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Re: What is "Auto Check-ins"?

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Community Guru
Wendy C Member Since: Aug 24, 2015
71 of 129

BRAVA @ Catherine!  I could not agree more.

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Upwork Staff
Shreman S Upwork Staff Member Since: Sep 22, 2020
72 of 129

Hi, Upwork Community!

 

I’m Shreman and part of the team that developed this feature. My fellow colleagues and I are committed to making your experience on Upwork as positive and fruitful as possible. As many of you may have noticed, we recently launched the Auto Check-ins feature. We recognize and understand that users aren’t happy about some of these changes. Let’s talk a little bit about our Auto Check-ins feature and would love to address concerns you’ve expressed here.

 

What are Auto Check-ins?

Auto Check-ins is a feature that only clients can turn on/off during an active contract. This will prompt 1 message on a weekly basis on Friday asking 3 simple questions on the work you are doing. The questions should take just a few minutes once a week. You are encouraged to reply to them. If you are strongly against it, the recommendation would be to speak to your clients about turning it off because they turned on this feature and would expect a timely response. Clients can enable and disable the auto check-ins via a link in the contract Messages room or in the contract terms/setting area.

 

Why did we develop Auto Check-Ins?

We developed this feature because we received feedback from both clients and freelancers that visibility into contracts in a structured manner is something that is lacking on Upwork. Auto Check-ins would keep communication and progress “on the record” on a structured cadence. We believe added visibility on a structured cadence can lead to better contract outcomes for both our clients and talent.

 

What are the benefits for talent?

For talent, timely, concise replies could result in fewer ad-hoc requests from your client for status updates and although this feature does not play a role in dispute or in arbitration, it is helpful to have a paper trail in messages on progress if ever needed to resolve disputes.

 

What is the expectation from talent?

We know that our freelancers are professionals and acknowledge that our growth as a company has been attributed to the quality of our talent. This feature does not intend to be counter to that. As mentioned above, this feature resonated while we conducted client and talent user testing. We decided to test this feature with the belief that it could help add more structure and clarity to ultimately influence more positive outcomes for our clients and talent. The expectation when you receive the Auto Check-ins prompt is to take a few minutes to write a few lines to reply to each of the three questions. When developing this, the idea was that each question would take no more than a few lines to write.

The auto check-ins are sent on Friday so if you do not work on Fridays, letting your client know would help set expectations on your working hours. While there are no penalties for not replying or replying with a delay, it is encouraged that you reply when you have a moment as this feature was turned on at the request of your client. If you cannot, it is encouraged to send them a quick message to help set expectations. If you believe this may not be needed for your circumstances then you can let the client know. The client can switch this feature on or off via a link in the contract Messages room or in the contract terms/setting area.

 

What are the benefits for clients?

For the client, this enables them to have greater understanding and visibility on the project so they can plan accordingly. Auto check-ins and hourly contracts A few of the comments here were specific to hourly contracts. We understand that clients that enable the time tracking functionality can view in details what Upwork talent are working on. Auto check-ins was not developed to replace this functionality but can understand why this may feel like duplicative work. However, we do believe that auto check-ins is a great method to summarize in a few minutes the status of your work in a few lines. If you believe this is unnecessary and takes a significant effort, then a conversation with your client may be best to decide what works best for the both of you. The client can switch this feature on or off via a link in the contract Messages room or in the contract terms/setting area.

 

-- More info on the questions

  1. What did you work on this week?
    The goal is to provide visibility to the client on tasks that would have progressed.

  2. What will you work on next week?
    The goal is to help clients know what you will work on so they can plan accordingly. This also adds visibility to both you and your client.

  3. What might delay your planned work?
    From our research, one of the leading results of a bad contract outcome is when something happens that may impact your planned work such as a dependency for your project. Examples include if you may need something to complete your work such as content or approval from the other party to complete your work. This aims to help resolve this so talent can clearly state what may be unexpected and clients can be kept informed ahead of time and plan accordingly. We envisage there to be delays in a low amount of contracts but believe this is an important question that helps lead to better contract outcomes for both Upwork talent and clients. If there are no delays, a simple answer such as ‘None’ or ‘N/A’ should suffice. --

 

We have learned a lot from feedback and concerns you’ve shared on this thread. A few points that we’ll be considering:

  • We understand that a lot of experienced professional freelancers would like more control over this feature being turned on for their contracts.
  • We also understand that it may not work well with short-term contracts and for some hourly contracts.
  • We know that more can be done to better educate clients around the purpose of this feature so that they only use it when it’s necessary.

Your comments along with feedback we receive from other channels and metrics about how this feature is utilized will inform how we proceed with this feature.

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Community Guru
Kim F Member Since: Aug 26, 2015
73 of 129

Auto Check-ins is a feature that only clients can turn on/off during an active contract.

 

So although this is a contractual obligation, it is one that won’t be revealed until after the contract begins? This is tantamount to Upwork changing the basis of a contract.

 

We believe added visibility on a structured cadence can lead to better contract outcomes for both our clients and talent.”

 

Lovely. What on earth does that sentence mean? Something along the lines that the practice is to encourage regular updates?  Obfuscation is counter productive.

 

For talent, timely, concise replies could result in fewer ad-hoc requests from your client for status updates and although this feature does not play a role in dispute or in arbitration, it is helpful to have a paper trail in messages on progress if ever needed to resolve disputes.

 

Why are ad hoc requests for updates viewed as problematic? There are numerous reasons for updating at project points rather than calendar points. And the second half of this sentence contradicts the first. It either doesn’t play a role or the content of responses is considered. Which is it? 

 

 

Community Guru
Virginia F Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
74 of 129

Kim F wrote:

Auto Check-ins is a feature that only clients can turn on/off during an active contract.

 

So although this is a contractual obligation, it is one that won’t be revealed until after the contract begins? This is tantamount to Upwork changing the basis of a contract.

 

We believe added visibility on a structured cadence can lead to better contract outcomes for both our clients and talent.”

 

Lovely. What on earth does that sentence mean? Something along the lines that the practice is to encourage regular updates?  Obfuscation is counter productive.

 

For talent, timely, concise replies could result in fewer ad-hoc requests from your client for status updates and although this feature does not play a role in dispute or in arbitration, it is helpful to have a paper trail in messages on progress if ever needed to resolve disputes.

 

Why are ad hoc requests for updates viewed as problematic? There are numerous reasons for updating at project points rather than calendar points. And the second half of this sentence contradicts the first. It either doesn’t play a role or the content of responses is considered. Which is it? 

 

 


I don't feel like reading all the pages, Kim ... but just wondering if any of your very relevant/informed questions have been answered (in a satisfactory & non-nonsensical way). Have they?

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Community Guru
Virginia F Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
75 of 129

"visibility into contracts"?

 

Not once, in all my years with all my clients, did I ever hear anything about our contracts being "invisible" ... or "unstructered". I'm guessing that's the case for my fellow and very experienced freelancers as well.

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Active Member
Kayla B Member Since: May 12, 2017
76 of 129

If you insist on having this horrible feature that is MAYBE useful to less than 1% of projects, it should at least have to be turned on as part of the contract offer. So that I and other freelancers who aren't children can refuse the contract from any client who wants to babysit us in this way.

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Community Guru
Jessica S Member Since: Dec 4, 2015
77 of 129

Shreman S wrote:

Hi, Upwork Community!

 

I’m Shreman and part of the team that developed this feature. My fellow colleagues and I are committed to making your experience on Upwork as positive and fruitful as possible. As many of you may have noticed, we recently launched the Auto Check-ins feature. We recognize and understand that users aren’t happy about some of these changes. Let’s talk a little bit about our Auto Check-ins feature and would love to address concerns you’ve expressed here.

 

What are Auto Check-ins?

Auto Check-ins is a feature that only clients can turn on/off during an active contract. This will prompt 1 message on a weekly basis on Friday asking 3 simple questions on the work you are doing. The questions should take just a few minutes once a week. You are encouraged to reply to them. If you are strongly against it, the recommendation would be to speak to your clients about turning it off because they turned on this feature and would expect a timely response. Clients can enable and disable the auto check-ins via a link in the contract Messages room or in the contract terms/setting area.

 

Why did we develop Auto Check-Ins?

We developed this feature because we received feedback from both clients and freelancers that visibility into contracts in a structured manner is something that is lacking on Upwork. Auto Check-ins would keep communication and progress “on the record” on a structured cadence. We believe added visibility on a structured cadence can lead to better contract outcomes for both our clients and talent.

 

What are the benefits for talent?

For talent, timely, concise replies could result in fewer ad-hoc requests from your client for status updates and although this feature does not play a role in dispute or in arbitration, it is helpful to have a paper trail in messages on progress if ever needed to resolve disputes.

 

What is the expectation from talent?

We know that our freelancers are professionals and acknowledge that our growth as a company has been attributed to the quality of our talent. This feature does not intend to be counter to that. As mentioned above, this feature resonated while we conducted client and talent user testing. We decided to test this feature with the belief that it could help add more structure and clarity to ultimately influence more positive outcomes for our clients and talent. The expectation when you receive the Auto Check-ins prompt is to take a few minutes to write a few lines to reply to each of the three questions. When developing this, the idea was that each question would take no more than a few lines to write.

The auto check-ins are sent on Friday so if you do not work on Fridays, letting your client know would help set expectations on your working hours. While there are no penalties for not replying or replying with a delay, it is encouraged that you reply when you have a moment as this feature was turned on at the request of your client. If you cannot, it is encouraged to send them a quick message to help set expectations. If you believe this may not be needed for your circumstances then you can let the client know. The client can switch this feature on or off via a link in the contract Messages room or in the contract terms/setting area.

 

What are the benefits for clients?

For the client, this enables them to have greater understanding and visibility on the project so they can plan accordingly. Auto check-ins and hourly contracts A few of the comments here were specific to hourly contracts. We understand that clients that enable the time tracking functionality can view in details what Upwork talent are working on. Auto check-ins was not developed to replace this functionality but can understand why this may feel like duplicative work. However, we do believe that auto check-ins is a great method to summarize in a few minutes the status of your work in a few lines. If you believe this is unnecessary and takes a significant effort, then a conversation with your client may be best to decide what works best for the both of you. The client can switch this feature on or off via a link in the contract Messages room or in the contract terms/setting area.

 

-- More info on the questions

  1. What did you work on this week?
    The goal is to provide visibility to the client on tasks that would have progressed.

  2. What will you work on next week?
    The goal is to help clients know what you will work on so they can plan accordingly. This also adds visibility to both you and your client.

  3. What might delay your planned work?
    From our research, one of the leading results of a bad contract outcome is when something happens that may impact your planned work such as a dependency for your project. Examples include if you may need something to complete your work such as content or approval from the other party to complete your work. This aims to help resolve this so talent can clearly state what may be unexpected and clients can be kept informed ahead of time and plan accordingly. We envisage there to be delays in a low amount of contracts but believe this is an important question that helps lead to better contract outcomes for both Upwork talent and clients. If there are no delays, a simple answer such as ‘None’ or ‘N/A’ should suffice. --

 

We have learned a lot from feedback and concerns you’ve shared on this thread. A few points that we’ll be considering:

  • We understand that a lot of experienced professional freelancers would like more control over this feature being turned on for their contracts.
  • We also understand that it may not work well with short-term contracts and for some hourly contracts.
  • We know that more can be done to better educate clients around the purpose of this feature so that they only use it when it’s necessary.

Your comments along with feedback we receive from other channels and metrics about how this feature is utilized will inform how we proceed with this feature.


Thanks for responding. However, I don't understand how, after reading through this thread, you still think this is a good idea? I think the message we are trying to tell you is that we are all adults and having some automated check in, that is likely to show up at a time when it's not needed or wanted, is severely problematic. We want Upwork to connect us to clients and then let us do our jobs.

 

If you must continue with this, why not have this feature on standby for a client to automatically send in a message, at the exact point they want to send it (IF they choose to do so.)  For example, a client hasn't heard from their freelancer in a few days and is curious as to what is going on. Maybe they want to save some time in asking, so they can click a box that might be titled "request project update" to send the message - which really only should say "Can you please give me an update to this project?"  (but throw your 3 questions in there if you are hopelessly sold on them). And it should be sent using the CLIENT'S name and not appear as a random automated message.  

 

I do want to add though - it shouldn't even be an OPTION for short term jobs.. espeically those with just one milestone.

 

Otherwise, please trust that freelancers and clients can manage this themselves. If they can't, the project will most certainly be doomed in many other ways than just the project status updates.

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Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
78 of 129

Jessica S wrote:

If you must continue with this, why not have this feature on standby for a client to automatically send in a message, at the exact point they want to send it (IF they choose to do so.)  For example, a client hasn't heard from their freelancer in a few days and is curious as to what is going on. Maybe they want to save some time in asking, so they can click a box that might be titled "request project update" to send the message - which really only should say "Can you please give me an update to this project?"  (but throw your 3 questions in there if you are hopelessly sold on them). And it should be sent using the CLIENT'S name and not appear as a random automated message.  

 

I do want to add though - it shouldn't even be an OPTION for short term jobs.. espeically those with just one milestone.

 

Otherwise, please trust that freelancers and clients can manage this themselves. If they can't, the project will most certainly be doomed in many other ways than just the project status updates.


I couldn't agree more.

 

I update my clients at appropriate times and don't want to be prompted to do so just because it's Friday. Also, answering these questions would definitely mean repeating things that I already would have told them. It's imbecilic. I agree with Jessica that clients should only be encouraged to deploy this feature if they're actually having problems communicating with their freelancers; they shouldn't be asked whether they want to activate it at the beginning of a project.

 

But really, I don't think that this will solve anything. If people aren't good at communicating, then they're not going to be good at responding to these questions, either. 

 

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Community Guru
Virginia F Member Since: Feb 15, 2016
79 of 129

@ Christine's comment.

 

"But really, I don't think that this will solve anything. If people aren't good at communicating, then they're not going to be good at responding to these questions, either"

 

Exactly. This initiative will do absolutely nothing to improve the clients and freelancers who are inexperienced and/or uncommunicative/unprofessional as a general rule.

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Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
80 of 129

I'm just gonna answer them all with "yes." I don't know if that fits, but "yes" is my goto answer. That's why men love me u c.

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