Like Me on facebook… and hire me! - eLancers being themselves

Brian Pickering, Darja Reuschke

Research output: Contribution to conference (unpublished)Paperpeer-review


Objectives/Purpose: It is tempting to see the online gig economy, ‘eLancing’, as little more than technology-mediated freelancing. This paper shows, however, that the Internet offers different opportunities for eLancers to build professional and personal lives in tandem contributing to our understanding of new technologies in working lives. Individual ‘gigs’ are theoretically open to anyone irrespective of ethnicity, location or disability. However, a professional persona on a digital platform exists alongside a semi-private one in social media requiring careful impression management and contextual compartmentalisation.

Design/Background: In this study, we focus on contradictions reported in the literature to show that eLancers themselves build a comprehensive client-facing profile.

Methods: Two focus groups, one with eLancers, the other with platform providers and domain experts, and semi-structured interviews with 12 eLancers were analysed qualitatively to identify stakeholder perspectives.

Results: The experts confirmed traditional findings on social isolation, insecure compensation, legal protection, and professional training. Providers focus on improving technology to ease remote communication. eLancers themselves, by contrast, highlight intrinsic motivating factors like autonomy and personal satisfaction. Those in the creative industries, in particular, exploit the entirety of their online presence, including social media like facebook, to create a comprehensive virtual portfolio. Far from trying to contain online impressions, they accept the new environment. eLancing for them is not simply about equality and geographic reach, but a socio-technical context encouraging digital entrepreneurship.

Conclusions: Rather than confirming existing models of working psychology, our findings suggest that eLancers integrate the virtual world into a progressive narrative of autonomy exploiting technology potential.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2021
EventCyberpsychology Section Virtual Conference - Virtual
Duration: 6 Jul 20217 Jul 2021


ConferenceCyberpsychology Section Virtual Conference


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