IDCEE 2013: The Future of Work - Matt Cooper (Vice President @ oDesk)


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Matt circles the globe speaking to companies and professionals on talent management and the future of work. Currently the Vice President of International and Enterprise at oDesk, he provides counsel to businesses small and large on how to leverage online work. He has spoken at NEXT 2013 in Berlin, TechWeek, eAsia and Startup Weekend New York, and has been featured in The New York Times, Staffing Industry Analysts’ blog, and on Good Morning America. Prior to oDesk, as a member of the executive team at Accolo, Inc. — a recruiting services and technology firm — he grew the business from one employee into one of the top 50 companies on the Inc 500 list.

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  • There was a great article in The New Yorker several years ago written by Malcolm Gladwell about the CEO of Tibco Software.Coach of his daughter’s basketball teamGrew up with cricket and soccerCouldn’t understand why we didn’t cover the entire courtHad his girls run an aggressive full court press, and his smaller, less talented team dominated
  • Traditional work is colocated, centralized and long-term. You hire a team and they sit together in an office. If you want to expand geographically or access new talent pools, you build a new office in a new location. If you want to hire someone outside your area, you relocate them.
  • It’s expensive:Office spaceEquipmentLong-term commitment
  • When you decide you need to add staff, how long does it take before there is a butt in the seat?
  • When I talk to startups in Chicago, they complain about all the talent being on the coasts. If only they were in the Bay Area, where all the talent is.When I talk to startups in Bay Area, they complain about all the competition. If only they didn’t have to compete with Google, Facebook, eBay, Apple, etc.There is a constant imbalance locally between supply and demand.
  • 120 full-time employees. 344 contractors in 41 different countries.
  • Work has gone global – it’s a full court press. It’s no longer about the talent that is in your local area – the companies defending ALL of the court, not just their half, are the ones that will win the game.There are a few different dynamics at play.
  • First – employment is more fluid:My dad worked for HP for more than 20 yearsMy longest tenure is 5.5We’re headed toward a world where people are working for 5 companies at onceNext time you change jobs, during the negotiation I want you to ask how many decades you’ll need to work before you qualify for a pension.
  • The second trend is our comfort building and maintaining online relationships
  • And there are a whole slew of technologies that are making online work possible:Free or cheap audio and video communicationsOnline paymentsSaaS-based collaboration platforms
  • Online work is here. In 2012 alone, on the oDesk platform:35 million hours of work was performed$360 million was earnedWe have over 3/4 million freelancers and more than 600,000 companies on our platform
  • Again – it’s not about being limited to the talent or the jobs in your area. Online work is making a global marketplace for skills and services possible.
  • You don’t need to be in an office anymore. Work is no longer a place.
  • Work is going to be more fluid and flexible for both parties.For companies, they are going to use contingent workforces, freelancers and staff augmentation as a more important part of how they staff their company. For startups and small businesses in particular, this is a tremendous advantage.For the individual worker, they are going to work when they want, from where they want, on the projects they want. They are going to spread their earnings across multiple clients – rather than put all their eggs in one basket.
  • Online work today is like ecommerce in its infancy. There are clear parallels. In 1997, you would have never considered storing your credit card on Amazon and having them automatically ship you toilet paper every month. I have a toilet paper subscription!
  • And we’re seeing a rapid increase in the types of work being performed. We’ve reached a long tail now where pretty much anything that can be done in front of a computer is being done on oDesk
  • We did an extensive survey of our client base, and we asked them what they would have done if we didn’t exist. Only a small fraction would have hired locally – online work is opening up new business models, new services, and helping small companies expand.
  • And when we asked them about the future of online work, the results were pretty impressive.90% say that online work and virtual teams are a strategic advantage over their competitors using only local employment.94% agree that online work will soon become a common staffing option for businesses.
  • We predict that over half of the US workforce will be an independent contractor by 2020, and 1 in 3 people will be working online.For businesses:Access to talent, skills and expertise that is not available locallyA flexible, on-demand workforce that can scale up and down to meet their business needsFor the worker:Access to jobs and economic opportunity outside of their immediate geographic area – a global source of jobsComplete freedom to choose what they work on, where they work from and how much they work
  • IDCEE 2013: The Future of Work - Matt Cooper (Vice President @ oDesk)

    2. 2. Innovators win by changing the rules
    3. 3. Traditional work originated in the Industrial Age
    4. 4. It’s expensive
    5. 5. It’s time-consuming It’s time- consuming
    6. 6. It’s competitive
    7. 7. Source:
    8. 8. Meet the oDesk Team
    9. 9. The rules have changed
    10. 10. Employment has become more fluid
    11. 11. Relationships begin and thrive online
    12. 12. Technology has opened up the world
    13. 13. Online work has arrived. “We need to be prepared for a world where knowledge workers around the world are hired online by the minute — in other words, radically simplified employee contracts, payroll tax documentation and W-2s, and improved tax laws on home offices, part-time work, and selfemployment.” -- Michael S. Malone, The Wall Street Journal
    14. 14. The future of work is: GLOBAL
    15. 15. The future of work is: ONLINE
    16. 16. The future of work is: ON DEMAND
    17. 17. Work is evolving (and has been for a while…) Online Work Outsourcing/ Offshoring Telecommuting 1980 1990 2000 2010 Source: MBO Partners
    18. 18. Ecommerce shows the potential of online work Search Hire Shopping Shopping Employment Employment Select Manage Pay Pay
    19. 19. Massive growth in scale and scope Dollars Billed on oDesk by category Administrative Support Business Services In 2007, just 4 categories represented 90% of total dollars billed. In 2012, 35 categories represented 90% of dollars billed, with another 41 smaller categories growing quickly. Customer Service Design & Multimedia Networking & Information Systems Sales & Marketing Software Development Unknown Web Development Writing & Translation Source: oDesk database
    20. 20. How companies use online work • Project-based work • Staff augmentation • BPO replacement • Virtual company
    21. 21. Online work expands the labor market What would company do if an online worker wasn’t an option? Worked extra hours Hired onpremise worker 17% Delayed/cance led project Something else 83% Done something… Not sure Source: oDesk Online Work Survey, Fall 2012 37% 21% 16% 10%
    22. 22. Online work is good for the local economy 71% More than 60% of jobs completed by U.S. freelancers on oDesk are for businesses outside the U.S. 28% Agree Disagree Source: oDesk Online Work Survey, Fall 2012 10K) How much do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements? “The fact that businesses like mine have the ability to hire workers from anywhere in the world is good for my country's economy.” Results shown among those who have an opinion. Base (total respondents who had an opinion): 1953
    23. 23. And online work is here to stay Online work is a strategic advantage 90% Agree Source: oDesk Online Work Survey, Fall 2012 Online work will soon become commonplace 94% Agree
    24. 24. 1 in 3 will be hired to work online by 2020 Businesses This benefits both: Workers
    25. 25. Email: Twitter: @matt_cooper