Behind the Scenes: How OLIVER creates a more agile hiring system with Worksome

Q/A with Oliver agency and how they use Worksome to manage their freelance workforce

June 19, 2024

Work has changed. For all companies, 2021 and beyond will be more competitive than ever before. This is why we’re bringing together the often unsung heroes ‘behind the scenes’ of the world's most impressive companies - with the aim of building community, sharing success and creating positivity to help build a future that we all want to be a part of.

This week we’re interviewing Florence Strivens, Conor Blaney and Mehmet Aslan who work in central resourcing for the world’s fastest growing marketing group, the Inside Ideas Group (IIG). IIG employs almost 3000 people for over 200 brands globally. The Group comprises flagship name and leading in-housing specialist OLIVER as well as experience design company Dare, content and culture agency Adjust Your Set and property marketing business Aylesworth Fleming. Together, they ensure their teams are best equipped to design, build and run in-house agencies for their clients, as well as create the most effective, efficient and tech-driven work in the industry. With Worksome, the Group now has a scalable and automated process for an inevitable element of the business: freelance. Within one centralised location for all freelance activity and spend, projects start and end in Worksome. From advertising roles, briefing recruiters, creating contracts with built-in IR35 determinations; all freelancers and suppliers are guaranteed on-time payment and taxed accordingly.

Why did you start using Worksome?

Florence: We wanted there to be a faster, more defined process for hiring and managing freelancers. As a resource team, we also wanted to feel our freelancers were being looked after and make sure they could easily communicate with us. Using freelancers through recruitment agencies, there’s always that level of disconnect because you don’t have a direct relationship. Our Global HR Director, Amina Folarin, and the head of our department, Alice Robson,  are creating a system where freelancers get a smooth, inclusive experience during their time with us, which helps us get the best talent into the business.

How did you manage before?

When it comes to freelancers, we hold spreadsheets of our own contacts, we also use LinkedIn, recruiter relationships and creative marketplaces. Until now, we’ve never had a single platform to manage everything. The fluidity of the platform really works in our favour.

“IR35 is a big reason we started with Worksome. It helps us know who’s a Limited Company and needs an IR35 status, who’s a Sole Trader, plus we can still have all types of recruitment agencies on there as well.

Conor: There’s also IR35, which is a big reason why we started using Worksome. It helps us know who’s a Limited Company and needs an IR35 status, who’s a Sole Trader, plus we can still have all types of recruitment agencies on there as well. Worksome pays everyone, and manages the tax, so no-one else has to worry about IR35. It removes the risk for the business and our clients.

Until now, we’ve never had a single platform to manage everything.

How has Covid-19 and remote working affected the team?

Florence: It’s been quite an interesting journey! At the beginning there was so much uncertainty in the industry, but luckily one of the benefits of OLIVER being such an agile business is that we had so much flex. During the period, we were able to familiarise ourselves with the platform, working in anticipation for this big drive up in freelancers again. After a few weeks, we had it all in place, enabling us to get geographically agnostic talent in as soon as we needed it. We’ve been able to really secure some incredible people.

What types of freelancers do you hire?

Mehmet: Honestly, every type. Creatives, designers, copywriters, motion graphics, editors, producers, developers and community management for social media accounts. We’ve had a lot of strategy needs lately, as brands are repositioning products or changing plans. We might also then hire interim or freelancer operational or finance people to support in busier times. What I like about Worksome is that its Marketplace covers everything, not ‘just’ creatives or developers like other marketplaces. 9 times out of 10 we get a lot of bids and are able to hire someone. We’ve kept quite active on LinkedIn and shared our Worksome account there so freelancers know where to look for new work with us if they’re looking.

How has it helped collaboration within the business?

Mehmet: Hiring freelancers is just so different to hiring permanent staff. You need to be so fast and reactive. With Worksome, our internal teams now work so well. Hiring managers can talk directly to freelancers themselves, review portfolios and CVs, which saves us so much time. Freelancers prefer this anyway.

“Hiring managers talk to freelancers themselves… but our team has the power to offer contracts and pay invoices”

Conor: Then our central team  is able to negotiate rates, offer the contract and pay freelancers’ invoices.

How did this improve experience for freelancers?

Mehmet: As all freelancers and recruiters are now all on Worksome, it’s one consistent process for everyone.

Florence: Our pool of freelancers and recruiters are all on there, and if we find any new freelancers, we just send them an invite straight from the platform. Even if they’ve never heard of Worksome before, it’s so straightforward. One freelancer this week was onboard - from invite to working - in about 10 minutes.

Conor: We had 100s of freelancers in various locations, a lot of previous contacts that we wanted to keep in touch with for future projects, so we’re now set up for pretty much any brief that comes our way. We’ve just been building and building our little knowledge bank as we call it.

How is Worksome helping your team expand globally?

Mehmet: Our hiring teams in Europe and North America bring in a lot of freelancers as well, so we’ve started migrating it all onto Worksome. As our agencies specialise in creative production in-house for brands, we want to have the same process for every team working for every client across every region. The goal is to get the whole network all over the world onto Worksome, that would be a great achievement for all of us.

What’s the biggest benefit for the resource team?

Conor: I like the control that we now have. Previously freelancers could invoice when they like, occasionally get paid without completing timesheets, and we’d see incorrect purchase orders added by freelancers in error. All of these issues have been taken away. We now only pay who we know we should pay, and having Worksome as that barrier allows us to know 100% which freelancers we need to pay and when. With everyone working remotely, that’s been such a big help this year.

Mehmet: For me it’s the Marketplace. There’s quite a lot of quality freelancers on there, and the simplicity of hiring someone from there. Before we used to have to follow a process, write up contracts, email NDAs, and everything like that. But now it’s literally a click of the button and they get everything they need and they just accept it there and then. They can be working with us within a matter of minutes if needed.

Florence: The flexibility of the platform. I think it works with us because it’s fast. A lot of our work is last-minute requests, such is the nature of being in a resourcing team! So the fact that, as Mehmet said, we can go onto the platform and within a matter of minutes  we’ll have a freelancer with a contract, NDA, everything we need to get work started - we love it.