Web3 demands remote work, and the world should listen

Working in a remote environment enables a person to have more sovereignty over their life — and empower them as a human

OPINION
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Artwork by Crystal Le

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If you were to listen to recent comments from the CEOs of many major companies, you could be forgiven for thinking that the era of remote work is over. 

Remote work is increasingly characterized as an emergency measure which — though useful during the height of the pandemic — was doomed to fail in the long run. There seems to be a growing consensus from traditional firms that a return to office is necessary for securing high productivity.

However, we in Web3 hear a different consensus. Web3 talent has predominantly worked remotely — and for those working on these cutting-edge technologies, a return or move to in-person work is unthinkable. 

Web3 talent is at the forefront of innovation within the technology industry — so Web3 professionals will increasingly lead expectations for the future of work and the tech workplace environments in the years to come. 

More traditional firms need to be aware of this ongoing shift in expectations — or risk stifling innovation and not being able to tap into global talent pools. 

How remote work fits into the Web3 ethos

Web3 contributions are increasingly decentralized, global and even pseudo-anonymous. They don’t fit the model of businesses whose global headquarters and workforce are located in major cities  — in fact, 88% of developers in the Web3 space work remotely, with an additional 11% participating in hybrid work arrangements.

Given the importance of autonomy, transparency and decentralization as Web3 principles, it’s no surprise that the Web3 talent pool prefers remote work. Remote work aligns with Web3 ethos, where firms and employers build relationships based on accountability and transparency, rather than the more traditional in-office experience. 

Working remotely also provides companies opportunities to build diverse and highly talented teams without the traditional barriers created by geographic limitation, standard working office hours and commutes to office. It goes without saying that this approach enables us to reach into global talent pools that have remained largely untapped. 

Read more from our opinion section: If you think Web3 is all about money, you’re wrong

As the adoption of Web3 continues to gain momentum — and Web3 and broader technology talent pools merge — Web3 values will influence how all employees view their current work environment, driving demands for remote and asynchronous work opportunities. 

Change is coming, and firms need to be ready: It’s time to start investing in remote work and asynchronous work practices now, to avoid being caught off-guard by this shift in employee expectations.

Debunking the myths

Following three years of remote and hybrid working, many employees are now being told that they must return to the office, with organizations that once championed home-working now issuing return-to-office mandates. However, this move towards the office is based on easily-debunked myths about remote work’s failures.

Two vital aspects of an effective work environment are productivity and collaboration. Often decried as the victims of virtual work setups, there’s a fear that remote work can undermine these elements that are so integral to efficient workplaces and fruitful working relationships.

To blame remote work for any deficiencies in these areas in the workplace is inaccurate — perhaps even willfully so. Owl Labs’ 2023 study found that 79% of managers feel that their team is more productive when working remote or hybrid. Meanwhile, hybrid workers reported being most productive when it comes to collaboration, innovation and brainstorming, and thinking creatively while working from home rather than in-office or coworking. This research reflects what I have experienced working with fully remote teams. I’ve seen that productivity is high, and being fully remote allows us to move faster and more efficiently. 

But instead of leveraging these benefits, many technology companies have used in-person tactics to support remote work, dooming this shift to fail. Remote work necessitates the same organizational support, investment and attention as traditional working methods. For example, providing coworking access to employees if they wish to get together, or making time for informal chats to prevent isolation and build team morale or running internal campaigns to keep employees engaged and rallied around different causes. 

So what?

Despite the success of remote work, the push for a return to office persists — arguably due to established ways of doing things and muscle memory rather than data. 

The technology talent pool is dynamic and constantly growing. Traditional firms must understand that Web3 workers are at the cutting edge of new technologies and their expectations around how they work are different. These shifts are essentially changing the relationship between employer and employee.

In the past, many practices were designed for the employer’s benefit and prefaced on a lack of trust in the employee. Companies could essentially dictate the terms of engagement by requiring employees to come into the office from 9-5, and the employee receives a salary and benefits  in return. What we’re seeing now — especially with the advent of remote working — is more of a co-creation between the two parties to build a framework that moves us into an era of collaboration. In this era, employers must listen deeply to understand the needs of their employees and optimize for that.

Working in a remote environment enables the individual to have more sovereignty over their life and empowers them to own their schedule in a way that suits them, as a human. Data disproves the productivity myths and generalizations that underpin many CEOs’ rationale for office-based workforces — in fact, remote work can transform a work environment for the better.

The Web3 workforce’s role as a leader in cultural expectations of work will only grow stronger, and Web3 employees are increasingly asking for a fully remote experience. Any companies seeking top talent should be receptive and open to these changing requirements. 

Companies that have always worked remotely can attest to the benefits they’ve seen operating in this way. Unlike what you may read about it being less productive, these organizations will tell you that they have demonstrated incredible agility at the beginning of the pandemic — when many others faced huge barriers to workflow, remote-first companies could continue operating without interruption. 

Technology firms must be aware of the influence Web3 talent is going to have on remote working preferences within industry at large. Now is the time to invest in remote work strategies that will not only attract top talent, but will yield holistic benefits across the board.



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