|Quality of Work|
oDesk, like Elance, is a community that brings together contract workers and employers. The company has been in business since 2003, and now serves hundreds of thousands of clients all around the world.
While oDesk was primarily known as a place to find programmers, it is also a great place to find a virtual assistant, and administrative support is one of their fastest growing categories. I found over 5000 matches for a recent oDesk search for “virtual assistant”.
oDesk has no sign-up fees to access their network of freelance virtual assistant service providers. In fact, you can create an account, post your requirements, and have workers bidding for the job within a few minutes. The company makes money by taking a fee from the contract price of the work. That means if you agree to pay an oDesk virtual assistant $500 for 100 hours worth of work (not an uncommon price!), they are really collecting slightly less than that.
The oDesk system offers the benefits you’d expect from this type of marketplace, including feedback mechanisms and dispute resolution. One thing that sets oDesk apart is their monitoring software. Some say it’s a little Big Brother-ish, but others swear by it because it makes sure the work that is paid for is the work that gets done. The software, which workers turn on when they begin a job, tracks keystroke volume, takes screenshots at certain time intervals, and even has an optional webcam feature. If you’re wary about hiring a remote virtual assistant, it can definitely help overcome some of the fear of not being able to manage their working hours effectively.
When searching for virtual assistants on oDesk, pay close attention to their account history. How long have they been working? What does their feedback say about their work? Another thing to look for is to match the virtual assistant’s specific skill set to the tasks you need done. Everyone has certain specialties, so seek out those who have good ratings in the areas you need the most help with. Alternatively, you can post your own job requirements and have workers bid on them.
Have you worked with oDesk? Please share your experience below.