How Work Will Rebundle Into Decentralized Teams
#WF19 Platform cooperatives, digital guilds and DAOs
👋 This is the 19th regular update from the Workforce Futurist Newsletter – which is read by those on a journey to make work better.
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Today’s Workforce Futurist is brought to you by…Huler
Technology has changed the way we work, live, and play. The overwhelming number of work tools and platforms we all use has skyrocketed, leaving us burnt out and less productive. On average, we use 30+ different platforms, sites, and systems in a typical work week!
HulerHub is specially designed to reduce wasted time, connect everything you need together, offer a personalised employee experience, and organise your work and life – so you can get more done, faster.
As work unbundles, it will rebundle in interesting ways. Some will resemble older models, and others will be completely new ways of looking at work.
Decentralized Driver Collectives in Jakarta
Motorbike riders who use platforms for paid deliveries in Jakarta have grouped together to create driver collectives, called ojol. These communities offer different services such as mobile phone charging, tech support, emergency response services, and informal insurance-like systems in the case of injury or death. The groups use WhatsApp groups to communicate. The platform owners recognize and have formal communications with the ojol groups. It’s an example of how platform workers are using their collective strength to improve their conditions, which has some parallels with the early days of industrialization when the unions were established.
The Decentralized Union
Reinvention is required for the firm, careers, and work. This also applies to the unions, and centre-left political parties they help fund too.
Drivers using DoorDash (a food delivery platform) launched #DeclineNow to reject any delivery job that doesn’t pay at least $7. The group has more than 40,000 members. In this way, the drivers are increasing their average pay per order.
In a recent article, A Labor Movement for the Platform Economy, the authors note how the contract between workers and companies is being rewritten.
Why have the unions and political left been so quiet on a vision for a post-job society? One factor might be that the unions are rather tied to the job and fewer jobs means less subs.
The unions have an opportunity for reinvention, and to use their experience and knowledge for collective bargaining to shape up the emerging contract between workers and platforms.
In the UK, Uber has agreed to recognize a trade union for the first time. The GMB union will have the power to represent up to 70,000 UK drivers in discussions over earnings, pensions, benefits, and their health and wellbeing. Uber now provides drivers with a National Living Wage guarantee, holiday pay, and a pension.
It’s too easy to throw empty pizza boxes at the gig economy, however as Mariana Mazzucato argues, we need to imagine a different kind of platform economy.
The three initiatives I have mentioned have all made a difference. Their impact will be limited as long as the users have little equity, and control over the platforms they rely on for their livelihood.
Platform Cooperatives and Digital Guilds
As work rebundles, old forms of organizations are reinvented for the digital age.
Cooperatives aren’t a new idea – from the weavers in Rochdale in 1844 to the mutual fire insurance company founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1752. A co-op is an organization that is owned and controlled by its members to meet their shared needs. Today, there are 3 million co-ops around the world with 1.2 billion members.
We are now seeing examples of platform cooperatives:
The Drivers Cooperative is a rideshare based in New York owned by the drivers.
The Coop Cycle based in France is a federation of bike messenger co-operatives and provides a web platform to manage bike delivery activity.
Wings is a cooperative that delivers ethical food in London.
Stocksy is an artist-owned stock media agency committed to providing an equitable platform.
The UnFound Accelerator supports teams in turning their ideas into successful platform coops.
We might also see the modern reinvention of Guilds. Today we have the Screen Actors Guild, The Newspaper Guild, and Livery Companies in London. They were created in Medieval times to bring people together who make a living from a particular trade or skill. These included weavers, bookbinders, and ‘barber surgeons’ which thankfully has fewer members today than it did in 1342.
From the reinvention of the old to the creation of something new…
Workers of the World, Unite! You have nothing to lose but your blockchains!
The appeal of blockchain technology isn’t cryptography or slow database design.
Rather it’s a way of moving from the internet of information to the internet of value.
Allowing people to work with less need for intermediaries, and with more opportunity for equity.
I have mentioned a few DAOs (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation) in this newsletter, including Decentraland, a virtual economy and gaming environment, and also Mirror for publishing.
The great promise is for members to vote on creative projects, co-create content, and have revenue flow to a treasury, with a share in ownership
They take in some of the principles of platform cooperatives and throw in some new technology to enable it.
Examples of DAOs
There’s an element of crowdfunding, with less need for traditional intermediaries. For example musician, Daniel Allan is seeking 20 ETH (approx $65,000) in exchange for 50% of his artist share for his EP ‘Overstimulated’
Seedclub is a DAO that builds and invests in communities.
Creator Cabins – a community of remote cabins for independent online creators and an experiment in the building of decentralized cities.
Krause House – a community of baseball fans whose goal is to collectively own and govern an NBA franchise.
Only One – a DAO focused on becoming the largest non-governmental ocean awareness and protection allocator in the world.
These are experimental, but sow the seeds for something bigger and more impactful in the future.
Work is not dead, but it is changing in form. It is important that a broad section of stakeholders have a say in what this looks like.
Alice’s Adventures in DeFi Land
The cover of The Economist caught my eye last week
“Down the rabbit hole — The promise and perils of decentralized finance”.
The title reminds me of a wet weekend in 2017 when I first got ‘curiouser and curiouser’ about blockchain. It felt like I was getting pulled into an economic, political, sociological, and technological rabbit🐇hole. Thankfully I still come up for air now and again to share my findings.
For those feeling curiouser about DeFi, in this article, I share my notes and light commentary on The Economist piece with plenty of links and resources at the end if you want to be pulled in deeper…
Talking Heads 🗣️
We know where we're going, But we don't know where we've been…🎵
I enjoyed my recent chat with DCH “A Decentralized Future: From Organigrams to Organizational Networks” which you can watch.
and my keynote with Optilon, (from 10m 17s) which attempted to link shortages of very important liquids to HR and blockchain. (I try my best to entertain)
And you may find yourself in another part of the world…🎵
I can’t wait to speak at Work Futures in Lisbon on 15/16 October on “Blockchain, the Decentralised Workforce and what it means for the Future of Work”
I will be there IRL, so if you are in Lisbon, say “Olá”, and we can have a pastéis de nata together.