Information on oDesk

oDesk is a USA based freelancing website, founded by two entrepreneur's from Greece, in 2003. The site is structured around site memberships with a flat 10% end of project fee. The company offers the ability for workers to create team accounts and work on an hourly basis using a site specific software to track the hours worked. Work completed using oDesk's designated software is the only type of project that offers a guarantee, known as "an hour billed is an hour worked and that an hour worked is an hour paid™". Otherwise oDesk does not provide a guarantee for either party.


This site allows unverified users to post projects and place bids, though they try to encourage users to verify their identities. Site membership fees are payable monthly, although the 10% job fee is assessed only when the employer posts his payment for the worker. As previously mentioned, the only protection in place is for the small select group that works on an hourly basis, for a verified employer whom has posted payment in advance. This guarantee does not apply to the project deliveries or quality of the same, just the hours worked, meaning that the guarantee is limited to the screenshots taken during the logged work hours are indeed related to the job in question. Any hours worked over the original agreement are not covered.


The site membership levels have a direct impact on both workers and employers. Each level of membership offers a number of skillsets or keywords allowed. This helps keeps users focused, but in many respects limits users as well. For instance, an employer with no knowledge of web design that would like a website built might enter in a number of different keywords, terms or skillsets that he thinks may be needed - they may or may not be applicable, especially if this is a new area for him. The site might have a perfect match for him, however, if the perfect match (worker) does not have the same skillsets in his profile he will not see this project, so these limitations actually reduce the number of bids that the employer receives, just as it reduces the number of jobs that the worker sees. This is a common problem among hiring virtual employees. The employer knows what he wants and can describe what he'd like and how he'd like it to function or look, but doesn't know what the underlying scripting or structure is - this is why he is hiring someone to do the work. Such limitations deprive both sides.


oDesk also suspends users accounts 15 days before the expiration of their credit card on file. This can be troublesome for users that may be unaware of this policy and find themselves needing to post or accept a job immediately. Their new credit card account must be added (and verified) to the site before they can use their account.


Basic - Free
Small Business
Large Business
Membership Fee:


Why does this matter?    Freelance workers generally provide their services and work for lower rates than large corporations, as they are individuals working out of a home office or a small group of vWorkers working within an office. They are able to offer lower pricing because their overhead is lower. Adding the burden of a membership fee, in addition to an end of job project fee brings their costs up, which in turn costs the employer more money. Membership fees are also a deterrent to many freelancers, who will take their talents to sites that do not impose membership fees.
End of Job Fees:
Bids allowed per month:


Why does this matter?    The number of bids allowed per month is significant because freelancing websites designed for companies to hire outsourced labor generally have thousands of workers on them, and because of this, each worker that is actively looking for work must place a lot of bids before their bids are accepted. Limiting a worker's bids means that they cannot bid on all the projects that they are qualified for, which in turn deprives employers from seeing all qualified workers.
Skillsets and Keywords Allowed:


Why does this matter?    Limiting a worker's skillsets in his resume, or the talent areas that an employer needs while posting a job causes an undue hinderance on the job for both parties - It prevents qualified workers from connecting with jobs of which they are qualified, and likewise, prevents employers from seeing all available workers. Employers may need several skillsets or keywords to properly describe their project so they get qualified bidders, limiting these areas can pose difficulty for the employer while describing what is needed. Additionally, many employers post a part of their project, knowing further work will follow, in hope to establish a relationship with a worker for their future work. Limiting the skillsets and keywords that a worker is allowed can detour an employer from selecting that particular bidder, thinking he isn't qualified. Many vWorkers have talents in many areas, but with limitations in place they cannot accurately portray their skills.
Money Back Guarantee for Employers & Payment Guarantee for Workers:& Operation

oDesk does not have a guarantee. They offer a dispute service for hourly projects that are paid up front, however the dispute service extends only to protection of hours logged, not the quality of deliveries. Workers are not protected with respect to payment of deliveries on any project other than hourly projects that are logged through the oDesk system.


Why does this matter?   A guarantee or money placed into an unbiased escrow account is an absolute must for people trading services online. You are working with people that you have never and will likely never meet face to face. In fact, at times you might work with someone that is on the other side of the world. Employers do not want to lose their money by paying up front and not getting their project delivered, getting unacceptable deliveries or receiving their deliveries past their deadline. Just the same, workers do not want to invest in a project and deliver it without getting paid.

The only way in which an online venue can ensure that each party is protected is by instituting an escrow that is held until the project is complete. This way the employer knows that he will get his money back if the worker doesn't deliver, and likewise, the worker knows he will get his payment when he does deliver. And should something go wrong, both parties know that a third party will step in and help mediate and/or settle the dispute.

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