The great Spanish Flu in 2018 may have killed many more people – some 50 million and may not even have been Spanish at all – but that was before we lived in a world of the internet, citizen-curated news and fast-track vaccines. Now, as the world is starting to reopen in many parts, vaccine uptake is increasing, and people are addressing the way they live in earnest.
Aside from people who must be in a location for their job such as nurses or publicans, the new debate is what to do with the millions of people who deserted their offices to work remotely. Working remotely is not always easy, there is the issue of proper home offices, adequate space, essential technology, and others sharing the home/remote working space.
Speaking to Ranjit Dhindsa, Head of employment at law firm Fieldfisher, she commented:
“While working remotely does have numerous positives, it has brought up a host of employment and privacy law issues as well as general business management concerns that have put added pressure on businesses as they adapt to change while taking care of their employees wellbeing.”
Aside from these practicalities there is also the missing value in bonding with fellow workers or brainstorming personally and even the confidence that going to office can bring.
If those are the downsides, then there are also benefits from working remotely, top of which include a better work balance (if they can stop working), long-term better access to affordable housing (away from expensive city hubs) and no commute.
This last point has been particularly felt in the lockdown as people realise the time spent commuting is actually an unpaid part of their day – and if calculated into an hourly income could actually quite severely downgrade their pay scale.
Outspoken business and CEO Dan Price has commented on this unpaid work during lockdown. He points out the average worker logs an hour of unpaid work each day.
“I’m talking about the commute, which for decades has been taken for granted as a necessary part of the workday but which recently has been proven to be completely unnecessary for a large swath of workers,” he said recently, pointing to a whopping lost of $4,800 for the median worker. He has opted to let his employees at Gravity Payments make up their own mind.
All things being equal, employers are looking at new hybrid models for office staff, thereby allowing the individual employees to come up with their terms and preferences. It is recognised now by many employers that they do not need to look over each employee’s shoulders and that a degree of flexibility can result in much greater productivity than before.
Dhindsa also added that:
“Working collaboratively with employees to assess what they want the future of work to look like is a good approach to take, whilst also factoring that things are changing rapidly. The more astute businesses are making adjustments on a short-term basis and giving themselves time to analyse and re-evaluate what their business should look like over time.”
On the flip side, InnovateMR, a US-based insights technology company, conducted extensive research into what people feel about returning to the office. The survey uncovered that 73% of US workers have some anxiety about returning to in-person work, with 31% of women reported being entirely anxious about returning to in-person work, compared to 16% of men.
Study author and Director of Client Development, Will Luckey, reflects on the importance of understanding and sympathy as his teammates and clients return to face-to-face interactions:
“There have been signs that the worst is behind us. US infection rates have plummeted since their peak in January, and increased vaccination rates provide sound reason for optimism. However, despite vaccinations and rapidly declining caseloads, the return to ‘normalcy’ will not be an immediate transition; it will take time for workers to feel once again comfortable with in-person interactions.”
Crypto is a foreign country, they do things differently there.
Pavel Matveev is co-founder and chief executive officer at Wirex. He says:
“Crypto is all about innovation, so it’s important to apply this to working practices too, as well as our product. Although the pandemic was unprecedented, at Wirex, our business model was built to withstand situations like this. Operating a sustainable dual business model, offering both traditional banking and digital banking, it was easy for us to adapt to changing demands and prioritise the digital side of our business during the pandemic, and we foresee this only growing as consumers become more disillusioned with the traditional banking system, look for alternative forms of investment, and move towards an entirely cashless society.”
A multinational company, Wirex sponsors a progressive and flexible working model in place, allowing the 200-strong team to choose the work set up that worked best for them, whether that was in office, at home or a hybrid.
The HQ is in London, but the company promotes decentralised operations, promoting employee happiness whilst saving on infrastructure costs for the business, which can be reinvested in other areas such as training and team socialising.
“We always take on feedback from customers about what new things they want to see from Wirex and have added new coins, savings rates and more – so it makes sense to apply this same logic to our employees. We’ve continued to keep employees involved in discussions about what works best for them when it comes to working and adapting to the new normal,” says Matveev.
Stefan Rust, ex-CEO of Bitcoin.com and CEO and co-founder of Sonic Capital has been expanding during lockdown. Coming as he does from a crypto, decentralised world, the idea of the DAO or decentralised Autonomous Organization is core to his thinking as he explains.
The DAO is an entity with no central leadership. Decisions get made from the bottom-up, governed by a community organized around a specific set of rules enforced on a blockchain. Popularized by blockchain DAOs, decisions are made via proposals the group votes on during a specified period.
“I have set up a number of entities and registered them as businesses in different jurisdictions depending on their requirements. However, one business division, Sonto, will be a pure DAO. It will not be incorporated in any jurisdiction but will operate as a truly decentralized entity,” he says.
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Cowboys and a crypto enthusiast, totally agrees.
“The benefits from a DAO are trickle up. Trickle-down does not reflect how a DAO operates and that’s the point. Participants get to control what happens and what doesn’t happen. The tokenomics are clearly stated so everyone knows who benefits, how and why. If run successfully, with appropriate tokenomics, the benefit can accrue from the bottom up. Everyone who works there can be given tokens so they can participate in the DAO.
“Any business that is community driven would benefit the most from being a DAO. It could be a company that offers healthcare services, it could be a local savings and loan. The value comes from the fact that the business can benefit from integration of the community.”
Rust is attempting to put that principle into his new business in Hong Kong.
“I have set up a number of entities and registered them as businesses in different jurisdictions depending on their requirements. However, one business division, Sonto, will be a pure DAO. It will not be incorporated in any jurisdiction but will operate as a truly decentralized entity.”
However, while a DAO fan, Cuban is less than optimistic of the granted success of DAOs, especially the early ones.
“I also want to make the point that I think many of the early DAOs could fail. While a DAO presumes ownership by token or some other mechanism, and you would think that the holders would operate with the goal of enhancing the organization so the value of their participation grows, I think there will be a lot of stumbles in early DAOs. Because there is no history of these types of organizations to learn from, the pioneers will have challenges learning as they go. Plus, in many DAOs you don’t get an equal distribution of participation,” says Cuban.
“Some holders are very involved and often try to work to the exclusion of others. The politics of participation in DAOs will also come into play. The dynamics of how people cooperate will be challenging, again, until there is a history of what works and what doesn’t work for new entrants to learn from.”
Perhaps one way to garner that consensus is to use a platform that provides off-the-shelf voting rights such as the start-up RepresentDAO, billed as built for white label DAOs, it promises to provide the mechanisms to facilitate easy, immediate and trusted voting for organisations, especially blockchain organisations.
The rise of the DAO may be the biggest change to knit together the passion, remote working, and often frenetic world of Crypto making it a safe place to work, in or out of crisis.
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