Interview: Sonja Kähkönen

Sheena: Hi Sonja! I’m super excited to have you here today. We at Transfluent were thrilled to be chosen to take part in the research for your thesis! Before we dig into that, tell me a little bit about yourself. What is your background?

Sonja: Thank you for inviting me. This is such an honor. At the moment, I work as an editor and content producer. During my career I have seen how digital revolution has disrupted media sector and at the same time created new business opportunities. Partly because of that I became more and more interested in business studies even though I had previously studied geography. I ended up to studying knowledge management in Lappeenranta University of Technology. After two and half busy years of Master’s studies along with full-time work I graduated last April.

Sheena: What inspired you to select the topic for your thesis, “Exploring knowledge worker motivation in autonomous microtasking and interdependent problem solving tasks on virtual platforms.”

Sonja: I’ve noticed that increasing amount of work is organized around virtual platforms. There are many online marketplaces for freelance writers and practically for any kind of work that can be traded online. I was interested to find out what really motivates individuals to work on tasks via virtual platform. This is relevant knowledge for business leaders. They should understand what encourages freelancers to perform well and ensure the quality of work for the benefit of a customer. I also wanted to find out how motivation factors varied between different types of tasks. Thus, I made some comparison between individuals who conducted autonomous tasks and those who participated in interdependent problem solving in temporary virtual teams.

Sheena: When selecting companies to participate in your research, how did you land on Transfluent as a participant?

Sonja: Transfluent is an excellent example of a contemporary virtual organization. It utilizes digital technologies and taps the knowledge of globally distributed expert network via online platform. I was interested in why Transfluent’s translators favored online work over work at traditional office environment. I also wanted to hear translators’ opinions about the autonomous nature of their tasks. I mean their tasks are very independent compared to those experts’ tasks who work in virtual teams.

Sheena: We plan to release your entire Thesis on our blog next week, but to whet the appetites of our readers, what are some of the outstanding questions you hoped to address?

Sonja: Is online work an opportunity or a challenge? What were my interviewees’ fundamental motivation factors to work on taks via virtual platform? Do freelancers prefer flexibility over uncertainty that is related to irregular income for example? Also, as the amount of virtual work increases, how can business leaders enhance virtual knowledge workers’ motivation?

Sheena: Now that your thesis is done, what is the next step in your career? How are you hoping to put what you learned to work?

Sonja: Digital revolution continues shaping business life in many ways and I want to be involved in this process. As a knowledge management professional I would like to help organizations utilize the growing amount of information more effectively. In other words I want to turn data into valuable insights, and then help organizations navigate to the right direction.

Sheena: It’s been a pleasure speaking with you. Anything else you would like our readership to know about you and your work?

Sonja: I would like to thank you for co-operation.