Upwork, formally known as oDesk, was started in 2003 by Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis. Stratis and Odysseas created a digital platform that would allow them to work together remotely (Stratis lived in Greece at the time). Through the last decade over 4.5 million freelancers have joined Upwork, formerly known as oDesk, and over 1.5 million jobs have been posted. Upwork is the largest online freelance platform and is consistently ranked #1 by annual freelancer earnings. In most recent news, Upwork and Elance reached a deal in December of 2013 to merge the two companies which will consist of 8 million freelancers and 2 million businesses.
- Payroll tools
- Employment benefits
Upwork offers freelancers and businesses stress free payroll tools. With Upwork Payroll:
- Reduce the risk of worker misclassification by working through Upwork's staffing agency
- Pay only for hours worked and gain full visibility into how freelancer's time is spent
- Provide your freelancers with access to health and retirement benefits
Upwork payroll takes a lot of the guessing out of freelance payment and taxing. With Upwork staffing agency as the employer of record, you:
- Reduce or eliminate the risk of fines, penalties and interest accrual due to misclassification of contract workers
- Reduce the risk of legal disputes and negative publicity from worker misclassification
Upwork also offers a guarantee to employers that they will only pay for work that was actually worked. Upwork provides a work diary that tracks hours worked and even gives employers visibility to work-in-progress. Conversely, Upwork promises freelancers that an hour worked is an hour paid. Upwork work diary also provides insurance to freelancers of guaranteed payment for hours worked.
In addition to the extensive list of Upwork benefits, freelancers now have access to affordable health insurance and other employment benefits. Plans start at $105/month and can include benefits like 401(k), dental coverage, and W-2 tax filing.
Based on our comparison of freelance platforms, TBC would recommend using Upwork for the following reasons:
- Low usage fee
- Tons of jobs posted (3 million)
- Tons of freelancers (9 million)
- Money-back guarantee
While Upwork offers payments guarantees for both employers and freelancers, it does not have mechanisms in place to hedge lowball job offers. In addition, the foreign competition pushes job values way below market value. For example there are freelancers -mostly in foreign countries- who will offer web coding work for $1 to $2 an hour.
The Bottom Line
Upwork is the world's largest online workplace with a thriving community of clients and freelancers. 80% of Upwork clients say that online work makes them more competitive and helps grow revenues, and a majority say they'll spend twice as much hiring online in the coming year. Upwork boasted over 900,000 clients, 4.5M freelancers, and over 35M hours worked in 2012. If you are looking for a freelance platform to post or find jobs, we strongly recommend signing up with Upwork.