Work Without Limits Regional Summit: Don’t Get Left Behind, Just Get Started

There’s a common belief that businesses don’t have the skilled workforce needed for the future. But the reality is that there is no skills gap—if location doesn’t matter. The inaugural Work Without Limits New York Summit, held this week at Nasdaq’s newly launched event space, challenged leaders to meet the future head-on by adapting to new models of work that embrace freelance expertise, remote work, and the agility of flexible teams.

The underlying message, and ultimately the challenge posed by every speaker, was simple: Just get started. Don’t wait. Or you’ll risk getting left behind.

Business leaders and top experts spoke candidly about this shift:

  • How do you secure executive buy-in?
  • What are best practices for leveraging freelance talent?
  • How do you get started and encourage colleagues to embrace a different way of work?

Companies and freelancers who are already working with flexible teams recognize that on-demand work is happening. And it’s something we are only going to see more of: according to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report, it’s predicted that company usage of flexible talent will increase by 168 percent in the next 10 years. The sooner organizations can transition their fear of failure into anticipation of success, the sooner they’ll be able to unlock the value that comes along with working with freelance talent.

Get started by keeping it simple

“Just get started” can be easier said than done, but those who have already started lent a piece of advice: start simply. There’s no reason to think about big, complicated to-dos. Instead, think about research or transcription.

As a nine-year user of Upwork, Adam Hofmann, Vice President of Marketing at Singularity University, recommends that marketers hire a web researcher to help prepare teams for an upcoming event.

“If you’re attending an event, and you have access to the guest list, hire a freelancer to augment the list with interesting information about every attendee,” he said. You’ll then be prepared to engage with the audience in a meaningful way. A way that extends beyond pleasantries.

Cara Bedford, Director of Marketing at CompuVision, recommends to get one department working on Upwork, prove the value of the program, then champion the expansion and growth of the program with other department leads.

In the first year of using Upwork, Bedford primarily focused on the marketing department. She has been able to save 70 percent of her annual budget and was able to complete 175 marketing campaigns as compared to 30 campaigns the year prior. Her ability to share tangible results with other leaders made program adoption beyond marketing a breeze.

Get experience by trying it out

If processes reign supreme at your organization, take this piece of advice from Chris Elliott, Vice President of HR at Colibri Group: “Don’t ask for permission. Instead, just try it.”

At Colibri Group, working with freelancers on Upwork is one option that has helped teams be far more nimble and responsive to their customers’ needs. And it’s now becoming the first option. Part of that adoption comes from having an executive sponsor to help grow it.

Elliott admits that it’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation: how do you get an executive sponsor when you have no experience—good or bad—with the platform? By trying it out and getting some wins under your belt, the conversation with your executive becomes much more fluid. If you can point to successes, much like Bedford has done, working with freelance talent and doing so more broadly within your organization becomes less concerning.

Want to learn more? Find out how CompuVision tripled their output by adopting freelancer use companywide.

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