The Impact of Web3 On Workplaces

Flash back to the fail whales of 2008 for a second. Remember social media? 

I was a Gen Y’er who spent a year traveling around the country giving speeches to HR professionals about how social media was shaping the workplace. Facebook had just come out with pages where anyone could comment on a wall or a post. Twitter had hashtags. Reid Hoffman was attending HR conferences to convince HR professionals that LinkedIn was a great place to recruit. 

It was a time with more questions than answers. And me, as a 24-year old “social media expert,” certainly did not have the answers. 

Enter today, and we have a big, similar question HR is facing: what impact will Web3 have on the workplace? 

Spoiler alert: there’s no answers. At least not yet. 

At an HR conference I recently attended, there was an entire session devoted to Web3 in the workplace. After the session, one attendee turned to me and put it bluntly, “that session expletive sucked.”

The reason? There’s nothing substantive to share yet about Web3 in the workplace. Instead, when thinking about Web3 in the workplace, it’s most helpful to start with governance, definitions, and asking questions. 

The Questions To Be Asking About Web3

Web3 is being driven by marketing people, not HR. 

McDonald’s recently offered a NFT to commemorate 40 years of the McRib. The San Antonio Spurs released 1,336 Coach Pop crypto collectibles to honor coach Gregg Popovich for becoming the NBA’s all-time winningest coach. Nike recently purchased a virtual shoe company that makes NFTs and sneakers for the metaverse. 

All this activity leads to one question HR should be asking themselves.

How is our marketing department using Web3 to enhance our employment brand? 

All of these Web3, limited-edition NFT initiatives do one thing for HR: they add “innovation” to an employment brand. It helps recruiters tell the story around how this is a leading, cutting-edge company that a candidate should come join. Talent pools increase. Visibility does too. 

Rather than spending a morning minting NFTs, ask the marketing department if they’re doing anything in the area. Then, partner with marketing to help sell the story of innovation to candidates. 

What does community mean for the world of work?

My 9-year son plays Roblox and begs me daily to redeem Fortnite V-Bucks while his 6-year old sister and 3-year old brother eagerly watch and engage with every move.

The future generation is heavily immersed in digital communities that connect them with friends. This trend has been accelerated with the pandemic, where communities, games, and the metaverse were the only way kids could play with friends while being quarantined at home. 

What do you think will happen when this generation reaches the workplace? They’ll expect that same sense of community, connection, and collaboration in work. So when it comes to Web3, the questions HR should be asking will be around how can community be better developed today and in the future. 

As hybrid workplaces become the norm, more new HR technologies are emerging to reimagine what a digital workplace can look like. There was $17 billion in venture capital that went into HR tech in 2021, more than triple the previous record of $5 billion in 2019. New technologies are here, and to prepare for Web3, HR should be trying and testing these technologies to shape communities today and into the future. 

How did you think about social media in the workplace in 2008?

The best way to think about Web3 in the workplace is to think about social media. How did you think about social media in the workplace in 2008? And how is social media being used now by HR, 14 years later? 

For example, did you jump to create your own “careers” Facebook page in 2010 and look to own your employment brand, independent from marketing? Did you partner with marketing, and incorporate employment branding into an ongoing content strategy? Was an internal social network created among employees to facilitate community and connection? 

There’s lots of learning lessons from Web2 before we jump into Web3. Think back to how your approach to social media in the workplace has evolved over the last 14 years, and you’ll likely find a similar blueprint to approach Web3. 

What impact will Web3 have on the workplace? 

In all likelihood, Web3 could take a similar path to social media. Interest will be high. Adoption will be slow. Web3 experts will emerge with books, speeches, and NFTs that are heavy on hype and low on actionable steps. 

For now, listen and learn. Test and try. And even if you have no idea what an NFT is, your experience with Web2 and social media will likely prepare you for this next wave that’s being shaped by the tech companies who are innovating and pushing things forward.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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