I was recently driving a virtual car in a company-designated racing server with some colleagues, when an interesting conversation developed. Let me explain: I was leading one of our developers through a circuit we were both learning, in preparation for an upcoming race for an inter-company competition we call the Wayports Racing League (WRL).
The WRL is live-streamed on YouTube and broadcast to 80+ million homes in Latin America through UCL TV, a great channel based in Uruguay, which also happens to have a team in the competition.
Our practice sessions help us prepare for an upcoming race, and we tend to jump on Discord for a fun voice-chat to share impressions or simply catch up on the daily work tasks.
While the game we use, LiveForSpeed, is a simulation that requires skill development and not an arcade game where you simply press buttons, sometimes you can manage to focus on keeping a clean racing line while at the same time carrying a conversation.
At one point it seemed perfectly possible to discuss things with this fellow developer while not missing any braking points, so we got to talk about a research project we have at Interlink, which aims to create a cryptocurrency to reward people for points scored in the WRL.
What was novel to me at the wheel was that I came up with a spontaneous new way to explain it. I simply said that we are nearing this moment where companies need to have a strategy around crypto in order to keep being able to attract and maintain the interest of workers.
After we raced, I kept thinking about this and realized that there are 2 or 3 things a modern company -especially a software one- needs to know:
- You need a crypto strategy, now.
You can no longer ignore cryptocurrencies as purely speculative or shady tools that will be clamped down on by governments. While there are certainly plenty of people and initiatives based on wrongdoing, the ease and sophistication available to start ledger-based software services cannot be dismissed in whole.
Particularly with individuals engaging in different techniques to create wealth digitally, there is plenty of value to be added, with the potential to change lives. What I posited to this developer - who also happened to be a cryptocurrency enthusiast- was that unless companies figure out a way to offer something on this space, they are suited to lose key people to the DeFi (Decentralized Finance) movement.
Think about it: there are a lot of companies that are convinced they are such a great place to work at, so they build these long ladders for people to climb, with the promise of rewards (be it equity, salary, options, etc.). But for people to acquire that value, they need to engage in a tiring process that can take decades.
At the same time you have people doing experimental things with DeFi and creating more value in 6 months than their employers, or their traditional occupation, could provide in years. An accountant can suddenly spend a weekend starting a hardware project to mine cryptocurrencies, or an executive assistant can create a collection of art and sell NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).
At some point, these people can just quit their day jobs and develop an independent career in their own right. The tools to acquire/produce wealth have never been this accessible.
Of course nothing beats the craft and purpose of a complex set of skills, being part of something larger and building exciting things with peers. But it is a balancing act: companies that continue to speak with the language of the '90s cubicle-culture will suffer.
Providing value around DeFi is already more important than having ping-pong tables at an office location. Who goes to those anyway?
I think it will soon be more important than any health plan benefits, because it is hard to optimize those for a wide number of people and make them happy, but if you have an efficient system to reward and create liquidity for your employees, they will be free to pick whatever solution they want.
2: Community beats your Careers Page marketing
The second thing that post-2019 companies need to learn is people seek communities. Work is not exempt from this very human notion of belonging, but the post-2019 spin is the need for authentic communities. Being part of a company has had such a depressing list of associated implications in the last two decades. It often meant conforming to rules and being pressured into eliminating self-expression, by fitting into company-sanctioned archetypes of success.
People had to "follow" whatever was available as a model for success, imitating the higher-ups and becoming someone they probably did not want to be come. They also had to be a "good team player", meaning "do what we say". That is simply over.
It is truly over because now that we have all moved to the cloud, all we can do is share experiences of our workplace culture. Since we work remotely, the "place" in workplace is connected through our online presence.
Naturally we seek to derive more from that, because remote work suffers when it is put through the prism of the cubicle-culture. So we share how good/terrible an organizational culture is, and we crave for those stories that are unique or special.
Spend too much time creating a terrible culture, and your community will speak up, with people moving on to other cultures in companies that promote more mental health value.
Create a space for your people to be themselves, allow for virtual activities that create value, and you will have something that is special today. But you have to keep working so that it stays special tomorrow.
3: The Power of Gaming
The bonus third thing that they need to learn, which I hope isn't as needed to teach, is the value of gaming! Games have grown tremendously from silly button-smashers to entire simulations that employ the use of physics. They are the ultimate way to acquire skills, which is revealing and useful about the way in which people's characters and predispositions make them better/worse at acquiring skills.
In the WRL, 90% of the participants had no prior experience with games of the simulated racing kind. Yet the people who took well to it are those who:
A) Enjoy the uncomfortable moment of not knowing something.
B) Want to get better and are not afraid to make mistakes.
C) Have an inquisitive mind and know how to learn to ask the right questions.
D) Show a remarkable desire to develop autonomy and mastery on the way to achieving a goal.
E) Want to enjoy the journey, not just the completion of the goal.
Aren't all these extremely desirable workplace traits? Yet some of the people we approach about Wayports, our virtual productivity software where people are represented by avatars, respond to game-dynamics with skepticism. They say "I never played any games so I don't know". I feel sorry for them, they have been missing out on so much potential -and fun- to discover themselves and others, and to develop special community bonds.
As for the WRL, we are putting in place a rewards system for Season 2! Visit this space for more news on that soon. And don't miss our Round 8 this Saturday.
If you want to join either Division 1 or 2 of the WRL, come talk to us on Discord.