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Workplace loneliness, already a pressing issue before the coronavirus pandemic, was exacerbated by the risks of COVID-19, the shift to remote work and the so-called Great Migration. Many of us are asking, how can we minimize loneliness in the future of work?
Web3 takes the best elements of Web 2.0 and adds in decentralized, autonomous and community-first hierarchies. Crypto is a mission-driven industry with a global and resourceful culture.
Rebecca Simmonds is a founding team member of Vega Protocol. This article is part of "Future of Work Week."
While these attributes can go a long way toward helping people feel connected and less lonely on the job, workplace loneliness will not eradicate itself.
Truly addressing loneliness – and related issues – requires strong, empathetic leadership. Whether a company or project has an office or a decentralized workforce, it needs to have a clearly communicated vision of what people are working toward. That builds community and a shared sense of purpose.
Read more: What Is a DAO?
This insight is not new, but has unique effects for an industry that prides itself on open protocols, flattened power-structures and open-source collaboration. The eternal challenge has been delivering this consistently and frequently messaging while evolving with changes in the project, product and people. In Web3, we might ask: Where does the mission originate – from the founder or the community?
Here are some hard-won truths I have learned about tackling workplace loneliness while building a Web3 project.
Leadership is even more important in Web3
Web3 values open communication, information-sharing and creativity, so it makes sense that these are also the values we try to live by in our projects. With this, however, comes a responsibility to help the team navigate new ways of working and interacting.
The practical limitations of remote-first work mean there are no “watercooler” moments or serendipitous chats over coffee. Instead we have Zoom, Slack, GitHub, Notion, etc. Ensuring everyone on the team is fully supported requires consistent group and individual communication from leaders to ensure people don’t get lost or left behind.
The administration overhead in getting a ‘mission driven’ team is worth the effort
At Vega, our mission is to build decentralized, trustless and permissionless financial products. I’ve found that the people attracted to work on this challenge are often mission-driven, open-minded and curious. They have a high tolerance for risk and clear ideas of what they believe is right or not.
Our team is distributed across multiple countries, cultures and continents, which brings great diversity of thought and perspective. Despite these differences, the connection to the mission means we share a lot of common ground already.
Hiring similarly self-motivated employees is a start, but we’ve also invested in administration and logistics. That helps in organizing time zones and navigating cultural differences and disparate employment laws.
Find the balance between remote work and in-person
Working remotely is the norm in Web3. Eliminating commute times and having flexible working hours, unlimited holidays and self-directed work-plans allows the team more control over their lives.
But nothing compensates for the shorthand you develop from knowing your colleagues in person. Web3 projects should make it as easy as possible to work together in person if desired, and at the very least host an annual all-project meetup.
Build a supportive and open culture
To feel connected, people need to know that when they share their thoughts, feelings and true selves, they will be met with openness and support.
Leaders need to be open, supportive and inquisitive. At Vega, we make an effort to acknowledge actions that demonstrate these values and address those that do not. We have the advantage of still being relatively small, which means that accessing the founders is as easy as connecting with anyone else.
Due to the flexibility it offers, I imagine the future of work will move further toward the Web3 model, and this will require leaders to make conscious decisions to foster community and connection with teams. Loneliness is a complex emotion, and whether the work vehicle looks like a project, DAO, or more traditional company, the Web3 values of openness, community and autonomy make for a very strong foundation for continuing to tackle this issue.
Further Reading of CoinDesk’s Future of Work Week series:
Cryptocurrency jobs are on the rise. Here are some top tips on how to start your new career in the booming crypto industry.
There is a boom in crypto jobs, but do you need to be "crypto-native" to qualify? Here’s how to land a job in crypto.