Are bounties the future of work?

In some utopian future, the nine-to-five grind will be supplanted by flexible, on-demand work. Committing to a single employer will be a distant relic as DAOs lower the barrier to picking up work and cryptocurrencies make it possible to get paid effortlessly. Small tasks that payout upon completion called bounties have been embraced by many as one pillar of the future of work, and they are a common way for DAOs to organize work and engage contributors. Bounties offer a flexible option for casual contributors, like people who have day jobs, to earn some income and play a part in a DAO. They can be quick tasks or multi-month engagements, and range from writing blog posts, testing out a product, designing a logo, or doing software development. Bounties also create a sense of community involvement, serving as a stepping stone for a casual lurker to become an active DAO participant. They can be set up using task management platforms like Dework, or using the open source bounty board built by Bankless DAO, which keeps its own list of active bounties that anyone can browse and claim.

Bounties have their own set of risks, for example they can slow down an organization and lead to lower quality work. Contributors taking on bounties are often transient and subject to less vetting than a dedicated team member would be. This transience means it's important to factor in the cost of sharing context and getting someone up to speed on a project. It's far easier to manage a system where the same few people are doing work and have shared context on the organization, goal, and project. Each new person coming in and out means time spent onboarding. Hiring one excellent person is hard, and can often take weeks. Now imagine hiring someone different every time you wanted something done! In practice, most DAOs aren't running comprehensive hiring processes for each contributor doing bounties. This saves time for the project leads, but may lead to lower quality work output and more time spent sharing context instead of building. Bounties should always require someone to sign off on the work quality, and if it's not up to quality standards, that can create difficult conversations with contributors expecting payment.

This doesn't mean to avoid bounties altogether, it simply means to triage work into tasks that need to be completed with utmost care and things that are not as time or quality sensitive. We recommend the DAOs allocate a small portion of their treasury to offering 1) easy, low-risk bounties that engage new members but aren't mission critical and 2) bounties for vetted, repeat contributors. To make sure bounties don't distract team leads, they should set aside a small portion of their time to bounty related tasks but not rely on it for critical work.

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