What's Up With Microsoft's 365 Freelance Toolkit -- And What Will It Mean For You?

What’s Up With Microsoft’s 365 Freelance Toolkit — And What Will It Mean For You?

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PARIS, FRANCE – APRIL 25, 2019: Jean-Yves Art, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships at Microsoft, speaks to the Sustainable Brands conference. In December 2018 Microsoft announced it was introducing a 365 Freelance Toolkit for companies to “launch and scale” their freelance workforces. Their rationale was that the gig economy was driving customers toward including freelance talent in their projects. According to the global online marketplace Upwork’s Future Workforce Report , almost 50% of recruiting managers had hired freelancers and 90% of them would consider doing so. Moreover, the great majority of freelancers weren’t open to regular employment – they liked working the way they did . The announcement went on to appreciate companies’ needs “to adapt to new business models to get work done with external talent,” while adding that “the path to transforming existing policies and processes,” aimed at regular employees, is largely undefined. Microsoft and its customers had both been relying on collaboration software designed for their own people with internal clearance to join the conversation. It was time for both parties to catch up with the marketplace. The 365 Freelance Toolkit would provide the way. The Toolkit is described to build on customers’ existing use of Microsoft 365 software by adapting that software for freelancer participation. Specifically, this involves employing current software and providing tools and best practices to help customers scale up their use of freelance programs. The Toolkit also draws on Microsoft’s internal experience in the use of freelancers in four key areas: internal communication, team-wide collaboration, data analytics and workflow automation. First, customers need a space for full-time employees to learn about engaging with freelancers and to share information and best practices with one another. Microsoft provides this through a customized version of their existing SharePoint software. YOU MAY ALSO LIKE This will allow freelancers full access to and participation in relevant team member communications “while ensuring freelancers will not have wholesale access to the enterprise environment.” This will be provided through the Microsoft Teams software system. These will allow administrators to establish, track and respond to key performance indicators, and to integrate employees and freelancers in the analytics provided. This business intelligence would be provided by the Power BI monitoring system. This covers provision, compliance, and monitoring of software, largely automating and thereby enabling g a “frictionless process” for employees to work with freelancers. This will use Microsoft Flow to streamline program activities. Other notable features of the information available so far are guidelines on b est practices based on Microsoft’s own experience, and the announcement that their launch partner for the Toolkit is the global freelance marketplace Upwork. Microsoft’s internal team spoke enthusiastically about the changes the Toolkit can bring. Liane Scult , Microsoft’s first-ever senior freelance program manager, who created the solution that drove Microsoft’s internal freelance program from zero to more than 2,000 assignments, comments: “At first, the freelance program was just a blank sheet of paper. That became a big bet with a clear call to action: build […]

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