The recent pandemic led employers to change the way they think about remote work. In doing so it also inspired learnings in accessible and inclusive workplaces, along with flexible work models. Organizations adapted and committed to meeting staff and teams where they are in remote situations during quarantine. As many businesses start the process of returning to the office in 2021, we are seeing best practices in inclusive work with dynamic, hybrid models that include both in-office and remote-centric models. According to Gartner, 82 percent of company leaders will be allowing some employees to work remotely. With this top of mind, Benetech Board Member Sam Bright, who is the Chief Product and Experience Officer at Upwork, shared his insights on the Future of Work and the importance of inclusion and equity.
How does your role at Upwork shape your approach to the Benetech board?
My role at Upwork shapes my approach to the Benetech board in a couple of ways. First, as Chief Product and Experience Officer, my team is responsible for most of our customer touchpoints. We strive to delight our customers in every interaction with them, whether it’s through our product design, trust and safety policies, talent success programs, or community forums. I bring this philosophy of putting our communities first to the Benetech boardroom as we develop technologies that make a positive, lasting impact on our customers. Second, my work on the board is influenced by the fact that both organizations are deeply united in their belief that technology can level the playing field for traditionally underrepresented communities. Upwork’s mission is to create economic opportunities so people have better lives and I bring this experience to Benetech as we build software to help individuals find meaningful work and access services to build sustainable livelihoods.
How does inclusive access to information enable the democratization of work?
Our prior assumptions about work have changed over the past year. People are realizing that work isn’t a place, it’s something you do. As our preconceptions about work have changed, we are learning that work should not be limited by who you know, where you live, your driving radius near a company location. That means that underrepresented groups that may not have had the same level of access will be included in a different way. And mission-centric platforms like Upwork and Benetech’s Bookshare initiative that democratize opportunities, will be there to lead the way.
What trends are you seeing in the future of work, and how might that impact Bookshare users?
BIPOC, people with disabilities, primary caretakers and other underrepresented populations will have greater opportunities in this new world of work. With the barrier of location and on-premise, 9-5 employment out of the way, companies will be better able to diversify their teams beyond the limits of their locales. In fact, a remote-first approach will be how many organizations make significant strides on their DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) goals. Remote work has great potential for breaking down the structural barriers that currently disempower so many workers, and bring more control to people in their job prospects and work lives.
Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent. We serve everyone from one-person startups to 30% of the Fortune 100 with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and freelancers to work together in new ways that unlock their potential. Our talent community earned over $2.3 billion on Upwork in 2020 across more than 10,000 skills, including website & app development, creative & design, customer support, finance & accounting, consulting, and operations.