the abundant world of work ⍏
how the great resignation and web3 are changing our relationship with work and the fate of employment
Nearly two years into the pandemic, remote work has become the new normal. Most companies have embraced this reality too. A16z surveyed 226 founders of early and late stage startups and discovered that 86% will continue the concept of remote or hybrid work.
For companies that haven’t, employees are holding their remote ground. Apple mandated that employees return to office in mid-2021 and many of them said no — something that would seem unthinkable until recently. They would rather quit their prestigious jobs at Apple than come back to the office.
And so begins the Great Resignation. The term ‘Great Resignation’ was likely coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor at Mays Business School of Texas A&M University in May 2021. Since then, 20 million people have resigned, with at least 1 in 4 people quitting their job in 2021. The trend doesn’t seem to be abating any time soon.
Return-to-office mandates may have been the tipping point. But, what’s at the heart of the Great Resignation is deeper. It’s the culmination of more introspection, a need for flexibility and a desire to live a fulfilled life.
As we gain momentum in 2022, it’s clear that work is in a state of change. At a minimum, The Great Talent Reshuffling during and after the Great Resignation will force higher expectations of flexibility, fulfillment, and ownership in the roles companies are hiring for.
a new lens and new expectations
Given that you’ll spend some 90,000 hours at work over your lifetime, it’s pretty fair that you’d want to take control of that time and make sure it’s meaningful to you. In philosophy, for example, work and meaning have always been inseparable. It’s been written about in Japanese philosophy as early as the 8th century and famously in Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning”. The Japanese term Ikigai (“reason for being”) speaks to the relationship between the search for meaning and what we create. In other words, work is meaning, or work should bring about meaning.
The cultural undercurrents shifting around work will result in more than job hopping. The shared reframe provided by two years of remote work paired with decentralization on the internet may very well shake the whole foundation of work and our desire to be an employee at all.
“Your life is not something that someone gives you, but something you choose yourself, and you are the one who decides how you live.” — Ichiro Kishimi, The Courage to be Disliked
Remote work has opened doors to new opportunities and forms of independence in work. Most of all, it’s opened our eyes to an abundant world of options that may have been there the whole time.
I’m a business, man // the multi-hyphenate
As more people are increasingly choosing what they spend their time on, they’re realizing that they don’t have to choose just one thing. In fact, choosing multiple work streams creates less dependency on a single stream to sustain you, both in income and in fulfillment.
Even in Ikigai, it was customary for Japanese centenarians to have multiple sources of income.
“One hundred percent of the seniors we interviewed in Ogimi had a primary and a secondary occupation. Most of them kept a vegetable garden as a secondary job, and sold their produce at the local market.”
This resulting “Income Stack” creates resiliency. Plus––back to meaning––the sum of the stack is greater than its parts. It allows you to tap into more of the facets that make up who you are. It’s the opportunity to bring more of yourself into what you contribute to the world.
At Huddle, we include in that income stack your sweat equity investments too — the work you’re picking up ownership for that creates even more income diversification. It’s really all about knowing you have choices and getting to choose them. Choose work you’re excited about, choose where you want to spend energy, choose how you build your income stack.
Tied closely with this is the growing allure of being your own boss. In a recent survey, 53% of Gen Z plan to run their own company. Unsurprising with all the trends we’ve been discussing, entrepreneurship is exploding.
This new independent world of work may sound a little lonely though. What about company culture? Back to making choices, community and teammates is another choice.
your squad > your co-workers
We’ve previously established that you’ll likely spend 90,000 hours (~one-third of your life and half of your waking hours) at work. In fact, after the age of 20, spending time with coworkers forms one of the largest chunks of your time. On par with the time you spend with your partner, and far less than you would spend with your parents, children, or friends.
When you think about it, that’s an insane amount of time to spend with a group of people that you have no agency in choosing.
When you have the freedom to decide what you work on, you get much more of a say on who you work alongside and spend that time with. Which is pretty magical.
On Huddle, you can bring your squad onto projects with you or form a new one by getting to know people through working together.
When it comes to culture and community, there are so many skill and interest-based digital communities. The number of active DAOs is up 660% since 2019. You probably don’t need a W-2 job to find human connection and belonging around work.
With all this in mind, the reality is that many people still choose the status quo and will continue to. There are plenty of concrete reasons to stick to the path paved by the crowd. Let’s unpack the perks of W-2 and dispel some myths along the way.
the draw of the W-2 life
Stating the obvious, a W-2 comes with insurance, benefits and income security. There’s also the notion that you may have better work-life balance and better pay. What’s the reality? Where are the gaps between being independent and being employed?
Only 24% of full-time freelancers have health insurance through a self-purchased plan. The average annual cost of health insurance in the US is $7470, of which employers have traditionally covered three quarters. This creates a gap and a hurdle for anyone who wants to quit their salaried jobs to explore other avenues.
However, this gap is being filled by services like Catch. Catch is rebundling the services that a company provides, just for freelancers. They offer freelancers a plan which automatically sets aside taxes for 1099 income, health and dental plans for individuals or family and automates the split of income toward a retirement account and toward savings.
Catch has seen exponential growth in the last year, evidenced by the tripling of its user base between July 2020 to July 2021. “We’ve definitely seen an uptick as COVID started,” said Alexandra Gervis, PhD, Lead Policy and Partner Engagement from Catch.
With more than 10 million people considering freelancing, according to an Upwork survey, Catch and other services are making the transition way easier.
Another reason why many people stick to a traditional job lifestyle is because it offers income security.
The reality is, however, an employer can let you go at any time with 15-days notice. Imagine if a freelancer or digital agency had just one client (i.e. one source of income), would this classify as secure income? Probably not.
The biggest difference is that W-2 jobs remove the task of “finding work”. As an independent, no one is dropping work off on your desk or paying you between projects. You have to seek out work, learn how to sell and, over time, establish the network and collaborators that can seek for you.
Again, though, emerging platforms are making this way easier. For example, on Huddle, the community is collectively attracting and closing new work. This makes finding your next project as simple as putting your hand up and joining the team.
One of the inherent benefits of remote work is that it brings life closer to work. 73% of people said that working from home improved their work-life balance, allowing them to spend more time with their partner, family, or pets.
At the same time, working from home on multiple projects can require even more balance and time management than before. This is another example of choice. It’s in your control to create a schedule and workload that works for you rather than your employers. There is power in that. There’s also a level of discipline and structure that can be learned.
making more money
Given rising inflation rates, it now makes more sense than ever to unlock your wealth potential by stacking and diversifying your income streams.
As we mentioned before, working at one company makes your salary bound and, in some ways, fragile. It’s also likely locking you into a low rate of increase — probably detrimentally low. In a recent tweet by Pieter Levels of NomadList, he posits that if you haven’t received a raise in salary, your income has actually decreased by 10%.
The projected average annual salary increases of 3% won’t cut it anymore, since it doesn’t keep up with consumer inflation that is increasing at 5.7%, which is at a 13-year high.
Being independent means having the control to dynamically set your own compensation.
There are clearly several benefits in leaving the W-2 world. The reasons to stay in a traditional full-time job are in many ways fading. Everyone’s situation is different — but it ultimately comes down to choices and the fact is that you have more of them than ever.
beginning to choose
Starting can begin with small choices. Some have started their journey to independent work by first building an audience on Twitter, Substack, or a podcast. While others have chosen to work with friends on side projects or join a builder community to start contributing in small ways. These both can likely be done while staying employed, or by making time during weeknights and weekends.
We spoke to Nick deWilde who writes the popular newsletter Jungle Gym on Substack about his journey:
“My newsletter was really helpful for prototyping independence. By sticking to a publishing schedule and growing my audience, I got to feel what it’s like to prioritize my own projects. The great opportunities that came from consistently publishing ultimately gave me the confidence I needed to take the leap.
When others ask about how to go independent I advise that they find ways to prototype it before making a decision.”
At Huddle, we have tons of builders in the community exploring the transition from full-time employees to full-time fractional contributors. Many have made the leap to fully independent while others enjoy fluctuating between the two worlds. It’s “Choose your own adventure” in multiple ways. Since you can jump on different projects at different capacities (from 0.5 day/wk to 5 days/wk) and can choose to get paid in cash, token or equity, you can really make it your own.
all roads lead to abundance
We’ve seen that The Great Resignation is a direct consequence of the search for meaning and cultivating the kind of life we’ve always wanted to lead. For a long time our lives have filled the blank areas around work; now we want our work to jive with and truly enrich our lives.
This is innate and old news. What we contribute or create (our work), is directly tied to the human condition and our self actualization. According to Ichiro Kishimi in The Courage to be Disliked, the philosophies of Alfred Adler and Plato state:
“If one really has a feeling of contribution, one will no longer have any need for recognition from others. Because one will already have the real awareness that ‘I am of use to someone’.”
Being “of use” is the work part. The “to someone” piece is just as important.
The new abundant world of work isn’t just about the individual freedom to choose what you spend time creating. It’s about having the mindset that more people contributing in the ways they want to is better for everyone.
The opposite, a scarcity mindset, is the belief that life is a zero-sum game where the size of the pie is fixed and each player has to compete to get a larger slice of that pie. Whereas, an abundance mindset allows you to see the world as a positive-sum game where you can grow the size of the pie for everyone. Ben Horowitz, founder of a16z, in an interview puts it across as:
“If you believe there is plenty in the world for everyone and you are always happy to see people who contribute succeed, then you become part of “team contribution.”
If you’re also hanging out in the cryptosphere, you may have heard the term ‘wagmi’ or ‘we’re all gonna make it’. It’s yet another reflection of the abundance mindset where people play positive-sum games enabled by community ownership.
Taking a moment of pause in these early days of 2022, it seems abundantly clear where the puck is going. Huddle’s incredibly excited to be a part of pushing it there.
The world Huddle’s creating is one where ambitious people join a distributed club, instead of a company — empowering independence without trading away community and support. Where people are given freedom to contribute in all the ways they want to, wherever they want to, and we’ll collectively build incredible lives and things together. 🚀
If this piece landed with you, you probably would be into joining Huddle.
→ Apply here to join our builder community as a contributor or lead.
→ Apply here to get a pop-up team to help design or build your next thing. We’re in beta and only accepting a small % of startups.
Follow @stephgolik or @withhuddle on Twitter for updates. DM us to get an invite code into the beta product.
Big thanks to Diana Hawk, Michael Saloio, Kavir Kaycee and Jordan T. Jones for their contributions.