Work From Home is Creating a Self-Monetizing Employment Model. How Will It Impact Your Career and Company?

Side hustles and gigs are creating salary replacements for many employees. WFH has created conditions for people to disconnect their livelihoods from their employer. That change in mindset is fueling what I call The Self-Monetization Talent Model. It will have near term impacts for businesses and your career.

March 29th, 2021

Vin Vashishta

The happiest people are recognized for doing what they love. That is where career satisfaction comes from. In the emerging talent economy, it does not matter what you do. There is a way to monetize your passion and capabilities.

One of your key career skills is mastering different monetization strategies. This used to be the domain of companies alone. Recently, tools have been developed that make monetization accessible to everyone.

The purpose of a company from an employee standpoint is an efficient way to translate their labor into income. Jobs within a company used to be the easiest way to do that. The availability of monetization platforms and WFH have changed that. For talent, the option of self-monetization is both practical and profitable.

My Personal Journey and What Will Soon Be Many Employees’ Journey

In 2012 I started my consulting practice around this concept. Reno is a great place to live but a terrible market to make a living in. My consulting practice allowed me to work with companies across the country. Early on, there was a lot of travel. My clients quickly realized I could do most of what they needed remotely, and it saved them a lot on travel costs.

I was one of the early adopters of work from home. That paradigm of work (consulting and WFH) rapidly changed the way I thought about monetizing my labor. I can only charge so much per hour and there is only one of me. Scaling meant getting paid more than once for every hour I worked.

This is the direction most WFH employees are going to find themselves thinking in about a year. Something about being removed from the office clarifies both options and value proposition. The gig economy and side hustles build an external monetization route that many WFH employees have been working on during the pandemic. Once the money starts flowing in from those streams, their next step becomes obvious.

What This Means for Companies

Companies find themselves competing for talent against self-monetization. Often, they are also competing against pools of self-monetizing talent. It is a double challenge that drains business of the talent they need to compete against their best talent who have left to work on their own.

There are 3 levels of talent: individual contributors, strategist leaders, and creators. Creators contribute the most and have the easiest route to self-monetization followed closely by strategist leaders. Highly capable individual contributors face more hurdles but also more opportunities and incentives to put in the work on side hustles.

The implications are companies will need to redefine their value proposition to employees. They have lost their status as the easiest way to monetize labor. Competition for talent has been limited to company vs company.

Now there is a second category, self-monetization, which does not have the same business model dependent salary constraints. It is a scalable way for employees to earn past what an individual company can pay them.

The next generation of self-monetization platforms will support on demand, self-organizing teams. Call it the on-demand cloud for talent. They will make leveraging this new class of worker simpler and more effective for frontier business models that support it. Most business models rely on static, in place teams.

Adapting the Talent Model

This is an Amazon changing retail level disruption. Recruiting fails here. Organizational development is ineffective under this model. Performance evaluation and management cannot support this as they exist today.

This new class of worker does not have a resume. Their Google search results are a detailed view of their capabilities. They do not interview for jobs. They have 1 hour “Get to Know Me” sessions available for a fee. Click to book.

Why would that be attractive to any company? The cost of a 1 hour session is orders of magnitude lower than recruiting costs. An online body of work is more comprehensive than a resume. This model results in significant improvements in outcomes at a lower price.

Hiring software is replaced by self-monetization platforms and access to on demand marketplaces. There is no attrition or retention cost. No severance. Work is modular and on demand which makes traditional talent model concepts unnecessary.

Performance evaluations are more like Netflix ratings, thumbs up or down. The more ratings you provide, the better the people recommendations become. Layers of management become unnecessary as 1 strategy leader can be effective across multiple self-organizing teams. Modularity means low performers can be replaced in real time.

I am responsible for developing and improving my capabilities. The marketplace incentivizes me to continually learn, improving my value. Organizational development is an organic result of the marketplace.

Companies will be forced to give up traditional levers of control to get the benefits of more customized workforces and lower overhead. Letting go reveals how poorly those levers functioned in the first place. It is uncomfortable to drop the baggage, but the business operates more efficiently once it gets past the initial shakeup.

A Different Adoption Cycle

Most technology driven disruptions are big on hype but slow to be adopted because business units do not like to change. For most technologies, they have a perfectly functional alternative in place so there is no sense of urgency. Why spend the money until it is an absolute necessity?

In this case, groups like HR are incentivized not to willingly adopt these changes. However, the marketplace is the driving factor. As more people self-monetize, it will not be a choice. It will be a lack of options to access an increasingly large, business critical pool of talent.

While businesses will enjoy the benefits, individuals who depend on the traditional talent model aspects of the business will be displaced. Again, the marketplace forces those people to upskill and adopt the new model. Just as the business will benefit after a period of adjustment, people will too.

Early adopters will also be early beneficiaries. Their incentive structure is the same as any other to self-monetize. Many in HR will become part of the community building and improving the marketplace. Their experience will create the model.

As uncertain as all this sounds, it creates new opportunities for businesses and people who understand the implications. Disruptive? Yes. Destructive? No.