Online workers in Ukraine work tirelessly
by Sayantani Sanyal
March 8, 2022
Ukrainian online coding workers show their resilience to work in extreme conditions
Russia has launched a devastating war against Ukraine by air, sea and land. Russian forces bomb and missile attack major city centers and the national capital, Kiev. For months, the Russian president has denied allegations about his plans to attack Ukraine. The UN has called on millions of Ukrainians to evacuate the country due to imminent threats to lives and livelihoods. The humanitarian crisis escalated as Russia stepped up its bombardment, leading to acute shortages of food, water, fuel, medicine and other essentials. Moscow links these attacks to the medieval siege that forced Ukraine into submission. Recently, Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Agency claimed that the country’s forces had killed a second Russian general after killing the first general last week. In the midst of these constant threats and continuous loss of life, Ukraine is witnessing a coding workflow of online gig workers and independent.
Independent or online gig workers who work on online platforms are the lesser known drivers of the Ukrainian economy. They usually register on English-language websites, including ones like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com, to name a few. They also choose several Russian platforms like Fl.ru and popular Ukrainian platforms like Freelancehunt.com to find work. Gig workers online usually sign up for jobs as a software engineer, project manager, IT technician, graphic designer, editor, to work on coding, programming and writing. They work on long-term contracts or in piecemeal jobs at big companies like Airbnb, Samsung and others. Currently, as major cities in Ukraine come under devastating attacks and buildings are reduced to rubble, business leaders in the United States and Europe have expressed their admiration for their Ukraine-based staff.
The tireless dedication of Ukrainian freelancers
Ukraine, under a full-fledged invasion by Russia, is home to 44 million people, more than a million of whom have fled the country as refugees to escape the conflict. It’s also a massive community of software developers who work remotely for companies all over the US and Europe. According to reports, there were around 200,000 Ukrainian developers in the country in 2020, indicating that 20% of Fortune 500 companies have their remote development teams in Ukraine. The Covid-19 pandemic is one of the many reasons that pushed these numbers even higher. For technology-oriented countries like the United States, Europe and others, Ukraine is a rich hub for freelancers and a source of skilled labor. They are fairly well educated and trained in their specific fields, tend to work for lower wages than their American or other Western European counterparts are accustomed to, and earn slightly more than the average Ukrainian salary.
These developers, along with other Ukrainian civilians in the country, are now forced to defend their homes and cities while sheltering from Russian bombs and missiles. But many of these citizens continue to work remotely for their employers, supporting the local defense effort by day while sending in their deliverables at night. The invading Russian forces broke into the homes of these online workers and turned them into total chaos. Under these conditions, some freelancers negotiate with their clients and rely on their goodwill.
Ukrainians in IT-related fields also use their skills to fight for their country. Reports have emerged that a local digital marketing agency in Kyiv is helping the government carry out cyberattacks in conjunction with Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation against Russian entities. Freelancers also created a local Telegram channel dedicated to crowdsourcing programmers to carry out cyberattacks against Russia, and amassed nearly a million subscribers.
Military analysts are surprised at how resilient Ukrainians are. As Russian forces continue to shell the country, fire missiles and civilians continue to lose their lives in the crossfire, Ukrainian freelancers are proving their worth by showing determination to work and love for their country. The worst is undoubtedly to come, but nothing stops them.
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