Understanding Platform-Mediated Work-Life: A Diary Study with Gig Economy Freelancers

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Online freelancing platforms, such as Upwork, hold great promise in enabling flexible work opportunities where freelancers can combine their work with other life responsibilities, hereafter work-life. However, prior research suggests that platform features and self-managing demands of freelance work can jeopardise this apparent flexibility. In this paper, we report findings from a qualitative study, combining a 14-diary and semi-structured interview with 15 Upwork freelancers. We explored online freelancers' work practices, challenges, and the impact of platform features on their everyday lives. Our qualitative data suggest that platform features and individual context shape online freelancers' work-life practices. Freelancers develop strategies to mitigate platforms' constraints and balance their individual preferences and responsibilities. Further, our findings illustrate how platform features challenge freelancers' availability expectations, work autonomy, and work detachment. This paper contributes an empirical understanding of the factors influencing online freelancers' work-life practices by drawing upon Wanda J. Orlikowski's Structuration Model of Technology. This theoretical lens renders the interplay of freelancers, platforms, and instituted norms of freelance work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
Place of PublicationNew York, US
Number of pages32
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Nov 2022
EventACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Hamburg, Germany
Duration: 23 Apr 202328 Apr 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction
ISSN (Electronic)2573-0142


ConferenceACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Abbreviated titleCHI 2023
Internet address

Research Group keywords

  • Interaction Research Studio


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