Working in the future will look different from any decade in the past. Cubicles, 40-hour work weeks, resumes - there is no way all these artifacts will remain unscathed through all the technological and cultural shifts of the next decade.
I won’t predict what the changes will look like, but there are plenty of problems to choose from as we shift into a Web3-oriented world. Each of these mechanisms must (and will) evolve as a reaction to new technologies being invented.
It will likely start with big businesses adopting Web3 tools because of the better results blockchain can deliver. Or perhaps innovative new work structures like DAOs will leapfrog past corporations and force change through a bottom-up revolution.
Regardless, expect the culture of work - commuting an hour or two a day in order to earn enough money to sustain a family into retirement - to reinvent itself.
Big Business Adopting Crypto
Part of this change will come from big business accepting the inevitable and adopting ETH or other chains for regular transactions. Right now, many companies are being opportunistic and incorporating Web3 it into their existing business model as a means to garner attention, but adoption will go way further than that.
The sheer number of protocols being built on these chains means that there is a high probability a B2B function can be better executed using these integrating companies.
As ETH 2.0 becomes a reality, the perceived risk of Ethereum will drop significantly. Companies will find low-risk use cases for their business model, and will adopt Web3 in some form. The database and protocol will soon be for everything.
Once the companies are on the blockchain, why wouldn’t the employees follow?
Product-led growth is what happens when a product’s growth in user base comes from the design of the product itself. Consumers will follow businesses onto the blockchain in an effort to get paid more easily and better organize their work lives.
Basically, our industry will soon be everyone’s industry.
Innovative New Structures
DAOs are one of many ways for workers to organize their “productive” lives differently. Right now, DAOs are largely viewed as an investment vehicle or way of moving funds around at scale. Members are co-investing and working on large-scale projects.
It’s all done in the spirit of “we are greater than the sum of our parts”.
But this will almost definitely be replaced by collectives who empower their members, which will bring a very different ethos of “the individual is more valuable as a part of a larger group”.
Workers face a ton of different problems in the modern world. Finding jobs, getting paid, retaining ownership of work, managing reputation, increasing one’s value… these are all issues that Web2 has only partly addressed.
Builders approached a lot of the problems, but the outcomes didn’t benefit the employee as much as the employer. That’s because right now, the employer has all the power, which means that those are the solutions builders seek to create.
We are so reliant on the concept of a resume. Fresh graduates stumble through them and they are parsed by rushed managers who don’t have any proof that something is correct. This created an industry driven around status rather than execution.
No one would say resumes are perfectly effective at validating reputation in the digital world. Yet we all use them and LinkedIn is basically just an online resume. This is our skeuomorphic tendencies at work. LinkedIn was branded an “advancement” without ever changing the way work was done or evaluated.
New structures will bring new ways of managing and validating online work reputation, and this will look very different from the resumes (and LinkedIn profiles) of the past.
The Culture of Work
This opaque, corporate-directed work force is what will have to change first. A big principle of Web3 is having the ability to provide different solutions because of the way value can be better distributed to other parties.
Work has become segmented in so many different ways. For example, if you go to school and study marketing, you’ll almost definitely never become an engineer. Or at least that was the way in the past. As people live longer and have more careers, it’s now possible for transitions to occur.
More importantly, these transitions could lead to unique skill stacks that give one a competitive advantage. An engineer that gets marketing? A finance-savvy writer? Investors from the fashion sector? None of this sounds crazy now, because the world is more flexible and able to value this work.
TedX and Udemy started the change in education, but the goal is to quantify that and scale it into something more powerful. And as education advances, more people will be able to find profit in their interests. At that point, you’re only one Discord away from finding out what your next true interest is.
Just as Web3 created markets for novel NFTs, novel work output is going to be more easily valued in this new economy. Decentralized work allows for unique skill stacks.
The Prussian model of education with hours of homework, and defined education streams is going to be replaced with “perfect fits”. This is when someone has such unique skills that they can excel in certain areas others can’t.
Web3 makes it more about who we become rather than what we study.
Where Employment is Heading
The next big adoption of crypto and Web3 is going to come from the migration of work. Existing structures are ready to be broken, and the tools being presented by Web3 are going to make it possible for freelancers, contractors, and employees to thrive like never before.
But the opportunity really comes down to how we think about work. The last hundred years have brought the complete commoditization of work. People (and their output) are interchangeable, and that leads to the employer having outsized roles within our life.
It’s easy to see where the problems are. With the decentralized tools of blockchain combined with the cultural revolution of crypto we see change on the horizon. At Contango, we fund projects driving the adoption of web3 through practical social application. The future of work and life are built today on the chains of web3.