A New Way To Work

Adwerx Gets More Done for Less with Adaptive Staffing

Thanks in part to Adwerx being a willing test subject, OnDeck changes the way companies recruit talent, saving them time and money. Now, instead of maintaining a full complement of staff members, businesses can hire a core group of leaders who work—in a streamlined, optimized way—with a rotating roster of freelancers as needed.

It costs a lot more to hire a new staff member than just their salary: the average cost to onboard an employee is $4,129, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

And what happens when you go through all the hassle of running job ads, interviewing and testing, hiring, and training—and the new hire doesn’t live up to expectations? Or quits? Or an economic downturn or marketplace shift turns your business upside-down and you have more employees than you have work for them to do?

The solution lies somewhere in between maintaining a complete staff of full-time employees and hiring freelancers project by project. Adwerx, a provider of automated digital advertising services in Durham, NC, needed just such a hybrid solution—and the company ended up being the test case that made this solution available to other businesses nationwide.

Many Small Jobs Lead to Many Big Hassles

Hiring contractors alleviates some of the expense of maintaining full-time staff members to handle every need: businesses can hire contractors on a per-project basis, so they’re paying for freelancers only when they need them. This is especially useful during economic slumps and other crises, since using freelancers strategically can help employers avoid layoffs of their core staff.

For small businesses like Adwerx, with just 110 employees, this flexibility is even more crucial.

Adwerx has a history of hiring freelance copywriters, designers, and other pros on an as-needed basis through various agencies, as well as one-to-one. Finally, in 2017 the company decided to put all its contracting needs into the hands of one company to streamline the process. “We’ve always valued contractors,” says Todd Mosier, VP of Marketing at Adwerx. “And this was a way to have somebody else manage the contractor relationships and allow us to fulfill our needs dynamically.”

Mosier chose Uncompany as his one-stop provider because of the quality of the professionals in its network. Whenever Adwerx needed a freelancer, Uncompany would launch a search, and typically within 24-48 hours present Adwerx with a perfect match.

The freelancers turned out impressive work, but juggling a team of them quickly became a chore for Adwerx—even though the company tended to use the same freelancers over and over. “After we worked with Uncompany for a while, we were on repeat projects,” says Kelly Parisi, Adwerx’s Director of Corporate Marketing. “We tended to request the same folks from Uncompany over and over…we’d say, ‘Hey, can we work with Christie again? She was really great.’”

At the same time, Mosier also realized that Adwerx’s contract jobs were usually small and fast, which created a flurry of estimates and contracts that slowed down the projects’ turnaround time. Uncompany also noticed this churn, and the time that was spent executing contracts.

Adwerx Tests a Flexible Solution with Uncompany

When Mosier described his frustrations to Uncompany, they jumped at the opportunity to build a better solution not just for Adwerx, but for all of their clients. Uncompany needed an offering that both streamlined the onboarding process and gave clients a consistent base of skilled contractors—without having to wait for Uncompany to conduct a search, approve invoices, and onboard the contractor, which would sometimes take days.

After evaluating what tasks might be eliminated, automated, OR simplified, Uncompany created a new offering they believed would help make work turn much more quickly: OnDeck, a custom freelance bench with a freelance staffing plan built right in that gives businesses direct access to a pool of talent based on their budget and needs.

The freelance bench is onboarded before projects start, their rates are negotiated for the entire year, and they’re set up in a simple system to streamline timesheets and billing. Clients can quickly activate their freelancers and teams, minus the time and inconvenience of searching for contractors, onboarding them, and approving their contracts.

“OnDeck was born out of what we learned from Adwerx. ”

— Maari Casey, Uncompany Founder

Uncompany Works Out a New Way to Work

Adwerx is unique in that their in-house marketing capabilities are already strong; for example, they already have people skilled in videography and graphic design on staff. “So we don’t have the typical needs you see in marketing teams, because we have a blend of capabilities in house that have been developed over the years,” Mosier explains. “That’s been part of our strength, but it can also lead to challenges. A solution like OnDeck helped address this because we were able to add skills and bandwidth according to specific needs that we had.”

OnDeck enabled Adwerx to quickly scale up, growing from just a few freelancers to a team of 13—and giving the company access to a wide range of skills and experience. “The OnDeck process included a master services agreement that had not only a non-disclosure agreement, but also all the legal guidelines we needed in order to give freelancers access to company assets,” says Mosier. “That way, the freelancers could be easily wrapped up into our project management workflow.”

Another time-consuming process for businesses that use freelancers is project management—from managing the team to reconciling the line items on invoices against actual work done. For companies that can’t dedicate an internal project manager, Uncompany trains its freelance project managers to work within the OnDeck system. These freelance project managers can act as a liaison between the OnDeck team and the company to ease the bandwidth of a company’s resources. That way, the managers on each project don’t get bogged down in red tape and can get their jobs done more quickly.

To test the OnDeck concept, Uncompany created a list of MVP freelancers for Adwerx  in Google Sheets. Once the process was streamlined and solidified, Uncompany decided to build an app that simplified the user experience and improved the reporting capabilities—to make hiring, onboarding, and working with freelancers even easier. 

“We were able to expand our bandwidth on a temporary basis to match what we needed to do, so we could commit to more and bigger projects, knowing that we had these dynamic resources available. At the same time, having a single owner of the invoices created a much more efficient process.”

— Todd Mosier, VP of Marketing at Adwerx

Adwerx Now Has the Adaptive Advantage

Thanks in part to Adwerx being a willing test subject, OnDeck changes the way companies recruit talent, saving them time and money. Now, instead of maintaining a full complement of staff members, businesses can hire a core group of leaders who work—in a streamlined, optimized way—with a rotating roster of freelancers as needed.

For example, a typical business with an annual staffing budget of $500,000 might have a full-time director and senior manager, and three full-time staff members at different levels of experience, with a fixed monthly payroll cost of $41,650. These employees have rigid job descriptions, and adding a new skill to the mix would mean hiring on another full-time worker.

Using the adaptive staffing model with a solution like OnDeck, that same company might have  a full-time director, senior manager, and junior manager, plus eight freelancers with flexible roles. The difference? Monthly payroll is now $27,500—a 60% reduction—and the business can add new skillsets while still saying within their budget.

And because businesses can reach out to freelancers directly, there’s no waiting and no middleman. When a new project comes up at Adwerx, the manager simply scrolls through the freelancers’ profiles in OnDeck, contacts the ones who seem like the best fit, and gets to work. 

“Implementing OnDeck has tremendously improved our ability to be efficient and effective.”

— Kelly Parisi, Director of Corporate Marketing at Adwerx