The future of work is telecommuting! (1992). The future of work is freelancing! (2002). The future of work is coworking! (2012).
False dawns, for most of us. We’re still stuck in traffic so sluggish we’re lucky to make it to work on time. We have to face an office manager and co-workers we don’t particularly like. There are days when we’re ready to chuck it all and demand the relative freedom of working from home, but of course, we’re worried that might not be very secure.
In the age of the blockchain, some of the problems that previously might have kept us from self-actualization have been solved.
I’ve worked with the client who made me redo some articles three times because he wasn’t clear about the requirements to begin with – and the client who refused to pay me when the job was done. Not exactly an uncommon story. There is an unfortunate perception that freelancers can be safely dumped on and abused because they rarely have the resources to fight back in court.
With cryptocurrencies and the blockchain, however, malfeasance like this is more difficult because smart contracts exist – and so do irreversible payments that protect the rights of the payee. Smart contract apps like Blocklancer could protect the rights of freelancers by providing clients with “read-only” versions of their work that can only be edited and used if the client makes the agreed-upon payment and, depending on the terms of the contract, the work could self-destruct if payment is not made by the agreed-upon date.
Smart contracts can also provide much more accurate rating systems, with data that tells a better story than the simple reviews you may have on Upwork, Fiverr, and others.
Trustless Means Trustworthy
A blockchain smart contract and reputation system is completely trustless. You don’t have to trust it because it’s a program that will follow rules that are agreed on by the freelancer and the client. A freelancer that doesn’t do the work just won’t get paid, and a client that won’t pay before the payment’s due date gets to watch the work self-destruct.(Sadly, without the Mission: Impossible sound effects.)
If there is a dispute after the contract has been signed, the freelancer and client don’t even need to trust the dispute resolution process of sites like Upwork. The problem here is that the Upwork dispute resolution employees may deny a perfectly legitimate request to resolve a dispute purely because they don’t want to deal with a complaining freelancer who was dumb enough to let herself be cheated. A smart contract system takes humans and their irrational prejudices out of the equation and deals only with the facts.
Blocklancer Could Create The Future Of Work – Now
Freelancers are pretty used to working with clients whom they will probably never meet face-to-face now that we have the Internet. However, I’ve passed up bidding on jobs because the client was new on Upwork; and how do I know that this client hasn’t had four or five previous accounts that he used to cheat freelancers by stealing their work? Because I can’t be certain, I may be passing up perfectly legitimate clients who can pay well for my services.
This kind of problem is practically an invitation for a system like Blocklancer to go mainstream if it can pull together a solid marketing plan. If the freelancer doesn’t do the work, that freelancer just won’t get paid. If the client doesn’t pay up, that client won’t ever receive the work in any kind of usable form. It’s hard to get mad at an algorithm that is actually pretty dumb and only follows the rules that have been programmed into it.
This might even attract the attention of people who have thought about ditching their day job in favor of freelancing, but have hesitated because they aren’t even sure if they’ll actually get any money out of it. The thing about the blockchain is that it doesn’t deliberately take sides the way that a Human Resources department might. Unlike Human Resources, the blockchain doesn’t exist purely to reduce corporate liability in the event of a lawsuit. It just presents the facts and follows the rules that have been laid out in each contract.
That might be the kind of reassurance that workers need to take the leap into the future of work, and to be able to place bids with trustless confidence.