Disaster Proof: How Online Work Can Protect Your Business

January 21, 2013 by

Lost productivity is expensive, but having a plan to work remotely can minimize that loss. When Hurricane Sandy struck last fall, online work kept many businesses up and running; with minimal interruption, work moved off-site and just kept going. Here's some advice from business owners who made it happen on how to "disaster-proof" your business. Read Full Article

The 5 Most Common Mistakes People Make When Hiring Virtual Assistants (and How to Avoid Them)

January 17, 2013 by

The decision to hire a virtual assistant for the first time is a big one, and one that—done right—can dramatically improve your life. But working with a virtual assistant isn’t as simple as pressing an “easy button” and walking away. For many people, hiring, delegating, and managing are entirely new skill sets to learn and master. This article won’t turn you into a pro overnight, but will give you some insight into five very common mistakes people make when hiring virtual assistants, and how you can avoid them. Read Full Article

Competing in the ‘Social Era’ of Business: oDesk Catches Up With Nilofer Merchant

January 14, 2013 by

When we think about “social business,” a handful of buzzwords come to mind—from social media marketing and internal social channels to collaborative technology and even charitably focused “social enterprises.” But Nilofer Merchant has something different in mind, something that will have a much broader impact on the entire business landscape. Merchant, an author, speaker and corporate director, discusses the new age of “social business” in her latest book, “11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era,” which was recently named one of Fast Company’s 12 best business books of 2012. The Harvard Business Review digital book discusses how incorporating a social foundation into an organization’s very structure and design can give it an edge in the coming years, making it more innovative and agile. Read Full Article

Say What?: Why the English Language is Weird and What To Do About It

January 3, 2013 by

Welcome to the wild world of English idioms! Where nothing is as it seems and phrases like “you’re pulling my leg” have nothing to do with someone truly tugging on your lower limb. As oDesk’s official word wrangler, this is a subject I spend a lot of time pondering. (Like, waaaayyyy too much time.) So I thought I’d share a few thoughts on how both sides of the communication equation can navigate a notoriously wacky language. Read Full Article

Keeping Your Body Happy While You Work: Ergonomics 101

December 26, 2012 by

‘Tis the season for working while traveling. We’ve all been there, sending out one last email before the flight attendant tells you to turn off your mobile device, or finishing a report from the train terminal. These days you can find people logging into work from just about anywhere, but that doesn’t mean we’re impervious to the damage that sitting all day or staring at tiny type on a monitor can do to our bodies. We’ve pulled together a collection of quick and easy ergonomics tips that you can implement in your daily routine to keep those muscles and joints from complaining. Read Full Article

2013: The Year of the Specialized, the Customized and the Analyzed

December 20, 2012 by

Advances in Internet technology have changed the way we work, with serious implications for how we structure companies and teams, how we think about our careers, and how we communicate with our fellow team members. From telecommuting and online work to distributed teams and even entirely virtual companies, the way the world works now is light years away from the business landscape just 20 years ago. As technology continues to advance rapidly, what does that mean for the way we will work in 2013? Or even 2020? oDesk CEO Gary Swart shared his vision for the future of work in an article today for VentureBeat, outlining 4 major trends that will shape the world of work in 2013. All of them lead to the conclusion that 2013 will be the year of the specialized, the customized and the analyzed. Read Full Article

Location Independent: Bernard Vukas’ Travel and Work Experiment

December 13, 2012 by

Sights and sounds that many of us will never see or hear are just another stop on the road for Bernard Vukas—from Ottoman mosques in Turkey, to rice and curry shops in Thailand, to a beachfront office in the Philippines. With a lifestyle that is nothing if not location-independent, Vukas—a Microsoft Office Business Applications (OBA) developer originally from Croatia—has embraced the “work anywhere” freedom enabled by online work. Read Full Article

The New Era of Workforce-as-a-Service is Here

December 11, 2012 by

Last week, I attended a fireside chat event with Gary Swart, the CEO of oDesk, where I was blown away by the concept of an on-demand online workforce and how Gary predicts that by 2020, one in every three employees in the workforce will work remotely online. This topic also came up a few days ago at an event I attended at Stanford, where Mary Meeker gave her talk on 2012 Internet Trends. Mary asserted the trend towards an on-demand Workforce-as-a-Service (WaaS) using platforms like oDesk, which enable employment to be asset-light with very minimal fixed costs. I’ve now realized that the on-demand workforce is a reality and many tech giants here in the San Francisco Bay Area are embracing it. In this blog post I’m going to discuss on-demand workforces and how oDesk leverages this trend. Read Full Article

The Latest Coveted Business Address: ‘Global Nomad’

December 10, 2012 by

Although his home is in northern New Jersey, Jay Shapiro's preferred business address is “global nomad,” as he runs his business — mobile app development platform Infinite Monkeys — from a laptop with no fixed address. Often it’s from his lake house in Canada, but occasionally it’s from his custom-built motor home — a carbon-neutral, heavily modified Ford F650 he calls the “EcoRoamer,” in which his family tours the world. “With the advent of online project management tools and access to a huge talent pool, we could assemble a team with all the skills you could possibly need to build a company," he says. "We have staff literally spread across six continents. They are an incredible team that brings us a level of skills and cost-efficiency we could never get in the past." Read Full Article

Planning for Contractors: Managing Your Money And Your Skills

December 3, 2012 by

Freelancing is the fastest-growing sector of the economy, but traditional safety nets often don't apply. As a result—as cynical as it may sound—there's only one person who is able to look after you and your self-employed future: You. Here's some guidance on two of the most important considerations for long-term freelance career planning—saving for retirement and staying professionally relevant. Read Full Article

Beyond Tech: Agile for Anyone

November 28, 2012 by

National Public Radio (NPR) was facing an innovation challenge: In five years, they hadn't produced a single successful new show—but had spent millions on failed experiments. Agile—traditionally for web and software development—is transforming the way NPR does radio programming: As one blogger describes, the philosophy that products should be released early and iterated often means new programs are essentially in public beta. As NPR’s example illustrates, the principles that define Agile can transform your business, whatever industry you're in. Read Full Article

A Voyage into International Event Planning

November 26, 2012 by

Planning an international event is certainly not easy — at least, that’s what I thought as I planned two large events in Bangladesh and the Philippines for oDesk this year. I had never been to Bangladesh or the Philippines, nor do I have relatives there. Plus, in addition to planning the events from 7,000 miles away, I was working with a rather conservative budget. At first this project seemed extremely daunting and nerve-wracking, particularly when one event was estimated to have 1,000 attendees! But with a little prep and on-the-ground support, I’m happy to say that these events were a success. We had excellent feedback from our members and we learned a lot about contractors, their countries and ourselves in the process. As a result, I wanted to share my experiences to help future event planners. I won’t sugarcoat it, it does involve a lot of work. But with the tips laid out here, I hope you can benefit from my experience. Read Full Article

The Future Workforce: Technology Fueling a Revolution in Job Creation

November 20, 2012 by

Our friends over at Singularity University recently published a fascinating article in The Washington Post about the impact of technology on the future workforce. It features an email exchange with Vivek Wadhwa, Singularity’s Vice President of Innovation and Research, and futurist Ray Kurzweil, in which they discuss whether the rapid advancement of technology will have a net positive or negative impact on employment in the future. They both make intriguing points, but one that I feel strongly about falls on Kurzweil’s side of the argument—which is that Internet technology is creating a revolution in employment, one that’s for the better. Read Full Article

Beyond Orientation: Successful Online Team Onboarding

November 13, 2012 by

Many clients simply give new hires a brief orientation process and a workflow manual to read. But taking it one step further with an extended onboarding program—like intense job orientation—can be a powerful tool for integrating new hires, especially when the team is distributed around the country or the world. Here are some strategies for making new hires as successful as possible through a thoughtful onboarding process. Read Full Article

Creating Work-Family Balance Through Flexible Work

November 7, 2012 by

High levels of work-family stress are causing many people to look for more flexible solutions—and often, that solution is the life of an independent worker. A recent survey by professional staffing company Mom Corps found that 52 percent of employees would start their own business in order to get the flexibility they’re looking for. "As professionals come to terms with the idea of flexibility, they are gaining confidence in seeking their preferred work environment and shaping their careers accordingly," said Allison O'Kelly, founder and CEO of Mom Corps. Read Full Article