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Re: Frequently Asked Questions on TOS changes regarding information sharing and interviews

Community Leader
Timothy S Member Since: Oct 19, 2016
801 of 931

Team Upwork,

 

My understanding is your team is looking for input regarding how you are approaching meeting the needs of scheduling. I have listed my thoughts below sharing options I think would be very helpful for your team to consider regarding scheduling, as I use scheduling on a regular basis as a freelancer and appreciate the efforts your team plans to make to have a scheduling tool in place.

 

Important Scheduling Solution for Upwork to Consider:

  • Upwork needs to know which timezone the potential client is in and show the freelancer's availability in the potential client's timezone automatically, ensuring this is somehow clearly stated.
  • The ability to pull availability from the freelancer's Google calendar(s) for availability is a must. Some freelancers have both a personal calendar and a work calendar linked in Google, and availability needs to be pulled from both (as a side-note, the security implications here slightly concern me, as giving Upwork access to our Google calendars needs to be handled with care, and freelancers need to be assured this data will only be used to pull availability)
  • The freelancer needs to be able to set their general/recurring availability within Upwork, similar to ScheduleOnce Recurring Availability: https://bit.ly/2BLsKJW (Please search online for ScheduleOnce Recurring Availability, if this link doesn't work.)
  • In addition to general availability, date-specific availability needs to be a setting within Upwork so freelancers can block out specific dates, which would override the general/recurring availability: Here's how ScheduleOnce does this https://bit.ly/2CRXRUN (Please search online for ScheduleOnce Date-specific Availability, if this link doesn't work.)
  • Upon scheduling an appointment, the meeting should be added to the Google calendar of the freelancer, and the potential client should have the option to add this to their calendar too, via an 'Add to Calendar' link. Both the freelancer and the potential client should receive a confirmation email with the meeting details (There should be at least one line for freelancers to customize, even if most of the email is fixed).
  • Since the meeting will be added to the freelancer's Google calendar as 'busy' time, this slot should no longer be available on the Upwork scheduling tool, since Upwork needs to pull from the freelancer's Google calendar as part of their availability.
  • Reminders need to be sent to both the freelancer and the potential client via email (Not via Upwork's messaging tool; Otherwise, they'll likely get lost in the multiple pings a potential client gets with job applications, and just won't be effective. Pop-ups may be more annoying than helpful.). The intervals for when these emails should be sent should be customizable, and there should be multiple (for example, immediate; 24 hours before; 2 hours before, etc.)
  • A link needs to be available to cancel the meeting if necessary. This should also cancel the Google calendar meeting and open the availability back up on the freelancer's calendar.
  • There should be a threshold of how many meetings a freelancer wishes to take on in a day. After this threshold is reached, the freelancer's availability should be shown as 'not available' for that day. (For example, if a freelancer only wants to schedule 3 interviews per day, this should be an option they can set and not something they have to think about.)
  • There should be a setting that ensures no 'surprise' meetings come up. For example, a sliding window that doesn't allow meetings to be scheduled within 2 hours of the current time (this should be customizable on a per-freelancer basis as the needs of many freelancers are different, and some wouldn't mind instantly hopping on a call or hopping on a call within the hour).
  • The calendar should also have a sliding window of availability that doesn't let people schedule too far out into the future, and this should also be customizable by the freelancer. For example, only show availability for the next 7 days. (That way, someone doesn't schedule a meeting for someting next month before the freelancer has updated their availability and realizes they aren't available that day. As long as freelancers keep their availability for the next week up to date, they should be good to go.)

Other systems, such as Calendly and ScheduleOnce have already thought through most of my notes above and additional scenarios I did not mention. I recommend having your team check the API documentation for these companies and consider how you may be able to tap into what someone already has built to reduce the complexity of what it could take to make a reliable solution.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything else. I'm also curious to hear what other freelancers would like to see in a scheduling app when thinking about this through the lense of what Upwork needs to provide.

 

Thanks,

Tim

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Active Member
Jessica G Member Since: May 27, 2020
802 of 931

I absolutely agree with Tim.  I have used Calendly both professionally, and for my freelance work for many years.  It was a major game-changer when I switched to an automated scheduling approach.  I had far fewer issues scheduling appointments (I worked in sales for a SaaS company and saw my sales increase since it was much easier to book with prospects).  Now, as a freelancer, I have already felt the effects of not having an automated schedule when trying to be hired by people in different time zones, or with busy schedules that don't always have a lot of availability.   My top requirements:

1.  Ability to set availability windows.  This might the same every day, different depending on the day of the week. of specific to a calendar date.  Ex. Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, Mon-Thur 10-4+Fri 10-1. Aug 7th unavailable.

2.  Outside of general availability, check the actual calendar such as Google or Office 365 to remove any already busy slots from a day.  These are for appointments scheduled outside of Upwork with existing clients, as well as personal appointments that come up.

3. TIME ZONE AWARENESS.  With people on Upwork often being in different time zones, and different regions handling time zones at different times of year, an awareness of the scheduler's local time is critical.  

4.  Saving the appointment to my calendar automatically.  This will both let me see all my appointments in one place, and remove the availability from my calendar regardless of the scheduling tools I use outside of upwork.  The prospective client should also getting an option to save the appointment to their calendar.

5.  Setting buffer time so appointments are not scheduled back to back.

6.  Setting scheduling parameters to indicate how far in advance an appointment must be booked (ex. at least 4 hours in advance) and how far out they are allowed to book (within the next two weeks). 

7.  Easy cancel and reschedule links that allow the prospective client to adjust when their availability changes.    This should also remove the appointment from my calendar and place the new appointment on my calendar.

8.  Email reminders and better yet, text reminders to both parties (if opted in) to reduce likelihood of appointments being forgotten.  

9.  Nice to have: Ability for the client to add additional guests to the appointment.  Frequently I'm meeting with multiple staff members as part of the "interview" for larger projects. 

Does this sound like a lot?  Well, yes, it is. There are several companies that make just this one critical business feature their business.  Trying to recreate best in class functionality is a lot.  Doing anything less short-changes both clients and freelancers who in any other world are able to choose the tools that work best for them.

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Active Member
Jennyfer M Member Since: Jun 22, 2015
803 of 931

DMing you right away! We are in need of finding a way to organize all this madness. I've been sending suggestions since day 1 and it seems like no one listens. 

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Active Member
Jennyfer M Member Since: Jun 22, 2015
804 of 931

LOL Well, it turns out that I cannot DM you either. 

This is what I intended to DM you

Hi Anna, 

 

You said you'd be interested in bouncing ideas regarding scheduling.  let me know when is a good time for us to discuss further. I'm on the East Coast, so I'm like 4 hours ahead. 

I am going to go full disclosure hoping this doesn't bite me in the arse, yesterday I had a meeting and we tried using upwork share screen. It was awful, to say the least. We had no choice but to go to zoom as both of us were booked back to back and didn't have the time to figure what's going on. In my experience, this is a very common issue with upwork communications features. There are many times where I don't even get a notification on screen or via email that someone messaged me. So I think all of that needs to be fixed as well. 

Anyway, IDK if I should send you a booking link but here you go **Edited for Community Guidelines** lol so feel free to pick a time that would work for you. 

 

Regards, 

 

Jennyfer 

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Moderator
Valeria K Moderator Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
805 of 931

Hi Jennyfer,

 

Thanks for following up. Anna's private messages should be working now and you should be able to PM her. I'll also let her know about your reply here. 

~ Valeria
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Ace Contributor
Tony S Member Since: Jun 22, 2015
806 of 931

Upwork, what's the right way according to TOS to act when I'm on a call with a prospect (no contract yet) using your platform video feature and the quality of the service is so bad as to not be able to communicate properly? Can we switch to Zoom in such cases?

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Moderator
Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
807 of 931

Hi Tony,

 

Have you experienced an issue recently during a call?

 

If you open a call but experience audio issues, it may be a permissions problem. Make sure you have granted permission for Upwork to access your microphone and speakers. Please follow the troubleshooting steps shared in this Help article, which you can also access in the call window.

 

If the problem persists, you can contact Customer Support directly within the call application by selecting the gear icon > “Contact Upwork Support” > fill in the provided form. Our team will follow up on your ticket as a priority and assist you further.

 

Taking communication off the platform would be a TOS violation and we strongly encourage you and other users who might experience similar issues to follow the process we have in place in order to resolve the problem and be able to continue their communication in line with Upwork TOS.

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Active Member
Jessica G Member Since: May 27, 2020
808 of 931

I have had problems recently on an Upwork call.  These have been quality issues.  So the audio was OK but at times would garble or have a delay.  The video quality was almost always pixelated.  And screens sharing did not sync...it only showed the first screen I displayed and did not show the subsequent screens as I clicked links within the same window.   I have had the same issues two different times using the platform in the last week.  I did report the problems at the end of the call via the feedback box.  

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Moderator
Vladimir G Moderator Member Since: Oct 31, 2014
809 of 931

Thanks for sharing your feedback and I'm sorry to hear about the issues you experienced, Jessica. I'd suggest reaching out to our team ideally during or right after the call via the option in the call window, so our dedicated team could help troubleshoot the issue and provide further assistance asap. In the meantime, could you please check the tips shared in this Help article in order to confirm your audio and video permissions are up to date?

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Active Member
Jessica G Member Since: May 27, 2020
810 of 931

It isn't a permission issue.  The system is working, it is just working poorly.  I can hear and they can hear me - it is just not good quality.  I can see them, they can see me....it is just not high quality.  They can see my screen when I first start sharing, but then it freezes up.  These are not permission problems - they are quality issues.  As I said, I did post the feedback directly after the call to indicate the quality issues I'm having.   I do not have the same problems using other tools such as GoToMeeting and Zoom (both if which I use with existing clients and even my children's schools for parent meetings).

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