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The Digital Workers Creating the Decentralised Covid Economy

The Digital Workers Creating the Decentralised Covid Economy

Andrew Spence
Aug 25 · 5 min read

This article is taken from the Workforce Futurist Newsletter

There are many ways to earn in 2020.

From labourers to playbourers, carers to sharers, and tippers to strippers.

There’s talk of a passion economy told by passionate platform investors — most people just want enough money to pay for their passions.

There’s also talk of a remote work revolution told by excited software vendors — the physical location of some work has changed - but the organisation of that work is still very much centralised.

53% of the world’s working-age women are not in the labour force.

They DO work — it’s just not recognised or monetised.

And a job contract with the associated boss, fixed hours, and salary is not the answer for everyone.

As we redefine work in the Digital Covid Age, the untapped economic and creative potential of the decentralised workforce will be liberated.

With 1.7 billion adults without access to banking facilities in 2018,

the crypto community have a mantra,

Bank the unBanked

the mantra in the Digital Covid Age is,

Pay the unPaid

An emerging globally decentralised workforce extends well beyond the traditional concept of a job, and these groups include:

The Playbourers — as you might have guessed, this term is a hybrid for of play and labour. We have YouTube influencers and modders getting paid to play games. And Animal Crossing fans will know that

‘At Nook’s Cranny, a white and pink ‘Cute Vanity’ sells for 5,400 bells’.

New virtual economies are being built by the generation brought up on Minecraft, TikTok and Fortnite.

Uber is not the only company in the Gig Economy.

It gets the most press because it drives the press around the City.

Billions WORK outside of traditional employment, it’s not just drivers.

The Slashies as in…

I love being a Writer/Speaker/Advisor/Activist/Slashie

Those working across different types of jobs to make a living.

The Unpaid Workers — if American women earned minimum wage for the unpaid work they do around the house and caring for relatives, they would have made $1.5 trillion last year.

Greater inclusion of the Neurodiverse Workforceup to 80% of individuals on the autism spectrum do not have a job. The decentralised workforce includes a more neurodiverse group of workers, using platforms like Joonko and employment practices including in the technology industry.

The Bounty Hunters — with a neat idea, Bounties Network used tokens to incentivise the clean-up of plastic pollution in the Philippines, $700 for about three metric tonnes of plastic waste removal.

The Livestreamers are broadcasting user-created video in real-time like on gaming platforms such as Twitch, or non-gaming like Caffeine for interactive shows. Some popular individual content creators are being paid $500k per month, with most it might be more like $500 as a hobby or additional income stream.

The Exhibitionists — as millions of people filed for unemployment, OnlyFans, adult-only platform, reported 150,000 new users creating accounts daily with some performers reportedly earning $200k/year. It’s only a small step from doing Zoom calls in your PJs I suppose 😉.

The Content Creators — it is estimated that those producing comics, photographs, and stories on Patreon paid its members approximately US$1 billion in 2019, with more than 50,000 creators joining since mid-March. Writers are also paid with subscriptions on SteamIt, Medium, and Substack for newsletters.

The Teachers and Coaches — nearly 500 course creators on Teachable make more than $100k/year. Outschool an online marketplace for live video classes in which teachers are predominantly former school teachers and stay-at-home parents.

The Platform Workers Upwork has reported services volume up 15% year-over-year, and other platform-driven work is booming, for example Lyft and TaskRabbit

The Data Labourers — we benefit from using services such as Google search. We don’t pay for these services directly with cash, but there is a catch,

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These companies are funded by advertising, the attention of our eyeballs and our tip-tap-tapping. This might not seem like work, but this data is valuable and there is a case for payback, as made by Eric A Posner and Glen Weyl in their book, Radical Markets.

The Token Tippers — an example of consumers getting paid for their clicks and attention is with the Brave Internet Browser (15m users at the last count). You decide the amount of Adverts you are willing to see then get reimbursed in BAT tokens. These tokens can then be used to convert to cash, or to tip creators.

And sometimes humans need to do the work that AI just can’t do yet — the ‘Artificial’ Artificial Intelligence Workers. Amazon Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing marketplace with 500,000 Turkers worldwide.

The Hourly Experts — you can hire an expert for an hour or two with companies like Talmix, Toptal, Gigster DeepBench and Experty.io

Then there are the few million Digital Shopkeepers, using Shopify (with 1 million stores alone), Amazon, eBay and Etsy, or other platforms to keep a digital shop open.

There is obvious overlap between these groups of digital workers, and this isn’t meant to be comprehensive.

This does raise some BIG Questions, for organisations, educators, careers, and society which will be explored for Workforce Futurists here.

A new decentralised workforce will emerge from the rubble of defunct 20th century organisational structures.

Work is not dead. In fact, our most important work is yet to come — rebuilding a resilient, fair, and prosperous society.

Find Out More

Thank you for reading this article, if you enjoyed it, you might like to

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Andrew Spence

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Passionate about making work better. MSc in Cognitive Science and #AI. Subscribe to #WorkforceFuturist Newsletter for updates.

Blockchain and the Distributed Workforce

Articles and resources about new decentralized models for work, using blockchain and other technologies. Will also cover related topics including demographics, the job market and new organisational models.

Andrew Spence

Written by

Passionate about making work better. MSc in Cognitive Science and #AI. Subscribe to #WorkforceFuturist Newsletter for updates.

Blockchain and the Distributed Workforce

Articles and resources about new decentralized models for work, using blockchain and other technologies. Will also cover related topics including demographics, the job market and new organisational models.

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