The events of 2020 have thrown up many different challenges for many different people. One phrase I heard a few months back in referring to the ongoing issues of the pandemic is “we may all be in the same storm, but we aren’t in the same boat.” It sums up the fact that everyone is facing their own set of problems when it comes to adjusting to this new way of life.
However, in talking to people in my own industry and outside it, I’ve found one common thread. Whether you love the shift to digital remote working or hate it, most people find it more challenging to maintain a work-life balance when the boundary between home and office is so thin.
From Office Worker to Digital Worker
Like so many digital-first industries, the challenge of work-life balance has been a longstanding problem within the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector. Collaboration tools like Slack are used for teamwork, keeping up with projects, and socializing, meaning that even if you don’t intend to go online for work, you can easily get distracted by work-related topics. The cryptocurrency markets operate 24/7, and crypto Twitter is an endless flurry of activity.
However, the events of 2020 have brought these challenges to a far bigger group of people, thanks to the stay-at-home orders resulting from the global pandemic. In the US, three-quarters of respondents to a survey said they were currently experiencing some kind of work-related burnout. In the UK, the BBC reports increases in stress levels and depression as a result of people working at home. The European Union is even in the process of passing legislation designed to give digital workers the right to switch off without needing to be concerned that they’ll suffer negative consequences from their employers.
Along with the burnout risks, loneliness is also a common symptom among digital workers. The British Office of National Statistics reports that nearly a third of people reporting feeling lonely during the pandemic. Being stuck at home without the ability to get out and meet friends in the same way we would pre-pandemic only adds to the urge to be available for work at all times, to alleviate boredom if nothing else.
The Importance of Online Communities
Over the last year, I’ve been focusing on community-based business models, which are based on the idea that startups, projects, and platforms should give value in the form of equity to their users, customers, and broader stakeholders.
The idea of community investment takes on even more significance now that so many people are isolated due to the global pandemic. And I believe that if we are going to be an increasingly digital society in the future, then online communities will hold an increasingly important role in helping people find work-life balance and ways of socializing that doesn’t necessarily involve meeting face to face.
Of course, humans will always seek out human contact, and we all hope that life will return to normal at some point. But the circumstances of 2020 have forced us to reassess many of our current ways of thinking. There is a general consensus that the shift to digital is here to stay, and remote working tools will feature more prominently in the future. If this is the case, then we need to find a way to inject the same balance into our digital lives as we do in our “real-world” lives.
Therefore, finding ways to commune and connect online socially are as important as they are in a work context. Furthermore, I am a firm believer that communities are a unique source of value that generate so much more than the sum of their parts.
Online Communities Are a Huge Source of Untapped Value
Once again, digital sectors such as blockchain have already been blazing a trail in this regard for several years. No matter what your interests or which platform you use, there’s an online community out there for you. Finding it can help to provide a welcome distraction from work, allow you to meet new people, learn from them, and share your own experiences.
The intangible benefits of online communities can help to unshackle us from the idea that digital working means being always at work. But they can also unlock new sources of value for many people. Consider what’s evolved from the idea that digital communities have value over the last few decades – Amazon, Airbnb, virtually every social media platform, the entire esports sector – the list goes on. Currently, many people spend their time online without even receiving any financial value in return. I believe that community-based business models will ultimately change this paradigm over the years to come.
The events of 2020 have brought an unpredictable set of challenges, and it’s inevitable that it will take time to adjust. But rather than letting digital life overwhelm us, we can harness the tools at our disposal to make sure our time online contains a more human connection, offsetting the risks of burnout and loneliness.