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5047189b
Community Member

A need not being met in the Engineering, Architecture, and Construction Space

I wanted to take a moment to address the community on a specific need within Upwork that I feel is not being met.

 

More and more clients are coming to Upwork seeking Engineering, Architecture, and Construction services and professionals. It is noticed even searching through keywords related to these fields. I have experienced numerous clients to both a positive and negative capacity. 

 

As I have noticed, the clients seeking professional help with this sector hit a wall in several instances. To note some of those walls: 

-Upwork restricts communications to the platform, negating any chance of establishing a real-world agreement in the space. Construction contracting is nuanced and subtle, specific to the project, and intensive on a timeline and labor basis. AIA forms, notarizations are just some of what goes on throughout the construction contracting process. Upwork actually causes a detrimental gap in the hierarchal nature of how a project runs efficiently.

 

-Project Management, Architecture, and Engineering are looked at differently through Upwork than if a client was to seek a professional through other means. Clients wholesomely have shown that they are specifically going through Upwork in the hopes that an Engineer will sign off on something unethically and without precedence. It is not the fault of the contractor or freelancer, but rather on Upwork for not addressing how a client actually utilizes the platform and what the real motives are behind the job description. There needs to be a specific space or UI implemented to handle the subtle and nuanced nature of the ethics and standardized process that goes into Construction planning. The Upwork platform has basically boiled down that ethical process in the eyes of clients to be a wild-west free-for-all. 

 

I can list so many more, but would love to hear from the community on what they see also. I know that this post is specific to the EAC industries, but I can imagine that these nuance points can apply in other areas. Lets spur some conversation and let Upwork know that we are also looking and taking note of the things that go on in front of us  💭

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celgins
Community Member

Interesting observation. Here are a few notes I had after reading it:

 

More and more clients are coming to Upwork seeking Engineering, Architecture, and Construction services and professionals

My big question is: why are more and more clients in this sector seeking services via Upwork or other freelancing sites?

 

Due to the nature and complexity of architecture/engineering/construction work, I can understand why clients in this space have been reluctant to use freelancing sites. Like you stated, construction contracting is nuanced, hands-on, project specific, and highly dependent on timelines and manual labor.

 

As I have noticed, the clients seeking professional help with this sector hit a wall in several instances. To note some of those walls: -Upwork restricts communications to the platform, negating any chance of establishing a real-world agreement in the space.

The only wall or restriction I see is that freelancers and clients are required to communicate via Upwork before a contract is started. Once your Upwork contract with a client is in-place, you can communicate with the client however you wish. You are free to communicate with the client any way you like, as long as future payments are sent through Upwork.

 

Clients wholesomely have shown that they are specifically going through Upwork in the hopes that an Engineer will sign off on something unethically and without precedence.

Okay, but this is part of the convenience of using the Internet to find and procure services. This convenience is two-fold: finding freelancers or clients can be easy, but vetting them can be much harder than in real life. To me, this means a contractor/freelancer who is well-versed in the construction space will know what to look for, whether in-person or online. If there is any sign of deceit or ill intent, you avoid them--just like you would in the real world.

 

As stated above, once an Upwork contract is in place, I would expect freelancers in the construction space to do more vetting of their clients. The good thing is, most construction services--unlike graphic design, administrative support, or manuscript writing--are not likely to start before establishing online communications or face-to-face meetings with a client. Meaning, a contractor/freelancer wouldn't dream of drafting any complex pre-construction planning documents before meeting with their client.

 

It is not the fault of the contractor or freelancer, but rather on Upwork for not addressing how a client actually utilizes the platform and what the real motives are behind the job description. There needs to be a specific space or UI implemented to handle the subtle and nuanced nature of the ethics and standardized process that goes into Construction planning. The Upwork platform has basically boiled down that ethical process in the eyes of clients to be a wild-west free-for-all.

I understand your point because many freelancers and clients have the same concerns across multiple niches and skill categories. However, Upwork cannot determine motive and intent. Upwork cannot guarantee each job description is 100% accurate, well-meaning, or results in a hire--not without increasing its workforce by 300+ and implementing an expensive UI or platform feature. Upwork says in its terms of service that it cannot and will not evaluate or determine the suitability of any project.

 

I still think it goes back to the establishment of an Upwork contract. Once the contract is setup, contractors/freelancers and clients can progress however they see fit--as long as payments are setup and made through Upwork. In fact, Upwork has stated for years, and it appears in their User Agreement, that:

 

You acknowledge and agree that Upwork does not supervise, direct, control, or monitor Users in the performance of any contractual obligations they may have under a Service Contract.

 

This means--not only does Upwork want to avoid monitoring or managing contracts between freelancers and clients--they don't have the capacity to do so. Freelancers/clients work outside of the platform, but use the platform to exhchange payment for services. Upwork really only cares about the flow of money for services through its platform--not how freelancers and clients manage their projects.

 

One final (but mostly irrelevant) note: I always thought industry used the acronym AEC or A/E/C to denote Architecture, Engineering and Construction? I've worked in the federal government contracting space for years, and I've always seen AEC or A/E/C. Maybe the engineering/construction industry recognizes both?

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2 REPLIES 2
celgins
Community Member

Interesting observation. Here are a few notes I had after reading it:

 

More and more clients are coming to Upwork seeking Engineering, Architecture, and Construction services and professionals

My big question is: why are more and more clients in this sector seeking services via Upwork or other freelancing sites?

 

Due to the nature and complexity of architecture/engineering/construction work, I can understand why clients in this space have been reluctant to use freelancing sites. Like you stated, construction contracting is nuanced, hands-on, project specific, and highly dependent on timelines and manual labor.

 

As I have noticed, the clients seeking professional help with this sector hit a wall in several instances. To note some of those walls: -Upwork restricts communications to the platform, negating any chance of establishing a real-world agreement in the space.

The only wall or restriction I see is that freelancers and clients are required to communicate via Upwork before a contract is started. Once your Upwork contract with a client is in-place, you can communicate with the client however you wish. You are free to communicate with the client any way you like, as long as future payments are sent through Upwork.

 

Clients wholesomely have shown that they are specifically going through Upwork in the hopes that an Engineer will sign off on something unethically and without precedence.

Okay, but this is part of the convenience of using the Internet to find and procure services. This convenience is two-fold: finding freelancers or clients can be easy, but vetting them can be much harder than in real life. To me, this means a contractor/freelancer who is well-versed in the construction space will know what to look for, whether in-person or online. If there is any sign of deceit or ill intent, you avoid them--just like you would in the real world.

 

As stated above, once an Upwork contract is in place, I would expect freelancers in the construction space to do more vetting of their clients. The good thing is, most construction services--unlike graphic design, administrative support, or manuscript writing--are not likely to start before establishing online communications or face-to-face meetings with a client. Meaning, a contractor/freelancer wouldn't dream of drafting any complex pre-construction planning documents before meeting with their client.

 

It is not the fault of the contractor or freelancer, but rather on Upwork for not addressing how a client actually utilizes the platform and what the real motives are behind the job description. There needs to be a specific space or UI implemented to handle the subtle and nuanced nature of the ethics and standardized process that goes into Construction planning. The Upwork platform has basically boiled down that ethical process in the eyes of clients to be a wild-west free-for-all.

I understand your point because many freelancers and clients have the same concerns across multiple niches and skill categories. However, Upwork cannot determine motive and intent. Upwork cannot guarantee each job description is 100% accurate, well-meaning, or results in a hire--not without increasing its workforce by 300+ and implementing an expensive UI or platform feature. Upwork says in its terms of service that it cannot and will not evaluate or determine the suitability of any project.

 

I still think it goes back to the establishment of an Upwork contract. Once the contract is setup, contractors/freelancers and clients can progress however they see fit--as long as payments are setup and made through Upwork. In fact, Upwork has stated for years, and it appears in their User Agreement, that:

 

You acknowledge and agree that Upwork does not supervise, direct, control, or monitor Users in the performance of any contractual obligations they may have under a Service Contract.

 

This means--not only does Upwork want to avoid monitoring or managing contracts between freelancers and clients--they don't have the capacity to do so. Freelancers/clients work outside of the platform, but use the platform to exhchange payment for services. Upwork really only cares about the flow of money for services through its platform--not how freelancers and clients manage their projects.

 

One final (but mostly irrelevant) note: I always thought industry used the acronym AEC or A/E/C to denote Architecture, Engineering and Construction? I've worked in the federal government contracting space for years, and I've always seen AEC or A/E/C. Maybe the engineering/construction industry recognizes both?

I agree, in the main, with Clark. Some of the hassles you mentioned here, if  not all, occur in the  real, organic world, as well. 

You have to vet your clients and this is not very easy for a solo architect (or writer or graphic designer or HR specialist  or anyone else) to do. You want the work. I get the impression (after seven years on Upwork) that many freelancers here are desperate week after week, month after month, year after year. With the lack of momentum in their  business, it is incredibly easy  to overlook something in the vetting process or simply ignore due dilligence entirely. I know when my mortgage is due and my refrigerator is empty, I drop my guard substantially. Oh, yes, I tire of freelancers who scold other freelancers for not being careful, because careful and comfortalbe is  very different from careful and desperate. I would love to  eliminate desperate from my life -- I should have thought of that when I was a hired hand on farms for 20 years or when I got a job in social services or when I said "I do" to a woman who .... OK, we don't have to get into that. 

Anyway, Upwork has a very dicey, very odd line to walk, encouraging commerce and communication in a manner that benefits both sides of the freelancer/client equation.  For years, I've read adamant demands that Upwork vet clients and freelancers better -- no more dysfunctional clients, please, no more freelancers who disgrace and dillute the mean skill level in various trades. 

I'm here for job opportunities.  If there were a place with more opportunities., I would be gone very quickly. For now, I'm still here.

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