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What Web Workers Want (And Feel They’re Not Getting Now)

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Heard of any good web jobs lately? I’ll bet you have. In the last week, I’ve heard surprising stories from a number of friends who have been presented with unexpected job opportunities via the web. CEOs who think their staff are safely tucked away in the folds of a cushy job in a sweet office with all the latest tech perks should think again.

Web workers don’t need to actively seek jobs to find them. These days, the jobs find their way to us. Job ads are part of the information overload that plagues web workers.

Once upon a time, we had to scour newspapers for jobs. Then we began to rely on friends and web working contacts to let us know about cool opportunities. But now even the most steadfast web company employees are being bombarded daily (or weekly, or monthly) with job offers.

It’s not just social media that’s the culprit — although personal recommendations of some job opportunities via social media certainly adds to their appeal. Web workers routinely have job searches set up on job networks; we have LinkedIn profiles and blogs. We’re constantly receiving tweets, emails, IM and calls from companies that are interested in our skills.

If information technology jobs are to the 2010s what factory jobs were to the Industrial Revolution, then web company owners have some serious competition to consider. Web workers can secure work in any industry, with employers of any size.

Sure, your hip little web outfit might have pool tables, a bring-your-pet-to-work day, and a flexible start time, but unless your company can also compete on the basics — pay rates, expectation of working hours, staff development, company culture — it’ll likely lose staff to the ebbs and flows of the job information that’s coming our way every day.

Here are the five benefits the web workers I know want in their next job (and feel they’re not getting now).


Even here in Australia, where the GFC had mercifully little impact on the local job market, the web workers I know are tired of restructures, layoffs and retrenchments. For those in other countries, the frustration must be considerable.

But stability also implies predictability: Can we expect our projects to run on time? How often are we fighting fires as a result of inadequate processes? How frequently are we called on to work unpaid overtime at the last minute? Perhaps it’s just me, but web companies seem often to have higher expectations of what their staff will do for them — and be able to achieve — at short notice than organizations in other industries.

Career Plans

Pool tables and iPhones (s aapl) do not a career plan make. While perks are cool, many web workers would like to have some idea of where they’re headed, career-wise. If they can’t see a career progression through your organization, they may well begin to listen to the job-seeking hubbub in their social networks, be they online or off.

The swift growth of web companies means that often, human resources essentials like periodic performance reviews, career goal-setting, and so on, can be neglected, leaving web workers with little idea of where they might be headed with their current employer — or whether that employer even cares.


Those job sites have a knack of sending web workers ads for well-paid jobs. If your web business can’t afford to keep up with market rates — or better them — you may well have trouble attracting or retaining good staff.

Contracting, too, is a growing field where web workers can often earn better rates than they would as a permanent staff member — and it delivers that other great benefit: flexibility.


The numbers of people who wish to work remotely, part time, or with more flexible hours is growing; several of my contacts have left employers who wouldn’t compromise on the full-time, on-site work philosophy. And why not? Lifestyle matters, and in a competitive market, employers who don’t offer flexibility lose out.


Linked to flexibility is trust: many of the constraints that we face in the workplace reveal that our employers simply do not trust us. Blocking access to certain websites, refusing to consider a policy of remote work, unrealistic non-compete clauses in employment contracts: all of these are common in the web work environment, and are clear signs of the kind of mistrust that poisons company culture.

If you’re interested in learning more about the needs of remote workers, and how to build and manage a successful virtual workforce, it’s something we’ll be covering in depth at our Net:Work conference, coming to San Francisco on December 9.

These points sound elementary. So why are so many of them lacking in web jobs? What do you seek when you look for work on the web?

Image by stock.xchng user minasi.

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6 Responses to “What Web Workers Want (And Feel They’re Not Getting Now)”

  1. Reality Check

    Don’t wish too hard for something, you just might get it. While most think they’re top talent, they’re really just suffering delusions of grandeur and are a dime a dozen. True talent is rare and it’s even rarer to find punching a clock, like this demographic.

    Once remote work becomes more mainstream, the competition will also rise and most of those wishing for this now will be losing in the future. Just ask the IT folks how it works.

    Sorry, but this sounds like some serious Gen-Whining- “Pool tables and perks are not enough- I wanna be on Facebook all day too!”. Hope your parents have a basement ;-)

    • I agree that working from home comes with huge responsibility. If you can’t handle remote deadlines, keeping in communication with your co-workers, and being proactive in general, yes, I do think you’re in for a big shock. In some ways, you have to be better than the people working at the office.

      However, I don’t think that makes people who want to work remotely “whiners.” They just have to take the pros and cons of working remotely into consideration.

    • Hey Reality Check :) Nice. I’ve never been referred to as a Gen Y before. How flattering ;)

      I was laid off when the dot com bubble burst and have worked in a range of industries, from finance to education, on both the agency and client sides in creative, client service, and strategy roles. I’ve also worked for some of the most notorious employers in those industries in my city over the last 13 years.

      So what? I now believe I can tell when an organization cares about its staff, and wants to help them help it. We shouldn’t need to be “top talent” to get the basic working conditions that proliferate in other, more established industries. In any case, if an employer doesn’t think I can deliver, they won’t hire me. If I don’t think they can deliver on things like decent treatment of staff, I won’t work for them. It’s a two-way street.

      Many web companies talk the talk, but too few walk the walk — or even understand what that means.

  2. I have a friend who does a done of web work and his biggest fear is stability and longevity. He never knows what next month will bring. I’m glad to hear that he is not alone, now we just need to find out how to fix this issue.

  3. I agree with all points on your list. Stability is the hardest to get, though, since the web lends itself to work for hire type situations. It becomes even more severe if you want to work remote. In my experience, it’s still out-of-sight, out-of-mind for employees who work offsite.

    I have faith, though, that as employers adopt better work-life balance policies to attract talent, those tendencies will change.