Unfurlough.us: Freelance gigs for furloughed employees

  • mike_endale

    Mike Endale

The United States Government has shut down — for the first time in 17 years — on October 1st, 2013. According to estimates, some 800,000 government employees were furloughed on that day. For those people, the shut down created an incredible amount of uncertainty and financial pressure. As one of my friends who is among the furloughed said, “... [it] doesn’t mean the mortgage and car loan payments aren’t still due.”

We thought about how we can help and the answer was obvious to us: leverage our technical capabilities to good use by connecting these furloughed employees with freelance gigs. So, we started looking around and sure enough people were creating Facebook groups, tweets, etc… looking to generate some income while they were furloughed. We came across a couple of cool resources, but we especially liked what 1776, a DC based startup incubator, was doing. They created a Google Spreadsheet and were having people and companies add their information. We thought we could help them by converting the doc to something more accessible and easier to use.

Enter unfurlough.us.

We had our team focus on the task at had and sketched, designed and built the site in under 5 hours using Drupal and launched it around 12:30 am today. We tweeted, added it to Drupal groups and posted it on Hacker News. But, we were not prepared to what happened next.

All of a sudden, we start seeing huge spikes in traffic. Within a few hours of launch, the site crashed -- twice. At one point today, the site was the number four story on Hacker News.

Lessons Learned

Move fast and break things.

This was certainly true. We had the idea of helping and almost instantly, we started building the site. This is obviously is not applicable on all cases, but there are some cases where you just need to do it. Less analysis. More doing.

"Do not let a crisis go to waste"

This statement obviously has a political undertone, but the fact of the matter is, there are incredible amount of opportunity to help people when something seriously go awry.

Fight scope creep

While building the Drupal site yesterday, we had to focus on the end goal and not let get distracted by additional "features." Everyone in the team had great ideas to make it a really good tool, but I felt it was important that "done is better than perfect." So, we proceeded with caution and built only what is absoluetly necessary.

Some Modules We've Used

Panopoly - a powerful base distribution of Drupal powered by lots of Chaos Tools and Panels magic.

HybridAuth - a pretty good social login module to let people sign in using their Google account.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.

About BLEN, Inc.

BLEN, Inc. is a D.C.-based, small, minority, and veteran-owned information technology firm specializing in Drupal development. Since 2004, we have been ahead of the curve in early adaption and implementation of cutting edge technologies, from web site design & development to developing innovative web based solutions.

Let's work together to deliver a success story.