Article by Forbes: Natalia Karayaneva
Around the world, home offices are supplanting head offices, while other companies have satellite offices with no appointed base offices. Hundreds of thousands of roles that once required daily physical presence at desks in headquarter buildings may now be performed by employees staying at home with their laptops, sitting in airplanes with their phones, or even resting on beaches with their tablets. As technology advances, these practices will become ever more familiar; in some industries, working remotely may become the new standard.
Binance is one of the world’s largest and most important blockchain companies. However, anyone looking for a “center” to the company will be disappointed, as the firm’s executives have created an office and a business structure that mirrors the dynamism of the new technology that they promote. Binance team members collaborate across time zones and oceans. Judging by the company’s success and profitability, its far-flung team members collaborate at least as efficiently as they would have done so by working at clustered desks in a single office building. Because these workers operate in different places, they are better situated to notice local trends and provide lightning-fast responses to their clients worldwide. Binance Charity uses a distributed team structure because it wants to be close to its stakeholders. Helen Hai, the CEO of Binance Charity, stated, “Part of our team spent a lot of time in Africa. Working on the ground with our end beneficiaries helped us to understand the needs and challenges better.” The Binance team is not the only blockchain group to make such a calculation. The developers behind the Ethereum chain are also geographically scattered, but they are bound together by a common vision.
I won’t claim that running a globally “distributed” company is without its challenges. Assembling everyone for a meeting takes some effort, and contributors may wish to see each other in person more often than they do. However, I believe that the rewards far outweigh the occasional frustrations. If you aspire to be a global leader in contemporary technology, what better way to demonstrate 21st-century values than with an up-to-the-minute structure? Innovation does not begin outside of the office doors; instead, it starts inside of the workplace. How can you have 21st-century ideas, if you’re still operating on a 19th-century model?
Because my team consists of two offices on different continents with people from the U.S., Bulgaria, Russia, Greece, Belarus, Ukraine, and Canada, and because, in our space, governance models have been researched very actively, I’ve spent many hours thinking about these networks and their significance. The more I think about different cryptoeconomic models and decentralized voting and rating systems, the more I suspect that many 21st-century organizations will closely resemble blockchain’s decentralized networks. In a blockchain, the lack of a “center” is not a weakness but the defining strength. There is no hierarchical ranking of “nodes” on the chain, as each one bears equal responsibility for the success of the network. While I won’t claim that any company is, or should be, entirely flat — there are still leadership positions, and roles and responsibilities will always have their place — I believe that a decentralized organization is more flexible and adaptable than one that is based on a traditional “hub-and-spoke” model. Since every office is the head office, I believe that members of a decentralized business feel more ownership of their roles.
A central tenet of blockchain design is that all of a network’s nodes must reach “consensus” and agree on the information that they record. In a “hub-and-spoke” setup, it’s very easy to achieve an artificial consensus; if the head office proposes an idea, the satellites will tend to approve it and stay silent about their own ideas. In a “distributed” office with remote workers, however, this temptation disappears, and all employees, wherever they might be based, believe that they can be leaders. In this case, “consensus” isn’t an edict from on high; it’s a decision that is made across the organization. Furthermore, individual employees feel greater ownership and responsibility for the company’s success, and this sense of responsibility makes them happier and more engaged at work. Blockchain firms like the Ethereum Foundation and Binance may not be as radically decentralized as the blockchain networks that these organizations produce, and, in fact, they don’t aspire to be, but their innovative structures are modern-day triumphs. The concept of a “distributed”office may not work for each firm and business model, but if its implementation is possible for your ventures, I urge you to give it a try. The rewards are worth it.