When Web2 and Web3 Worlds Collide: Tips for Working at Both a DAO and Regular 9-to-5
By: Mackenzie Patel (@figgy_feline)
While DAOs are on the bleeding edge of human organization, integrating your Web3 life with a normal 9-to-5 job can be daunting. I felt exhilarated swapping out my professional headshot for an anime-inspired avatar when I first joined dOrg, and this feeling of newness hasn’t gone away in the six months I’ve been here.
As a quick refresher, a DAO (short for “decentralized autonomous organization”) is a collective of individuals whose operations are facilitated by blockchain technology. Hierarchies tend to disappear and are often replaced by a flat structure of self-motivated projects or “swarms” of activity. In case you have an image of chaotic, hairbrained bees buzzing around with giant ETH symbols on their heads, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Here at dOrg, a DAO focused on building the Web3 stack, we stayed organized through a forum, governance proposals on Snapshot, Discord (of course) and more traditional Web2 tools like Google workspace and Figma. Basically, a DAO gives you the freedom to work flexibility and quickly and be mission oriented - let the red tape burn!
However, not every existing company needs to be DAO and not all self-proclaimed DAOs are truly emulating what a DAO really is. It’s going to take time, research and a hive of excitable people to make this dream of a better working world a reality. Humans have been conditioned to “follow” for centuries, so it’s going to take some rejiggering to 1) think of useful projects independently and 2) execute on them. DAOs are also experiments in teamwork and collective governing - I love having the ability to vote and watching an idea get stamped into existence on-chain (see dOrg’s snapshot page here).
For those who have one foot in normie-land and one in the metaverse, it can be hard switching off your corporate brain and thinking for yourself again. See below for a few tips I’ve found useful when juggling being a DAO member and an employee. For context, I work for Figment, a staking provider, during the day as a senior revenue accountant and also as dOrg’s accountant part-time. My world is literally crypto 24/7 (I also facilitate the crypto/economics book club for she256), so it’s never a dull moment. :)
Strike a Balance Between DAO Hours & “Normal” Hours
I only work ~5 hours per week for dOrg but even this cadence became overwhelming because of time mismanagement. I was leaving most of my hours until Sunday afternoon since my Figment job is demanding during the week. After a few frustrating weekends and a clarifying tarot card session, I realized something needed to change. The incredible part about DAOs is that flexibility is an inherent part of them - dOrg builders are all over the globe so working hours are naturally spread out. After realizing ten hours a day at Figment was unhealthy, I switched things up - I now do Figment work from 8 am - 5 pm and dOrg from 5 pm - 6 pm. This way, I’m always caught up with DAO happenings and my weekends are liberated (although you’ll likely catch me spending my free time reading Coinbase reports or The Cryptopians by Laura Shin).
Shift from a Passive Mindset to an Active One
I’ve realized that having a boss is easy and lightens the mental load of day-to-day minutia. If someone is directing your work, it’s much simpler to be a heads down, hands off type of employee. You still have career goals and might work long hours, but the onus of defining direction and strategy isn’t on you. You also have little say in executive decisions like what opportunities to pursue or what amount of yearly bonus to pay out. Contrast to that how dOrg operates:
Builders and our biz dev working group source deal flow
Projects are approved by the DAO through a Snapshot proposal
Every time a client pays dOrg for our services, 80% is remitted to the builders on the project, 10% goes to the sourcing lead and 10% is sent to the dOrg treasury
Builders can also participate in “swarms” or our internal initiative to improve our DAO tooling and process flows
Besides engineers, dOrg also has “internal roles” that handle communications & marketing, community, accounting, legal and customer service. These members have more defined responsibilities but can still jump into projects and the swarm whenever they have time. Your trajectory within dOrg is completely driven by personal motivation and a desire to do great, impactful work. Builders seek new business, can change up how dOrg operates and have creative outlets like designing merch or writing blog posts like this one. And if you see a problem, you’re incentivized to brainstorm with others and fix it. Accountability is way higher but so is fulfillment, which I consider key to having a meaningful career.
Keep your Taxes in Order
If you’re based in the US and are an employee for a business, you’ll receive Form W-2 that states your taxable wages for the current year. Your employer’s payroll company will automatically calculate this amount and send you the form, but this process could be totally different in DAOland. At dOrg, our builders are all treated as contractors, whether they’re based in the US or not. All builders are requested to fill out Form W-9 or W-8BEN (informational forms for the IRS), and US-based builders are issued a 1099 listing the gross wages earned for the year (income that is subject to ordinary income taxes). I’m not sure how other DAOs are handling this tax issue, but it can get surprisingly complicated to calculate what each builder earns. DAO tooling is still in its infancy, so all of these calculations have to be done manually for now - and when you’re adding up hundreds of stablecoins transactions and token bonus payouts, things can get messy. If you’re in a DAO that doesn’t have an accountant, I recommend keeping your own records and reconciling quarterly. I would also check out these online courses by the Crypto Tax Girl - Laura breaks down the tax implications of crypto in an easily digestible way and offers strategies to minimize your liability if it involves crypto.
Make an Effort to Keep up with Governance & the Community
It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re tapping away at a computer, feeling far-removed from any real-world impact you’re having. This sentiment can be even more pronounced when you’re part of DAO that likely has members from Nigeria to Japan to Argentina. The international nature of DAOs is fabulous, but it could lead to members feeling out-of-step with their fellow “dOrganisms'' (a colloquial term for dOrg’s builders). When I was only contributing on Sundays, I had to scroll through our Discord & forum posts to be fully caught up with the lightning speed of dOrg happenings. I’ve found that checking the forum daily, actually voting on governance proposals and attending weekly/bi-monthly meetings is key to feeling connected to your DAO’s mission and members. Without those things, you’re just another avatar blinking into the Discord ether, wanting to be a part of something bigger. Here at dOrg, any builder can initiate a governance proposal or comment on any forum posts. We have our own reputation token (“dorg”) that is earned 1:1 in proportion to stablecoin earnings. Having rep lets you receive a higher proportion of treasury token bonuses and gives you more esteem within the community. Governance within the workplace is truly novel and exciting - and even though it requires more effort, it brings you closer to other members and the DAO;s core mission.
The Great Migration to the DAO Way of Working
As our complicated world shifts to more tech-forward ways of working, we’re going to see an increase in people straddling both universes: the exploitative ways of Web2 and the open, self-directed playground of Web3. It’s going to be an awkward but rewarding shift as we work together to see where DAOs make sense and where a more traditional model fits more naturally. I’ve grown in ways I didn’t expect by being in dOrg - I know what ownership in a business feels like, how to collaborate with internet strangers five time zones ahead of me and how to better define direction. It feels like I have an office on Mars, and I love it. 🚀