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Literature Review on the Factors Influencing the Decision to Participate in Freelancing Platforms: A Prespective to Egyptian University Graduates

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Abstract

Most Egyptian university graduates search for jobs after earning their degrees. Some of them find employment, while others need to acquire and develop business and technical skills in order to find decent jobs. The recent advancements in information and communication technology were the reason behind the rise of what is known as crowdsourcing, which provided new job opportunities all over the world. Freelancing is one type of crowdsourcing that offers various opportunities in multiple industries. The thousands of Egyptian university students who graduate annually are capable of taking part in the freelancing field. Empowering Egyptian graduates to target these freelancing opportunities will lead to many benefits, such as reduction in the unemployment rate, access to an income which in turn would lead to adding value to the national economy. The main expected outcome from this research is to clarify the factors that motivate and influence the decision to participate in freelancing marketplaces/platforms based on literature review and applying this knowledge to the Egyptian context.
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Literature Review on the Factors
Influencing the Decision to Participate in
Freelancing Platforms: A Prespective to
Egyptian University Graduates
Kirolos Gamal George Hanna
MBA student
ESLSCA University
Cairo, Egypt
kirolos.gamal@gmail.com
Abstract Most Egyptian university graduates search
for jobs after earning their degrees. Some of them find
employment, while others need to acquire and develop
business and technical skills in order to find decent jobs.
The recent advancements in information and
communication technology were the reason behind the
rise of what is known as crowdsourcing, which provided
new job opportunities all over the world. Freelancing is
one type of crowdsourcing that offers various
opportunities in multiple industries. The thousands of
Egyptian university students who graduate annually are
capable of taking part in the freelancing field.
Empowering Egyptian graduates to target these
freelancing opportunities will lead to many benefits, such
as reduction in the unemployment rate, access to an
income which in turn would lead to adding value to the
national economy. The main expected outcome from this
research is to clarify the factors that motivate and
influence the decision to participate in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms based on literature review and
applying this knowledge to the Egyptian context.
Keywords freelancing, freelance marketplaces, online
labor platforms, gig economy, remote work, job
outsourcing websites, crowdsourcing, developing
countries.
I. INTRODUCTION
The current Egypt population count is 100+
million, 18.2% of which falls between the ages of 15 to
24 [52]. The total annual university graduates are
estimated at 540,000 graduates per year. Egyptian
labors are considered low cost labors [1]. The
unemployment rate in the Egyptian market is estimated
to reach 30% [2]. COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly
affected the labor market and forced businesses to close
and workers to lose their jobs. This research aims at
shedding light on new forms of employment that offer
alternative work opportunities rather than traditional
jobs. This can help Egyptian graduates to access local
and foreign markets, promote national economic
growth and reduce the unemployment rate [30].
Advancement in information and communication
technology (ICT) changed life in the twenty-first
century. It enabled humans to meet virtually, work
differently, deliver services, learn new skills easily,
access information and share thoughts, ideas and news
swiftly. The internet has become the shortcut that
allows individuals to interact together from remote
locations all over the world using computers, tablets
and cell phones. Internet connection has become a basic
component of any country’s infrastructure, which
countries and governments are required to improve in
order to ease the life of community members. Internet
helps individuals to reach new markets, learn from
highly qualified organizations, and attract new
opportunities that would never have been available
without stable and high speed internet connections. In
May 2020, the Egyptian Ministry of Communication
and Information Technology reported that the number
of ADSL subscribers had reached 7.85 million
subscribers, and the percentage of mobile internet users
had reached 42.82% of the total mobile service
subscribers [3].
The recent advancements in digital technology and
online payment systems have led to the development
of innovative methods for performing work and new
forms of labor exchange such as crowdsourcing. As
defined by Howe [26], crowdsourcing means to
outsource a job or a task to a crowd that is willing to
work using technology. It gives workers access to job
opportunities regardless of their locations [27].
Crowdsourcing is seen as a means for developing new
skills, co-creation of products and services, problem
solving, innovation, creativity, providing a space for
workers to select their work, belonging to new work
communities, enabling access to scarce expertise and
enhancing employability [27]. Crowdsourcing has the
potential to disrupt traditional work as it utilizes the
wisdom of the crowd. Crowdsourcers can access
hundreds of workers from multiple time zones
distributed across the globe using platforms. Platforms
include websites and/or marketplaces where
employers/clients looking to hire skillful individuals
can meet [4]. This research will discuss the factors that
motivate and influence the decision to participate in
online freelancing marketplaces/platforms based on
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literature review and apply this knowledge to the
Egyptian context.
II. ONLINE PLATFORMS
Crowd work platforms are the digital/online
platforms that facilitate crowdsourcing. These
platforms act as intermediators or facilitators that
manage the relationship between clients/employers
and workers, they also ensure the governance of the
workflow. Clients/employers are the buyers of the
service and freelancers are the workers willing to
provide such services and get financial compensation.
These platforms usually allow clients to post jobs,
search among huge lists of skilled workers who might
be geographically dispersed to choose from or make
use of the platform’s algorithm that provides the clients
with a filtered list of workers based on matching the job
requirements with the worker’s skills. As stated by
Cherry [28], this leads to the emergence of what is
known as “labor as a service” or “talent as a service”.
Most platforms share the workers rankings, reviews,
skills, experience and previous work so that clients can
choose the best worker(s) to perform the required
tasks/jobs and then agree with worker(s) on the
deliverables, submission date and financial
compensation. There are multiple pricing methods: (1)
the client(s) set the price of the task, (2) the client(s)
negotiate the price with the selected worker(s), (3) the
client(s) choose from multiple competing offers from
the workers [29].
As stated by the International Labor Office [51],
there are various types of crowdsourcing platforms; (1)
Microtasking platforms, where work is sub-divided
into small discrete micro tasks for crowd workers to
perform virtually. This could include tasks like survey
participation, data validation, doing research,
moderating content, categorizing of products and
tagging images (e.g. 5amsat, Amazon Mechanical
Turk, Clickworker), (2) Freelancing marketplaces are
another type of crowdsourcing platforms concentrating
on much bigger and complex tasks to be performed.
This includes: web, mobile and software development,
writing, sales and marketing, customer service, data
science and analytics (e.g. Upwork, Freelancer,
Al7arefa, Inploy, Freelance Yard, Vodafone Begin,
Fiver), (3) Contest-based creative tasks refers to
another type of platforms where many workers
compete for the task and only one output is chosen and
paid for by the client/employer. This could include:
logo design, solving scientific and technological
problems (e.g. 99designs, Crowdspring), (4) Location-
and app-based work platforms where the work is
assigned by the platform to the registered workers (e.g.
Uber in transportation, Airbnb in accommodation,
Taskty in household services).
The above mentioned platforms can serve diverse
categories of workers, for instance full/part time
freelancers, marginalized communities (e.g. migrants),
disabled individuals and caregivers. Crowdsourcing
helps them reach economic security, have more control
over their working hours, raise their income level,
increase their employability and have access to reliable
payment that considers setting minimum/standard
rates. That explains why it is estimated that more than
60 million workers from low- and middle- income
countries are registered on such online outsourcing
platforms [5]. The demand for online freelancing is
mainly from SMEs, although demand from huge
enterprises is growing [6]. As per Toptal report [17], it
was declared that hiring the right talent is considered
from the top challenges that face 50% of the surveyed
organizations nowadays. Clients/employers are
attracted to online labor platforms because they provide
multiple benefits such as filling the talent gap through
quick access to on-demand, world class talents from
multiple geographical locations that can work around
the clock in various time zones. This helps
organizations cope with quick customers’ demands,
hire skills when needed, get faster innovative solutions
to solve problems/challenges, develop better products
and services, saving the costs associated with retaining
such talents-as stated by Cherry [28]. The piece- rate
payment system is utilized instead of time rate,
ensuring that payment will not be transferred to the
worker(s) unless the client(s) acknowledge that the
delivered work is up to pre-agreed criteria(s) [7].
Platform work economy is sometimes referred to
as gig economy. Gig economy refers to markets that
match service providers with consumers for carrying
out on-demand jobs. The word gig is a slang word for
a job or a task that lasts for a specified time. Gig
workers engage with on-demand companies/platforms
based on formal agreements to offer their services to
clients/employers and get compensated [47]. Gig
economy includes any form of contingent work such as
independent contractors, consultants, temporary
agency workers as well as human cloud workers.
According to Staffing Industry Analystsreport in
2019, the digital work/services platforms processed
around USD 126 billion of global spending in the year
2018. It was also estimated that by the year 2020, the
gross revenue from online outsourcing services would
be worth USD 15 to 25 billion [48]. In the third quarter
of 2019, Upwork- an American freelancing platform
where organizations and freelancers connect together
to conduct business- reported that the growth in
revenue reached USD 78.8 million, serving more than
30% of the Fortune 500 companies [8]. Starting from
the year 2019, it is mandatory in France for online
platforms to report the annual gross income for each
worker to the tax authorities [9]. Cash flows from
developed countries such as the United States of
America and European countries to developing
countries such as India, the Philippines, Brazil,
Pakistan and Egypt.
Donor agencies like the World Bank and
governments of developing countries have been
launching initiatives to provide training to women,
youth, unemployed groups, disabled and marginalized
people in order to qualify them to work in
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online/digital platforms and thus reduce the
unemployment rate [30]. Workers who live in
developing countries with low cost of living are willing
to work for much lower wages than their counterparts
in countries with a high cost of living, which in turn
helps people get jobs and increases their employability
[49]. The Malaysian government fostered the
development of Malaysian labor through launching a
program called “Digital Malaysia” which aims at
empowering the lower income sector, which accounts
for 40% of the population, to join microtasking and
freelance online platforms, thus enabling them to earn
more money and contribute effectively to the
Malaysian economy. It is expected that by the year
2020, around 340,000 workers will be employed by
crowdsourcing platforms, contributing to the
Malaysian economy by around half a billion dollars
[46]. Furthermore, the Nigerian Ministry of
Communication Technology, in collaboration with the
World Bank and the Rockefeller Foundation, launched
an initiative known as “Naijacloud” to empower
individuals through workshops and awareness sessions.
Around five microtasking and freelancing platforms
participated in this initiative, namely CrowdFlower,
MobileWorks, oDesk, Elance and Samasource, in order
to help reduce unemployment and contribute to the
growth of the national economy [46].
Currently, there are four local freelancing
platforms operating to serve the Egyptian youth and
facilitate the online hiring process. Al7arefa, which is
an Egyptian freelance & remote work platform &
community, connects top freelancers with clients, not
only in Egypt but all over the Middle East region. It was
founded by Nermine El Nemr in the year 2018.
Currently, Al7arefa has reached more than 31,000
users on their platform, working in multiple industries
including software development, administrative
services, writing and translation, sales and digital
marketing, media production, design and much more.
Inploy is another local platform created to connect
premium Egyptian freelancers with prospect clients. It
was founded by Karim Fahmy & Jad Ghalayini in the
year 2019. Currently, Inploy boasts more than 2000
premium Egyptian freelancers registered on their
platform, working in multiple industries such as web
and applications development, beauty, photography,
casting, music, art and much more. Freelance Yard is
an Egyptian freelancing platform that connects
experienced mentors, elite talents and amateurs with
clients. It was founded in the year 2019 by Mohamed
Akmal. At the present time, 12,000 freelancers are
registered on the platform, specializing in ten diverse
fields, including software development, writing and
translation, art and design, sales and marketing,
engineering and architecture, admin support and more.
The fourth local platform, Begin, is a digital platform
by Vodafone Egypt for freelancers to help in creating
opportunities for Egyptian youth in the labor market. It
was launched in October 2020 and it aims to connect
talented freelancers with a huge number of large,
medium and small enterprises to work in freelancing
jobs in various fields such as graphic designing, web
development and many more. This digital platform will
make it easy for all youth (women, undergraduates,
graduates and disabled individuals) to enhance in their
skills so that they can pave the way for their future
success and help them gain more experience, this is
through free online courses provided by ITI
(Information Technology institute), Begin offers its
users which reached more than 2500 freelancers a
smooth experience with a secured payment process to
protect both parties' rights. It also helps freelancers get
100% of their earnings with zero commission.
III. LITERATURE REVIEW
Many previous studies focused on the motives or
factors that drove people to join the microtasking field,
while some studies examined the motives that affected
workersperformance, not their participation in the
freelancing field.
Supporting theories and models for participating in
Freelancing Marketplaces/Platforms:
Human Capital Theory
Human capital theory refers to the sum of labor
skills, knowledge and characteristics, either innate or
gained, that motivate an individual to perform tasks in
order to gain economic productivity [13]. Investment in
human capital means that labor seeks education and
training to build new skills in a continuous pace, aiming
at applying the acquired knowledge in their fields of
work. Consequently, this leads to higher productivity
within the society, growth and increased income in the
future [14]. According to the human capital theory,
freelancers can grow through expanding their skills by
working in a multiple project(s) or task(s) that require
a variety of activities to be accomplished while
attending training workshops independently or under
the guidance of the freelancing
platforms/marketplaces. Some freelancing
marketplaces/platforms allow their freelancers to have
a community where they can share their thoughts and
success stories which in turn improves their knowledge
and experience.
Self-Determination Theory (SDT)
Self-determination theory is concerned with the
social conditions and motivational factors that
influence individuals to achieve and flourish [15].
Individuals need to reach a wide range of life goals,
which usually fall within one of the following
categories: intrinsic and extrinsic [16]. Intrinsic goals
result in direct satisfaction of the basic psychological
needs such as affiliation, autonomy, enjoyment,
competence and growth [35]. On the other hand,
extrinsic goals are built around conditioned satisfaction
focused on obtaining rewards or outcomes, such as
financial compensation, wealth and attractiveness [36].
Financial needs are considered among the most
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important reasons that drive individuals to seek work
and act productively; they are considered to be extrinsic
goals. The pleasure that comes from working on what
an individual enjoys, personal growth which reflects
the individual’s work value, professionalism and
experience gained from working on many
projects/tasks, and job autonomy where an individual
can make decisions related to working independently
are all considered to be intrinsic goals for freelancers.
Unemployment can also be treated as an intrinsic goal
for freelancers, as it can be interpreted as the
opportunity offered through freelancing
marketplaces/platforms for expressing an individual’s
creativity, entrepreneurial prosperity and problem
solving skills[12]. Freelancing marketplaces/platforms
are characterized by creating a community of skillful
individuals which satisfies the sense of membership
and belonging to a group and that is considered to be an
intrinsic goal.
Job Characteristics Model
As defined by Hackman and Oldham [11], the Job
Characteristics Model is a popular accepted model that
specifies the main features of a job that affect work
performance, satisfaction, the internal motivation for a
worker, the absenteeism level and the worker turnover.
The model specifies three critical psychological states:
(1) The meaningfulness of the work, (2) Responsibility
for the outcomes and results of the performed work, (3)
Knowledge behind the results of the work duties and
tasks. For each one of the above psychological states,
one or more job characteristics activate this state. Skill
variety, task identity and task significance activate the
meaningfulness of the work. Job autonomy activates
the responsibility for the outcomes and results of the
performed work. Feedback activates the knowledge
behind the results of the work duties and tasks. As per
Hackman and Oldham [41], skill variety refers to the
degree for which the tasks require a variety of activities
in order to be performed, such as problem solving,
analytical skills, preparing a portfolio, preparing an
offer to bid and managing the entire project. Task
identity refers to working on a task from the beginning
to the end. Task significance refers to the degree of
meaningfulness that results from the completion of the
task and its impact on the lives of others. Job autonomy
refers to the degree where individuals have the freedom
and independence to make their own work related
decisions rather than having certain instructions.
Feedback refers to getting clear and direct information
about the effectiveness of performing the task
Work-life Balance and Flexibility
Work-life balance refers to a healthy and
satisfactory life where individuals are committed to
various life roles equally [32]. The term balance
affects three aspects: time, involvement and
satisfaction. Time balance requires an equal amount of
time to be allocated between work and family duties.
Involvement balance requires equal mental and
psychological involvement in work activities and in
house, family and personal daily life. Satisfaction
balance means that the individual has equal weights of
satisfaction in work and in personal life. Nowadays,
individuals are in deep need of creating balance
between not only work and house responsibilities, but
they also need to balance other activities as studying,
personal development, voluntary activities, care giving
and practicing sports. Work life balance practices help
in reducing the conflict that resulted from the multiple
roles that individuals play nowadays. Such practices
allow workers to be more effective in work and in their
different life roles. Previous research concluded that
workers with some control over their time and work
duties are less liable to suffer from stress [38]. Other
studies concluded that work-life balance results in
committed, satisfied and productive workers [39].
Freelancing workers also have the freedom to
choose when, where and for how long to engage in
work related activities. They just need a computer and
high speed internet connection in order to connect to
the freelancing marketplaces/platforms to attract clients
and apply for the most appealing jobs/tasks. Such
flexibility is still not a given option in the traditional
work environment. Workers nowadays seek flexibility
and room to control their lives [17]. Freelancing
platforms allow various types of workers to find
jobs/tasks that need to be performed. Workers from
urban as well as rural areas, elderly workers and
workers who face any sort of discrimination and
caregivers of children or the elderly can all equally find
employment. All of these categories can benefit from
the work-life balance and flexibility offered by
freelancing marketplaces/platforms [51]. Freelancers
can work from their homes or from any location in the
time that suits them as long as they are connected
through high speed internet [5]. A previous survey
conducted on workers in a freelancing platform
indicated that flexibility and freedom are considered
the main benefits [40]. Some studies and reports
concluded that work-life balance and flexibility are the
main reasons that influence individuals to join
freelancing marketplaces/platforms [4] [6] [27] [18].
Personal Growth and Feedback
Workers who receive work feedback after they
finish the job/task are more likely to be motivated [11].
Freelancing platforms provide clients and freelancers
with a two-sided rating system in order to offer
feedback, review and rate each other based on the
clarity of the task, communication, deliverables,
commitment to deadlines, availability and the quality
of the performed work at the end of each job/task.
Freelancers value their rating as it helps them to get
work and to be highly compensated [51]. Sometimes,
new freelancers accept work with no fees, or with
reduced fees, so as to attract clients to accept their
offers, seeking rating and feedback to help build their
reputation, credibility and become more visible on
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freelancing marketplaces/platforms [51]. Ratings and
client feedback are critical factors that affect the
continuation of work on such freelancing platforms.
This system acts as a way to improve the individual’s
performance.
Economic Value
One of the main motivators for workers to
participate in freelancing marketplace/platform is to
make more money [51][18]. Freelancing platforms
offer caregivers either for children or ill family
member, disabled and marginalized persons the
capability of working from any location as long as the
they have access to a computer or any digital device
and high speed internet connection, this in turn
provides financial compensation [7]. Some freelancers
work in online platforms as a secondary job to raise
their income besides their primary jobs [39].
Based on the McKinsey Global Institute’s report
on gig work, platform workers can be categorized into
four groups: (1) Workers who choose platforms as their
primary source of income and prefer it, (2) Workers
who generate extra income from platform work in
addition to their traditional jobs, but prefer platform
jobs, (3) Workers for whom the primary source of
income is from the platform work although they prefer
the traditional work, (4) Workers who have extra
income to their main income from the platform work
and are obliged to do so as they don’t have other
options [6]. Online platforms act as mediators between
clients and freelancers, they deploy policies and
practices protecting the monetary benefits of both sides
and guarantee payment for freelancers. When the client
and freelancer agree on the job deliverables, the
financial compensation and the deadline, the platforms
hold the money in an escrow account and when the
job/task is finished, the client acknowledges the
completion of the job and asks the platform to transfer
the amount from the escrow account to the freelancer’s
account [19]. Financial returns attract skillful
individuals to work in such platforms [39].
Autonomy Value
The concept of job autonomy has been identified
and validated by the studies carried out by Hackman
and Oldham [11] [41], which state that there are five
job dimensions: (skill variety, task identity, task
significance, job autonomy and feedback) that affect
work performance, satisfaction and internal motivation
of a worker. Job autonomy refers to the extent to which
the job is designed to provide the worker with the
freedom and independence to decide how the job will
be performed without having further instructions and
steps [11]. Workers who have job autonomy decide
how the work will be performed themselves in the
essence of procedures to be followed, duration of time
to be allocated as well as all work-related decisions
[45]. Research studies indicate that providing job
autonomy to workers will lead to job satisfaction,
higher motivation and performance [45]. Hackman and
Oldham [11] [41] indicated that workers get higher
motivation from a job that provides space for autonomy
than a job that offers a traditional work environment.
Enjoyment Value
One of the motivational factors that make
individuals participate and contribute to an online
community is the enjoyment and fun [42]. As stated by
Aleksynska, Bastrakova, and Kharchenko [51],
freelancers enjoy working in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms as they are flexible and free to
work from anywhere, at the convenient time, choosing
the tasks/jobs that they are interested in and having as
many holidays as they need. Freelancing
marketplaces/platforms sometimes use designs that
stimulate an individual’s enjoyment, which in turn
enhances intrinsic motivation that influences one to
participate in such types of work [20].
Social Value
Individuals usually work to enhance their image
and their status in the community [39]. Crowd workers
are motivated not only by short term financial
compensation, but also to fulfill their continuous desire
to be among the community and society [18].
Freelancing platforms offer an opportunity where
freelancers can share their knowledge, experience and
skills within a community that is not confined by
certain boundaries. Individuals participate in
freelancing platforms and networks when they perceive
that this contribution will enhance their work reputation
[21]. A previous study identified that working with a
reputable client enhances workers’ self-esteem [4].
Some premium freelancing platforms attract huge firms
looking for skillful freelancers which in turn contribute
to the freelancer’s self-esteem and professional
reputation.
IV. PROBLEM STATEMENT
Problem Definition
Labor markets witnessed a huge transformation
due to the technological advancements that paved the
way for work arrangements such as remote working
through online marketplaces. This changed traditional
employment practices to temporary gig work facilitated
by online digital platforms, making it necessary to
measure such growth. Online Labor Index is an
economic indicator that measures the utilization of
digital labor across countries and tracks the number of
jobs/tasks posted on major online labor platforms [43].
Platform work has been gaining attention, traction and
popularity in many countries around the globe.
Executives of huge organizations noticed the growth of
the freelancing field and its impact on their workforces.
In a survey conducted by BCG in partnership with
Harvard Business School’s Managing the Future of
Work initiative in 2018 on 6500 executives worldwide,
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around 40% of respondents expected that the share of
freelancers within their total workforces would
increase in the next five years [50]. Also in May 2018,
SAP Fieldglass, a cloud-based solution for finding and
managing external workers and service providers,
conducted a research in collaboration with Oxford
Economics, which affirmed that out of the 800
executives who were surveyed, 38% were already
using on-demand online marketplaces/freelancing
platforms to get freelancers [10]. Freelancing
marketplaces/platforms are seen as a source of scarce,
skillful and talented individuals who help organizations
to adapt quickly to customers’ needs [50]. According to
specialists, the global market for online freelancing was
estimated at USD 4.4 billion in 2016, with 48 million
registered platform workers and only 10% of them
active [48].
University graduates usually look for traditional
job opportunities in private companies and
government, and this mental block leads to huge
unemployment, in spite of the availability of new work
alternatives such as contractors, part-timers and
freelancers. Governments, universities and training
providers- especially in developing countries- have the
opportunity to empower university graduates to hone
their skills and be eligible to join freelancing
marketplaces. This results in raising income, work-life
balance, flexibility, personal growth, enjoyment and
adding value to the country’s national economy.
Earlier research discussed the factors that
influence and motivate individuals to participate in
microtasking marketplaces/platforms, especially
Amazon Mechanical Turk. Hence, this research will
focus on the factors that motivate and influence
Egyptian university graduates to consider freelancing
opportunities which would lead to reduction in the
unemployment rate and add value to the Egyptian
national economy.
The purpose of this study is to answer these two
questions:
1. What are the factors that motivate and influence
Egyptian university graduates to participate and
join freelancing marketplaces/platforms based on
literature review ?
2. How and why should the Egyptian government
make use of the gig economy (freelancing
marketplaces)?
Drawing from previous research that studied the
factors behind participating in microtasking platforms,
hypotheses are generated regarding the relationships
between the motives for participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms and the benefits that can return
on freelancers from this new form of work.
Figure 1: The research conceptual model, dependent and
independent variables.
Research Variables
- Dependent variable:
Participation in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms: refers to the factors and
motives that influence Egyptian university graduates to
register and join freelancing marketplaces/platforms.
- Independent Variables:
Work-life balance, flexibility: refers to the ability
of the individual to achieve a satisfying experience in
all life responsibilities successfully, specifically work
and household commitments [32]. Flexibility refers to
the freedom of individuals to choose when, where and
for how long to engage in work related activities [33].
H0: Work-life balance, flexibility are positively
correlated with participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
Access to high speed internet and digital devices:
refers to the ease of having access to high speed internet
and computers in order to perform the job.
H1: Access to high speed internet connection
and digital devices are positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
Personal growth and feedback: refers to
enhancing one’s own reputation, the desire to develop
new skills and the degree to which organizations
provide opportunities for workers to enhance and grow
through training and development, regular feedback
and recognition between peers.
H2: Personal growth and feedback are positively
correlated with participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
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Trust and guarantee of payment after work: refers
to the trust gained between employers and workers due
to the policies provided by the marketplace/platform
that protects both parties’ payments.
H3: Trust and guarantee of payment after work is
positively correlated with participating in
freelancing marketplaces/platforms.
Job autonomy: refers to the degree to which
individuals have the freedom and independence to
make their own work related decisions rather than
having certain instructions [11].
H4: Job autonomy is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
Skill Variety: refers to the degree to which the
tasks require a variety of activities to be carried out, for
instance: problem solving, analytical skills, preparing
a portfolio, preparing an offer to bid and managing the
entire project [11].
H5: Skill variety is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
Task significance: refers to the degree to which the
job is meaningful and has impact on the lives of others
[11].
H6: Task significance is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
Enjoyment: refers to individual pleasure as a result
of doing what is appealing [12].
H7: Enjoyment is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
Unemployment: refers to the employment status
H8: Unemployment is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
Financial needs: refers to the desire for monetary
compensation for the conducted work.
H9: Financial needs are positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
V. DISCUSSION
H0: Work-life balance, flexibility are positively
correlated with participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
The above hypothesis is true based on previous
research, since some of the benefits of freelancing are
that individuals have the opportunity to choose the type
of jobs/tasks to apply for, and where and when they will
work on these jobs/tasks. This flexibility allows
freelancers to control their schedule to manage their
work-life balance and to create an equilibrium between
their various roles and responsibilities. They can
allocate time for family related duties, care giving,
personal development and any other activities. They
can choose the place to work, either from home or any
other location. Having such a healthy and satisfying life
can reduce the level of stress and enhance the
effectiveness and productivity of freelancers [39].
Freelancers can offer their skills and expertise through
web-based platforms or mobile applications when they
want, nowadays they have access to new markets and
opportunities in different geographical locations and
time zones that were not accessible in the past [22].
Freelancers are attracted to work in freelancing
marketplaces/freelancers because of the flexibility,
work-life balance and to have an additional source of
income [6] [7] [51]. In a recent survey, 82% of full time
worker respondents stated that they would consider
working as freelancers to enhance their work-life
balance, well-being, and their quality of life [23]. As
per a report published by Upwork [24], 76% of
freelancers that are caregivers stated that freelancing
provided them with more flexibility to take care of their
families. Freelancing platforms allow disabled
individuals to find work opportunities that are not
available in the traditional workplaces [24]. Therefore,
work-life balance, flexibility are positively correlated
with participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
H1: Access to high speed internet connection and
digital devices are positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
High speed internet connection coupled with the
ease of use of digital devices like computers, tablets and
smart phones have motivated and enabled individuals
to join the crowdsourcing field with low barriers of
entry [18]. Individuals do not need to make a large
financial investment in order to join crowdsourcing in
comparison to traditional work. Through internet
advancements, the Earth has been flattened,
organizations can be transformed and are able to reach
intellectual capital from all over the globe [4].
Nowadays, professionals have the opportunity to
present themselves to multiple clients and can apply for
jobs/tasks from diverse industries through the
facilitation of web-based marketplaces/platforms
regardless their location. Both urban and rural workers
can participate in freelancing marketplaces/platforms
and contribute to the local and global online platform
economy. Individuals can extend their usage of digital
devices and high speed internet connection and be
THE TENTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ICT IN OUR LIVES, 19 - 21 DECEMBER 2020
122
productive through working on freelancing
marketplaces/platforms instead of wasting their time.
According to a survey done within a study, the primary
barrier for workers was slow internet service [44]. High
speed and reliable internet connection can help skillful
individuals located in developing countries to access
job opportunities through the freelancing
marketplaces/platforms. Improving the internet
connectivity is a basic requirement for individuals to
join the freelancing field and monetize their skills,
talents, expertise and time. Therefore, having access to
high speed internet connection and digital devices are
positively correlated with participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
H2: Personal growth and feedback are positively
correlated with participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
Rating systems in the freelancing platforms
provide both workers and clients with the opportunity
to rate each other and provide feedback. This is
important to ensure service quality and build trust
between community members [6]. Workers seek to
deliver high quality work as per the requirements in
order to be highly rated, enhance their reputation and
visibility on the platforms between other peers and in
turn achieve professional and personal growth and gain
better rates. Freelancers’ ratings cannot be falsified
and most platforms do not delete these ratings or
reviews unless they include inappropriate wording.
Receiving prompt performance feedback and rating
from clients is critical to ensure control, work
continuation on the platform and accessibility to better
paid jobs [22]. As per Hackman and Oldham [11],
workers who get work feedback after they finish the
job/task are more likely to be motivated. Some research
argues the point of making the rating portable among
freelancing platforms (kind of: digital identity) so that
freelancers can manage to have more than one source
of work [5]. In a recent survey, 51% of respondent
employees stated that they would freelance in order to
gain new skills and knowledge [23]. Therefore,
personal growth and feedback are positively correlated
with participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
H3: Trust and guarantee of payment after work are
positively correlated with participating in
freelancing marketplaces/platforms.
Freelancing platforms play a critical role in
building trust between clients and freelancers through
the management of payments, which in turn helps in
building a continuous relationship between the three
parties (freelancing platform services facilitators,
clients, and freelancers). Many freelancing platforms
nowadays provide the security of payments between
freelancers and clients through communicating clear
information about payment schedules, applying terms
and conditions, set clear, firm and fair rules for non-
payment and rejection governing and apply upfront
payment. Clients pay either the full agreed upon
amount or scheduled amounts to the freelancing
platform, then these paid amounts are held in an escrow
account and once the task/job is completed according
to pre-specified criteria, clients have the control to
acknowledge the completion of the job and request the
platform to disburse the pre-agreed amount from the
escrow account to the freelancer’s account [19]. Some
freelancing platforms delay the payment in order to
give the clients a chance to assess the delivered work
and assure the quality of the provided service(s). Other
freelancing platforms support reliable digital payment
channels that prevent fraud and apply protection
measures to guarantee the security of payments [6].
Therefore, trust and guarantee of payment after work
are positively correlated with participating in
freelancing marketplaces/platforms.
H4: Job autonomy is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
H5: Skill variety is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
H6: Task significance is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
As stated by Hackman and Oldham [11] [41], there
are five job dimensions: skill variety, task identity, task
significance, job autonomy and feedback- that affect
work performance, satisfaction and the internal
motivation of a worker. Freelancing platforms satisfy
these job dimensions, so individuals are motivated to
participate in such new forms of work. Freelancing
opportunities have transformed the work environment
to being more flexible and provide the workers with
control and freedom to make work related decisions.
Workers are free to manage their schedules and to
choose the jobs/tasks that appeal to them. As
freelancing platforms offer a wide variety of jobs from
diverse industries, some freelancers are motivated to
try jobs from other industries not related to their areas
of expertise so that they can apply the concepts they
learned. Job autonomy activates the experience
responsibility for the outcomes of the work. New
generations are more oriented to job flexibility and
autonomy in the workplace [39]. Job autonomy is a
driver for innovation, creativity and problem solving.
Skill variety refers to the degree to which the tasks
require variety of activities in order to be performed
such as: problem solving, analytical skills, preparing a
portfolio, preparing an offer to bid and managing the
entire project. Skill variety is regarded as one of the job
motivational characteristics that prompt individuals to
participate in freelancing platforms [18]. Task
significance refers to the degree of meaningfulness that
results from the completion of the task and its impact
on the lives of others. Workers are more motivated by
THE TENTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ICT IN OUR LIVES, 19 - 21 DECEMBER 2020
123
tasks/jobs that have meaning and impact on others [18].
As per [24], 91% of freelancers that used freelancing
platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic would
recommend these platforms because they could find
meaningful work. Therefore, job autonomy, skill
variety and task significance are positively correlated
with participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
H7: Enjoyment is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
Freelancers are motivated to participate in
freelancing platforms because of the enjoyment they
experience in problem solving, coming up with
innovative solutions and facing new challenges [4]
[12]. Freelancers enjoy working on what they love,
where their interests intersect with their expertise.
Freelancers can show-off their skills and become
highly rated and enjoy such success. Freelancers enjoy
the benefit of working from any location [18]. They
enjoy the freedom of such work-life balance as they can
manage their schedules and create an equilibrium
between their various roles and responsibilities.
According to a previous study, workers continue to
work on crowd work for both the financial return and
for the non-financial return, such as enjoyment and
meaningfulness of the job/task [18]. Enjoyment is
counted as one of the critical motivational factors in
platform economy [39]. As per a survey questioning
freelancers about the reason they joined crowd work,
10% stated that they enjoyed this type of work [7].
Therefore, enjoyment is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing marketplaces/platforms.
H8: Unemployment is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
Recent advancements in technology have
introduced new modes for work where short term and
temporary jobs are increasing as opposed to traditional
full time jobs [39]. It has been noted that individuals
who work in temporary or project-based work are more
motivated towards their work [39]. Freelancing
platforms help individuals gain access to new and
greater job opportunities rather than being confined to
local opportunities. Some freelancing platforms
conduct the matching process between skillful workers
and clients. This matching process opened an
opportunity window for workers who live in rural
locations, discriminated against individuals (as
migrants), disabled individuals, older workers,
caregivers and workers who cannot find other
employment opportunities. Working through
freelancing platforms can help individuals to work in
periods where there are few job opportunities in the
market and even unemployment [6]. Freelancing
platforms act as a cover that accepts individuals
regardless of their age, sex, background and location.
Freelancing platforms offer the opportunity to reduce
unemployment and aid in personal economic growth
[4]. The Turkish government has encouraged its
citizens to join the online labor market to reduce the
unemployment rate and improve the economy.
Malaysia and Nigeria have sponsored initiatives to
empower youth so that they can join the online labor
market and generate income [4]. The size of the online
labor market in 2014 was estimated to be USD 3
billion, and in 2013 the market had grown 60% [4].
According to reports, fulltime online workers located
in developing countries earn equal-or above- the typical
income that they would earn from traditional jobs [5].
Freelancing platforms also introduce some
challenges. One of the main challenges is the
employment status where online workers are usually
counted as independent workers and don’t have the
same rights and benefits of traditional work, including
unemployment insurance, sick and maternity leaves,
benefits and pensions [6]. Another challenge is the
employment instability, where workers cannot easily
find stable work in such freelancing platforms and in
turn are not paid during these idle times. An additional
challenge is the tough competition among freelancers,
although some freelancers took this disadvantage as an
opportunity to upgrade themselves and gain a share of
the online work [4]. Some workers might face the
English language barrier, they need either to develop
their language skills to be able to compete and
overcome this barrier, or they are forced to bypass this
challenge by joining freelancing platforms that use
their local language. Arab, specifically Egyptian,
workers may join freelancing platforms as Al7arefa,
5amsat and Hasoub, which are Arabic supported
platforms. Taking into consideration the above
challenges, freelancing platforms still offer
opportunities that cannot be accessed through
traditional channels and many workers use this mode
of work as an extra opportunity to raise their income.
Therefore, unemployment is positively correlated with
participating in freelancing marketplaces/platforms.
H9: Financial needs are positively correlated with
participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
One of the main reasons freelancers work through
online platforms is the ability to earn additional
income. Earning monetary return is an extrinsic
motivation factor that influences individuals to engage
in work and offer time, effort and talent [18] [27]. A
previous research stated that some workers can earn
higher returns through online labor markets through
offering their services at much higher rates compared
to their local markets [4]. Freelancers join online labor
markets using digital devices and high speed internet
connection as they offer new opportunities in various
markets which in turn leads to more work opportunities
and more financial compensation in return. Financial
returns attract skilled workers to contribute to the
THE TENTH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ICT IN OUR LIVES, 19 - 21 DECEMBER 2020
124
platform economy [39]. Individuals can make use of
their skills, talents, experience and available time to
gain monetary returns using these resources. As per
[24] report, 53% of the respondents viewed
freelancing as a temporary way of getting money, 64%
of the generation Z respondents stated that they
considered freelancing to be a temporary way of
getting money and 59% felt that they earned more
money as freelancers compared to working for
traditional employers. Therefore, financial needs are
positively correlated with participating in freelancing
marketplaces/platforms.
VI. CONCLUSION
This research discussed the factors that motivate
and influence the decision to participate in online
freelancing marketplaces/platforms based on literature
review and applying this knowledge to the Egyptian
context. Ten motivators for participation in freelancing
platforms were explored, namely :work-life balance
and flexibility, access to high speed internet connection
and digital devices, personal growth and feedback, trust
and guarantee of payment after work; job autonomy,
skill variety, task significance, enjoyment,
unemployment and financial needs. This study
provides useful factors that can help freelancing
platforms to build channels with skilled individuals and
attract them to work in such a field. Egyptian
universities and governmental organizations can make
use of such freelancing opportunities through
implementing initiatives and programs satisfying four
goals out of the seventeen goals of the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs). Goal number 1: No
poverty; as the freelancing opportunities help
individuals to find work and have a source of income.
Goal number 5: Gender Equality; the freelancing
platforms specially the Egyptian ones provide equal
opportunities for both genders even in the payments.
Goal number 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
and goal number; freelancing field offer the individuals
a way for extra income and economic growth. Goal
number 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; the
freelancing field help clients to get innovative solutions
and co-creation of their products and services using the
wisdom of crowd. Implementing such initiatives and
programs will empower the graduates of all Egyptian
universities and governorates to get work and achieve
national economic growth. One example of such
initiatives is the eighteen month scholarship program
Future Work is Digital (FWD), introduced by The
Egyptian Ministry of Communication and Information
Technology to equip 100,000 young Egyptians to work
as freelancers through freelancing
platforms/marketplaces. They offer technical training
courses via Udacity, an online learning platform,
covering three tracks: web development, data analysis
and digital marketing plus providing online webinars
and continuous coaching. FWD program provides
learners with technology and business acquisition skills
so that they are capable of competing successfully for
remote work opportunities offered by online
platforms/marketplaces. Egypt certainly needs more of
such initiatives in order to utilize the graduates’
resources in such an opportunity. This study is
considered to be one of the pioneering studies in the
field of freelancing in Egypt.
VII. POLICY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
(1) Providing the required training to empower
Egyptian youth to join such a field, starting as early as
secondary school education, is an important concern.
(2) Providing integrated payment and financial
solutions that ease the process of receiving and
delivering money for freelancers. (3) Providing
individuals that live in rural areas with co-working
spaces equipped with decent digital devices and high
speed internet connection plus payment solutions
would help and motivate these individuals to join the
freelancing field and they will be eager to earn more
income and be productive. (4) Articulate Egyptian
working laws in order to allow freelancers to apply for
social and medical insurance like traditional workers.
(5) Supporting freelancers with a syndicate that can
represent their views and voices.
VIII. FUTURE RESEARCH
There are many research questions that require
further studies, such as: ways for measuring the number
of online platforms Egyptian freelancers, the return of
specialized freelancing training programs on the
national economy, the legal policies and laws that
govern freelancing platforms, the Egyptian labor laws
and their impact on freelancing field.
IX. ACKNOWLEDGMENT
I owe all the gratitude to God for putting me on the
MBA road and helping me finish it. Special thanks to
my direct supervisor Dr. Abdel Moneim Elsaid for his
support and his continuous review. Thanks to ESLSCA
Research Center for encouraging and supporting me to
publish this research. Special Thanks to Dr. Mohsen El
Shammaa, Dr. Nezar Sami and Dr. Irene Samy Fahim.
A warm thanks to all ESLSCA professors for their
support during the past years. Thanks to the Egyptian
founders of the freelancing platforms for their help and
support. Thanks to my parents for their love, patience
and support before and throughout the MBA studies.
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Labour markets are thought to be in the midst of a dramatic transformation, where standard employment is increasingly supplemented or substituted by temporary work mediated by online platforms. Yet the scale and scope of these changes is hard to assess, because conventional labour market statistics and economic indicators are ill-suited to measuring this “online gig work”. We present the Online Labour Index (OLI), an experimental economic indicator that approximates the conventional labour market statistic of new open vacancies. It measures the utilization of online labour across countries and occupations by tracking the number of projects and tasks posted on major online gig platforms in near-real time. The purpose of this article is to introduce the OLI and describe the methodology behind it. We also demonstrate how it can be used to address previously unanswered questions about the online gig economy. To benefit policymakers, labour market researchers and the general public, our results are published in an interactive online visualisation which is updated daily.
Data
Data repository for the data underlying the Online Labour Index. See http://ilabour.oii.ox.ac.uk online-labour-index/ for details.
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