/53-million-americans-freelancing-new-survey-finds/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 16:40:03 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33145 53 million Americans are freelancing, according to "Freelancing in America: A National Survey of the New Workforce," a landmark study Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk released today.

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FU_FreelancinginAmerica_ShareableGraphics_Facebook-01A note to our community from Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance-oDesk and Sara Horowitz, Founder and Executive Director of Freelancers Union:

More than 53 million Americans are freelancing, according to “Freelancing in America: A National Survey of the New Workforce,” a landmark study released by Freelancers Union and Elance-oDesk.

 

FU_FreelancinginAmerica_ShareableGraphics_Facebook-03

The old way of working isn’t working and these professionals — and the businesses hiring them — are showing a new way.

Interested in reading more insights from the most comprehensive sizing of the U.S. freelance workforce in almost a decade? Find more information here:


 

1 in 3 Americans Work as Freelancers

 

53 million Americans are freelancing — more than the total combined populations of 25 states

 

53 million Americans are freelancing; together, freelancers earn more than the combined value of Facebook, Walmart, Amazon, Starbucks, and McDonald's

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: September 2nd https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/future-of-work-september-2/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/09/future-of-work-september-2/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 16:00:47 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33128 oDesk's weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week's roundup highlights the kind of support teams need to thrive, how professionals are finding success on YouTube, a test to see whether you're a workaholic, and a look at what the most productive people know about crafting a good to-do list.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 9/2/2014:

The Huffington Post | 5 Support Systems Entrepreneurs’ Staff Need to Thrive

“Who helps the helpers?” Marissa Brassfield asks, noting that behind every successful entrepreneur is a competent and reliable team. However, even the most capable team member needs extra guidance and support.

Brassfield suggests that an entrepreneur should have multiple support systems to help their team members perform at their best. Some of her suggestions include creating mentorship opportunities and providing access to training — both for work skills and developing good habits. These additional resources, she says, will help the team thrive.

Forbes | 3 Entrepreneurs Who Changed Their Lives with YouTube

Social media is a crucial part of any professional’s success, and journalist Karsten Strauss says YouTube provides endless opportunities for exposure, marketing and ad sales.

He introduces three success stories: UK musician Rob Chapman, artist Leonardo Pereznieto, and southern cook Betty Givan.

Sharing their advice for would-be YouTube stars, these entrepreneurs explain how they’ve reached new and loyal fans through strong personal branding and by growing their community.

Journal.ie | Are You a Workaholic? Norwegian Researchers Have Developed This Way to Check

Do you think about work when you should be relaxing? Ever experience stress or other emotional and/or physical symptoms when you can’t work?

Norwegian scientists have identified seven specific criteria to help assess whether you’re a “workaholic.”

While their research has shown that a lot of people (i.e. 8 in 10 Norwegians) are “addicted to work to the point that it affects their health,” they note that “workaholism” isn’t a formal, medically recognized diagnosis. That means there’s no treatment plan or recognized way to successfully ease the stress.

Harvard Business Review | The Most Productive People Know Who to Ignore

Whenever you create a to-do list, the default first step is to prioritize it. One problem is that everything on the list becomes a priority — and the lower-priority items you’ll “do later” never make the cut.

Executive coach Ed Batista encourages professionals not only to prioritize but also to recognize the limitations in doing so.

Instead of focusing on a prioritized list, Batista recommends a triage approach: focus on high-impact activities and purposely ignore tasks that aren’t. “Remember,” Batista said, “this is not about making a list but deciding where the cut-off point is and sticking to it.”

What news caught your attention this week? Share it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: August 18th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/perspectives-future-work-august-18th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/perspectives-future-work-august-18th/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 12:30:52 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=33009 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on managing, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss how to stay connected while working from home, what types of legal structure might be best for your business, advice from female CEOs on work-life balance, and how a freelancer can build their social media platform.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 8/18/2014:

Inc.com | 8 Ways to be Happy and Productive in Your Home Office

Working from home is often solitary, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely or stressful. Small-business adviser Marla Tabaka suggests acquiring specific habits to combat loneliness, such as creating “your own water cooler” by contacting friends and family via social media and other outlets. This helps replace the collegial atmosphere of a traditional workplace.

Tabaka also encourages stay-at-home workers to break free from their routines by occasionally leaving the home office and working elsewhere. Adopting her tips will help provide a more productive and fulfilling work day.

Freelancers Union | Sole Proprietorship? LLC? S-Corp? How to Pick What’s Best for Your Business and Taxes

Once you engage in regular freelance work, New York-based CPA Jonathan Medows recommends establishing a legal structure for your business. By creating the appropriate business entity, you can protect your personal assets from potential liabilities, as well as reap future tax advantages.

Not sure which entity will meet your business needs? Medows gives a quick breakdown of the advantages and/or disadvantages of each entity. Here’s a summary:

  • Sole Proprietorship
    • Advantages: All freelance income is reported on your personal tax return instead of a business return. This ensures efficiency and saves you time during tax season.
    • Disadvantages: Zero protection against personal liability.
  •  Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)
    •  Advantages: Personal assets are protected from business creditors. Also, you won’t pay personal or business taxes on your freelance income.
  • S Corporation (S Corp):
    • Advantages: Same advantages as an LLC with the added benefit of the Home Office tax deduction.
    • Disadvantages: You must file all business income on a business return instead of a personal return.

Remember, it’s important to do your research and consult a financial expert in order to choose the structure that will best fit your needs.

Huffington Post | 6 Ways Top Women CEOs Balance Work and Life

Most professionals, particularly women, want to achieve a better work-life balance. Ashley Crouch talked to six female CEOs and got their advice on how they achieve this coveted balance. Some of the things they mentioned included avoiding perfectionism and self-doubt, prioritizing daily responsibilities, avoiding the inessential, and taking time to recharge after a busy day.

Rory Peck Trust | Getting Social: A Freelancer’s Tips

A social media platform is crucial for any freelancer. To understand why it’s so important and how to build one effectively, Max Riley spoke with freelance photojournalist and social media guru Anastasia Taylor-Lind.

In addition to self-promotion and networking, Taylor-Lind says that social media offers space to develop and redefine a project. It also offers the opportunity to expose both existing and potential clients to unique aspects of your projects that they weren’t aware of before.

She warns that you must be mindful of too much self-promotion. Instead, Taylor-Lind suggests also sharing colleagues’ work on your platform. This strategy keeps your feed varied and your audience interested, as well as allowing you to reach new followers.

What informative posts have you run across this week? Share the stories you’ve been reading in the comments section below. 

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The Hero’s Journey: Adapting To The New World of Work https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/heros-journey-adapting-new-world-work/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/heros-journey-adapting-new-world-work/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:00:22 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32992 The road ahead isn't business as usual. A new report from Deloitte traces a roadmap through the new business landscape, flagging pressures for both companies and individuals trying to find a way forward.

In "The Hero's Journey Through the Landscape of the Future," Deloitte's Center for the Edge looks at how the Big Shift — a combination of technology and public policy trends — is changing the way we work and what it takes to stay competitive.

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The road ahead isn’t business as usual. A new report from Deloitte traces a roadmap through the new business landscape, flagging pressures for both companies and individuals trying to find a way forward.

In “The Hero’s Journey Through the Landscape of the Future,” Deloitte’s Center for the Edge looks at how the Big Shift — a combination of technology and public policy trends — is changing the way we work and what it takes to stay competitive.

“A new economic landscape is beginning to emerge in which a relatively few large, concentrated players will provide infrastructure, platforms, and services that support many fragmented, niche players,” the report’s authors predict.

What does this mean for freelancers and businesses? Here’s a look at how “The Hero’s Journey” maps it out.

…the road ahead for freelancers

A tough economy has created an uncertain job market, leaving many people struggling to get by while at the same time, doing your own thing is more accessible than ever.

As barriers to entry, commercialization and learning are cut back, people are finding that “they have the ability to participate in numerous communities, unlimited by geography, where they can build knowledge, develop skills, and find collaborators,” the report’s authors wrote.

“These communities facilitate learning across all aspects of design and commercialization of products, and they can accelerate learning for everyone, especially for participants who actively seek out opportunities to learn and share.”

As a result, many people are embracing their inner entrepreneur, “driven by a desire for autonomy, flexibility, or alignment with personal values.” A growing number of people are launching businesses that serve niche markets — something the report authors call fragmentation.

Like most ventures, these small fragmented businesses popping up are not all destined to grow. In fact, “The Hero’s Journey” explains three challenges they’ll face:

  • Lower growth. The nature of this highly focused fragmentation means “long tail” opportunities with less potential for growth and smaller total returns.
  • Shorter life cycles. Product life cycles aren’t what they used to be, thanks to the fast pace of innovation and intense competition.
  • A fight for talent. Top talent may not stick around; they have the same opportunity as everyone else to pursue projects that help them reach their own personal goals.

…the road ahead for corporations

Looking at several documented cases of U.S. companies struggling, “The Hero’s Journey” says organizations need to decide where and how they’ll focus their efforts.

The report describes three types of businesses that will fill specific roles:

  • product and service providers,
  • infrastructure businesses,
  • customer relationship businesses.

“Many established companies today play multiple roles and participate in multiple, if not all, types of the businesses discussed,” the authors wrote. “For many companies, pursuing all three business types concurrently will become less and less sustainable.”

That diversity, they explain, is currently seen as a strength — or at least a comfort. But the approach lacks focus and encourages internal competition because each business unit operates independently and typically possesses different economics, skill sets and cultures.

Instead, the report says, focus will be the key to staying competitive in the future. Specializing in one area will facilitate learning, cut internal politics, bring clarity to the work being done, and provide new opportunities for collaboration.

“The Hero’s Journey” also recommends that businesses target the infrastructure or customer relationship business roles.

Why? Products and services are the most likely business types to become fragmented, which could create a challenging environment within large companies that are often less nimble than startups and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Also, organizations will need to be more customer focused and that might ultimately mean connecting customers “to whatever products and services might be most relevant, regardless of who develops and produces them.”

Fragmentation and collaboration

“Most of the value in this new business landscape will come from the relationships within the ecosystem,” the authors say.

That means that placing an emphasis on collaboration over competition will be critical to the growing numbers of small players joining the freelance movement. “There are two broad categories of interaction in this ecosystem: transactions between the fragmented and consolidated players and broader collaboration among all players across the ecosystem.”

Want more specific information about how your business — as an individual or an organization — can adapt? Click here to read the full report.

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5 Home Office Solutions to Promote Productivity https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/5-home-office-solutions-promote-productivity/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/5-home-office-solutions-promote-productivity/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 13:00:33 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32968 What can you do to boost your home office productivity? Melanie Feltham compiled these five ideas to customize your space so it can help you get more work done.

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Full disclosure: my workspace can often be a whirlwind of sticky notes, client materials and good intentions. But I fully understand that when it gets out of control, it also gets in the way of productivity.

How can you create a home office that helps you be more productive? Here are five great tips to get you started.

1. Color

Did you know that color can affect your mood? Red has been found to stimulate eating while yellow can stimulate anxiety. To reduce stress and boost productivity, try a coat of blue — like this room from Benjamin Moore.

Blue home office - via Benjamin Moore

via Benjamin Moore

2. Comfort

Having a comfortable place to sit isn’t just great for productivity, it’s also important for your health. Bad posture due to a poor setup can lead to back, neck and shoulder problems in the future. Look for ergonomically correct furniture to help prevent injury; this diagram from Creative Space Furnishings can help.

Home office posture - via Creative Space Furnishings

via Creative Space Furnishings

3. Quiet

If you share your home with friends or family members, it’s best to pick a location that’s not in a high traffic area. This could be a forgotten corner of the basement, under the stairs or in an attic. Preferably, it should have a door that can be closed when you really need to focus — but you can also lay down some ground rules with your housemates so they understand that when you’re in your office area, you’re not to be disturbed.

A quiet space - via Calfinder

via Calfinder

4. Lighting

Ideally, locate your desk in an area that has lots of natural light. In reality, this can be difficult as the brightest places may also be the busiest. To supplement, get nonfluorescent natural light lamps at a low wattage; position them to the side — not in front of or behind — your monitor to reduce glare and help prevent eye strain. Check out this PCWorld article for some other great options.

Home office screen and lamp placement - via PCWorld

via PCWorld

5. Organization

Keep everything you need for your work within reaching distance. You shouldn’t have to get up every time you need a pen, pencil, the telephone or a file. For great storage that is also space saving, build vertically above and/or around your workstation, using shelving and containers that hide clutter.

Home office organization - via Homedit

via Homedit

Do you have a home office productivity idea to add to this this? Tell us in the comments — and make sure you follow oDesk on Pinterest for more ideas to inspire your home office space.

feature image by David Martyn Hunt (CC BY 2.0)

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: August 11th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/future-of-work-august-11/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/future-of-work-august-11/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 12:00:49 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32960 oDesk's weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week's roundup highlights how to ask for a flexible work schedule, the benefit of online breaks, the power of entrepreneurship, and advice for teams that work remotely.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 8/11/2014:

Huffington Post | 6 Things That Will Actually Help You Get A More Flexible Work Schedule

Unless you work for a company that explicitly offers a flexible work program, figuring out whether it’s possible for you to have a flexible schedule — and how to negotiate for it — can be intimidating.

Melissa Fairman, a human resources manager and the blogger behind HR reMix, outlines what to ask for and how to ask for it. Here’s a summary of her recommendations:

  1. “Lead with the company, not your personal life.” Start the conversation with your manager by looking at it from the company’s perspective; explain the benefits a flexible schedule can have on your work, like improved productivity and less stress.
  2. “Be ready with specifics.” Before you make the request, map out what your schedule will look like, how you will communicate with your team, and why this change makes sense for you (and the company).
  3. “Ask early.” If you have a particular timeline in mind, give your manager as much lead time as possible to adjust to and prepare for your new schedule.
  4. “Don’t shy away from talking money or advancement.” Have an open discussion about how a flexible work arrangement might impact your future with the organization, so you’ll be aware of any potential issues.
  5. “Consider the counter.” Be prepared in case your manager says no — or agrees with contingencies. Have a backup plan, and be familiar with your organization’s relevant HR policies.
  6. “Follow-up — in person.” Once your manager agrees to a flexible schedule, check in with them regularly; this will help make sure make sure all issues are identified and resolved early on.

PsychCentral | Online Breaks Enhance Productivity

Taking online breaks during work hours may have a stronger purpose than checking the latest on Facebook. Sung Doo Kim, a doctoral candidate in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, and colleagues at the University of Cincinnati examined the impact of online breaks on productivity.

Conducting extensive one-on-one interviews with 33 professionals (62 percent female and 38 percent male, with an average 8.6 years of working experience in a variety of industries and occupations), Kim concluded that ubiquitous technology may promote, rather than hinder, employee efficiency.

However, the findings don’t necessarily apply to everyone: the study concluded that online breaks were most rejuvenating for people who generally work away from a computer. They were less effective for those who work in front of a computer for most of their day.

Forbes | The Real Ticket To Work-Life Balance

Highlighting the launch of “Make Life Work,” a campaign focused on work-life balance, freelance journalist Elaine Pofeldt wonders whether encouraging business ownership could counter the rigorous demands on employees’ time and energy that corporations often make without offering adequate compensation.

An entrepreneur can design his or her own lifestyle and schedule to suit their own needs — or the needs of their family. Pofeldt acknowledges that owning a business doesn’t necessarily curb workload, but she says it’s the only way to own your own time.

FastCompany | 7 Best Practice Tips for Successfully Working Remotely

At face value, the idea of working remotely — be it from home, a coworking space or a coffee shop — is appealing to some and appalling to others. As flexible work policies at large companies become commonplace, and with entrepreneurs starting businesses every day, working remotely is increasingly becoming the new normal.

Maren Kate Donovan, an experienced remote worker and CEO of Zirtual, shares her seven tips for being successful and enjoying your time working away from an office.

The first and arguably most important step is choosing the right job. According to Donovan, the right job is typically one where you’re doing what you like to do, what you do best, and something that meaningfully contributes value to an organization.

The right job matched with the proper technology, a positive attitude, and appropriate expectations will help make working remotely your new normal.

What news item caught your attention this past week? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: August 4th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/future-of-work-august-4/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/08/future-of-work-august-4/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 12:30:06 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32938 oDesk's weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week's roundup takes a look at results-only work environments (ROWE) in Canada, a new crowdsourced resource for Digital Nomads, leadership skills you should develop now, and a list of unexpected careers you can do from home.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 8/4/2014:

The Globe and Mail | Travel the World and Still Get a Paycheque: The Allure of a Results-Only Workplace

Canadian businesses are increasingly considering the adoption of results-only work environment (ROWE) policies to restructure the workplace away from passive face time toward one that is focused on performance — with potentially big benefits for their staff.

Looking at businesses like Mabel’s Labels, Erin Anderssen makes a case for Canadians who need or want to work away from the office, whether traveling or taking care of family.

Addressing critics who say remote work policies aren’t for every industry, Anderssen points out research that continues to show remote work can increase productivity while decreasing stress levels.

Business Insider | How to Find the Best Places to Live When You Work Remotely

There’s a new tool for Digital Nomads — professionals who work from wherever they choose, tapping into the rise of location-independent jobs.

NomadList.io — a crowdsourced collection of cities around the world — lets anyone sort destinations based on criteria like weather, Internet speed and estimated cost of living.

Dylan Love reports that Chiang Mai, Thailand, currently tops the list for lowest cost of living. Hong Kong leads another list: countries with the fastest broadband speeds.

Harvard Business Review | The Skills Leaders Need at Every Level

What does it take to be a leader these days? Recent analysis by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman ranked 16 leadership qualities and found the top skills are essentially the same for CEOs as lower level managers.

The ability to inspire and motivate topped the list, with “high integrity and honesty” and “sales problems and analyses issues” not far behind.

Zenger and Folkman say the results show that “there are a set of skills that are critical to you throughout your career. And if you wait until you’re a top manager to develop strategic perspective, it will be too late.”

Wall Street Cheat Sheet | 15 Legitimate Work-At-Home Careers That You Wouldn’t Expect

Some professionals excel when working from home — are you one of them? If you’re looking for more freedom and flexibility in your career, Erika Rawes compiled a list of 15 unexpected jobs you can do from the comfort of your living room. Topping the list? A senior spacecraft mechanical engineer.

What news item caught your attention this past week? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: July 28th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/perspectives-future-work-july-28th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/perspectives-future-work-july-28th/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:03:42 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32898 oDesk's weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week's roundup highlights a potential legal foundation for work-life balance, financial advice for freelancers, emerging trends in employment contracts, and suggestions to help take the loneliness out of working from home.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 7/28/2014:

Fortune | Is There a Legal Case for Work-life Balance?

Pointing to recent gender discrimination lawsuits that have hit almost every major U.S. bank, Caroline Fairchild explores whether there’s a legal foundation for work-life balance.

Fairchild looks specifically at how many women in today’s professional world struggle in an attempt to “have it all.” They fight to strike a balance between running a household and getting ahead at work — whether they’re in high-stress industries or positions where schedules can be wildly unpredictable.

While employers aren’t required to be “family friendly” toward men or women, Fairchild notes that under U.S. employment law, “any workplace rule that isn’t a ‘business necessity’ can’t disproportionately affect one group over another.”

Forbes | Freelancers, Here’s How To Budget Your Money

The most common reasons professionals avoid or delay “going freelance” generally revolve around money: not having a steady income, not having a retirement account set up through your work, not being eligible for group insurance — or, very simply, not making enough money.

To help freelancers get their finances in order, Laura Shin shares her seven tips for creating and sticking to a budget:

  1. Know what you’re spending.
  2. Create a baseline budget using a conservative number.
  3. Come up with your dream budget.
  4. If your dream budget number is vastly higher than your first, cut costs.
  5. Try the 50/20/30 method of budgeting.
  6. Give yourself a weekly allowance.
  7. Give yourself a paycheck.

Entrepreneur | 5 Reasons Why Zero-Hour Contracts Are the Future of Work

During the recent economic downturn, many UK companies introduced zero-hour contracts for their employees, which removed a guaranteed minimum number of work hours per week. This shift inspired many to consider self-employment as a freelancer or independent contractor, where zero-hour contracts are more typical.

Whether zero-hour contracts are a good or bad thing for working professionals remains to be seen, though Maite Baron thinks these “as and when” arrangements are more likely to stay than go.

Citing increased demand for flexibility, more task and project-specific work, falling geographical barriers, increasingly niche skills, and what she called the “self-sufficient” economy, Baron predicts more people will move to an entrepreneurial mindset.

The Guardian | Is Freelancing a Lonely Business?

Though some professionals relish working alone at a quiet desk in their home, others prefer having more human-interactions and liveliness around them.

While advances in technology have enabled millions of people to work from anywhere in the world, many are left feeling lonely or isolated after prolonged periods of working by themselves.

Looking for a way to fix the issue, Liz Parry spoke with Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology and health at Lancaster University Management School, and Rick Norris, a chartered psychologist.

The good news is that the solution isn’t going back to your 9-to-5 gig; instead, you need to create your own human interactions through Meetup and other networking groups.

Beyond networking, remember that you’re not locked into working from home. You can work from coworking spaces, hang out and work at a coffee shop, or find another spaces here you can connect with like-minded individuals.

What news item caught your attention during the past week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: July 21st https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/perspectives-future-work-july-21st/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/perspectives-future-work-july-21st/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:55:06 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32854 oDesk's weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week's roundup highlights a litmus test for aspiring entrepreneurs, advice about making a graceful and professional exit, five tips to help monetize your skills, and a call to bring more stability to part-time work.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 7/21/2014:

TechRepublic | Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made? A Four-Step Litmus Test

Is entrepreneurship something you can learn? This is hot issue at the moment, with many people aspiring to launch their own companies; Conner Forrest shares four ways you can test your entrepreneurial spirit to see whether you could make it as a founder.

Likely the most efficient way to find out whether you could cut it as a startup founder is to get a job at an early-stage startup, Forrest recommends. This will force you into a sense of professional flexibility that is nearly impossible to replicate outside of the environment provided by a startup.

Another option Forrest suggests—though a considerably more expensive one—is to enroll in an MBA program focused on entrepreneurship. These programs are often full of would-be founders hoping to start their own companies, and they can be a great way to meet like-minded people.

Globe and Mail | How to Say A Good Goodbye at Work

Saying goodbye when ending a contract, job or other professional engagement in a way that bolsters rather than busts your reputation can be easier said than done.

Ed Batista, an executive coach and instructor at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, says that “goodbye happens more frequently these days as organizations are more dynamic. We need to do it in a healthy way and then get on to the next project or team on the calendar.”

Batista recommends five principles for delivering a professional and respectable goodbye, which start with understanding your own needs to ensure that the acknowledgement reflects the relationship you shared with the group or team.

Dallas Morning News | The Five: Tips to Monetize Your Skills For Working at Home

Wondering how you can get into online work? Tim Houlne, CEO of Working Solutions, outlines his five tips for independent professionals to monetize skills for working at home.

He recommends that you find your motivation—whether it’s money, time or independence—look online for work opportunities, and keep your skills refined and developed.

He also recommends that freelancers develop multiple revenue streams to avoid putting all of your eggs in one basket; if one job ends, you want to make sure you’ve created enough of a cushion to support any changes—expected or not—in workload.

The New York Times | Flexible Work Schedules

In this letter to The New York Times (NYT) editor, New York City comptroller Scott M. Stringer responds to a recent NYT article about part-time work in the U.S.

Advocating for flexible work schedules for all employees—part-time or full-time workers, single parents or caregivers to elderly loved ones, retail clerks or accountants—Stringer says that “companies large and small have found that flexible work arrangements boost productivity, reduce overhead and improve the bottom line.”

Following cities like Vermont and San Francisco, Stringer hopes to adopt legislation in New York City that would require companies to pay extra for on-call work—where people work just a few days in a week, or are required to work unpredictable hours—and to give two weeks’ notice of a work schedule.

What news items caught your attention during the past week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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The Top 5 Things About Being a Freelancer https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/top-5-things-about-being-a-freelancer/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/top-5-things-about-being-a-freelancer/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 16:00:34 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32800 What do you love about being a freelancer? In this post, Melanie Feltham shares her top five picks.

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The summer is in full swing here in North America, and every day I am reminded of how lucky I am to be able to fully enjoy it without having to worry about keeping up with the 9-to-5.

This got me thinking about the perks of being a freelancer that some office-bound companies would be hard-pressed to match. Here are five that topped the list:

1. Enjoying sunny days

Gone are the days of spending life in the office and never seeing the sun. My patio is one of my favorite workspaces.

Photo: Digital Nomad Photo Contest winner Belinda Johnson Bernhard

Digital Nomad photo contest winner Belinda Johnson Bernhard

2. Spending less money on work clothes

Since most correspondence happens online, you really only need a couple of nice tops and maybe a blazer. And of course, dress pants are optional!

iStock_000020738387_Small

3. Traveling frequently

Never miss out on a destination wedding or a family holiday again! Or, because you saved so much money on clothes, you can just go somewhere for the fun of it.

pinsinamap

4. Having a pet

No more kennel guilt! Taking periodic play breaks will get the blood flowing and keep your mind fresh.

Photo: Furry Friends Photo Contest winner Precious Dale Ramirez

Furry Friends photo contest winner Precious Dale Ramirez

5. Daytime Napping

When you own your schedule, there’s no need to push through when your energy lags. Catching a few daytime zzz’s to boost productivity when I’m feeling a little groggy is my favorite perk! Check out this article for more info about the effectiveness of napping and how to get the most from your break time.

lyinginthegrass

What is your favorite freelancing perk? Tell us in the comments!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: July 14th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/perspectives-on-the-future-of-work-july-14/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/perspectives-on-the-future-of-work-july-14/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:30:07 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32823 oDesk's weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week's roundup highlights why tech companies are targeting teens for top internships, an infographic that captures trends and statistics that show how the workplace is evolving, and recommendations to improve remote meetings and employee engagement.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 7/14/2014:

The Telegraph | Silicon Valley Harvesting Interns Straight From High School

Summer is upon us and that means companies have filled empty seats with interns eager to get hands-on experience under their belts.

What’s interesting about this year’s intern class is the age of the people some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent companies are hiring: with the intense competition for talent, major businesses are targeting skilled high school students to fill internships.

Laurence Dodds, an intern himself, explains that Silicon Valley’s tech companies are also willing to pay for top talent; a survey by Glassdoor revealed that Facebook pays interns just over $6,200 per month, with Google paying nearly $6,000. Dodds says companies are also adding perks like concerts—and building ties with parents.

Intuit | Death of the Office?

Technology is driving an age of collaboration outside the confines of the office: 24 percent of U.S. workers telecommute at least part of each workweek, and nearly 10 percent of the British workforce does, too.

Pulling data from numerous sources—including Inc. Magazine, a Citrix Survey, and Entrepreneur Magazine—Intuit created an infographic that highlights trends and describes how the workplace is evolving: what’s driving the rise of telecommuting, preferences of working professionals, and what the future of work will likely look like.

Business Insider | 7 Tips for Improving Your Remote Meetings

As businesses increasingly adopt flexible work policies, managers need to ever-so-slightly reimagine some of their current business practices to help get the most from their distributed teams.

The Young Entrepreneur Council compiled seven tips for running a successful virtual meeting that ensure online meetings are just as, if not more, effective as in-person gatherings.

One major takeaway is the importance of leveraging technology: use video calls, always screenshare, and don’t allow muting.

Their recommendations also include making it a point to schedule meetings with time zones in mind, and assigning ownership of at least one agenda item to every person in the meeting to keep people engaged rather than multi-tasking.

Fox Business | 7 Best Practices to Boost Employee Engagement

No matter how small or large your business is, maintaining employee engagement and satisfaction is likely a priority. One thing that’s critical to getting your team on board is strong leadership.

Research shows that the best and most inspiring leaders don’t just communicate a vision: they live it, value their people, and empower them by giving them a voice.

Michael Lee Stallard, co-founder, president and CEO of E Pluribus Partners, presents his top seven best practices for leaders to engage their team:

  1. Set “top five” high level annual priorities
  2. Know their stories
  3. Help people get into the “right role”
  4. Develop the habit of emphasizing positives
  5. Provide constructive feedback in a constructive way
  6. Provide autonomy in execution
  7. Hold in-person meetings and regularly check-in

What news item caught your attention during the past week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: July 7th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/perspectives-future-work-july-7-2014/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/07/perspectives-future-work-july-7-2014/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 13:00:25 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32782 oDesk's weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week's roundup highlights tips to help you manage a remote team, deliver negative feedback and successfully work with freelancers.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 7/7/2014:

The Street | How to Make Your Own Part-Time Job

Struggling to pay your monthly bills or perhaps looking to earn some extra spending cash? Certified Financial Planner Sophia Bera recommends you look at the myriad of creative, fun and interesting part-time work opportunities that can help you earn anywhere from a hundred to a thousand extra dollars each month.

Before you dive into a side-project, ask yourself: what am I good at?

Once you’ve identified what skills to sell, Bera suggests turning to online workplaces like Elance.com or oDesk.com for online freelance job opportunities or post your availability on Craigslist for local, in-person tasks. Before you know it, your moonlighting gig very well may become a small business.

HBR Blog | Everything You Need to Know About Giving Negative Feedback

One of the most difficult parts about being a manager is delivering negative feedback to your team and to date, there have been a number of conflicting approaches recommended from “have the conversation away from the office, over lunch” to “schedule a meeting during office hours and do not hint that bad news is coming.”

Thankfully, HBR Senior Editor Sarah Green did the legwork for us and compiled the best, research- and experience-based advice.

She suggests scheduling regular check-ins with your team to maintain an open feedback loop, presenting actionable next steps to correct the issue at hand, and delivering the bad news on its own; there’s nothing worse (or confusing) than hearing good news, followed by bad news, with more good news to wrap things up.

Fast Company | Working from Home is Awesome—if you do it Right

The results are in: people want to work from home and Fast Company editor Samantha Cole shares a pro-con list for the growing number of professionals considering taking their work home. Because working from home is typically fraught with distractions and temptations, it’s important to set boundaries and force a daily routine.

Knowing that casual conversations at the water cooler will stop, as will office banter with colleagues, professionals working from home can choose an environment that is very quiet (home) or perhaps a bit more lively (a coffee shop); the advantage is in charge. And speaking of being in control, professionals who work from home on average gain an hour back every day because of skipping the commute.

Tech Cocktail | How to Help Remote Freelancers Make a Living With Your Product

The number of professionals electing to freelance is growing thanks to 365/24/7 connectivity. Businesses all over the world are working with freelancers from the U.S.,  Europe, Central and Eastern Asia, Latin and South America, and the Middle East to handle a number of projects—from building websites and updating code bases, to designing logos and writing blog content.

To continue this movement, says Eran Karoly, COO of Tipalti, there are two important factors: “providing [freelancers] the ability to complete the work they are assigned to do and paying them on time.”

What news item caught your attention during the past week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

 

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: June 30th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/perspectives-future-work-june-30th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/perspectives-future-work-june-30th/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 13:42:52 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32725 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week's roundup highlights general management advice, recommendations for new managers, and tips to help manage a remote team.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 6/30/2014:

HBR | Good Managers Look Beyond Their “Usual Suspects”

When work needs to get done, no matter how large or small the project, managers tend to have their “go-to” people because they work well with this small group and have established trust with them.The problem is that this can create unintentional bottlenecks when this small group becomes overextended.

Ron Ashkenas, managing partner of Schaffer Consulting, recommends that managers stop and think about how to effectively expand their talent pool to yield meaningful results.He advises managers to participate in a simple roadmapping exercise where they look back at previous projects and identify who worked on them. If the same names repeatedly pop up, you’re likely a “usual suspects” manager.

If you’re concerned about your managerial habits, Ashkenas says you should ask yourself the following questions: “Are there other capable people who would welcome additional assignments? Perhaps some high potentials who are not being fully challenged? Is it possible to trust some other people outside of your ‘usual suspects’ circle?”

Forbes | Want To Be A Great Manager? Be Good Enough

New York Times columnist David Brooks recently wrote a column called “Rhapsody in Realism” and argued that we are, by nature, messy and conflict-ridden.

Brooks’ column focused on the implications these innate traits have on marriage, but Forbes contributor Todd Essig took it one step further to consider the implications these same traits have on the manager-managee relationship.

Borrowing findings from a study of more than 1,000 managers who were asked about their own experiences with managers they felt were the “best” and “worst,” Essig concluded that we as human beings are imperfect at home and at work.

He points this out to remind managers that accepting imperfection is part of achieving managerial excellence. Essentially, the best managers respect messy human nature.

Mashable | What Are the Most Common Mistakes New Managers Make?

Originally a response to a question on Quora, Ian McAllister, general manager and product leader at Amazon, shares his thoughts on common mistakes new managers make, and the things he would have done differently during his first weeks managing a team.

Listing dozens of things mistakes he’s made or observed, McAllister groups his thoughts into seven categories: performance management, career development, leadership, recruiting, hiring, organizational development, and visibility.

Some of his stand-out advice includes:

  • On performance management: “Documenting poor performance via email helps employees understand the gravity of the situation (‘This email summarizes the discussion we just had’), and it is also helpful to have on hand if it comes time to terminate the employee.”
  • On career development: “Every employee needs to be developed, either to support the career development (and retention) of strong performers, or to improve the performance of weaker employees. Every year you should try to raise every employee’s performance level.”
  • On leadership: “A successful leader is going to create growth and opportunity for their team. A leader who thinks small is unlikely to do either. Instead of planning how to grow your business 100%, plan how to grow it 10x or 100x.”

Fox Business | Overcoming 4 Big Challenges of Managing Remote Employees

Giving employees the freedom to work when and where they want is increasingly more than just a perk: a recent teleworking survey by collaboration software provider PGi found that 80 percent of U.S. knowledge workers are employed by companies that have a telecommuting program in place.

This shift in workplace dynamics means new challenges for managers, and Nicole Fallon highlights some of the biggest problems of having a mobile workforce: communication, trusting your employees, tracking productivity, and maintaining a unified company culture.

What news item caught your attention during the past week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: June 23rd https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/perspectives-future-work-june-23rd/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/perspectives-future-work-june-23rd/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 13:34:30 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32689 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week's roundup focuses on Millennials, highlighting research that shows Millennial women in particular aren't saving enough, the different expectations Gen Y brings to the workforce, and the difficulties many Millennials have finding full-time work in their area of expertise.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 6/23/2014:

Today.com | Millennial Women Aren’t Saving

Kelley Holland shares the results from a recent Wells Fargo study that shows an alarming trend: 61 percent of Millennial men have started saving for retirement, compared with 50 percent of Millennial women.

Why is this so? For starters, Millennial women continue to earn less than men — a shock for those conducting the study — and tend to lack both financial literacy and the confidence to invest.

Experts say failing to save now will lead to to a significant personal savings shortfall in the future. There is good news, however: according to Cindy Hounsell, president of the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), “when women receive financial education, they do tend to quickly increase their savings.”

Guardian Liberty Voice | Millennials: What Businesses Should Know

Millennials represent an increasingly large proportion of the workforce, bringing with them vastly different workplace expectations, skills and priorities.

Michael Obunga offers his observations and shares some research for managers looking to understand their younger employees. “They are unlike any generation that has ever been before them and many people find it hard to understand them,” he observed.

Obunga points out that Gen Y is the biggest generation of consumers, they are technologically savvy, they are independent thinkers, and they are the most racially diverse generation.

Forbes | Millennials and Video Games: Developing Skills for the Future

We know that Millennials are entering the workforce in droves, bringing new workplace expectations that will reshape the companies of the future. Hoping to shed some light into the expectations of this generation, John Zogby shares the results of a recent Zogby Analytics poll that analyzed the behaviors, preferences and expectations of Millennials.

One important theme that emerged is the significant role that video games plays in their lives:

  • 57 percent of 18-34 year olds play video games at least three times a week,
  • 67 percent feel video games are important in helping them to learn how to create winning strategies,
  • 70 percent felt it aided in their ability to problem solve, and
  • nearly two-thirds feel that video games teach them how to work smoothly and successfully on a team.

Zogby argues that this doesn’t mean they’re not workplace ready; it means employers need to adapt. “The most dangerous words you can utter are ‘we are going to continue to do things the way we have always done them,'” he warned.

Business Insider | Exclusive Survey Shows How Hard It Is For Millennials To Find Good Jobs

Millennials continue to struggle to secure good-paying full-time jobs in line with their education levels, according to recent research on Millennials by Business Insider and New to Live By, a Gen Y career advice destination.

Sharing key findings from the comprehensive study, Danny Rubin, Jenna Goudreau and Sky Gould present an infographic illustrating the obstacles, issues, and barriers Millennials are facing in today’s job market. The survey of 548 Millennials in the U.S. found that 16 percent of Millennials remained unemployed after six months in the job market compared to the national unemployment rate of 6.3 percent.

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Global Online Work Report Shows Hot Jobs & Skills https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/global-online-work-report-shows-hot-jobs-skills/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/global-online-work-report-shows-hot-jobs-skills/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 16:00:17 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32679 What are the hottest jobs in the online marketplace? While the Global Online Work Report from Elance-oDesk shows that traditionally in-demand skills are still going strong, the highest-growth categories show that the digital workforce is hitting a more mature stride.

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What are the hottest jobs in the online marketplace? While some of the traditionally in-demand skills are still going strong, the highest-growth categories show that the digital workforce is hitting a more mature stride.

Elance-oDesk, the global leader in online work, recently released a Global Online Work Report, which draws on the largest and most comprehensive set of data available regarding independent work that’s happening online.

“Never before have we enjoyed such visibility into work — from the number and nature of jobs, to demand for skills, to where and how the work gets done,” said Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance-oDesk.

“Our goal is to put a world of talent in the hands of businesses and billions of dollars in the pockets of independent professionals,” he added.

More than 1.2 million jobs have been posted to Elance-oDesk so far this year. It’s an efficient way to find work and do business; most jobs are filled within three days.

As Rosati told the Washington Post, the global marketplace helps bring balance between regions with thousands of vacancies, and regions where skilled people are looking for work.

Opportunities for freelancers = Better access for businesses

Businesses will spend more than $900 million hiring online in 2014. So what are the best opportunities for contractors? The report highlights five of the hottest skills right now:

  • Customer Support
  • Social Media Optimization
  • Mobile Advertising
  • 3D Modeling & Animation
  • Data Science

When it comes to broad categories of work, however, the most in-demand skills may not be what you think.

Global Freelancer Earnings y CategoryA look at global freelancer earnings so far this year shows that Technology jobs lead the way, with Admin Support and Writing & Translation rounding out the top three categories.

Demand for skills in these areas has traditionally been strong, both around the world and here in the U.S., so it’s not surprising that the volume is so high.

However, a look at the highest-growth areas flips the earnings chart around.

Engineering & Manufacturing and Legal skills don’t get much of the earnings pie yet — just 1 percent or less, respectively — but the year-over-year growth in these areas is impressive.

  • Demand for Legal services has increased 56 percent, with experience in patent law earning the highest average rates on the Elance-oDesk platform.
  • Global demand for Engineering & Manufacturing skills jumped 53 percent. Here in the U.S., demand jumped a whopping 88 percent.

What’s behind the growth in Engineering & Manufacturing and Legal skills?

Jaleh Bisharat, senior vice president of marketing for Elance-oDesk, says the growth in these areas reflects broader trends — including the need for more science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals.

“We already know that growth in STEM jobs, in the U.S. and elsewhere, has outpaced growth in other areas of work, and that the supply and availability of professionals hasn’t kept pace,” she explained.

Bisharat added:

“The online growth of STEM-related work shows businesses are discovering that the global talent pool offers more options — whether that’s an ongoing relationship or one that’s project based.”

The growth of Legal services, on the other hand, shows that online work is maturing, Bisharat says. Both businesses and professionals have increased trust in this new way of working.

“There’s a perception that online work isn’t a great option for jobs that are generally seen as happening offline, but that’s not the case,” she noted. “These numbers show that more traditional professionals are turning to the online market, and an increasing number of clients are finding them there.”

Want to learn more? Read more about the Global Online Work Report or look at the U.S.-specific data.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: June 16th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/perspectives-on-the-future-of-work-june-16/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/perspectives-on-the-future-of-work-june-16/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 14:23:27 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32656 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week's roundup highlights advice for people working remotely — whether from home or on the road — and advice for executives and managers who are considering remote work for their organizations but haven't found the best approach.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 6/16/2014:

Mashable | Freelancers: 6 Solutions That Make it Easy to Leave Your Desk Behind

Innovations in technology — both hardware and software — have helped fuel the rise of freelancing around the globe. Professionals are no longer limited to jobs located within driving distance of their homes; instead, they can work from anywhere with an Internet connection, prepared with a few essential tips, tricks and gadgets.

Freelance writer Aubre Andrus recommends saving everything to the cloud, managing your schedule with a calendar that syncs across all devices, and organizing your finances using a secure and easy site.

Arguably the most important solution Andrus recommends is investing in portable WiFi. “Travelers will find the battle for free and fast Internet a tiring one,” she wrote. “Services like FreedomPop give you the freedom (get it?) to bring wi-fi wherever you go at a very low monthly price.”

Business Insider | 10 Do’s And Don’ts Of Working From Home

The days of sitting in a cubicle and stagnant work environments are over. Professionals are increasingly looking for flexible alternatives to the traditional corporate office, and HR professional Heather Huhman highlights things that remote workers should and should not do to be successful.

Suggesting that telecommuters be in constant communication with their teams while trying to work during normal business hours, Huhman also says it’s best to stay focused on work; don’t adopt bad habits like giving the babysitter the day off or taking personal calls.

Forbes | 5 Myths About Travelling With Tech

As the number of independent professionals and digital nomads continues to rise, tech writer Geoffrey Morrison debunks five myths about using technology abroad to help you stay connected while traveling.

The three main takeaways from Morrison’s list:

  • bring a plug adapter, not a converter,
  • pack a power strip or a USB battery pack, and
  • invest in an unlocked smartphone for WiFi on-the-go.

He says that the other good news for travelers is that nowadays, in most countries, you can buy anything you forget or lose along the way — from headphones to battery packs.

The Business Journals | How To Know If Telecommuting Will Work For Your Company

Businesses are increasingly recognizing the benefits of telecommuting, though a small number remain skeptical.

Productivity expert Laura Stack reminds managers of the added perks, like reduced overhead costs and an enhanced talent pool, while also asking important questions about the type of job being evaluated and its compatibility with telecommuting.

While most jobs that can be completed in front of a computer can be done from just about anywhere in the world, she acknowledges that some jobs still require face time. However, she explains, with clear guidelines and transparency, remote work is something that can work well for many organizations.

What news caught your attention over the past week? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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5 Great Gadgets for Working on the Road https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/5-great-gadgets-working-road/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/5-great-gadgets-working-road/#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 13:00:09 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32604 What are your go-to gadgets for working on the move? These days, you don't need to be tethered to a desk. Check out these five gadgets for working on the road, then tell us your must-have travel tool.

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Many of my posts are about making your work-from-home life more fun and enjoyable, but what can you do when you want to put on your travel pants and take your office on the road?

With today’s technology, you don’t need to be tethered to a desk — as the many Digital Nomads can attest to.

These five gadgets aren’t just cool, they’ll also help you see the world without jeopardizing any deadlines.

1. A portable solar laptop charger

Never worry about losing your productivity groove because of short battery life again. This Treehugger.com article reviews seven great options.

Sunshine Solar Briefcase Charger Amorphous 13 Watt

image from treehugger.com

2. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Too crowded to concentrate? Pop a set of these babies on your ears and it will be almost like you’re the only one around. Just remember not to “belt it out” when you sing along.

AKG's K 490 NC headphones

image from AKG

3. Mojo Slim Universal Travel Adapter

This slim travel adaptor works in 150 countries and takes up next to no room.

Mojo Slim Universal Travel Adapter

image from ibatzz.com

4. The Livescribe Pen

This smart pen sends what you have written (or recorded) to your laptop or mobile device. A great alternative to trying in vain to see past the glare on your laptop screen when you’re writing outside!

Livescribe 3 smartpen

image from Lightscribe

5. 12 Volt “Smart” Car Pot

No coffee shop, no electricity, no problem! This pot plugs into your car and can do coffee, tea, or soup. Amazing? Not really. Necessary? Absolutely!

12-volt “Smart” Car Pot

image from Camping World

BONUS Gadget of the Future: The Teleportation Device

Science or fiction? Dutch scientists may have taken a step toward making teleportation a reality. There is no doubt teleportation would really come in handy when you felt like a change of scenery.

Star Trek, sculpture by Devorah Sperber, Spock, Kirk and McCoy: Beaming-In (In-Between), Microsoft, Studio D, Redmond, Washington, USA – by Wonderland on flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Star Trek, sculpture by Devorah Sperber, Spock, Kirk and McCoy: Beaming-In (In-Between), Microsoft, Studio D, Redmond, Washington, USA. Photo by Wonderlane on flickr (CC BY 2.0)

What are your go-to gadgets for working on the move? Tell us in the comments!
And for more gadgets that help make work easier, join us on Pinterest.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: June 9th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/perspectives-future-work-june-9th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/perspectives-future-work-june-9th/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 13:54:23 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32595 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week's roundup highlights innovation within larger organizations, learning about remote teams from FIFA, and startup advice for entrepreneurs, small business and Millennials.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 6/9/2014:

HBR | The Innovation Strategy Big Companies Should Pursue

Larger companies seem to have left innovation to more agile startups, says Tony Davila, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Prominent thinkers previously believed it would be larger organizations — with access to more and better resources — who would be the innovative ones. Davila says he thinks that could still be the case.

However, he argues, to be better innovators big companies need to have the right processes in place. This starts “with a different approach to motivation,” he explains, which needs to be rooted in the organization’s vision, not getting ahead or earning rewards.

Entrepreneur | The Art of Keeping Your Team Focused on the Same Goal

With FIFA World Cup kicking off this week, a very transparent example of good (and bad) teamwork is about to take the global stage.

Entrepreneur Alastair Mitchell points out that it’s not just the players who need to stick together; a lot of work happens behind the scenes, with widely distributed teams of people, just to keep the event running smoothly — on the ground and through coverage of the event.

From heading towards the same goal to making sure your team members have the right tools, Mitchell says there’s a lot remote teams can learn just by watching this event unfold.

Mashable | 7 Tips for Surviving The Leap From Employee to Entrepreneur

As a 9-to-5 employee, the idea of starting your own business can sound awesome in theory: you would be the boss and would make all of the final decisions, from setting the schedule to creating the product roadmap and hiring a team.

However, the reality of starting a business requires that entrepreneurs develop and rely on a different set of skills in order to be successful.

Entrepreneur Nellie Akalp offers seven tips for those making the transition from a corporate position to the role of a startup founder. She recommends that entrepreneurs

  • shift away from demanding absolute perfection on every project,
  • develop an understanding that 9-to-5 is no longer a “full” day, and
  • learn to appreciate working on all facets of the business, from product to marketing to human resources.

Business 2 Community | Starting Your Own Business: 10 Tips for Young Entrepreneurs

The entrepreneurial journey appeals to more and more individuals: according to a survey by CreativeLive, nearly half of currently employed Millennials “are not happy with their job and would love to get out of corporate America.”

Entrepreneur and writer Shannon Dauphin Lee shares her ten tips for starting a business, beginning with the age-old advice of developing a well-thought-out business plan. While leaning on your professional network is important, she also reminds up-and-coming entrepreneurs to take the time to learn about and obtain any necessary permits or licenses before opening for business.

Forbes | Want To Grow Your Small Business? Send Your Workers Home

One way to achieve business success, whether you’re a small business owner or a corporate CEO, is to embrace flexible work programs that allow your team to work from home.

Lisa Wirthman reports that yearly cost savings — roughly $11,000 per employee combined with $1,800 for unused “sick days” — add up to significant cost savings. Plus, she notes, employee satisfaction will likely increase with their productivity.

Beyond the business benefits, Wirthman also points out the potential environmental advantages: reduced carbon emissions and decreased public road usage over the longer term.

What news caught your attention this week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: June 2nd https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/perspectives-future-work-june-2nd/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/06/perspectives-future-work-june-2nd/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 13:00:14 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32561 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week highlights advice for people who manage distributed teams, why recruiting for remote workers is different, how new work trends are influencing corporate culture, and why freelancing can be a great stepping stone for entrepreneurial graduates.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 6/2/2014:

CNBC | Six Things to Avoid When Telecommuting

There’s a set of skills you need to adopt when you work from home — skills that are even more important when you’re a manager with a distributed team.

Beyond segmenting your work and personal time (with no commute to help make a mental transition), you need to build personal connections with your team and understand any cultural nuances.

Career coach Marie McIntyre provides useful and creative advice for both managers and freelancers who want to perfect their remote work setup.

Business Insider | Entrepreneurs and Startups Drive Future Work Trends

The way people work has changed and, as Marty Zwilling notes, that change is shifting the way organizations should approach employee satisfaction as well as their bottom lines.

Inspired by the recently updated “Future Work: Changing Organizational Culture for the New World of Work,” by Alison Maitland and Peter Thomson, Zwilling shares insights and best practices he’s learned as an entrepreneur, startup mentor, and angel investor.

The common thread through his advice is that the workplace is changing at nearly the same rate that technology is evolving. He encourages entrepreneurs not only to embrace this change, but leverage it to be competitive.

Tech Cocktail | How to Improve Your Remote Workforce Hiring in 10 Minutes

Businesses of all sizes are starting to recruit talent online on a regular basis, but Josh Tolan, CEO of Spark Hire, says there a nuances to hiring that a lot of organizations miss.

How can you improve your interview process to ultimately find and hire the best candidate? Tolan has a number of suggestions, like using one-way video chat as part of the screening process.

He also recommends preparing different interview questions and job descriptions for freelance positions because the skills needed to succeed aren’t the same as full-time employees.

Entrepreneur | Want to Start a Business Fresh Out of College? Try Freelancing First.

With graduation caps and gowns being worn at college campuses across the U.S., Peter Cannone urges new graduates who are eager to become entrepreneurs to consider a freelance career first.

Comparing the two lifestyles, Cannone explains that freelancing is the best — and most realistic — way to experience the control and responsibility that comes from managing your own business.

With some freelancing under your belt, he says, you can decide whether you want to take the next step to build your solo business into something bigger.

What news caught your attention this week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: May 27th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/perspectives-future-work-may-27th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/perspectives-future-work-may-27th/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 13:00:49 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32509 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week includes different perspectives on how we work; on one hand, a management expert suggests that we move less frequently "for work," while a new study finds that flexible work may be causing people to work more. Other articles included look at the skills and best practices we may need to succeed.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 5/27/2014:

Forbes | What Will It Take To Succeed In The Future World Of Work?

While the world of work is changing, many businesses and professionals are wondering what the future will look like and what skills will be required in order to be successful.

Forbes contributor Bonnie Marcus interviewed Alison Maitland, author of “Future Work: Changing Organizational Culture for the New World of Work,” to learn what and how to prepare for the future. Skills like leadership, trust, and the ability to delegate are taking on a new level of prominence, she explains.

However, she says, people will be judged more on performance and results than they are now. As workers become increasingly location independent and “work in a mix of office some of the time, home some of the time, other locations…” Maitland notes they’ll face a new set of challenges and that building relationships virtually will become increasingly critical.

HR Executive Online | Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

The National Bureau of Economic Research found that we don’t move as much as we used to; all moves — interstate and across state borders — have been trending down, especially since 2000.

Peter Cappelli, an author and professor at the Wharton School, has a few hypotheses about what might be behind the decline, including the changing job market. He notes that companies are adopting new hiring practices, and large facilities and multiple office locations are becoming less common.

Most simply, he explains, professionals and businesses no longer need to live in the same area in order to work together.

TIME | Here’s Why Your Work Life Will Never Truly Be Flexible

Location may matter less, but new research from Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging and Work finds that few businesses are truly offering flexible work programs — and only three percent extend those arrangements to “all or most” workers.

Instead, it appears most professionals spend more time working than doing any other activity, and some employers have cut back on more traditional flex time options.

To compensate for that extra time, Sloan Center director Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes suggests that organizations consider additional perks — like working from home, varied in-office hours or paid-leave for new dads — to keep their teams engaged and inspired.

Fast Company | 5 Ways to Make the Digital Workplace More Personal

Have you ever sent an IM to a colleague sitting within 10 feet of you? Chances are good that your answer is “yes”.

As technology enables us to work with anyone from anywhere, we understandably have come to rely on collaboration tools to exchange and relay information — which makes it easy to forget about human interaction.

Including a shout-out to the classic notebook, Randhir Vieira recommends that we incorporate face time and take time to sign off and shut down.

Have any news items sparked your interest during the past week? Share them in the comments section below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: May 19th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/perspectives-future-work-may-19th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/perspectives-future-work-may-19th/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 13:25:00 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32469 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss how some people may not be cut out for remote work, that a "grass is greener" view of entrepreneurialism can bring dissatisfaction — especially to Millennials — and share how one UK organization is calling on organizations to take a long view when it comes to staffing and recruitment. Finally, we share advice for digital designers, which could easily apply to other professionals.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 5/19/2014:

Forbes | Working Remotely: Does The Research Prove It Won’t Work For You?

For some, the idea of working from home, dressing casually, and taking Spot for a walk during lunch is ideal. But for others, it’s a practically torturous thought. Working from home is a new way of working — but it isn’t necessarily right for everyone.

David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom pose five questions to identify whether someone has what it takes to thrive beyond the office. They conclude that for people who are driven to succeed, location doesn’t really matter.

New York Post | Is Startup Life Giving Millennials the Blues?

A lot of Millennials have a “grass is greener” view of being an entrepreneur, what some call the “entrepreneurial effect:” dreaming about the startup they could be running instead of focusing on the job they already have. Because of this, Annie Daly reveals that many Millennials feel disheartened and discouraged about their careers.

She notes that many people don’t have what it takes to be an entrepreneur — or an accurate view of the not-always-glamorous startup life. Daly spoke to psychologists, Millennials, and career advisors to help would-be entrepreneurs put an accurate, and more realistic, spin on what they want and need out of their careers.

HR Review | Employers Need to Plan Ahead to Deal with Risk of Widespread Skills Shortages

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s quarterly Labour Market Outlook shows that two in five UK employers are struggling to fill job openings for highly skilled talent — engineering and management roles in particular.

The shortage is manageable today, but the CIPD is encouraging businesses to take a longer view: take action now to mitigate the potential for a widened skills gap in the near future.

Gerwyn Davies, labour market adviser at the CIPD, commented that: “… while skills shortages are still relatively concentrated in particular sectors and occupations in the domestic labour market, and pay continues to perform well below pre-recession levels, there is a danger that this may change if the labour market continues to tighten.”

Tech City News | 10 Tips on Freelancing as a Digital Designer

Committing to freelance is a big step for a designer but it’s not the final one on the road to career success. Toby Thwaites shares ten tips for rising to the top as a freelance digital designer — many of which apply equally to other professionals.

Touching on various aspects of working with a recruitment agency, establishing your business, and the logistics of freelancing, Thwaites advises professionals to communicate clearly and often with their clients, keep work portfolios current,  and protect intellectual property.

What business news caught your attention this week? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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The Top 7 Freelancing Pets https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/top-7-freelancing-pets/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/top-7-freelancing-pets/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 16:00:27 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32441 Freelancing with a pet? One of the perks of working from home is the ability to spend more time with your family – especially the furry or feathered kind. We asked our Facebook community to share photos of their tiny – and not-so-tiny – companions. Here's our selection of the best!

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One of the perks of being able to work from home is the ability to spend more time with your family – including four-legged friends.

We invited oDeskers within our Facebook community to submit photos of their furry or feathered family members, who have such a unique way of telling us when it’s time to take a break from freelancing.

Little did we know, there is a whole community of very hard-working pets on oDesk! Here are our favorites.

1. Winner, Best Dog

Daisy the Pug may not look impressed to be disturbed while she’s tweeting, but she is by far the office favorite.  Submitted by Tina Stanciu.

Dog: for "The Top 7 Best Freelancing Pets"

2. Winner, Best Cat

The daily battle for the mouse continues. Submitted by Sorin Carp.

Cat: for "The Top 7 Best Freelancing Pets"

3. Winner, Most Unique Pet

We hear Ya’rly is a hoot to have around. Submitted by Polly Lushchynskaya.

Owl: for "The Top 7 Best Freelancing Pets"

4. Runner Up, Best Dog

There is just something irresistible about a well dressed pooch. Submitted by Precious Dale Ramirez.

Dog: for "The Top 7 Best Freelancing Pets"

5. Runner Up, Best Cat

Theopy and Kenken are learning to video chat. Looks like it is going well! Submitted by Romelyn Hernandez Blagantio.

Cats: for "The Top 7 Best Freelancing Pets"

6. Runner Up, Best Dog

The best secretary a girl could ask for. Submitted by Tory Wenger.

Dog: for "The Top 7 Best Freelancing Pets"

7. Runner Up, Best Cat

This look just says “Pay attention to me right meow or your code gets it.” Submitted by Freelancer Syaiful Sabril.

Cat: for "The Top 7 Best Freelancing Pets"

Which is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

To see more funny and cute freelance pets, join us on Pinterest and be sure to like us on Facebook so you can join in the fun!

feature image by Yarin Jeremy Kirchen on flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: May 12th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/perspectives-future-work-may-12th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/perspectives-future-work-may-12th/#comments Mon, 12 May 2014 13:00:26 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32434 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss how talent shortages are leading to higher wages and broader recruiting for organizations not used to online work. We also review financial considerations for freelancers and highlight a new survey that outlines the top challenges for chief information officers.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 5/12/2014:

BRW | Future of Work: How the Freelance Revolution is Changing the Meaning of a ‘Day Job’

Brad Howarth says freelancers—or “soloists”—are redefining the 9-to-5 job and positively influencing the Australian labor market. And, he notes, it’s not just about the soloists; complementary businesses are launching and growing to make the hiring process easier.

Facing a skills shortage and rising wages throughout the country, Howarth explains that Australian businesses are increasingly hiring across a wide range of skills—from writing and web design to lawyers to architects.

The Telegraph | Starting Salaries for Permanent Staff Accelerate

Sharing the findings of a recent REC/KPMG Report on Jobs, Alan Tovey reveals that UK salaries have risen to the highest level since July 2007.

Inviting opinions from local experts and financial advisors to explain the rationale for this increase, Tovey explains that the overwhelming opinion is that the rise is driven by competition: there is a growing skills gap in the UK coupled with fewer candidates looking for full-time employment.

In addition, companies tend to focus on talent with a proven track record, and Tovey highlights that to meet demand, organizations will need to consider new sources.

The Guardian | How to Survive as a Freelancer

The idea of setting your own schedule and choosing what projects to work on sounds idyllic, but before diving head first into the world of freelancing, Anita Sethi reminds professionals to think through their finances before fully adopting independent work.

Calling out perks like sick days and insurance packages that come with full-time employment, Sethi speaks with expert Joy Cantlon, managing director of The Company Books, who runs through a list of financial considerations that freelancers of all experience levels need to account for.

Daily News Buzz | Survey Reveals Greatest Challenges in Managing Remote Teams

Do you manage a remote technical team of one, 10, or 100+ freelancers? If so, a new survey of Canadian chief information officers (CIOs) shows you’ve likely experienced issues with technology, communication, and productivity.

To overcome these hurdles, Daily Business Buzz advises managers to clearly outline their projects, leverage and integrate a suite of free technological tools (Skype, Google Hangout, among others), encourage facetime whenever possible, and connect regularly with their teams—on and offsite.

What news items caught your attention last week? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Remote Workers Aren’t Who You Think They Are https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/remote-workers-arent-think/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/remote-workers-arent-think/#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 16:00:30 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32404 Hoping to better understand the realities of modern work, Flex+Strategy Group / Work+Life Fit conducted a national survey about the true nature of employees’ work flexibility. What they found echoes earlier studies about those who have remote or flexible work arrangements: they’re not who you think they are.

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Hoping to better understand the realities of modern work, Flex+Strategy Group / Work+Life Fit conducted a national survey about the true nature of employees’ work flexibility.

What they found echoes earlier studies about those who have remote or flexible work arrangements: they’re not who you think they are.

The survey found that:

Flex+Strategy Group: "More Women Put in Hours at the Office and in Cubes While More Men Telework"

Infographic by Flex+Strategy Group

  • They’re not women: 3 out of 4 remote workers are men.
  • They’re not parents: there was no difference between those with or without kids.
  • They’re not Millenials: the findings were consistent across age groups.
  • 42% of employees who work primarily in an office space (versus working remotely) felt they had less work flexibility this year than last.
  • They reported a fear that using their work/life flexibility “might hurt your career/others think you don’t work as hard.”
  • 47% of remote workers received training work/life flexibility, while just 35% of those working in a more traditional environment did.

Not surprisingly, the survey also found that companies that don’t understand or embrace this new workplace reality have a harder time benefiting from their remote talent.

“This has been a rapid change, and organizations have not caught up,” Cali Williams Yost, founder at Flex+Strategy Group, told BloombergTV. “But also, we as individuals have not caught up. It’s a new set of skills and tools we need to be successful, and we’re not getting them. We also found that most people don’t get any training or guidance.”

Perspectives shape successful remote work policies

The demographics of distributed workers may seem irrelevant, but stereotypes about them can actually undermine the validity of remote work.

According to the study’s authors, when companies view teleworking as a courtesy offered to mothers or a response to demands from Millennials, they are less likely to fully embrace the cultural shift towards a more open office — hindering their remote employees’ ability to contribute to the business as a whole.

The report argues that work flexibility should be viewed as a solution to the distractions and lack of focus that can be characteristic of an overcrowded open office space, rather than as a compromise for “lazy” employees. Encouraging people to speak up about how and when they’re most productive can help both the worker and the company.

The study also emphasizes the importance of training and support for individuals working outside the office. With modern technology, the logistics of teleworking are easier than ever—all that’s needed are managers and employees who’ve been shown how to do it successfully.

oDesk’s blog has many articles dedicated to that very topic, including how to run a virtual meeting like a rockstar, how to communicate shared values within remote teams, and our own study on the future of online work.

What strategies does your team do to support working remotely? Share the practices that have worked for you in the comments section below.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: May 5th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/perspectives-future-work-may-5th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/05/perspectives-future-work-may-5th/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 13:14:47 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32398 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss how a new labor movement is taking shape, changing company culture in established organizations, the death of the office, and the spread of entrepreneurialism.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 5/05/2014:

Fast Company | The Next Big Idea For Workers Will Come From The Old School Labor Movement

Freelancers everywhere “value time, well-being, and community as much as a paycheck, and they want their consumption to match their ideals,” wrote Sara Horowitz of the Freelancer’s Union.

To make that happen, she says, we need to create an ecosystem of organizations that support those same ideals—not unlike the unions that formed at the beginning of the 20th century.

“They served as vehicles to build the community as a whole—in the factory, in the halls of government, and in their workers’ neighborhoods,” she explained, describing a new era of “social unionism” that’s starting to emerge.

HBR | How We Built a New Company Culture

Startups have a relatively fresh slate when it comes to building company culture. When an organization is decades old, however, it can seem like an uphill—if not impossible—task. When François Nader took the helm of NPS Pharmaceuticals, he knew something had to change. But how?

“Anyone can write down words, call them values, and incur no change,” Nader explained. “Something has to be done to turn them into an actual culture.” In this HBR article, he explains the six rules he followed to successfully create real change within the company.

Fast Company | Infographic: The Death of the Office

Is office life coming to an end? Maybe, maybe not—but, as Jennifer Miller observes, it certainly isn’t what it used to be. Introducing a recently released infographic from Intuit, she notes that “seventy-eight percent [of people surveyed] said they’d forego free meals and 31% would take a salary cut for the privilege of working at home.”

Highlighting the benefits of remote work and looking ahead toward the office of the future—even what will happen with bring your own device (BYOD) policies—this infographic illustrates how our work environment, and what we value, has evolved. [Update: an interactive version of this infographic is available.]

PolicyMic | 90% of Our Peers See Entrepreneurship Differently Than Most People Think

For many people, Samantha Papadakis says, the image of an entrepreneur is someone in flip-flops and a hoodie, who makes a cool app with startup funds, then sells it for billions of dollars a few years later.

That sterotype isn’t just inaccurate, she writes, it also does a disservice to the many entrepreneurs working outside the spotlight—on their own projects, or jumping in to help other organizations. Papadakis profiles several Millenials who are using their creativity and drive to make changes through work they love doing.

What news about the future of work have you been talking about this week? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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The Biggest Unrecognized Opportunity in the Sharing Economy https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/biggest-unrecognized-opportunity-sharing-economy/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/biggest-unrecognized-opportunity-sharing-economy/#comments Tue, 29 Apr 2014 16:00:24 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32362 In discussions about the sharing economy, one aspect is often overlooked: talent. As Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance-oDesk, recently noted in the Wall Street Journal, shared talent has many implications for the way we live and work.

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In discussions about the sharing economy, one aspect is often overlooked: talent. As Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance-oDesk, recently noted in the Wall Street Journal, shared talent has many implications for the way we live and work.

“It can revolutionize how small businesses get started, how large businesses are organized and how social ventures have impact. It can provide the flexibility to balance work with family and can change what retirement looks like.”

Fabio Rosati, CEO of Elance-oDeskShared talent can help people find more time to spend on the things they value most, whether that’s launching their own side gig or enjoying their family; beyond popular examples like Airbnb and Uber, Rosati says there’s enormous opportunity to solve problems.

Drawing on his own experience in the tech and startup spaces, Rosati offers four pieces of advice to entrepreneurs — especially those launching their own ventures in the sharing economy.

Click here to read what he had to share!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 28th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/perspectives-future-work-april-28th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/perspectives-future-work-april-28th/#comments Mon, 28 Apr 2014 13:16:11 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32352 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss the cultural shift behind the sharing economy, remote team management and leadership, "flattened" organizational structures, and compensation across several startup hubs.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 4/28/2014:

Wired | How Airbnb and Lyft Finally Got Americans to Trust Each Other

The sharing economy has grown from a fringe movement into a legitimate economic force — and it’s built on a system of trust that may not have been possible even five years ago.

“This is not just an economic breakthrough. It is a cultural one, enabled by a sophisticated series of mechanisms, algorithms, and finely calibrated systems of rewards and punishments,” wrote Wired executive editor Jason Tanz. Are we truly ready for such a high level of trust? Tanz delves into that question with a look at the carrots and sticks this emerging model relies on.

The Guardian | How to lead a workforce that works from home

Leading a team that isn’t right in front of you takes a different approach. What can help make such a remote relationship ultimately successful? As Guy Clapperton found out, social networks — any network, not just Facebook or Twitter — play an important role, as does a management approach that allows autonomy and aims to put “the right tasks in the hands of the right people.”

The Guardian | Successful remote collaboration: tips from those in the know

Communication technology is the tool that helps remote teams collaborate around the world. But what are the IT considerations that bring long-distance teams together? Alison Coleman turned to several executives for their essential apps and recommendations.

Forbes | No Managers? No Hierarchy? No Way!

Have organizations like Zappos and Southwest Airlines really “flattened” their organizational structures? Forbes contributor Steve Denning says “No.” It’s not a shift of responsibility, he argues, but a change in attitude. “A manager after all is simply someone who is responsible for getting things done,” he wrote.

Denning says the modern system relies “more on… accountability to someone who knows something rather than to someone simply because they occupy a position, regardless of competence.” Moving to this system requires not just a different approach to management, he explains, but a different way to talk about change.

TechCrunch | Silicon Valley Is The Stingiest Place For Equity Grants, But Remote Work Pays Off If You Can Find It

Companies in major innovation hubs like Boston, New York, and Silicon Valley may not always be open to remote workers, but job hunters looking outside those centers may find a better payoff. Looking through job listings on startup platform AngelList, TechCrunch contributor Danny Crichton noted that, while salaries in the Valley might be higher, equity packages were notably smaller.

“Perhaps startups outside of the Valley have a harder time getting access to talent, and thus are willing to increase the incentives,” he suggested. He also found that, while a majority of startups in those hubs do hire remote workers, companies based elsewhere are more open to non-local applications.

What news items caught your attention this past week? Share them in the comments section below.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 22nd https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/perspectives-future-work-april-22nd/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/perspectives-future-work-april-22nd/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:00:04 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32322 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss why businesses should skip employee "engagement" and aim for a fully-committed relationship, Results Only Work Environments, the future of the office space, and websites that highlight great gigs for people at all levels of experience.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 4/22/2014:

Forbes | It’s Time To Rethink The ‘Employee Engagement’ Issue
Founder of Bersin Deloitte, Josh Bersin, shares his perspective on workplace engagement—or what he says needs to go beyond “engagement” to fully-committed relationships. He believes that businesses seeking to create inclusive, passionate, and multi-generational teams need to rethink their approach to measuring and motivating employees. If not, he argues, businesses will continue to see people disengaging themselves from organizations that do not engage, inspire, or motivate them.

Business 2 Community | Succeeding in a Results Only Work Environment
This post from Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog discusses the merits of transitioning your business toward a results only work environment (“ROWE”), or bypassing the traditional organizational chaos by hiring the right people with the skills needed to complete a project at a particular point in time. Looking at Zappos’ “holacracy” program—which replaces managers and bosses with committee-like circles of employees—and the Lattice Network model that W.L. Gore & Associates (the makers of Gore-Tex) use to manage their business effectively, there are many examples that prove success is all about performance at work.

Officing Today | Is the End of the Traditional Office in Sight? How Business Center Owners and Operators Can Benefit
More companies than ever before—the author, Aaron Hopkins, cites 60 percent—are employing virtual teams and moving away from traditional office space, bridging the distance with collaboration and innovation. With new ways to connect and work together emerging regularly, businesses with remote teams are increasing efficiency while keeping costs down. Recognizing that the traditional office is not going to go away, it’s important for business leaders and entrepreneurs to understand the benefits—access to talent, cost savings, flexibility—of working with a blended team.

Huffington Post | 10 Great Sites To Find Gigs And Part-Time Work
For those looking to escape a nine-to-five job in search of more flexible work, Nancy Collamer put together a list of ten great sites for freelancers to find work opportunities. And it’s not just a list for younger gig seekers; Collamer makes a point of highlighting resources for older professionals looking for interesting opportunities. Divided into sections like “best overall” and “seasonal and summer jobs,” this list should satisfy your curiosity and flexible work needs.

What news or advice about the future of work caught your eye this week? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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How to Run a Virtual Meeting Like a Rockstar https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/run-virtual-meeting-like-rockstar/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/run-virtual-meeting-like-rockstar/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:00:48 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32256 Getting the most from a distributed team — where the people you work with can span a country, if not the world — can require a slight reimagining of existing business practices. In this column for the Huffington Post, oDesk's Jaleh Bisharat shares some of the lessons she's learned in "8 Tips for Running a Virtual Meeting Like a Rockstar."

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Getting the most from a distributed team — when the people you work with might span a country, if not the world — can require a slight reimagining of existing business practices. Here at oDesk, connecting virtually is part of the way we work; we wouldn’t tout the benefits of distributed teams without knowing firsthand how to bring a team together, and we try to practice what we preach.

Meetings that include remote contractors, for example, are easier to conduct now than ever, thanks to technologies like Skype and Google Hangouts. However, virtual meetings also have unique features and caveats that managers should be aware of and handle accordingly.

Jaleh Bisharat, oDesk’s vice president of marketing, shares lessons she’s learned in “8 Tips for Running a Virtual Meeting Like a Rockstar” on Huffington Post. Her advice includes the importance of giving remote team members a chance to start the discussion:

“Given the challenges of jumping into a lively conversation from a distance, we always invite our remote team members to speak first. We do this to show respect, as well as to be sure we don’t miss out on their contributions.”

To read the rest of Jaleh’s tips for running productive meetings, click here!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 11th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/perspectives-future-work-april-11th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/perspectives-future-work-april-11th/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:00:15 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32217 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week we discuss working with Millennials, the quest for work-life balance, a rise in rates for independent professionals, and tips to help freelancers stay organized.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 4/11/2014:

Forbes | 5 Things Every Boss Should Know About Working With Millennials
Unlike generations before them, Millennials’ workplace habits and preferences are forcing organizations to rethink how they approach managing this new group of workers. Alyson Krueger shares her own perspective—she herself is a Millennial—on what is important to this generation, what is totally different, and what traits are shared with other generations. Alyson recommends managers embrace the needs of Millennials, or businesses will find their younger employees diving into side gigs and entrepreneurial ventures.

Business Insider | 7 Tips For Freelancers To Stay Organized
Whether you’re a recent graduate or an experienced professional, freelancing is increasingly becoming a long-term career path. With the number of independent professionals reaching nearly 18 million in the U.S. alone, Richard Feloni shares seven tips to help people work successfully outside the confines of a traditional office.

Tech Cocktail | We’re Obsessed with Work-Life Balance, But We Totally Fail at It
Most professionals know and strive for work-life balance — but in reality, most struggle to achieve it. Pinpointing technology as a driving force behind the lack of balance, Kira Newman suggests meditation and, beyond that, promises to investigate additional resources in future posts on the topic.

CNNMoney | Freelancer pay jumps, in search for quality work
Suggesting a shift in how businesses approach hiring freelance talent, a recent trend shows that organizations are starting to recognize the correlation between pay and quality. Vickie Elmer posits that businesses are beginning to view freelancers as an extension of their workforce and leans on Sara Horowitz, executive director of the Freelancers Union, to support her claim: “People who employ freelancers are starting to realize cheaper’s not always better,” Horowitz confirmed.

What news or advice about the future of work caught your eye this week? Share it in the comments section below!

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The 8 Coolest Small Home Office Solutions https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/the-8-coolest-small-home-office-solutions/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/the-8-coolest-small-home-office-solutions/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:00:54 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32182 Creating a functional office space can be tough when you work from home, especially if you're short on space. Have no fear! We have scoured the web for the coolest, cutest, and most functional small home office ideas and found an inspiring solution for just about every space.

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Creating a functional office space can be tough when you work from home, especially if can’t find the room for it. Have no fear! We have scoured the web for the coolest, cutest, and most functional small home office ideas and found an inspiring solution for just about every space.

1. Put it in a closet

Tiny condos often come with an abundance of closet space that can be transformed into a very functional work space. Lifehacker explains how…

"How Can I Turn My Closet into an Office?" from Lifehacker

source: Lifehacker

2. Put it in a trunk

The Blackhawk Secretary is a giant trunk that has space for everything you need. When you’ve finished for the day, simply close your office and roll it away.

3. Attach it to the wall

With a surface that folds away as well as a hidden cupboard, the Flatmate Desk Top takes up as little space as a home office possibly can.

4. Put it in an armoire

You can repurpose an armoire with a few adjustments, or purchase one that’s ready to use, like the Seymour Home Office Armoire.

Freshome: Seymour Home Office Armoire, by Pottery Barn

Source: Freshome

5. Find a nook or a cranny

When looking for an unused area to claim for your workspace, there are a lot of possibilities, including the space above radiators, under stairwells, around windows, or in the corner.

HGTV: "Small Home Office Ideas"

source: HGTV

6. Use it as a room divider

The Cabinet Chair was designed for hotel lobbies, but it would also work as a compact office in a small space.

7. Have it double as an art installation

The K Workstation is both functional and easy on the eyes.

8. Put it under your bed

The Workbed Desk from BLESS is both a bed and a desk so you only need room for one piece of furniture.

For more space saving home office ideas, follow oDesk on Pinterest.

Which idea is your favorite? How have you arranged your own small space? Tell us in the comments!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: April 4th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/perspectives-future-work-april-4th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/perspectives-future-work-april-4th/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 13:03:17 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32127 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week we discuss research on remote work personalities, the economic effects of solo entrepreneurship, and NPR's Chris Groskopf's experience with working from home.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 4/4/2014:

PolicyMic | How To Become A Successful Freelancer In 6 Months
Despite the recovering economy, many displaced and unemployed Americans are still looking for real alternatives to full-time office work. Elizabeth Nicholas shares how she found her calling in freelance writing, detailing the valuable lessons she learned along the way that shaped her experience.

Inc. | The Best Personalities To Work From Home (Think Neurotics)
Wondering if you’d be a great fit for remote work? Researchers at the University of Calgary recently conducted a study on the personalities of remote workers, measuring the correlation between certain traits, job satisfaction, and out-of-office job performance. Laura Montini explains the findings and explores assistant professor Thomas O’Neill’s interpretation that job dissatisfaction strongly predicts slacking off.

Financial Times | The Future Is Freelance – And That Is Healthy
With the number of self-employed set to outpace government employees in Britain over the next three years, freelancers will have a louder voice than ever before on issues like healthcare, taxes, and small business regulation. Risk Capital Partner’s Luke Johnson forecasts the political and societal impacts of an economy that’s increasingly dependent on solo entrepreneurs.

Source | Making Remote Work Work: Christopher Groskopf’s Tricks For Going To The Office Without Going To The Office
Working remotely and looking for specific advice on buying gear, setting up home offices, and choosing programming tools? In a case study filled with telling examples, practical tips, and amusing personal anecdotes, Christopher Groskopf sums up his remote experience, so far, as a developer and project manager at NPR.

 What news or advice about the future of work caught your eye this week? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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Is Your Business Ready for a Virtual Assistant? https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/business-ready-virtual-assistant/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/04/business-ready-virtual-assistant/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 16:10:59 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32111 Try as you might, you can't do everything yourself if you want to grow your business. It's one thing to accept that; it's another to actually welcome someone new, like a virtual assistant, to share your work. When you've relied on a team of one, how can you feel confident that someone else will understand your priorities, motivations, or rationale? Three professionals explain their experience and advice for those preparing to take the next step.

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Try as you might, you can’t do everything yourself if you want to grow your business. “If you’re a one-person shop, eventually your availability will max out. Trust me, I’ve been there,” Matt Keener, the Executive in Sweatpants, wrote recently when explaining key signs it’s time to get help.

It’s one thing to accept that you can’t do it all on your own; it’s another to actually welcome someone new into your business. When you’ve relied on a team of one, how can you feel confident that someone else will understand your priorities, motivations, or rationale?

“I think trust is the biggest factor,” confirmed Lee Drozak, a virtual assistant (VA) who specializes in web marketing and WordPress. But trust isn’t the only challenge; bringing a new team member on board can be a lot of work — especially if you don’t find the right person.

The secret to success? Drozak and two professionals who’ve used VAs to support their work, Nick Loper and Jenna Weiner, explain their experience and advice for those preparing to take the next step.

Yes, it takes time to train a virtual assistant

“We can come up with a lot of excuses when it comes to hiring someone to support our businesses,” said Nick Loper, the entrepreneur behind Side Hustle Nation, who has been working with VAs for nearly 10 years.

“When you’re already up to your neck, it can be hard to believe it’s worth the extra time to bring someone on board,” he said. “You have to invest time up front; the benefit is the long-term payoff. Even if it takes an hour to prepare — even if it takes one or two days — consider the break-even point of never having to do that activity again.”

Loper notes that documentation became important when he started working with a VA. “All my processes were in my head,” he recalled. “I created some training materials, then we spent time reviewing things together and sharing the information.”

You also need to learn to let go. “My VA is free to edit my processes and procedures if she finds a better way,” he said. “My way isn’t necessarily the single best way to do it.”

Be specific about what you want a virtual assistant to do

What can a virtual assistant help with? Jenna Weiner, content strategist at Dropbox and former editor-in-chief of the oDesk blog, says it’s not just what someone else can do. You also need to decide what you actually want to hand off.

“There are some things you simply won’t be comfortable having someone else do,” she explained. “But — depending on your relationship — a VA can help with everything from research, to data entry, to tasks that involve making judgment calls.”

Loper agrees. “Do what’s right for your business, so you can focus on strategic stuff. But don’t get rid of all the fun stuff; you’ll lose the things you enjoy in your business.”

Drozak adds that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for advice. “Asking how an assistant can help you is a realistic conversation to have; there may be things you’re not thinking about,” she said. “But it’s an open-ended question; you need to listen to what they tell you.”

Find the right match for you — and for them

Drozak says you must be prepared to bring a VA into your business. “When you have the budget, the mindset, and the goals in place, it will more often be a successful relationship than not.”

Budget matters more than some people think. “If you’re penny pinching, it makes the relationship tough because you want all this stuff done but don’t have the money.”

You also need to think beyond hard skills. “Where do you see yourself in a few years with the person you’re going to hire?” Drozak asked. “If your needs are short term, it doesn’t matter as much. But if you want to hire someone who will grow with your business, your long-term goals need to be aligned.”

For example, how do they feel about being a business owner — do your business philosophies match up? Are your business practices a good fit for their routine? Are your personality styles complementary?

The best way to get these answers is to connect in person — whether physically, on the phone, or via video conference. “Always have a conversation as part of the hiring process, and trust your gut instinct,” Drozak said. “Your instincts will tell you a lot more than an email or an RFP.”

Confirm your choice with a test project

Weiner had a VA to support her work at oDesk. To ensure she was getting the information she needed, she used test projects as part of the hiring process.

“Effective use of a VA depends on your ability to trust that they will deliver what you need,” Weiner said. “Test projects are a great way to confirm whether your work styles are a good fit, too.”

She suggests a small assignment (1-5 hours) that’s comparable to the work they’ll be doing for you. “I found it helpful to assign small projects I’d already done, because I could then compare results. Sometimes, I found that VAs did an even better job because they had more expertise in a particular area or industry.”

Loper also relies on test projects, and emphasizes that it’s not just whether a candidate does the project, but how they do the work.

“Yes, you need to find someone who can follow instructions without a lot of help,” he said. “But if I’ve made myself available to answer questions or otherwise help, and someone who’s new to me and my business doesn’t take time to ask anything, the lack of initiative is an easy way for me to screen people out.”

Depending on your needs, it’s not unusual for someone to hire a team of VAs, each with different areas of specialization. With thoughtful planning and preparation, expanding beyond your team of one can give you the time you need to focus on the activities that matter most!

Whether you’re a virtual assistant or an entrepreneur, what advice do you have for people who want to hire a VA? Share your advice in the comments section below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: Week of March 28th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/perspectives-future-work-week-march-28th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/perspectives-future-work-week-march-28th/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 13:00:09 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32078 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss the rise of hybrid careers, Google's approach on workplace research, and the economic effects of crowdsourced work.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 3/28/2014:

The New York Times | A Side Business As A Way To Gain Financial Security
Do you have a backup plan for your day job? Even in a rebounding global economy, many are seeking financial security by balancing full-time jobs with entrepreneurship or freelance work. Giving a nod to other Millennials who have grown small businesses on the side, Kimberly Palmer describes her own journey building a hybrid career.

HBR Blog | Google’s Scientific Approach To Work-Life Balance (and Much More)
How does one of the of the world’s most data-driven companies measure their employee’s happiness and productivity? Google’s head of HR Laszlo Bock explains gDNA, their comprehensive approach to discovering work-life balance insights. So far, they’ve found that many Googlers who want to separate work and personal time, can’t seem to stop themselves from checking their email — constantly. Looking ahead, Bock provides key questions that will help point long-term workplace research in the right direction.

Fast Company | 4 Strategies To Make Your Office A Place Where People Can Focus
Whether small or large, open or divided by cubicles, today’s offices surround people with constant interruptions. Speaking with productivity consultant Laura Stack, Laura Vanderkam highlights her tips and guidelines to help your team have the opportunity and space to concentrate and collaborate.

The Daily Beast | Is Crowdsourced Labor The Future Of Middle Class Employment?
With part-time, freelance, and cooperative work eroding the model of traditional work, more and more people are leaving the workforce to create their own schedules. “With Obamacare decoupling employment and health insurance, over 2 million Americans are expected to voluntarily leave their jobs to pursue anything but a cubicle by 2024,” writes Sarah Kunst. She explores the economics of crowdsourced work in the midst shifting labor markets and uncertain legislation.

What news or advice about the future of work caught your eye this week? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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When Should I Stop Doing Everything Myself? https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/solopreneur-when-should-i-stop-doing-everything-myself/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/solopreneur-when-should-i-stop-doing-everything-myself/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:00:23 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32044 As a solopreneur, your natural inclination is to do everything yourself. However, have you ever considered when it might make sense to stop doing it all on your own? Matt Keener has faced that problem himself, and explains the top three signs that indicate when it may be time for you to "staff up."

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By Matt Keener, president of Keener Marketing Solutions

It’s a good problem to have. But, nonetheless, it’s still a problem: you’re only one person, but clients continuously ask for more of your time.

As a solopreneur, your natural inclination is to do everything yourself. However, have you ever considered when it might make sense to stop doing it all on your own?

I’m a living case study for this question. Several years ago, I started as a part-time consultant on oDesk. My client base grew to a point that, by late 2012, I could no longer do everything by myself.

I started by hiring people who could help me automate certain aspects of what I do each day. Today, I feel much more at ease when clients ask me to add new services.

Including others in your team is a big decision to make; here are three signs that it’s something you should consider.

#1: You’ve hit your workload limit, but clients still need more

If you’re good at what you do, the demand for your products or services will rightly increase. However, if you’re a one-person shop, eventually your availability will max out. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Once you’ve hit your capacity, you really have two options: decline the new inquiries or “staff up” to become more efficient.

I don’t take this decision lightly. Sure, some business isn’t worth taking. But when an existing client asks you to solve a problem, it can be hard to say no.

The good news is that the client trusts your ability to deliver. The bad news is that you currently don’t have the capacity.

If you turn down the business, you run the risk of disappointing the client. This can lead to friction and further frustration. However, if you accept the challenge and extend yourself to the breaking point, will you actually do a good job? In either situation, the outcome isn’t great. Hence, the decision to staff up seems logical.

#2: You’ve already increased your rates to meet growing demand

Client demand dictates what you can charge for your services. As demand increases, you’re likely to raise your rates.

However, at a certain point, most people realize that there is a market rate for any type of service. So, if you’re already at the top of the pay scale for what you do, further raising your rates may not be an option.

In this scenario, revenue growth can no longer be achieved simply by raising your rates. It’s safe to say you’re at the top of your game, and it’s time to coach others, build capacity, and drive incremental growth.

#3: Internal administrative work is beginning to interfere with client needs

Stop and think about your average week. What percentage of your time is spent on revenue-producing activities?

About a year ago, I analyzed my time and realized I was spending more than five hours per week on administrative tasks. For example, I attend a lot of meetings in a given week: each resulted in at least one hour of administrative work (i.e. organizing meeting minutes, to do list data entry, scheduling, and other follow-up). Every hour of admin costs me an hour of work at my full billing rate. Is it worth it? Probably not.

This is why I’ve hired a team of administrative specialists. They dial into my calls, take notes, and update my task list for me. I can now re-allocate those five hours to value-added client activities and, in many cases, feel even more organized thanks to my team.

One final suggestion

When you’re programmed to do everything yourself, bringing others on board can seem intimidating. Thanks to oDesk’s helpful client center, you can hit the ground running in no time. You may find some of the guides I’ve written to be useful as well.

Start small, establish a system that works for you, and in no time, you’ll feel even more productive than you already are.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 21st https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/perspectives-future-work-march-21st/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/perspectives-future-work-march-21st/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 13:00:52 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=32026 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss shifts in the American mentality towards work, telecommuting from the perspective of federal employees, and finding the right balance between remote and in-office teams.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 3/21/2014:

The Guardian | Americans Love To Ask People ‘What Do You Do’? It’s A Habit We Should Break
Try describing yourself in one sentence. Did you identify yourself with a company, occupation, or career? More than ever before, Americans young and old are defining themselves independently from their work. Speaking with sociologists, Heather Long uncovers a subtle shift in the American work mentality driven by increased career movement, greater focus on work-life balance, and an uncertain economy.

The Washington Post | Feds Talk: What Is Telework Really Like?
A recent online reader survey found that 90 percent of U.S. federal employees are positive about telecommuting — an option that enables them to avoid bad weather or long commutes. Gathering remote work experiences from employees around the U.S., Josh Hicks shares readers’ opinions to highlight the pros and cons of teleworking.

Fast Company | The Future Of Business: 4 Ways Companies Will Change
The business world we live in has fundamentally changed; collaboration is becoming the new norm. With new ways to connect and work together, Dana Ardi makes her predictions for how companies, communities, customers, and leaders of the future will interact and innovate.

Wired | Work From Home Policies: Striking Balance In The Digital Age
How does a distributed company find the right balance between virtual interaction and face time? Pipelinersales’s Nikolaus Kimla compares his experience with his own virtual team with the situation Marissa Mayer faced at Yahoo! when she cancelled their telecommuting policy. Hiring self-starters and highly independent employees is one way to make sure remote teams are as successful as possible. However, he says businesses also need to recognize when sharing one location — for all or part of your team — is the right move.

 What news or advice about the future of work caught your eye this week? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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How to Close the Tech Industry’s Gender Gap https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/close-tech-industrys-gender-gap/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/close-tech-industrys-gender-gap/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 19:00:20 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31937 A survey oDesk conducted last year showed that the perception is that the gender gap is closing — especially among Millennials. You would think that the tech industry, saturated with Millennials, would therefore be at the forefront of employment opportunities for women. It’s not.

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Women in the workforce still face gender-specific challenges: just 4 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women, and their salaries are — on average — 33 percent less than men’s.

However, a survey oDesk conducted last year showed that the perception is that the gender gap is closing, especially among Millennials.

You would think that the tech industry, saturated with Millennials, would therefore be at the forefront of employment opportunities for women. It’s not. According to the survey, tech-related jobs are viewed as the third least inviting to female talent.

“I eventually concluded that we’re seeing the gap between what people wish to be true and what they actually believe to be true,” wrote Jaleh Bisharat, oDesk’s VP of marketing, in her column for the Huffington Post.

“Perhaps respondents don’t want to admit that in 2013, gender still impacts career potential — but when it comes down to it, they recognize that the business world is not the land of equal opportunity.”

How can we shift this reality? What measures can we take to encourage young women to focus their study in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas?

Read three remedies that could help close the gap here.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 14th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/perspectives-on-the-future-of-work-march-14th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/perspectives-on-the-future-of-work-march-14th/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 13:00:52 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31920 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss the blurry definition of telecommuters, 10 questions about the logistics of a distributed team, keeping your career on track regardless of where your office is, and the limitations of collaborating when you're not face-to-face.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 3/14/2014:

The New York Times | It’s Unclearly Defined, but Telecommuting Is Fast on the Rise
Telecommuting is reshaping the way people around the world go to work and is quickly becoming the new normal, but the way we define telecommuters is still blurry.

There’s a perception that telecommuters are moms with young kids or people in their 20s. However, the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey says the typical telecommuter is a “49-year-old college graduate — man or woman — who earns about $58,000 a year and belongs to a company with more than 100 employees.”

Alina Tugend explores the rise of telecommuting and the evolution of the remote worker, as well as the good and the bad things that accompany them.

Entrepreneur | 10 Questions to Ask Before Allowing Employees to Telecommute
Before leading a distributed team or hiring remote team members, managers should consider key questions to ensure they are setting their teams up for productivity and creativity.

Kim Lachance Shandrow looks beyond the benefits of trimming operating costs and reducing burnout to important logistical issues like technology and troubleshooting, tracking work progress remotely, and including everyone in company culture — whether they’re inside the office or not.

AOL Jobs | 3 Strategies To Get Promoted When You Work From Home
One of the most frequent issues with telecommuting is a lack of visibility that can create a longer road to promotion — the “out of sight, out of mind” effect.

Alison Griswold shares three strategies remote workers can use to continue developing their career at the same pace as their in-office counterparts. Across these three tips there is one central theme: communication is paramount.  

Gallup Business Journal | Can People Collaborate Effectively While Working Remotely?
Does remote work inhibit or foster collaboration? Dr. Vint Cerf, Google’s vice president and chief Internet evangelist, says it isn’t a black-and-white answer. Also the senior scientist behind Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace study, Cerf says flexible work is a benefit that has its limitations.

In his analysis, he emphasizes the importance of frequent opportunities for casual interactions between coworkers paired with the higher engagement and productivity levels often associated with remote work. Ultimately, he concludes, companies will need to devise policies that meet their own needs and values — paying close attention to indicators of success as defined by each individual organization.

What news or advice about the future of work caught your eye this week? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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5 Amazing Backyard Office Solutions https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/5-amazing-backyard-office-solutions/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/5-amazing-backyard-office-solutions/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 13:00:24 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31880 As freelancers, we often have the option of working from home — but sometimes, getting work done at home is a challenge. One creative solution? The backyard office.

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As freelancers, we often have the option of working from home. To get as much work done as possible, productivity experts say we should have a designated space for working.

Sometimes this is possible, but on many days the distractions can prove to be too much: the house phone constantly rings with calls from friends who think you can break whenever you want, the cat ceaselessly wants to nap on your keyboard, and the laundry screams to be done.

We love thinking outside the box for possible solutions and, if you have the space, a creative backyard office could solve all these problems. It is the best of both worlds: a very short commute with a private and distraction-free setting.

Here are five of our favorites from across the web.

Diogene by Vitra, designed by Renzo Piano and RPBW

This minimalistic design focuses on simplicity. It even heats itself.

The OfficePOD

Created specifically with the work-from-home population in mind.

Sett Studio’s Working Room for One

This stand-alone space is custom-built, then shipped right to you.

The Hem Loft

Yes, it’s a treehouse! You know you have always wanted one; now you can make it the hub of your business.

The Tetra Shed

At first glance, it looks a bit like a boulder — but it transforms into a very modern-looking workspace.

Which one is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

For more great home office ideas, follow oDesk on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/odesk.

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A Female Engineer in the Middle East: Online Work & Gender Equality https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/female-engineer-sparking-gender-equality/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/female-engineer-sparking-gender-equality/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 20:00:45 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31825 She was stuck at home and frustrated about it. For Nermin Fawzi Sa’d, moving with her husband from Jordan to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia had seemingly derailed her career. As a mechanical engineer, the country’s strict laws forbidding mixed-gender workplaces kept her from pursuing her ambitions. But then she discovered a game-changer for women throughout the Middle East: the power of online work.

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Editor’s Note: In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, the oDesk blog is proud to share the story of Nermin Fawzi Sa’d, an inspiring Arab engineer who’s fought gender inequality to pursue her own dreams and launch a virtual hub for female engineers across the Middle East.

She was stuck at home and frustrated about it. For Nermin Fawzi Sa’d, moving with her husband from Jordan to the kingdom of Saudi Arabia had seemingly derailed her career advancement. Sa’d, a mechanical engineer, had hoped to find meaningful work in the desert nation. But the country’s strict laws forbidding mixed-gender workplaces had brought an end to any engineering ambitions.

While Saudi Arabia has some of the strictest regulations in the world regarding women in the workplace, it’s not the only nation where women have little outlet for their ambitions.

Described by the Human Rights Commission’s 2012 report, women in Pakistan are often “attacked and killed on account of asserting their rights to education, work and generally for choosing to have a say in key decisions in their lives.” In Bangladesh, women earn up to fifty percent less than their male counterparts. Even in Jordan, it’s unusual for women to work after graduating from university.

Fighting gender discrimination

At first, Sa’d felt depressed as she faced the realities of gender discrimination. “Leaving my job and sitting at home was like jumping into a hole. While I love Saudi Arabia and respect their customs and traditions, I also love my career and respect my capabilities.”

While Sa’d struggled with career disappointment, her husband struggled with a heavy workload. And that’s when things began to change. “My husband is also a mechanical engineer and he used to bring his work home. I started to help him in many of his tasks.”

Their partnership proved successful and Sa’d’s husband looked for more opportunities for her. “My husband believed in me so he found freelance jobs for me. As time passed, I built up a very good base of customers who were satisfied by my good work, my time commitment and the fact I could charge less since I worked from my home office.”

Ad: “Female engineers required to work from home”

Nermin Sa'd, founder of HandasiyatWhen they moved back to Jordan several years later, she was in the midst of a project with a tight deadline. Deciding she could use some extra help with the job, Sa’d put an ad in a newspaper: “Female engineers required to work from home.”

Expecting just a few replies, she was shocked by the volume of the response. “The result was that this seven word ad brought me 700 resumes within the week.” Confused, Sa’d followed up with several of the job applicants to find out why there was such a demand for work. What she discovered was a surprise.

“I learned that for Jordanian women, whenever you have a child, the mother is the one responsible for childcare. Babysitting facilities are rare, very expensive and offer limited hours. Engineering work has traditionally required long hours outside of the home, so this is a huge problem. Sixty-one percent of female engineers are no longer in the field.”

Armed with her new insights into all that could be accomplished with online tools, Sa’d decided to open her own engineering firm, Handasiyat. This firm wouldn’t have the normal brick and mortar office, instead conducting business online.

Sa’d developed a customized remote platform geared toward engineers. She also set up a virtual conference room so the female engineers she hired could interact with clients while still being based out of their homes.

Handasiyat is the largest hub for Arab female engineers

While she knew the virtual model would work, Sa’d faced numerous challenges. “Many people laughed when I told them about my idea. They were convinced engineering couldn’t be done online. Funding has been a problem. I’ve also had to deal with people’s views on female capabilities, as we are a group of female engineers who are tapping into a male-dominated field.”

Despite the naysayers, Handasiyat has taken off. “Handasiyat is now the largest hub for Arab female engineers in the whole region,” noted Sa’d. Women in other Arab countries have taken notice and the company receives resumes from female engineers throughout the Middle East.

And even as Sa’d is named by ArabianBusiness.com’s as one of the world’s 100 most powerful Arab women, she isn’t stopping to rest on her accomplishments. “My major goal is to be the first virtual engineering company in the whole Middle East and North Africa region staffed fully by female Arab engineers. I’m planning to expand our services, as well as build a virtual engineering hub run by females where different stakeholders in the field can find all the services they need through us.”

Based on the success of Handasiyat, she firmly believes in the potential of online work. For her, it’s provided the freedom to raise her family and still pursue the job she loves. “Without planning to do so, I have obtained life-work balance as the mother of three children, while still being able to work flexibly on my own terms. I aim to provide women throughout the region this same opportunity.”

Online work opportunities are proving to be a major tool in helping women throughout the developing world earn a living, care for their families and gain economic independence. Celebrate their accomplishments by sharing stories about these inspiring leaders in the comments section below.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: March 7th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/perspectives-future-work-march-7th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/perspectives-future-work-march-7th/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 14:01:00 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31844 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss the disruptive rise of the collaborative economy, a UK business using virtual teams, and entrepreneurs who work while traveling the world.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 2/28/2014:

Medium | Work-Life Haven: Why Entrepreneurs And Digital Nomads Are Settling In Bali
Need a serious break from the office? There may be a spot for you at Hubud, Bali’s first major coworking space. Pointing to beautiful weather, the low cost of living, and a creative atmosphere, Hubud co-founder Peter Wall explains why entrepreneurs are flocking to the Indonesian island. Talking with digital nomads inspired by their new lifestyles, Chris Byrne explores the landscape of Bali’s growing startup community.

HBR Blog | Established Companies, Get Ready For The Collaborative Economy
The old one-way street of companies selling to customers is giving way to less formal platforms and products designed for sharing. According to new research by Vision Critical, more than 113 million people across the US, UK, and Canada now engage with each other using services like Etsy, Uber, and Airbnb. Alexandra Samuel analyzes what the disruptive rise of a collaborative economy means for big brands.

The Guardian | Switching To A Virtual Office Proves A Smart Move For Engineering Firm Bete
It’s hard to shake an office-based culture, but the decision was clear for Bete, a UK nozzle manufacturing firm that grew out of a home-based business. Noting the personal, environmental, and financial benefits, the company is now saving thousands in office costs. Using Bete as a case study, Sabuhi Mir looks at the business practices needed to successfully blend online work with the office.

NBC | Permanent Vacation: Digital Nomads Work From The Road
With the accelerating pace of business in a world more competitive than ever, finding time for work and travel can seem impossible. But for some independent workers, the two lifestyles go hand in hand. Citing oDesk’s recent survey, “Digital Nomads: A Revolution in Work Freedom,” Tanya Mohn considers why—and how—a growing number of freelancers and entrepreneurs are building their businesses on the move.

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

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Why We—Uh, I—Freelance https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/why-freelancing-andrew-karpie/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/why-freelancing-andrew-karpie/#comments Tue, 04 Mar 2014 14:00:57 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31694 When it comes to why we freelance—in other words, why freelancing has become a more and more popular choice across the country—I cannot answer for everyone. The fact is, there are many different reasons why people freelance. Some of these reasons include flexibility; work specialization; finding one’s optimal trade-off between money and other non-pecuniary values; even “sticking it to the man.” Deciding to go freelance is a very personal decision (one, I believe, that a freelancer makes almost every day). Therefore, I can only really speak about myself and my own journey into freelancing. So here it goes.

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When it comes to why we freelance—in other words, why freelancing has become a more and more popular choice across the country—I cannot answer for everyone. As someone who has worked as a research analyst at Staffing Industry Analysts (“the global advisors on contingent work”), I should know better than to broadly generalize.

The fact is, there are many different reasons why people freelance. Some of these reasons include flexibility; work specialization; finding one’s optimal trade-off between money and other non-pecuniary values; even “sticking it to the man.”

Deciding to go freelance is a very personal decision (one, I believe, that a freelancer makes almost every day). Therefore, I can only really speak about myself and my own journey into freelancing. So here it goes.

Why me?

Some of it is in my DNA.

  • I like consistency, but not bureaucracy. There can be amazing benefits to working as an employee of an organization—but for me, the bureaucratic side of organizations can become a tremendous distraction and even a downer. Being buried in bureaucracy is not for me.
  • I tend to be more project-oriented than job-oriented. I’ve always liked to get absorbed in projects and not get distracted. In a job, there are always many different demands on your time and concentration. Few jobs allow one to choose and sustain focus.

Some of it has to do with practicality.

  • When I was an employee, I could only engage in what was circumscribed by my employer’s business. I found I wanted to do things that were natural extensions of my work, but did not fit the business model of my employer. The answer: become a freelancer (not an employee).
  • My employer was willing to work with me to determine a way for me to transition from employee to freelancer. Many freelancers get started with this practical path, which is often beneficial for both parties.

Lots of freelancers are driven by an entrepreneurial streak—and when they are, I think this is a very positive motive that can lead to truly great things. Though I am fiercely independent, I do not have the DNA of an entrepreneur, and I find that my primary reason for freelancing is simply to be able to work in the way that I work best, in a structure that suits me.

So how’s that working for you?

I often get this question, and I find it difficult to answer in detail. My usual response is “pretty well,” and that does truthfully sum up all of the pluses and minuses, without having to speak to each of the items on either side of the ledger. But this post is an opportunity to go a little bit deeper, so here’s how I do my reckoning of some of the top items.

On the plus side:

  • As an analyst, I am now completely free to roam and graze wherever I please and on the terms I see fit. This is incredibly beneficial if your job is finding out what is going on, and analyzing and synthesizing that information into industry perspectives.
  • I (pretty much) only need to do projects that are related to what I am specializing in, so I don’t get distracted by other areas of work (or by bureaucracy, or its ugly cousin—office politics).
  • I find the flexibility advantageous. My hours are my hours; I can take on a heavy workload or keep it restricted to a lower level when I need to.

On the negative side, there are issues, but they can be mitigated:

  • Uneven cash flow is a perennial issue for freelancers, even if there is plenty of work. Working through a platform with an escrow system can help this a lot. In addition, accepting a client’s offer to be paid by a third party as a W2 worker (including withholding taxes) is nothing to be ashamed of—you are still a freelancer (and payments will be less of an ordeal).
  • If most of your work is done remote/offsite, I find there are number of issues to contend with:
    • What I call “Remotitis.” I mean, I love my dog and his companionship. But remote work can lead to this freelancer malady, which is caused by insufficient human contact and interaction. The cure is easy though: mix up your schedule with outings, outside meetings, trips to the gym (ok, bring your tablet), errands, etc.
    • If you thrive on collaboration, like I do, then remote work can be a bit limiting. Yes, it is free of distractions, but it doesn’t really maximize collaboration and its benefits. I know, though, that collaboration platforms and tools are on the rise, and I suspect that their support of real collaboration will improve over time.

On the whole, I almost always feel like I net positive, though I think no freelancer can expect to have their cake and eat it too. On the freelancer journey, there is no free lunch—you eat what you kill.

At this time in my life, I choose to be a freelancer and not to be an employee, because that seems to allow me to do the work that I want to do. There are other challenges and barriers to getting the work done, but they come from the terrain itself—not from an organization that is mapped to a different purpose and set of objectives.

I always come back to the well-known quote from Andrew Carnegie: “My heart is in the work.” That is why I freelance.

Your turn: Why do you freelance? Share your experience in the comments section below!

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Witnessing Tragedy From Across the World: Typhoon Haiyan & Online Work https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/witnessing-tragedy-across-world-typhoon-haiyan-online-work/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/03/witnessing-tragedy-across-world-typhoon-haiyan-online-work/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 20:00:30 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31708 Chris Madden and the team at Chicago-based Matchnode had just started working with Patrick, a freelancer in the Philippines, when Typhoon Haiyan hit. Suddenly the distance between them shrunk. Chris and Patrick share what it was like to connect through the disaster from a world apart.

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By Chris Madden, co-founder and digital marketer at Matchnode

The first we heard of Typhoon Haiyan—a powerful cyclone that devastated parts of Southeast Asia in November 2013—was from Patrick, a videographer we had just hired to help us with an “explainer video” to promote our company, Matchnode.

We’d been drawn to Patrick based on his past videos, reviews from clients and strong communication during our first interactions. The quality and professionalism of his work stood out, so we weren’t concerned about our project when he informed us that a large storm was bearing down on his home in the Philippines. But we were concerned about him.

That conversation happened on a Tuesday, and he told us he would likely drop out of touch as the storm hit—which he did, when Haiyan arrived just two days later.

In the following days, we watched from Chicago as the tragedy unfolded, the distance shrunk because of our connection with Patrick. Our little video faded out of importance, replaced by our concern for Patrick, his family, and the victims of Haiyan.

We were relieved to hear from Patrick the Sunday after Haiyan struck; he was unharmed in Manila. After a few tense days, even relatives in areas that were harder hit were able to join his family in the capital.

Just a week or so later, Patrick was back at work and delivered a video that was exactly what we needed. We were happy to be able to help his family and friends recover not just by paying him for the work he did, but also by making a donation directly to him—which oDesk facilitated by waiving their fees for direct donations to Filipino freelancers in the aftermath of the storm.

We also gained an appreciation for the real value of fair pay, regardless of where people call home. Because Patrick’s rate is fair but competitive, he’s able to provide stability and quality of life for himself and his family—even in the face of such destruction—by working online for clients around the world.

In the face of Typhoon Haiyan: A letter from Patrick

Here’s what Patrick had to say about being in Manila during Haiyan, how being an oDesk freelancer affected his life during and after the storm, and how we can still help the victims.

Patrick Mabanta

Patrick Mabanta

I live in the capital and was very lucky that the only effects were electric and communication line disruptions. My Internet was gone for a few days. Power was going on and off. I had a few client deadlines that I missed due to this. I was very grateful that oDesk automatically sent a message to all my clients. (They do this for all ongoing contracts with workers in the Philippines, whenever we have a bad storm affecting us.)

We had a hard time communicating with our relatives due to the damage to the communication lines. It was difficult to bear because we had no clue what was going on in their region. Even the news wasn’t able to reach us for a week. Fortunately, they were fine. Their area was hit by the storm but it wasn’t as bad as [the city of] Tacloban, which was entirely devastated by strong winds, water and storm surges.

During Haiyan, I created an online fundraiser to help feed the survivors of the great storm. Fortunately, I had good-hearted clients like those at Matchnode who contributed to the drive through ad budgets and actual contributions. I was able to raise $400, which was doubled by the Canadian government to $800. It was able to feed several families for a week, which was a big help considering this is for their immediate survival.

Right now, Tacloban City is slowly rebuilding. It will take about 6-12 months to be able to get back to normal, aside from the thousands of lives lost. Fundraisers are still ongoing.  For more details on updates and on how people can contribute, visit the Philippine Red Cross Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/phredcross.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 28th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/perspectives-future-work-february-28th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/perspectives-future-work-february-28th/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 14:00:55 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31686 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week we discuss the demographics of telecommuters, working with wearable technology, and creating flexible work policies.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 2/28/2014:

Fast Company | How To Build (And Sustain) A Remote Workforce
Even if you’re located in a highly competitive job market, the best candidates for your team might not be anywhere near. So how can you reach and recruit talent beyond your company’s 50-mile radius? Bizo’s Jen Augustin points to remote work, sharing her tips for hiring, managing, and helping your flexible workforce succeed.

Quartz | American Men Work From Home More Than Women
There’s a belief that flexible work is a women’s issue—and that it particularly benefits moms—but surveys repeatedly show that remote work is gender neutral. The latest survey, by Flex+Strategy Group, found that 36 percent of American men work remotely most of the time, compared to 23 percent of women. Drawing on other research, Vickie Elmer explains that remote work isn’t a perk; it’s increasingly a core business strategy.

The Motley Fool | Wearables To Transform The Office
Google Glass, Samsung Galaxy Gear, and Jawbone Up are just the first steps in the coming wave of wearable devices. The real opportunity, Scott Amyx proposes, will be harnessing their widespread use for business productivity. In this article, he considers how these technologies can affect our productivity and collaboration in and outside of the workplace.

CNN Money | What It Takes To Telecommute Or Manage People Who Do
What’s the best policy for managing a team that telecommutes? In this “Ask Annie” column, one manager seeks advice for a team with some individuals who are well-suited for flexible work and others who may not be. In her response, Anne Fisher turns to remote work experts to review the personalities and skill sets that define the most successful telecommuters, and how management style may need to change to accommodate a team’s needs.

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

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How Range Master Took Its Retail Store Online https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/how-range-master-retail-store-went-e-commerce/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/how-range-master-retail-store-went-e-commerce/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 20:30:19 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31545 In 2008, sales for tactical gear store Range Master were good, but not incredible. Located in a storefront in San Luis Obispo, CA, cash flow came almost exclusively from in-store customers—and Collin Perry wanted more. For several years, e-commerce transactions had steadily become a bigger and bigger part of the retail industry’s overall sales. As the sales and marketing director, Perry recognized that Range Master, his father’s store, was missing out on that trend. Knowing he needed expert help, he decided to enlist online talent to take his brick-and-mortar store online.

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In 2008, sales for tactical gear store Range Master were good, but not incredible. Located in a storefront in San Luis Obispo, CA, cash flow came almost exclusively from in-store customers—and Collin Perry wanted more.

For several years, e-commerce transactions had steadily become a bigger and bigger part of the retail industry’s overall sales. As the sales and marketing director, Perry recognized that Range Master, his father’s store, was missing out on that trend.

Although he’d just recently begun working with his dad, Perry wasn’t content to rely solely on local business. With a background in Internet marketing, his vision was to reach customers wherever they could be found.

“I sat down with my dad and told him, ‘Hey, we could change this,'” Perry explained. He told his dad that the store needed to tap into the online market so they could create an additional revenue stream. And while the existing site did have an e-commerce section, it was so poorly designed that it was generating next to nothing in sales.

As he set out to invigorate web sales, he ran into another problem: their web development and hosting company. The company that was hosting the site was awful, according to Perry. “It was very difficult to get them to make any changes and they would only give us limited administrative access to the site.”

After several months of frustration, he was fed up. He decided to “eliminate the middleman” and venture out on his own, building the site from scratch. The goal? For Range Master Tactical Gear to develop a thriving e-commerce division.

From store to screen

While Perry had some experience with website development, he knew he needed an expert to make his vision reality. At first he considered hiring a local company, but the cost was prohibitive. He began looking for other options and, when a friend told him about oDesk, Perry decided to check it out for himself.

For his first few hiring forays, he discovered there was a bit of a learning curve. “It took a while to put together a remote team,” Perry remarked. “I had to learn how to find people that could do what they said they could do.”

After some initial trial and error, he finally found the online talent he needed. “I hired a number of people who helped with the various pieces of the puzzle, including a server administrator, a web developer, a designer—even a project manager. I was able to assemble a very good core team.”

To jump-start the redesign, he first did his research. He investigated various site designs to find what worked for him and what didn’t. Perry then shared those ideas with the developer to give him an idea of what he wanted done. His online team helped contribute to the final design as well. Perry stated, “It was a collaborative effort.”

As the site’s framework and design took shape, Perry’s next task was to fill in the virtual aisles of the online store with products. “For some of the items, we had to take our own photos and write our own descriptions,” he said. “But many manufacturers provided descriptions and professional photos that we could use.”

Open for business

At the end of two months, the new and improved site was ready. It was time to drum up some traffic.

The store’s brick and mortar customers consistently visited the website already, so he focused on generating more awareness among potential new customers. He used search engine marketing techniques and pay per click (PPC) ads to get the word out. Perry says it took  a combination of all the different marketing channels to achieve success.

Since that time, Internet sales have grown tremendously for the tactical gear store. “Once the new site was in place, our e-commerce sales skyrocketed,” Perry said. He credits his online team for the excellent work done and says that hiring through oDesk provided a high return on investment.

“I’m very happy with how everything turned out,” stated Perry. And what did his boss think? “My dad is very happy as well.”

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 21st https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/perspectives-future-work-february-21st/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/perspectives-future-work-february-21st/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 14:00:40 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31521 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week we discuss coffee shops as coworking spaces, connecting virtual teams around social causes, and the global economic impact of online work.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 2/21/2014:

USA Today | A Cafe For The Freelance Nation
Do you often find yourself working in coffee shops and cafés? If so, “coffices” might be worth checking out. In this article, Naimh Ni Mhaoleoin looks into Ziferblat, Urban Station, and other coffice chains that charge customers for time and use of desk space rather than hot drinks.

GOOD | Redefining What It Means To Love Your Employees
As more and more companies adopt remote work policies, how can they foster community between distributed team members? Drawing from her experience with social enterprises, Jasmine Youssefzadeh shares her tips for inspiring happiness, passion and a sense of belonging among co-located and remote employees.

New York Times | Small Business, Joining a Parade of Outsourcing
Small businesses are increasingly able to compete with larger enterprises by tapping into the online workforce—a trend that could spur a previously unseen redistribution of global wealth. A recent paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that “contractors in low-income countries with the right skills can receive a substantial wage boost by participating in an online marketplace.” Phyllis Korkki examines the effects digital contract work is having on small businesses and freelancers around the world.

Tech Radar | Driving Towards Flexible Working
Given major advances in mobile, video conference and online work technology, it’s now easier than ever for employees to avoid difficult commutes while keeping up productivity. Citing their recent study on worker preferences, Citrix’s Andrew Millard advocates for UK businesses—which have faced a winter of record rain and poor driving conditions—to embrace telecommuting.

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

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10 Top Sites For Online Education https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/10-top-sites-online-education/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/10-top-sites-online-education/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 14:00:42 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31386 Whether you want to top up your knowledge on a subject or learn a completely new skill, there is no shortage of online courses to help you on your way. In fact, there are so many choices, it can be difficult to figure out which platform suits you best! To help you navigate the rapidly expanding world of online education, here are 10 of the most popular options for upgrading your skills.

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Whether you want to top up your knowledge on a subject or learn a completely new skill, there is no shortage of online courses to help you on your way. In fact, there are so many choices, it can be difficult to figure out which platform suits you best!

If you want to help upgrade the skills of one of your freelancers or employees, it can be even more difficult to choose the best match for their learning style.

To help you navigate the rapidly expanding world of online education, here are 10 of the most popular options for upgrading your skills. Ready, set…learn!

Coursera

Coursera has partnered with leading universities in the U.S. and around the world to provide online courses covering dozens of different subjects. Recently, they’ve introduced “specializations”—10 different course pathways that will lead to an official certification from an associated university.

Coursera has a wide diversity of subjects available to choose from; everything from data science to musical theory. As Coursera prides itself on being accessible to everyone, many of the courses are either free or very cheap to to take, with only the official certification at the end having a higher cost involved.

Lynda.com

A veteran in the online education space, Lynda.com offers a subscription-based video tutorial library. Think of it as an education-based Netflix. A great option for people who are visual learners, and at a reasonable cost of $25 per month, a Lynda.com membership provides unlimited access to more than 80,000 videos on a broad range of different subjects.

Udemy

With an average of 800 new courses added to their repertoire every month, Udemy is a bit more expensive than its competitors. Costs vary broadly, ranging from $10 to $500 for different courses; the most popular Udemy courses in business and technology tend to be upwards of $100. However, you can read the reviews of former students before signing up to any of the courses, so you can make a more informed decision.

Udacity

Udacity is a platform with a strong focus on technology, with a small but well-crafted selection of courses. If you’re looking to break into data science (called the “sexiest job of the 21st century“), Udacity’s data science program has an impressive roster of teachers from companies like Salesforce and Facebook.

Udacity’s pricing structure allows you to pay monthly for your courses; if you decide to drop a program before completing it, you pay for the course up to that point, rather than the whole thing.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a non-profit online platform providing a completely free library of educational “micro-lectures.” Focusing on more traditional academic subjects, Khan Academy provides a mix of video and text-based materials in math, science, economics, humanities, and a bit of computer programming. Since Khan Academy is free for anyone to use, it’s a great to way to get a taste for a subject before moving onto a more advanced course elsewhere.

Codecademy

Previously backed by the White House, Codecademy is dedicated to teaching people how to code—and it’s available for free. While other online coding courses are a “learn at your own pace” environment, Codecademy motivates learners to keep a fast pace using supportive groups and a gamified points system.

The school offers courses on a number of languages—including PHP, Phython and Ruby—and students are often already building and deploying projects by the time they finish their course.

Bloc

Focused on web development, Bloc is a more intensive option for those who want to learn quickly. Instead of short courses or lectures, this highly structured program runs for 25 hours per week over several months. With tuition starting at $4,250, bloc.io doesn’t come cheap—but it does offer a great option for those who are ready to commit to a career change.

iversity

Hailed as the “Coursera of Europe,” Berlin-based iversity has partnered with European and international universities to offer academic courses for free. Unlike Coursera, however, it doesn’t look like iversity is currently providing any official certification.

Skillshare

Skillshare is a community marketplace for new skills. With a broad range of different subjects to choose from, Skillshare offers an online catalog of video-based courses, as well as in-person workshops in cities like San Francisco and New York.

Many classes are available to take without a membership at a cost of around $20-$30 each, but top classes—taught by industry leaders—are only available with a Skillshare membership. Membership costs $9.95 per month and, while it doesn’t get you any free content, it does provide 20 percent off of all classes. Like other platforms, Skillshare provides student reviews for your reference.

General Assembly

Focusing on education in design, business and technology, New York City-based General Assembly has campuses in nearly a dozen different cities around the world. Although the majority of General Assembly classes are in-person, they also offer a compact selection of online-only or mixed courses.

General Assembly even livestreams popular lectures, providing real-time interaction with the lecturer and other students. Their online courses range in price, from one-off lectures to multi-part workshops.

If you’ve tried online learning, share your course and platform recommendations in the comments section below—or tell us what you want to learn in 2014!

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BBQ Sauce Success: Brand Development Using oDesk https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/bbq-sauce-success-brand-development-using-odesk/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/bbq-sauce-success-brand-development-using-odesk/#comments Tue, 18 Feb 2014 21:55:27 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31328 Organic food chefs Beth and Scott Granai had developed an award-winning BBQ sauce. But brand development wasn't going quite as well. This was underscored when several retail buyers wouldn’t carry the sauce because their packaging didn’t communicate the right message. All of that changed, however, when the Granais tapped into the world of online talent.

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Great taste paired with pure ingredients? For organic food enthusiasts Beth and Scott Granai, this combination is the holy grail of cooking. Because of family health issues, the Granais have been long-time advocates of chemical-free whole foods.

But they weren’t trying to start a business around that concept…until one fateful spring night.

Scott was experimenting with an organic BBQ sauce recipe and brought Beth some ribs he had used it on. “I was really skeptical because he said he was putting in ginger and jalapenos, and I wasn’t so sure how it would taste,” she admitted. By the third bite, however, she knew something special was going on and immediately grabbed a pen and paper. This recipe had to recorded!

Out of that experiment, the Granais realized that they had developed a special BBQ sauce, one good enough to potentially market to the masses. Beth said, “There are thousands of BBQ sauces out there. But when we looked at organic BBQ sauces, there were very few available and their flavor wasn’t that spectacular.”

When Scott lost his job some time later, they decided to take the plunge and found Outta The Park Eats.

When a good product isn’t good enough

It didn’t take long for the Granais to realize that recipe development was only a small part of the process. The couple had ample experience cooking organic, whole foods. But when it came to crafting a logo and brand identity? That’s where they ran into trouble.

Beth said, “We were a couple of technology sales people with no marketing experience and no experience in consumer packaged goods. We ended up with an initial label design that wasn’t conducive for selling a food product.”

This was underscored when several retail buyers wouldn’t carry the sauce because the packaging didn’t communicate high-end ingredients or sophisticated taste.

Knowing they needed help, the Granais tried to find a branding consultant. But with limited capital, they couldn’t locate a consultant they could afford. According to Beth, “We felt like the ability to take our brand to the next level was out of reach.”

Remote brand development

Soon after they hit this hurdle, Beth was introduced to oDesk while looking for a freelance job for herself. As she became familiar with how remote hiring worked, she wondered whether it might be an option for improving the Outta The Park brand.

One of the images they were using in their marketing materials at the time needed to be updated for a postcard. Deciding to give online work a try, Beth hired a freelancer to work on the image. She came out of the process blown away by how easy and affordable the experience had been.

“Once I was comfortable creating projects on oDesk and sourcing freelancers with the skills I needed, the floodgates opened. I wanted to do as much as I could afford and get to the challenging projects that previously I had only dreamed of accomplishing,” Beth enthused.

Knowing their logo was hampering business growth, Beth decided to take that job online as well. “I was like, ‘Okay, well, I’ll throw a little bit of money into having a graphic designer play with our logo and see what he comes back with.’ With that very first file he sent me, I realized I could do my whole label over. The designer was amazing. It was very, very exciting.”

Beth Granai, Outta the Park EatsAs she began working with the graphic designer on a package redesign, Beth realized she needed some feedback. There were technical aspects of the project she didn’t know how to handle, such as color standards and badge design.

She looked for a consultant on oDesk and hired two with different but complementing expertise.

“We hired a consumer goods packaging consultant from Chicago as well as a natural goods branding consultant. Between the two of them and the graphic designer, I felt like we could knock it out.”

And they did. Based on the package redesign, Outta The Park Eats was able to land their BBQ sauce in several new locations. According to Beth, “Now we’re getting ‘yes’es where we were getting ‘no’s before because of the packaging.”

Being able to hire the best talent for the job, regardless of location, has been a huge boon to the Granais’ natural foods company.

“The projects we have done on oDesk have given our business, our brand and Outta The Park BBQ Sauce new life. The future is bright, and we owe that to oDesk and the amazing freelancers we have worked with and consider a vital part of our team,” said Beth.

Have you used online work to develop your product? Or do you have experience with brand development using oDesk? If so, share your story in the comments section below!

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 14th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/perspectives-future-work-february-14th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/perspectives-future-work-february-14th/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 14:00:27 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31413 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week we discuss life as a freelancer in New York, measuring the independent workforce, and building the best startup teams.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 2/14/2014:

New York Times | Freelancers in the ‘Gig Economy’ Find a Mix of Freedom and Uncertainty
Facing unemployment last year, Josh Springer decided to look for freelance work as a website developer and social media consultant. One of 146,477 New York City-based members of the Freelancers Union, Springer has joined a wave of millennials creating their own opportunities outside of the 9-to-5 office routine. Quoting Sara Horowitz of the Freelancer’s Union, Rachel Swarns explains that Springer is one of many who are “establishing a new way to work—and in the process, they’re cultivating a new way of life.”

HBR Blog | Where Are All The Self-Employed Workers?
While most recent news points towards a growing freelance economy, last week’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report showed a decline in the number of U.S. self-employed workers. What accounts for the difference? Taking a deeper look at U.S. Census data, Justin Fox gives a detailed analysis of occupational trends, uncovering how independent workers are actually growing in number across a long tail of specialized jobs.

Tech Cocktail | How To Build A Quality Startup Team In A Competitive Market
Successful startups are rapidly adopting creative techniques to attract all-star employees—especially in competitive markets. Insightly CEO Anthony Smith explains his approach to hiring, training and mentoring the best talent, regardless of location.

AGBeat | New Data On Virtual Teams, Telecommuting In A Global Economy
From advances in communication technology to shifting attitudes toward office culture, telecommuting trends are reshaping the way the people around the world go to work. Marti Trewe presents an infographic from USC Annenberg School for Communication detailing how virtual teams fit into the future of work.

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

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5 Wacky Office Pieces That Top Our Wish List https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/5-wacky-office-pieces-of-office-furniture-that-top-our-wish-list/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/5-wacky-office-pieces-of-office-furniture-that-top-our-wish-list/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 14:00:04 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31357 Let’s face it, most offices are pretty boring. What can you do to spice things up? Check out these five pieces of office furniture that top our wish list.

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Let’s face it, most offices are pretty boring. Straight lines, rows of rectangular desks, maybe the occasional arm chair. Yawn.

What can you do to spice things up? If money was no object, these five fabulous pieces of office furniture would be a good start. (And yes, you can actually buy these—click on the images to go to the manufacturers’ websites!)

The Emperor 200

This is the ultimate computer workstation and could totally make you feel like a member of a futuristic science program.

The Emperor 200

The Ovei Pod

While this pod can be a great place to take a break, it’s actually a fully customizable immersive media experience. Three cheers for uninterrupted conference calls (and naps)!

Ron Dennis in the Ovei Pod

B-52 Ejection Chair

For those moments when you might need a quick escape.

B-52 Ejection Chair

The Conference Bike

As long as you are not the one trying to record meeting minutes, this sure seems like a fun way to conduct meetings.

Conference Bike

The Elliptical Machine Desk

Because sometimes, you just don’t have time to get to the gym. This desk claims to burn about 4,000 calories per week as you pedal at a slow pace that won’t break your concentration—or a sweat.

Elliptical Machine Office Desk

Which one is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

For more weird and wonderful office gear, follow oDesk on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/odesk.

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Lessons from Foxycart’s DIY Remote Hackathon https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/lessons-foxycarts-diy-remote-hackathon/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/lessons-foxycarts-diy-remote-hackathon/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 14:00:59 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31029 After participating in several hackathons, Luke Stokes, CTO and co-founder of Foxycart, was inspired: Why not recreate that experience by holding an internal hackathon? With a distributed team spread across seven time zones, this type of focused, real-time collaboration was a rare event. Despite a slew of challenges, Foxycart's remote hackathon came off successfully and proved to be an opportunity for team growth.

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Little, if any, sleep. Staring at a computer monitor intensely for hours on end. A steadily ticking countdown. Caffeine downed by the gallons. Red-rimmed eyes.

Ahh, the joys of a hackathon.

After participating in several of these collaborative programming marathons, Luke Stokes, CTO and co-founder of Foxycart, was inspired: Why not recreate that experience for the Foxycart team and hold an internal hackathon? He ran the idea past co-founder Brett Florio who enthusiastically agreed.

And so, Foxycart’s first remote hackathon was born.

Remote hackathon speedbumps

The Foxycart team had four major projects in development, but progress on each was slow. Stokes decided to make one of these the focus of their hackathon. “We decided to put it to a vote to the team using Doodle. From there, we went with the project the majority of the team wanted to work on.”

With the focus decided—a rebuild of the user admin interface—the next step was to schedule the event. Because Foxycart’s distributed team is spread across seven time zones, there was initially some confusion about the start time. “I just said ‘Thursday’ without clarifying whose Thursday,” Stokes admitted. “We ended up going with UTC, 0:00, because there was no time specified.” In retrospect, Stokes feels it wasn’t the best solution: those in the U.S. jumped straight into the hackathon after a full day’s work.

As the event got underway, things didn’t exactly go smoothly. “As with most hackathons, the first few hours were a bit frustrating. Many members of the team had to get development environments set up before they could do anything productive and had never worked directly with this type of testing environment before.”

Once all the collaboration and access kinks were worked out, however, the fun really began. People jumped into tasks they were interested in, using a Google+ Hangout to communicate with the rest of the team. According to Stokes, “[In it] we cracked jokes, asked questions and enjoyed spending time together solving problems.”

The event lasted a full 24 hours, although team members occasionally logged out for a few hours of sleep. “I, as an example, got three hours of glorious sleep,” said Stokes. The Google+ Hangout allowed those coming back to work after a bit of shut-eye a chance to get caught up on what had been accomplished during their downtime.

Teams that hack together stay together

Because the team rarely works together in real time, the hackathon accomplished more than just moving admin development further along. The event also provided a way for the team to grow closer and gain a deeper respect for each other’s passions and skills.

“The team clocked 110 hours, 28 commits and 3,296 lines of code modified.”

And what about the traditional pizza and energy drinks? The team tried to incorporate these elements into the event with limited success. “We talked about coordinating a remote pizza delivery to everyone’s location, but it didn’t end up working out. At one point, we did sample our favorite beverages together.”

They also cranked up the music a few times. “We shared a few songs via the Google+ Hangout and talked about what we were listening to.”

Despite the bumps in the road, Stokes is extremely happy with the end results. “The team clocked 110 hours, 28 commits and 3,296 lines of code modified. One of the best aspects of the exercise was that the entire team got on the same page with the project.”

Hackthon #2: Lessons learned

That first experience was such a success that the team decided to hold a second hackathon a few months later. This time, they tweaked several aspects of the event.

First, they chose a start time that better fit everyone’s schedules. Stokes said they were also better organized for round two. “Brett Florio, my business partner and our CEO, looked at everyone’s strengths and suggested some areas to focus on for each team member. That worked out very well because it was what people already wanted to work on.”

Finally, everyone got a bit more sleep during the second hackathon. Why? “We learned through the first event that at some point you hit a wall of diminishing returns,” Stokes observed. “At that point, it’s better to take a nap.”

With two remote hackathons under their belt, the Foxycart team is looking forward to another one at some point in the future. Stokes reiterated the team-building power of this type of collaborative experience. “We got to celebrate each other’s success as we helped each other move forward.”

Has your distributed development team ever tried to do a remote hackathon or group event together? If so, tell us about it in the comments section below.

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Tech Beyond London: Dom Bracher’s Startup Story https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/tech-beyond-london-dom-brachers-entrepreneurship-story/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/tech-beyond-london-dom-brachers-entrepreneurship-story/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 22:45:57 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31244 Entrepreneurs aren't afraid to break away from tradition, and British freelancer-turned-business-owner Dom Bracher's early career path demonstrates just that.
Not interested in moving from his rural hometown in southwest England to London, he chose to stay put. Now he runs a thriving mobile app marketing business and, in this interview, shares his oDesk advice for freelancers and business owners.

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Entrepreneurs aren’t afraid to break away from tradition, and British freelancer-turned-client Dom Bracher’s early career path demonstrates just that.

Eager to begin working in his field of interest—mobile app marketing—and concerned by the rising cost of higher education, Bracher decided at age 19 to skip university and launch his own freelance career.

Given his interests, the obvious choice would have been to move from his rural hometown in south-west England to London, the UK’s technology hub. But Bracher chose to stay put. Recognizing that most jobs can be done online, he realized he could avoid London’s high rent and long commutes and still pursue his professional goals.

So Bracher gave online work a try and was able to quickly tap into the demand for mobile apps. “I signed up on oDesk, and within a week somebody sent me an email asking if I could teach them about mobile apps,” he remembered. “I’ve been working ever since.”

Entrepreneurship in Bideford, UK

Fast-forward one year, and the 20-year-old entrepreneur has helped promote nearly 50 mobile apps, growing his reputation and client base along the way.

Dom Bracher on entrepreneurship in Rural UK

oDesk client and freelancer Dom Bracher

As demand for Bracher’s expertise grew, he decided to transition from freelancer to business owner—becoming an oDesk client—so he could hire people to help him on projects that went beyond the scope of his own expertise.

“I wanted to start offering a more complete marketing service to my clients,” he explained. “A lot of the time, the app I was promoting needed far more than just [Apple] App Store optimization and [public relations], they needed some design tweaks and the implementation of various SDKs [software development kits].”

To find someone with the skills he needed, Bracher turned to oDesk where he found “millions of freelancers with a huge skill base at my finger tips.”

Today, he uses oDesk to hire expert freelancers to help him with illustration, video, translation and copy. With ample experience both working and hiring online, here is his top advice.

For freelancers: Curate your online social presence and oDesk profile before applying to jobs

With online work, it’s unlikely you’ll ever meet your client face-to-face, so Bracher says it’s imperative that your online profiles present you in the right light.

He recommends that new freelancers “ensure that their social channels are all up to date before applying to jobs.”

Bracher also advises freelancers to be thoughtful about what they choose to include in their oDesk profile, especially their photo. “Having a smart, professional profile picture helps give you credibility,” he observed.

For clients: Hire freelancers quickly for upcoming projects when you need to, but focus on cultivating long term working relationships

When Bracher first started hiring online, he was attracted to the idea of hiring for something he needed immediately. Now an experienced client, he prefers to work on projects with freelancers with whom he has a long-term working relationship because he knows he can trust them completely.

“If you can trust your team to do their job then your management time decreases and becomes easier,” he explained.

Now hard at work leading his virtual business Kumuva, Bracher continues to enjoy the freedom and flexibility made possible by online work.

“The best part is that you can work from anywhere, at times that are convenient for you,” he said. “It allows for a flexible lifestyle, which is a privilege that few can enjoy.”

Want to read about other freelancers and clients who have found online work success? Visit our Client Resource Center or check out our free eBook!

Photo by Andrew Bennett on flickr

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: February 7th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/perspectives-on-the-future-of-work-week-of-february-7th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/perspectives-on-the-future-of-work-week-of-february-7th/#comments Sat, 08 Feb 2014 02:00:49 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31171 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week we discuss how freelancing affects our values, tools to boost productivity outside the office, and building personal connections within remote teams.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 2/7/2014:

Fast Company | How Freelancers Are Redefining Success To Be About Value, Not Wealth
How do you value your work? Some people measure by salary, hours spent in the office, or pride in accomplishment at the end of the day. But a growing number of people prioritize a different currency: time. Freelancers Union founder Sara Horowitz contends that the freelance lifestyle is driving us to change the way we think about work in a fundamental way. Her take on it? “Success in the workplace means being healthy enough—physically and mentally—to enjoy life.”

VentureBeat | How To Get Your Boss To Sign Off On WFH: Use These 10 Tools
With ubiquitous mobile devices and cloud-based apps, work-from-home tools have vastly improved—and grown in number—over the past few years. Talking with remote work experts and productivity tool power users, Barry Levine recommends 10 essential products for working outside the office that just might convince your boss that it can be done.

Tech Cocktail | This Robot is Trying to Humanize Your Telecommuting Experience
As telecommuting becomes more and more popular, companies are looking for innovative ways to make communication as seamless as possible for team members who work outside the office. Revolve Robotic’s KUBI seeks to blend virtual and in-office meetings, combining video calls on a tablet with a web-controlled robotic desktop stand to give remote users a new opportunity to interact. Ronald Barba explains in further detail how the KUBI brings us closer to capturing the subtleties of face-to-face communication.

HBR Blog | How Virtual Teams Can Create Human Connections Despite Distance
A recent survey found that 72 percent of people who work in virtual teams think video would make teamwork easier—but barely one in three actually use it. Could turning the camera on make a difference? Keith Ferrazzi thinks so. He says people on the most effective teams like each other, going further to help each other because of their personal bond. So how do you promote similar camaraderie in a team thousands of miles and several time zones apart? Ferrazzi shares his guide to strengthening relationships and inspiring trust within remote teams.

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

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My 5 Top Freelancing Freedoms (That Can Be Yours, Too) https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/5-top-freelancing-freedoms/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/5-top-freelancing-freedoms/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 02:57:09 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31130 I have found that working for myself has given me so much freedom and flexibility to live the life that I want to live, while at the same time helping others bring their business dreams to life. What could possibly be better than working for yourself, being there for your loved ones, and creating a life you are passionate about? There’s nothing more freeing than that and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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By oDesk freelancer Rebecca Lutz, Founder & Creative Director at LUTZstudio and writer at RebeccaLutz.com

There are so many reasons why I love working for myself.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be their own boss and have the sense of freedom that goes along with such a title? Now that I have experienced what a great lifestyle freelancing can provide, I couldn’t imagine working any other way. Over the past four years, I have discovered five main freelancing freedoms that working online has given me (and I know can give you too!):

Freedom #1: I Can Work From Anywhere

Reaching out and finding employment for myself online has given me the freedom to literally work from anywhere.  I freelance on oDesk as a graphic designer, work independently as the owner and creative director of my own design studio, sell digital products through my Etsy shop, and write articles and training books for my brand new blog on graphic design. Since most of my work is done on the computer, this means that my home office, the local coffee house, my balcony garden, the couch, the floor, and even under the covers of my bed all qualify as workspaces!

If one location proves to be unproductive or distracting for whatever reason, I can change to a more suitable environment in an instant. As long as I have my laptop open, my drawing pad by my side, my phone nearby, and a reliable WiFi connection available, I can go about my daily task list as normal—no matter what environment I choose.

Freedom #2: I Can Live & Travel Anywhere

Not only do I have the freedom to live anywhere I choose, I’m also able to travel and still make a profit while I’m away from my home office.

Since I do all of my work online, I am not tied down to any one location. This means that my husband and I can live anywhere we desire. For example, if we decided to move across the state, it wouldn’t affect my work in the least. It wouldn’t even affect my work if we moved to the other side of the world!

Not only do I have the freedom to live anywhere I choose, I’m also able to travel and still make a profit while I’m away from my home office. Similarly, when I decide I do want to take time off to travel, I don’t have to check with anyone or request time off. As long as the work gets done on schedule for my clients with the quality they deserve and pay for, then that is all that matters. My clients don’t care what I do or where I am in my time off!

Freedom #3: I Can Be There For My Loved Ones

Perhaps the most important reason I chose to work for myself is so that I can be there for my family and friends when they need me, as well as be there in the day-to-day lives of my future children.

In contrast, through the lives of my friends and some of my own family members, I have seen horror stories play out right in front of me. For example: a family member is rushed to the hospital, or the family dog has just passed away, or a personal crisis needs tending to. What does the employer do? They often try to make my loved one feel guilty for wanting to leave, or make the time off count against them, or ask them to wait just a few more hours… This is sad to me because it’s as if their lives revolve around their work, instead of the other way around.  In addition, most of the time they work on weekends against their will and complain constantly.

Now, these scenarios of course don’t occur with every employer. But for many of the people in my circle, they occur way too often—validating to me over and over again that I have chosen the right career path for myself. There’s nothing more important to me than taking time to be there for the ones you love, especially in times of great need. Having your own business gives you that freedom instantly. 

Freedom #4: I Am My Own Boss

Life happens every day, all around you. I think it would be a shame to not slow down every once and a while and just enjoy it!

As my own boss, I am able to set my own hours and choose the clients I work with. This means that I don’t put up with demanding, rude, or negative attitudes, and there is no reason that I have to.  I instead choose to work with exciting and positive people, and I dedicate my time to the projects that I am most passionate about.

It’s a very liberating feeling to be able to plan my day out and dictate what I’m going to do and when I’m going to do it. This means I will never miss out on an event that’s important to me, as I can plan my work schedule around it. After all, life happens every day, all around you. I think it would be a shame to not slow down every once and a while and just enjoy it!

Freedom #5: My Future Is Wide Open

Working for myself has given me so much freedom and flexibility to live the life that I want to live, while at the same time helping others bring their business dreams to life.

One of the best (and sometimes the most intimidating) feelings is when you know that you have the freedom to make your business a success or a failure. I have found that what I get out of my work is in direct proportion to how much smart time, effort, and thought I put into my work.

Since it’s now easier than ever to acquire new skills in whatever you want to learn, there is absolutely no cap to how far you can go with your business endeavors and no limit to how financially fruitful and rewarding those endeavors can be.

I have found that working for myself has given me so much freedom and flexibility to live the life that I want to live, while at the same time helping others bring their business dreams to life. To me, making a profitable income for my family while in return providing my clients with great value is a win-win situation. What could possibly be better than working for yourself, being there for your loved ones, and creating a life you are passionate about? In my opinion, there’s nothing more freeing than that and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Now it’s your turn: What are some freedoms that you have found freelancing has given you? Share your perspective in the comments section below!

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How Shared Values Build Strong Remote Teams https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/how-shared-values-build-strong-remote-teams/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/02/how-shared-values-build-strong-remote-teams/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 17:30:07 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=31036 Uniting a remote team starts with clarity of purpose but, as Lauren Anderson of 15Five explains, it also takes transparency, accountability and trust.

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By Lauren Anderson, Brand & Content Manager at 15Five

In December, I wrote about the power of the global startup team, describing how 15Five’s core team is globally distributed—and thriving!

We received a number of questions about the culture, logistics, and organizational structure of our successful experiment in remote work. I’d like to elaborate on some of the specific questions posed.

Why meets how

How can you align your team with the same vision and values when the people in your organization are in different parts of the world?

It starts with clarity; being really clear about why your organization exists is the anchor that will keep your remote team united. Try asking your team members to articulate the mission or purpose—the “why”—of your company; you might be surprised by the variety of answers you get.

By being clear and building on our “why,” 15Five has established core values that form the foundation of how we do business and why we show up each day. They are the 10 commandments that we all agree to honor; they imbue intense dedication in each of us and direct our progress as a company.

If your company doesn’t have a clear purpose, now is the time to develop one. You already know what product or service you are offering; the goal is to take a step back and ask how you want to change the world through what you offer. Publicize your mission on your website and clearly articulate it to every team member. That way, everyone will be aligned no matter where they are in the world.

The see-through culture

How do you build a culture of transparency when you rarely even see each other?

Part of our success hinges on drinking our own medicine. We use 15Five as a communication tool internally to facilitate a culture of trust, accountability and transparency.

Transparency is one of the values that we live every day. The accompanying vulnerability and authenticity embraced by every team member strengthens our relationships and drastically shortens the geographic distance between us.

We are always open and available to listen to feedback. This fundamental promise of open communication helps us peer within the mind and heart of each member of our team. It creates a safe place for them to share challenges, triumphs and ideas that they may not otherwise freely share.

Transparency is often too difficult to bake into an established organization that hasn’t historically valued it. One way to start to open the doors is to flip the traditional “manger gives feedback to employees” model on its head. If you’re a manger, try asking your team members for feedback on your own performance. Make sure they really feel heard; it will help you take the first step to instilling transparency at an organizational level.

There’s no I in TEAM

How do titles that reflect seniority, for example “senior” vs “junior,” impact communication and culture?

Another benefit to strong values and solid internal communication is that everyone has an equal voice. So while it’s important to have clearly defined roles for each member on the team, title and position are far less important than the substance of each person’s responsibility and how they perform. In other words, we place emphasis on contribution over seniority.

The language of “junior” vs “senior,” or “superior” vs “subordinate” has a tendency to perpetuate a culture where communication does not flow as freely. We have our sights set on transforming organizations to be more open and productive, based on a culture of feedback. Shifting the language is an important part of increasing the flow of communication, and eradicating the fear of being honest with someone who has the power to terminate your employment.

Being your own boss

When you don’t know what each person is working on, how do you hold each other accountable?

We temper our workplace equality with another deeply held value: “Hold and be held accountable.” We seek talent that has the highest degree of personal integrity, people who will keep their commitments to fulfill their duties.

Individual and group objectives must be clearly communicated and understood. Everyone has to be willing to not only call each other out but also take the heat when they drop the ball themselves.

Our weekly 15Five reports are a powerful tool for maintaining that accountability. Each person fills out a report each week on their progress and priorities, which takes no more than 15 minutes to write. Managers can then spend five minutes reviewing, offering feedback and support where needed. Important insights can be passed up so business leaders have company-wide visibility.

Ultimately, this practice helps teams maintain alignment and massively cut down on dropped balls. Why? Because what start as small issues can be resolved before they ever become consequential problems.

Tiny leaps of faith

Do you think transparency has led to openness on your team?

The other side of the transparency coin is granting trust. We equate “openness” to vulnerability which requires a high level of trust. We hire people inherently trusting them, so we don’t believe in a probationary period; trust is granted immediately.

By creating a culture of  trust and transparency, greater openness will naturally follow.  Team members freely and proactively share where they are stuck, what they don’t understand, or where they fell short on an objective. Those comments are well received and immediately acted upon with support or direction from the rest of the team.

Sure, we have conflicts come up, just like any other organization. However, because we share values of accountability, trust and transparency, we’re usually able to transform conflict into productive problem-solving. By sharing a common mission, we know we’re all on the same page every day, regardless of whether we differ on the small stuff.

On a scale of 1 to 10, what level of transparency does your company have—with 10 being wide open, vulnerable, trusting and transparent?

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: January 31st https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/weeks-perspectives-future-work-january-31st/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/weeks-perspectives-future-work-january-31st/#comments Fri, 31 Jan 2014 14:00:34 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30915 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work. This week we discuss the role of freelancers in the U.S. economy, work life integration, and the effect of location of remote work.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing and the future of work.

Week of 1/31/2014:

CNBC | Obama: Is The Job Of The Future A Freelance One?
In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Obama emphasized shrinking unemployment rates across the country. However, a key explanation for the job growth went unmentioned: one in three Americans (roughly 42 million people) now work in part-time, contract or freelance jobs. Citing research and predictions from CareerBuilder, oDesk and Elance, Elaine Pofeldt contends that freelancers will play an increasingly important part in a resurgent U.S. economy.

Entrepreneur | How To Make It As A Freelance Entrepreneur
Would you describe yourself as a freelancer, entrepreneur, or both? The two labels share strikingly similar mindsets: Both market themselves, set their own goals, and derive their success from building personal networks with clients and peers. Jon Salm shares five key skills and recommended tools to help you launch your independent career.

Forbes | Work Life Integration: The New Norm
Keeping your professional and personal lives separate has long been popular advice in the corporate world, but the new reality is “work-life integration.” Pointing to always-on mobile technology, a rising millennial workforce with different habits and expectations, as well as the growth of remote work, Dan Schawbel demonstrates why and how the old adage may no longer hold true.

The Economist | Remote Possibilities
“Does our location change the quality of our work?” asks The Economist’s “Gulliver” travel blog. While today’s technology enables us to work from anywhere in the world, how do our surroundings affect the work we do? Writing while travelling might spur creativity, or leave your thoughts disjointed—depending on the circumstance. In either case, the rise of remote work will come to redefine the way we think about business travel.

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

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: January 23rd https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/weeks-perspectives-future-work-january-23rd/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/weeks-perspectives-future-work-january-23rd/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 14:00:35 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30860 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss the value of flexible work, how technology affects hiring, and career tips for aspiring freelancers.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 1/24/2014:

SmartCompany.com.au | Why Offering Flexible Work Is No Longer Optional: Survey
Giving employees the freedom to work when and where they want might be more than just a perk. In a study by office space provider Regus, 59 percent of respondents said they would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible work options. In an interview with Paul Migliorini of Regus Australia and New Zealand, Myriam Robin explores the implications of flexible work on hiring and turnover rates.

Inc. | The Future of Recruiting and Hiring Technology
Will selecting and interviewing candidates ever be completely automated? Considering opinions from human resources experts, Adam Vaccaro contemplates the roles human interaction and recruiting technology will play in the hiring process of the future.

The Next Web | How to Start Your Freelance Career and be Your Own Boss
Freelancing may seem simple at first, but a surprising amount of preparation goes into creating success out of your own talent. From personal branding to the importance of networking for solo professionals, Josephine Sabin explains how to stand out to clients and potential customers.

SF Gate | Study: Mobile Workers Would Rather Work From Home Than Get A Pay Raise
What value do you put on flexible work and other job perks? The recent #GenMobile survey by Aruba Networks indicates that 53 percent of people would rather work from home two or three days a week than take a 10 percent raise. Drawing from the survey’s results, Benny Evangelista discusses remote work and other perk trade-offs that many of today’s employees would make.

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

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The Top 5 Most Ridiculous—But Awesome—Home Offices https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/top-5-ridiculous-awesome-home-offices/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/top-5-ridiculous-awesome-home-offices/#comments Wed, 22 Jan 2014 14:00:02 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30802 Freelancers and entrepreneurs often have the freedom to work from home. To get the most from those hours, we organize a workspace to make it our own. But in most cases, this space still blends into the rest of the house; this makes it more difficult to get into work mode than if the office was elsewhere. One fix is to create an office space that reflects your personality while also promoting hard work and creativity. I sometimes dream of creating a space so awesome, it could only be described as…well, ridiculously awesome! Here are my top five inspirations, starting with the least ridiculous.

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Freelancers and entrepreneurs often have the freedom to work from home. To get the most from those hours, we organize a workspace to make it our own.

But in most cases, this space still blends into the rest of the house; this makes it more difficult to get into work mode than if the office was elsewhere.

One fix is to create an office space that reflects your personality while also promoting hard work and creativity. I sometimes dream of creating a space so awesome, it could only be described as…well, ridiculously awesome!

Here are my top five inspirations, starting with the least ridiculous.

 1. The Mini

This Mini Cooper desk gives a whole new meaning to “racing deadlines”!

ridiculous home office: Mini Cooper desk

2. The Beach

We all dream of working on the beach, but suspect none of the people in those beach photos is actually working. This is the solution!

ridiculous home office: beach desk

3. The Underseas Adventure

Although this is not currently a home office, I can easily see the potential for an adaptation—complete with sound effects.

ridiculous home office: nautical desk

4. The Rainforest

No, this is not real—but it could be. It would be just like being outside, but without the bugs!

ridiculous home office: rainforest desk

5. The Aquarium

This aquarium rendering would be impossible to build, but is my absolute favorite. Not only does it feel inviting, it would keep the cat off the keyboard!

ridiculous home office: aquarium desk

These five offices may not be practical—or even possible—but the idea of creating something functional, comfortable, attractive and inspiring should play a huge part in how you design your workspace. Get creative and create a unique space of your own that will bring out your best work.

Which one is your favorite? Tell us in the comments!

For more home office ideas, follow oDesk on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/odesk.

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: January 17th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/weeks-perspectives-future-work-week-january-17th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/weeks-perspectives-future-work-week-january-17th/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 14:00:06 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30788 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss different stages of freelancing, coworking space dynamics, and the importance of self-awareness for remote work.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 1/17/2014:

Freelancers Union | The Freelancers Pyramid of Self-Actualization
Where do you stand in the freelancing hierarchy? Securing steady work relationships with clients comes easily to some, while others bounce sporadically from one project to the next. In a series of feature profiles, Sara Horowitz explains how to progress from being a freelance novice to finding fulfillment, community and happiness—all while working on your own terms.

Shareable | 7 Things I Learned From Studying Coworking
Coworking spaces are on the rise, giving independent, pioneering thinkers a place to congregate, share advice and build entrepreneurial communities. Having spent the past five months studying Port Workspace in Oakland, Calif., Ryan Hunt explains his insights into the budding dynamics of coworking.

Mashable | How to Know When You’ve Outgrown Your Home Office
Working from home is a popular flexible work option for good reason: it provides amenities and privacy while cutting the expenses of office rent and commute time. But if your office starts taking over your personal space, your work-life balance may be at risk. Nellie Akalp shares seven signs that indicate when you might want to move your workspace out of the house.

Forbes | Telecommuting Is The Future of Work
More companies than ever before are employing virtual teams, bridging the distance with collaboration and innovation. Drawing from her own experience as both a consultant who works remotely with clients and an entrepreneur who collaborates with a distributed team, Meghan Biro highlights why self-awareness and a defined company culture are key to successfully leading a remote workforce.

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

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For Productivity, Stop Crushing It & Be the Tortoise https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/productivity-stop-crushing-it-and-be-the-tortoise/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/productivity-stop-crushing-it-and-be-the-tortoise/#comments Fri, 10 Jan 2014 18:55:15 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30719 Here we all are at the beginning of 2014 with shiny new backpacks full of resolutions, goals, plans, and projects. What thought process and workflow will you use to meet your goals? What if you started hitching your creative pursuits to the habit of consistency not flashes of brilliance? What if you invested only fifteen minutes a day, six days a week, regardless of how you felt? What if you gave yourself permission to be the humble tortoise, not the glamorous hare? The industrious ant, not the swashbuckling grasshopper.

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By Austin Church, founder of Bright Newt and co-founder of Closeup.fm

Exactly six months ago, I was in Portland, Oregon, for World Domination Summit 2013. One of the speakers, professional photographer and blogger Darren Rowse, shared his hilarious zero-to-hero story and later talked about how he wrote his first guide.

Rowse’s writing process was simple and guilt-free: he gave himself permission to write only fifteen minutes a day.

He and his wife had just had their first child, so the only way he could make time was to set his alarm clock for fifteen minutes earlier each day. Those readers with children of their own will recall being jarred awake by those impossibly loud cries, trying to comfort your child with your teeth gritted, stumbling around bleary-eyed while mixing a bottle of formula. You remember waking up, already bone-tired, with your patience plastic maxed-out. Such sweet times.

But after three and a half months of unsexy, incremental progress, Rowse finished his e-book. A few weeks after that, it had generated six figures in revenue. The numbers are compelling:

  • 15 minutes a day
  • ~ 105 days
  • 27 hours of writing total (and 27 hours less sleep)
  • Over $100,000 in profits

Now before we go any further, I’d like to make one thing clear: Rowse didn’t just get lucky. Every morning he had to overcome the temptation to hit the snooze button. He exercised great discipline in making the choice to take another small step toward a lofty goal.

Stop Crushing It.

Darren’s story flies in the face of a popular productivity schema—that is, leaping forward with huge bursts of creativity, burning up the workday with focused productivity, getting drunk on the wine of inspiration, feeling bulletproof with passion, bulldozing through any obstacle. Crushing it!!!

I can just hear Dr. Phil skewering me with his favorite question: “How’s that working for you?”

Honestly, not very well. So while listening to Rowse speak, I decided to try something different and expect different results. I gave myself permission to spend only fifteen minutes a day working on a new app marketing guide for iOS developers.

The Path to Appiness

Appiness guideAfter two years of developing iOS apps, I’d begun to notice that a major challenge for indie developers is smart marketing. Their apps end up dying a slow death in the App Store, and most of them feel powerless to do anything about it.

I wanted to do something to change that, and Rowse inspired me to write out my story, bit by bit, as well as step-by-step instructions for app marketing tactics that have helped me turn duds into profitable apps.

This project is the epitome of what oDesk makes possible: my programmers who coded the apps I wrote about live in Ukraine, Russia, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, and the U.S. My editor-proofreader lives in Colombia. The virtual assistants, who helped with research, live in the Philippines. The designer lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.

What a world we live in!

The guide is finally finished. It’s called Appiness: An Unusual Guide to Doubling Downloads, Minting Money & Finding Freedom. If you’re interested in making or marketing iOS apps, you can check it out here: http://brightnewguides.com/appiness/.

In other words, fifteen minutes at a time works.

Be the Tortoise.

Here we all are at the beginning of 2014 with shiny new backpacks full of resolutions, goals, plans, and projects.

austin church pull quoteWhat thought process and workflow will you use to meet your goals?

What if you started hitching your creative pursuits to the habit of consistency not flashes of brilliance? What if you invested only fifteen minutes a day, six days a week, regardless of how you felt? What if you gave yourself permission to be the humble tortoise, not the glamorous hare? The industrious ant, not the swashbuckling grasshopper.

Yes, I’m mixing metaphors, but I think you get my point.

For fifteen minutes a day, work on your book, your EP, your new website, or your top-secret business venture. Then move on to your day job.

Try it once. You just might find that being the tortoise leaves you feeling strangely fine.

Want more words of wisdom from Austin? Check out his chapter in the oDesk eBook: “Make It Work: Smart Advice from Real-Life oDesk Clients Who Found Success Using Online Work.”

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Perspectives on the Future of Work: January 10th https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/weeks-perspectives-future-work-week-january-10th/ https://www.odesk.com/blog/2014/01/weeks-perspectives-future-work-week-january-10th/#comments Fri, 10 Jan 2014 15:15:44 +0000 https://www.odesk.com/blog/?p=30715 oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work. This week we discuss Automattic's success with hiring remotely, tips for being your own boss, and why flexible work arrangements are on the rise in offices across the world.

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oDesk’s weekly column brings you the latest news on hiring and managing teams, freelancing, and the future of work.

Week of 1/10/2013:

Forbes | New Tech Eliminates Going To The Office, Among Top Job Perks
More than ever before, companies are showering employees with perks both inside and outside of the office. Founder of Chess Media Group Jacob Morgan suggests that flexible work arrangements are the most sought-after of these benefits. In an interview with Rose Jacobs, Morgan explains why results-oriented company cultures, readily available collaborative technology, and clear remote work guidelines form the foundation for successful flexible work.

Harvard Business Review | Hire By Auditions, Not Resumes
Automattic, the company responsible for creating WordPress, takes its team structure to the next level with 225 employees working from 190 cities around the world. Founder Matt Mullenweg details their unique audition-based hiring process, adapted specifically to vet remote candidates. While he acknowledges that hiring talent this way is more time consuming in the short-run, their extremely low turnover rate goes to show how effective giving trial projects can be.

The Guardian | Many More Of Us Will Work From Home — Or A Cafe — Says BT Futurologist
Dr. Nicola Millard is constantly forecasting how our working lives will change; it’s actually her full-time job as a futurologist at British Telecom (BT). Her observation that “work can now be a state of mind, rather than a place,” holds wide-ranging implications for knowledge workers everywhere—not just at BT. From using advanced conference call technology to pick up conversational subtleties to redesigning office layouts, Juliette Garside describes why Millard’s vision for the future of work is arriving sooner than you might think.

Lifehacker | Five Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Working For Myself
Thinking about freelancing or launching your own business? Aside from the obvious shifts in autonomy and freedom, there’s quite a bit to consider before making the move away from salaried positions. Speaking from years of freelancing experience, Melanie Pinola shares her own tips, tricks, and tools to approach independent work effectively.

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

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