Effective Virtual Communication with Outsourced Workers

Aug 12

After completing my ethnographic study of outsourcing through oDesk, I put this short presentation together to give a high level overview of the study and it’s outcomes. Here I include the Prezi presentation and a YouTube video of me presenting it. And here’s the...

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Ethnographic Study of Outsourcing through oDesk

Aug 10

This semester in Organizational Dynamics we were required to conduct an ethnographic study. That means a study of the methods and means that drive communication within a group of people. On the largest scale this can include an entire civilization. In our case the focus was to be a company of our choosing. I chose my own software company, and since I employ primarily outsourced workers through oDesk, I chose to focus on the online communication that drives my business and enables me to compete in an industry where I would otherwise be under-capitalized. I think you’ll find it a worthwhile read. You can download the study as in PDF format here:¬†Ethnographic study of outsourcing through...

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Proposal for an Ethnographic Study of Outsourcing through oDesk

Jul 20

For nearly four years I’ve done a good deal of outsourcing for my software company. In the process I have employed people from a half a dozen countries, on both an hourly and project basis. For the last year and a half I have almost exclusively used oDesk to source and manage workers for my business. There are both economic and communication drivers that led me to prefer oDesk to its alternatives and to hiring directly. That being the case, I still heavily supplement the communication tools provided by oDesk to hire, train and manage my outsourced workers. Mechanics of Communication In this ethnographic study I’ll first explore the mechanisms provided by oDesk to facilitate the hire, train and manage process. I’ll then review the ancillary systems I developed to supplement oDesk and improve worker productivity. oDesk Worker Profiles oDesk worker profiles include a combination of several different types of information including worker provided details, oDesk test results, timing, duration and payments from past jobs and¬†employer provided reviews. The amount of attention a worker gives to all of these information types directly impacts his prospects for getting hired. oDesk Interview Process Employers may post as many jobs as they want. Workers are then free to place bids on those jobs. When an employer is creating his job he can give guidance about the type of worker he wants, including the selection of thresholds related to the information on the worker profile. If an employer is interested in a proposal, he advances to the interview stage by sending a message to the worker. The interview then proceeds by way of messages through the oDesk site. Occasionally the interview communication process will expand to include the use of Skype or other chat or calling software. oDesk Messaging After hiring a worker, oDesk provides a messaging facility to enable communication. This functions very similar to email, but has the added advantage of retaining communications, including attachments, on the oDesk site. Changes to email or disputes about what was communicated can be proven through oDesk without relying on external tools. oDesk Work Diary oDesk provides a work diary tool that monitors the worker and tracks hours worked. It is installed on the workers...

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