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Frequently Asked Questions on TOS changes regarding information sharing and interviews

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Community Guru
Pandora H Member Since: May 11, 2010
791 of 913

Anna N wrote:

Hi John, appreciate the feedback. Our intention is not to place the burden of client education on freelancers. To build on Valeria's reply, we just started testing additional client notifications in the job post form, application tracker, and messages. The team will share a separate post with more details on our client education efforts shortly. 


What we actually needed since day one is a permantant, also seen by everyone banner, or sidebar text, or something, that clearly states the communication TOS, inside the Message Room. Plus all the other current and pending updates. This will help about 50% of the time, rather than the 9 in 10 clients who go "WHAT???" right now.

 

Brand new clients did not get "that" email. Clients are so anxious to post jobs they usually rush through the job post form. 

 

In fact, I would even go to say that your average new client will not read the "fine print" about the communication TOS until several perspective hires mention it as the reason said client is being denied using Skype, Zoom, Uberconferance, phone, etc.

 

Based on the number of replies in this and other related threads, I would think the above is quite obvious.

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Community Guru
Bojana D Member Since: May 2, 2011
792 of 913

Pandora H wrote:


What we actually needed since day one is a permantant, also seen by everyone banner, or sidebar text, or something, that clearly states the communication TOS, inside the Message Room. Plus all the other current and pending updates. This will help about 50% of the time, rather than the 9 in 10 clients who go "WHAT???" right now.



Even better - you know that pop-up with the checkmark you get before you submit a fixed-price proposal? That reminds you what the rules and risks are, and you can't submit before checking it? Make one like that for posting jobs - "all pre-contract comms must stay in the system", and the client can't submit the job post if they haven't checked it. Something that also should've been implemented from day 1 imo. And if the reasoning for not doing so is along the lines of 'not-user friendly' or 'will seem too restrictive to clients, might potentially turn them away', maybe the entire policy should've been thought through more carefully. 

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Active Member
Jennyfer M Member Since: Jun 22, 2015
793 of 913

I use a booking system to keep sanity in my calendar as I manage multiple clients from various platforms... is upwork working on a way to integrate a feature where a client can request an appointment and send reminders to both the freelancer and the client?

Ever since I started using a booking system, communication, and hiring (which means more money in upwork pockets) has improved. I'm constantly reporting people who want to go out of upwork, I'm paying $20 a month, on top of 10-20% off everything I make in upwork and I don't even have the freedom to personalize the way I do business? Please remind me again how is that I'm an independent contractor? Because it sounds like I'm only an independent contractor at the time to pay benefits and collecting that nice little commission.... 

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Employee
Anna N Employee Member Since: Feb 2, 2018
794 of 913

Hi Jennyfer, thanks for raising this. I work in product at Upwork and can confirm we're exploring solutions to support scheduling. If you're willing to DM me, I'd love to bounce a few ideas off you to test our approach. We're trying to narrow in on the top needs to solve for: finding a time slot on calendars across timezones? Auto-generating a calendar invite on personal calendars? Sending reminders via email and/or pop ups? All of the above?

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Community Leader
Timothy S Member Since: Oct 19, 2016
795 of 913

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
796 of 913

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
797 of 913

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
798 of 913

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
799 of 913

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
800 of 913

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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