Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Flexie Bench?
The Flexie Bench is a global online marketplace designed to connect small and medium-sized businesses with a worldwide community of freelancers and independent contractors. The site allows businesses or individuals to post work and have it completed by qualified professional freelancers, who bid to complete the projects. Our goal is to give start-ups and SMEs a platform to combine their resources or to have access to the credible, experienced resources they need to compete in the contracting market.
How does The Flexie Bench help freelancers and independent contractors?
By offering companies scalable and innovative workforce options, The Flexie Bench enables freelancers and contractors to interact with customers, bid on contracts and get work. Freelancers’ ability to get work is driven by their references and the quality of their portfolios. The Flexie Bench works with companies that understand the freelancers’ profiles and are willing to give them opportunities to expand their experience and honour their expertise.
Freelancers and independent contractors can offer mini-services or carved out services, such as handling marketing strategies, programme briefs, bids and tender responses, project plans and more. Freelancers have the opportunity to bid on a constant stream of full and part-time work opportunities from employers who need their skills.
Does The Flexie Bench have enough freelancers to staff my entire team?
Client companies can build their entire team from the Flexie Bench site. We have recommended specialists for every role, from inception to project management solutions through project closure.
How does The Flexie Bench serve the B-2-B market?
The Flexie Bench facilitates SMEs working together to create joint bids and projects, providing them with a forum to work with new or established businesses and go after larger contracts than they could alone. By partnering with others, these companies have a better chance of getting those big contracts, growing their businesses and getting more contracts in the future.
How do I start working with The Flexie Bench?
Start by completing the sign-up form, including creating a username and password. Then create your User Profile, either as a Business or as a Freelancer. Fill out the Profile completely, so both businesses and freelancers know what skills you need and what you have to offer. Businesses and Freelancers with incomplete profiles are not allowed to post jobs nor to bid on projects. The Flexie Bench never shares personal information about a freelancer or a business with anyone (see Terms and Conditions).
How are freelancers paid?
The Flexie Bench strongly recommends both businesses and freelancers use the Milestone Payment system. This assures all parties that the work gets done and that payment is received on time. Milestone Payments also increases the reputation of both the business and the freelancer, by demonstrating a commitment to the Flexie Bench process. Once the project is complete and paid in full, both the business and the freelancer can use the Feedback system to provide references regarding the other.
What does it cost to post a job on The Flexie Bench?
Contract posting is included within your membership plan
What is the risk?
If you as a business or a freelancer are not satisfied with the arrangement, contact The Flexie Bench Customer Happiness. We will arrange for another freelancer who is a better fit for the company, and we will work with the original freelancer to find more appropriate work.
What methods of payment can be used on The Flexie Bench
The Flexie Bench accepts payments via bank account drafts dwith ABA routing numbers, bank wires, major credit cards and via PayPal.
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Business Customer FAQS
Can only SMEs use The Flexie Bench?
No. The Flexie Bench primarily provides opportunities to contractors and SMEs, but this does not preclude individuals or bigger businesses from using the service, too.
How will The Flexie Bench help growing companies?
The Flexie Bench allows growing businesses to scale their workforce up or down as needed. We help prospects to secure contracts with those companies, or join virtual teams to bid and win those contracts. This concept is also used in larger consultancy firms where a “bench set” of skills is available in-house on demand, and can be rotated in or out of projects as needed. The Flexie Bench will let smaller companies do that without the associated overhead costs of maintaining full-time staff. Employers pick from among the available freelancers with the precise skills needed for their job, without having the expense and time of hiring a full-time employee.
As a business, how do I create a work request seeking freelancers?
Log into your User Profile and create a Work Request form. Set the budget and milestones for your project, and provide as many details as possible about the nature of the work you need from freelance providers. Next, start looking through the registered freelance providers on TFB. The business customer invites freelancers to their team and/or accepts bids from freelancers and freelance teams. Once you have your team selected, either through invitations or bids, you Confirm your team to finalise it so work can begin on your project.
Can I invite specific freelancers to work on my team?
As a business customer, you send invitations to freelancers registered on TFB, if they have skills that meet your needs. When you post your Work Request, freelancers can also bid to join your work team. You have the option to accept or reject their proposals. The Flexie Bench requires business customers to accept, counter or reject bids from freelancers within ___3_ days, as a professional courtesy to our freelance contractors.
Can the freelancers on my team see each other’s work and share ideas?
The Flexie Bench automatically creates a shared workroom for customers and their freelance team. This space allows everyone to share files and message one another once they have joined the team. Freelance providers and the business customer can also privately message one another.
Can the customer remove freelancers from their team?
The team creator monitors the work of the other team members and has rights to add or remove any other member from the team if they feel they are not performing as expected. The Flexie Bench strongly encourages team creators and business customers to stay in close contact, in case the customer has concerns. If a team member must be removed for any reason, their payment share will be divided equally amongst the remaining team members at the time of the next milestone payment. The business customer can only rate the freelance team once the entire work project is completed.
If you’d like to learn more about a specific skill or certification, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
As a freelance provider, how do I bid on a project?
First, the business customer creates a Work Project Request and posts it on the Flexie Bench. If your qualifications and profile meet the needs of a customer, prepare a Bid. Include your Profile Information and your rates and prospective milestones for completion of work on the project. Submit this to the customer. Either the business customer will accept your bid and invite you to join their Team, or they will reject your bid. The client has ____3______ days to accept or reject your bid. The customer can also counter your bid.
What do I do as a freelancer if a project requires a team to complete the work?
If a freelance provider wants to bid on a work project, but they need a team to complete the work, they can recruit other freelancers and add them to their team. This is similar to a primary contractor subcontracting with other specialists. The primary freelance contractor also decides what roles each team member plays, the share of the work and the share of the budget each team member receives. Team members are not allowed to change their shares inside the team after it is created.
What are milestones for the freelance team?
At the time a freelance provider places a bid on a work project, they propose milestones for work steps as part of the bid. The customer receives this information as part of the bid process. If the bid is accepted, these milestones become part of the common work space information. Each freelancer can view their personal milestones and their rate. The business customer can see the overall budget and the milestones for all the freelancers involved in the project. Once each task is completed – or a milestone is met – payment is made for achieving that milestone. Final payment is made to all freelancers once the entire project is completed to the customer’s satisfaction.
Dispute Process FAQS
Things to know before filing a Dispute:?
Most of the time, projects go smoothly for flexies and clients alike. Our system is built to protect both clients and flexies from having to go to the Dispute process over payments. However, sometimes having a third party available to help work through things is helpful.
Clients and flexies need to remember that contacting Customer Support does not qualify as filing a formal Dispute. A Dispute is a formal process to resolve conflicts between clients and flexies when nothing else has worked.
The Flexie Bench expects flexies and clients to act professionally and try to work matters out between themselves whenever possible. File formal Disputes only as a last resort.
Flexies and clients may file formal Disputes only regarding payment and escrow issues, NOT about quality of work concerns. If quality of work is the issue, Flexie Bench will work with the parties to find Arbitration assistance.
If a formal Dispute is filed against you, you must respond to the Dispute Notification within the time frame whether you are a client or a flexie. If you do not respond, the Dispute will be resolved in favor of the party that filed the Dispute.
In cases where escrow funds have already been paid out to the flexie, the funds cannot be recalled from the flexie. The customer can request a refund from the flexie, but The Flexie Bench cannot force a flexie to refund the money.
How do I as a client Dispute a flexie’s claim of hours worked (only Hourly Contracts)?
The customer can only file a dispute about flexie hours worked during the week in which the hours were allegedly worked or not worked. Customers can only file a Dispute during that week’s review period, even if the job has ended.
Contact the flexie before the end of the weekly billing cycle first, and ask them to correct their time log. If it is too late for them to edit their time log, ask for a refund. If the flexie refuses, only then is it appropriate to file the Dispute.
Is there a Dispute process if the flexie isn’t available to work the minimum hours agreed or is not responsive to me as a client?
Contact the flexie first to see if there are extenuating circumstances that prevented them from working their agreed-upon hours or caused them to fail to respond to your prior contacts. If so, you can choose to pause your contract.
If the flexie does not respond, you can file a Dispute only for the hours during the previous work-week if they are on an hourly plan and only if you feel those hours were in error.
I am a flexie, and my client is not responding to my requests regarding our project. What can I do?
If you work on an hourly contract, you can end your contract with the unresponsive client. Invoice your hours worked as usual, but do not expect further payment on the ended contract. If the client fails to pay you for the hours you worked, you can file a Dispute for that.
If you are working on a fixed-price or escrow contract, ending the contract causes you to forfeit funds that remain in escrow. Therefore, we recommend you submit your work up to your last milestone. If the client fails to respond to that milestone.
The Flexie Bench automatically releases escrow funds to flexies after 14 days, even if clients are unresponsive. If the client responds but refuses the work, causing unreasonable delays to the flexie’s payment, the flexie can file a Dispute against the client.
What happens after a Dispute is filed?
After a Dispute is filed, the Flexie Bench sends the flexie and the client a notification of the Dispute.
The person who had the Dispute filed AGAINST them must respond to the Dispute in a timely manner. They can choose to ACCEPT the dispute, which means they agree with the Dispute, or they can REJECT the Dispute. This means they disagree with the Dispute, and it enters the Mediation phase.
If a Dispute goes to Mediation, the client or flexie accused of not following their agreement can add their information about the Dispute. A Dispute Specialist reviews and evaluates all the information, using the criteria stated in the Terms. All payments related to the Dispute are put on hold until the outcome of the Dispute is decided.
If either party cancels the Dispute before it is decided, the Dispute Specialist will take no action and the Dispute cannot be reopened. It usually takes four to five days to receive a Dispute Decision.
How Flexie Bench handles disputed charges:
Flexie Bench cannot hold up our weekly billing cycle for everyone waiting on a Dispute resolution for one contract.
If you are a client, your account will still be charged for all billed hours, but your flexie will not have access to the funds until the Dispute Specialist makes a decision in the case.
If the Dispute is awarded in your favor, Flexie Bench credits the removed time refund to your account. If it is found in favor of the flexie, the account is debited to pay the flexie accordingly.
In all cases, the Flexie Bench will carefully consider all information presented from both sides regarding the contested work hours. We will base our decision on the validity of the time logged, NOT the perceived quality of the work.
How do I, as a client, get a refund of my escrow funds on a fixed price contract?
Usually, you will pay out escrow funds over the course of your contract, as your flexies meet their milestones. If you choose to end a contract with your flexies before you release the full remaining escrow balance, your flexies will be asked to either approve or dispute returning your escrow funds.
Our Fixed Price Protection requires these Disputes enter a Mediation Process with a Dispute Specialist at this point. Most of the time, users of the Flexie Bench can come to an agreement among themselves. If necessary, the Dispute Specialist will make a final recommendation according to our Dispute Resolution Policy.
If your flexie does not respond to your request to approve or dispute the refund within seven days, we automatically release the escrow funds back to you. You also receive a refund of the payment processing fees associated with the unused escrow deposits.
If you previously released escrow funds to the flexie and the choose to return them at your request, you will NOT receive a refund of payment processing fees.
The Flexie Bench refunds escrow monies using the same billing method you used to make the deposit. The credit can take up to five business days to appear.
Funds held over 60 days may be returned instead to your Flexie Bench balance for reuse, due to refund time limit restrictions as determined by your payment method vendor.
How do I respond to my flexies Dispute over a Fixed Price Contract Escrow?
Our Fixed Price Protection system allows flexies to file Disputes against clients for escrow payments under two circumstances:
The client fails to release a milestone payment even when the flexie delivers the work
The client ends the job, leaving an escrow balance
If the flexie files a Dispute against you in either case, you will be notified. You have the chance to accept the Dispute and release the funds to the flexie, or reject the Dispute and enter Mediation
If you fail to respond to the notification within seven days, the Flexie Bench automatically releases the escrow funds to the flexie
I’m not happy with the work my flexie provided. What do I do?
First, you should try to resolve the issue with your flexie. If this does not resolve the situation, we will help you connect with Arbitration, as per our Terms. Disputes can only be filed regarding payment issues.
Retention Feature FAQS
What is a retainer?
A Retainer is an amount of money a client pays to guarantee a flexie stays bound to work only on their project for a set period of time. In addition, the Retainer allows the client to use the flexie profile to bid on external contracts.
How is the retainer amount set?
Clients can set the retainer based on a fixed amount or after negotiation with the flexie. Sometimes, the client pays a retention bonus to the flexie at the time of the final milestone payment. Regardless of the amount and type of the retention payment, the Flexie Bench takes the retention payment as an escrow payment in advance. When the project is completed, the flexie gets the retention payment.
Is there a Retention contract to sign?
The Flexie Bench supplies a Retention Agreement that must be signed by both the client and the flexie and then uploaded to our system. This must be on file prior to starting the retention project.
Can a flexie work on other project while they work on a Retention project?
A flexie assigned to a Retention project can work on other online projects, but cannot work on other on-site projects during the retention period.