Part 1 of this series is here.
More musings. I guess one of the things about working at your home is that you don't have many people to talk to about the work. Which brings me to an interesting, and vital, part of Leapforce: its Chat.
Leapforce has a basic social media platform within its site. People can "follow" others, and post things in their profile. Some Leapforce devotees, who've been at this work for years, act as self-appointed interpreters of and supplicants to the "System Support" monolith. These folks are just workers like anyone else, but they spend unpaid hours compiling the layers of instructions and guidelines, curating and interpreting them for their fellow workers.
There's also a live chat function, which is a necessary place to spend time if you work for Leapforce. Don't even think about working for Leapforce without at least lurking on Chat daily. You can't discuss "live" tasks there, but you can ask hypothetical and general questions about things which confuse you, and you will learn crucial strategies and practical information through watching the conversation there.
Online work is a bit like playing a (kind of lousy) game: you're not given all the tools you need, and part of the object of the game is to figure out how to play it. Chat serves this purpose. It's a bit cliquish and can be a little tough to break into. It's jargon-y, and when you first lurk there you won't understand everything. Stick around, and ask a modest question now and then. You may get an answer, or you may get ignored, but if you show up often enough and greet others, you'll eventually be accepted into the clique.
Feedback on your work
When I first started working for Leapforce, in March of 2012, positive feedback did not exist. No news was good news. You never wanted to see anything in your email inbox from Leapforce besides their automated invoice-accepted and invoice-paid notices. The only time you'd ever hear from them was when your work (invisibly) wasn't up to par. After a few months they seemed to undergo some kind of shift in which they decided that we needed more instruction, guidance, feedback.
They instituted a policy of pouncing on you unexpectedly, evaluating 12 tasks you'd done during the previous month. If your ratings on these tasks were even a fraction of a smidgen different than how they felt a "typical user" should react , you'd get a bad evaluation. My first two evaluations were "substandard".
I was frightened and discouraged. For one thing, like many other online workers, I've not only graduated from college but have done some graduate work as well. I aced the GRE's. I'm used to succeeding at intellectual tasks. I studied and studied all the guidelines, did simulation after simulation, poured unpaid hours into improving. I needed the job badly, and like others in the chatroom, was nervous that as "substandard" workers we would just be cut loose.
There's an aura of fear that pervades the workforce in the presence of this kind of uncertainty. Everyone's always trying to second-guess what each tiny emanation from System Support means. Every once in awhile an actual System Support person shows up in Chat, and people besiege them with urgent inquiries, most along the lines of, "What's going to happen next?" Chat is crucial in Leapforce not only because it's often the sole conduit for necessary work information, but also because it's where people give each other support for the powerless position they're in.
When your six-month period is close to ending, and you don't know if you'll be renewed for another six months or not, it's nerve-wracking. People chew their fingernails and fret, waiting to hear, and it's comforting to have others to share that with.
During my early months with Leapforce, some settings on the site changed and for a few hours I thought Chat was gone. It's strange when I look back on it now, but at that point I practically had a meltdown. Chat was so crucial to my wellbeing I couldn't even face the work without it.
After my second "substandard" evaluation, I began seriously looking for other work online, and wandered into content writing. It didn't pay as well at first, but at least the clients liked my work. Once I was phasing out of Leapforce, ironically, I began to get "excellent" ratings, and they even awarded e one of their spiffy badges for good work. Pathetically, I have to admit I was grateful. It's a weird state of mind you get into, when you're earning your daily bread by extracting money from cyberspace.
Part 3 of this series is here.