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Change Management

Consulting is our passion.


 

05.10.2016
10:29

During our learning journey, we got the chance to visit Upwork, “The Future of Work” as they call themselves. It’s the largest worldwide online platform connecting freelancers and their customers. Based on their belief the traditional model of work doesn’t make sense today anymore as it’s time-consuming, competitive, expensive and inconsistent. Their model is being promoted by Internet connectedness and innovation, flexibility of work that can be performed from anywhere and better work-life balance. In Upwork’s words the Internet became the road to work.

Future of Work

Coming to Upwork offices you’re greeted by their virtual receptionist speaking to you from a tablet screen. She asks you to register with your contact details plus to sign the NDA while the attached printer provides you with your name tag with picture. The receptionist is one of their 12 million freelancers who they are contracting out to both themselves and to their other 5 million customers in 180 countries. Their freelancers work along 3500 skillsets, where e.g. IT development is broken down to individual sets per operating system and programming language.

How to Get There

In the U.S. there are today 54M freelancers that represent 34% of the working population. It is estimated that by 2020 the share of freelancers will grow to 50%. The role of Upwork is multifold. They “recruit” in the traditional sense among graduates and use “mobilizers” to create interest among potential freelancers to create supply for their platform. Through their online platform they receive applications from interested freelancers, perform background checks and then ask them to do online tests assessing their skill levels in the areas they listed to be their expertise. Based on this the freelancers are encouraged to set up their detailed profiles similar to LinkedIn profiles.

On the other side Upwork performs business development activities focused on promoting their offering among the existing and potential clients. Once a client wants to hire one or more freelancers, they put together a detailed specification and Upwork reaches out to their network to select the ones that are interested plus are fitting best the requirements. The list of potential candidates is provided to the client in a matter of days compared to the traditional process taking weeks.

At this stage Upwork enables the client to connect with the candidates through the platform via chat or videoconference to support the selection process. Once the selection is done the contract is being closed between client and Upwork, where invoicing, reporting and paperwork are also taken care of by Upwork.

Closing Thoughts

Coming from Europe one has to think whether this is also our future of work. Sure our governments are stricter on what can be performed as a freelance work and prefer employment as a better source of social insurance and tax income. On the other hand we see the younger generation not wanting to sacrifice their life to work only and looking for flexibility and fun rather for high and stable income. The companies are also looking for ways to increase their flexibility to contract out work to third parties rather than increasing headcount. It is likely that as long as the customer demand for instant work solutions will grow the offering of Upwork and similar companies will become more and more popular. 

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