At Decentral I have the pleasure to work with a talented team on a diverse range of projects, each of which has a focus on some aspect of the decentralized technology space. Most of the people I work with are employed on a contract basis, and often they work at the same time for a number of the different companies located at Decentral’s space. Short term contracting is necessary due to how quickly the area we specialize in is evolving. I’ve written before about how our era of accelerated change necessitates taking a lean approach to business. Broader, long term goals can be set, but these are of necessity subject to revision. Quick decisions about changes in company approach and methodology is an adaptive strategy that fosters competitiveness.
The downside of having a contingent workforce is the staff I want not being available when I need them. In spite of that, a high degree of employee flexibility is desirable for both me and the people I work with. In their article The Dawning of the Age of Flex Labor, Andrei Hagiu and Rob Biederman note “Workers, employers, and society stand to benefit tremendously from breaking the cycle of hiring people in boom times and releasing them fully during economic slowdowns or contractions.” This changing nature of employment careers has been underway for over thirty years, with a workforce now gradually learning to tailor their work lives to hedge against boom/bust realities.
Part of this process requires a shift in perspective for employee and employer in which each sees their respective roles as a partnership that benefits both parties. For instance, one clear advantage of short term work contracting is a better accommodation of work/life balance. Millennials in particular find value in the 21st century employment trend of flexible work hours. A study by Bentley University in Massachusetts, The Millennial Mind Goes to Work (2014) found that “77 percent of Millennials say that flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive for people their age.”
Based on my own hiring experience, working with people who have forged composite career paths has the advantage of the unique skill set combinations they bring to the workplace. Since 2014, we have pursued multiple initiatives to establish Decentral as a trusted brand in the emerging space of decentralized tech. Everything we have accomplished has happened due to the dedication of the people I work with, including the group I am happy to have on contract today.
A flex workforce of independent contractors is part of the broader on demand economy that large sectors of the population have found easy to adapt into their daily lives. In addition to high profile initiatives like Uber and AirBnB, there are newer entries into the field like Handy or Homejoy (for small home repairs and cleaning) or BloomThat (flower delivery) and Fancy Hands (an on-call personal assistant), among many I could cite. Job task specialization on a granular level creates a new form of employment, one that makes best use of excess capacity, whether it be of a workforce’s time, living spaces, or vehicles. As the Economist notes “this marks a striking new stage in a deeper transformation…[that]…will challenge many of the fundamental assumptions of 20th-century capitalism, from the nature of the firm to the structure of careers.” The future of work is now, it’s the everyday reality of our new 21st century.