Emotions online: Exploring knowledge workers’ emotional labour in a digital context in an agile IT company

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We investigate the emotional labour (EL) involved in digital communication practices among co-located knowledge workers working in an agile IT-consultancy firm with a relatively flat hierarchy. We analyse how the specific socio-material infrastructures of a democratic communication technology called ‘Flowdock’ give rise to EL and emotions in general (Hochschild, 1979, 1983). Based on rich qualitative data, we unpack the role of EL and emotions in digital communication and we tease out the meaning of the socio-material infrastructure of the technology as well as how the experiences on flowdock give rise to EL and emotions in general. For some, the technology and its script afford a sense of feeling close to the organisation and generate positive emotions. For others, Flowdock and constant connectivity are overwhelming, so they opt out and hence are excluded from organisational decision-making processes. The study contributes by further developing work on EL in a digital context. This implies opening up EL to a more dynamic and situated approach and contributing to the literature scrutinizing the EL of backstage professionals.


  • Authenticity
  • STS
  • drama
  • learning laboratories
  • management learning

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