Polygon exec gives insider scoop on state of crypto employment

By Samuel Wan

U.K unemployment rate

Despite the challenges of the past two years, the labor market appears to be in a good place, at least according to official government statistics.

The Washington Post stated that Americans had returned to work in record numbers, leading to a May unemployment rate of 3.6%, almost half compared to when President Biden took office 17 months ago when it was at 6.4%.

Moreover, although the number of people quitting is at historical highs, due to the phenomenon dubbed the Great Resignation, the rate of re-hiring continues to outpace the “quits” in every significant sector, including in typically low-paid sectors, such as hospitality.

“Over the past year and half, Americans have gotten back to work in record numbers — faster than during any previous recovery in modern history.”

It’s much the same in the U.K, with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) recently publishing unemployment data for February to April, showing a rate of 3.8%. Although this figure is up 0.1% from the previous quarter, like the U.S, the U.K unemployment rate is still close to record lows.

Source: ons.gov.uk

However, with the announcement of layoffs by several crypto firms in recent weeks, employment in the digital asset sector is showing signs of weakness.

But what’s going on behind the scenes as crypto winter takes hold?

Workers prefer remote working

The legacy of the pandemic was a rise in remote working. Before the health crisis, around 5% of office workers worked remotely. But this figure rose significantly, to between 25% and 30%, during the pandemic.

For the first time, many white-collar workers experienced the benefits of working remotely, such as the extra time afforded by not having to commute, better work-life balance, and perhaps most stark was the realization that, literally, the world was their oyster.

Remote work was an adaptation strategy employed by companies as a response to changeable government directives, such as rules on social distancing and maximum occupancy rates in a given area of space.

Since remote working is a standard practice in the crypto industry, firms operating in the digital asset sector have a distinct advantage in terms of attracting workers who value working from home.

Last year, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, in ditching the firm’s traditional corporate headquarters structure, said being remote-friendly is harmonious with the “spirit of crypto.”

“Forgoing a formal headquarters is also more in line with the spirit of crypto, built on the inherent benefits of decentralization.”

And as evidenced by the difficulties experienced by legacy firms in reversing remote working practices, such as Apple scaling down the pace of its phased “Hybrid Working Pilot,” it’s clear remote working remains a top priority for many employees.

But with hiring freezes and staff cuts seemingly on the rise, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that all is not well with the digital asset sector, or is it?

Crypto employment is a mixed bag during harsh trading conditions

In response to the recent layoffs, Binance said it’s going the other way and looking to expand operations by hiring an additional 2,000 workers by the year-end. The firm’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, said this is possible thanks to tight control over advertising spending, which wasn’t the case with some rival exchanges.

Similarly, OKX will strengthen its numbers by employing an additional 1,500 staff. At the same time, Kraken is hiring an extra 500 workers. A spokesperson for the firm said “applicants chasing hype” fall away during bear markets.

“We believe bear markets are fantastic at weeding out the applicants chasing hype from the true believers in our mission.”

So, despite the doom and gloom triggered by the market slowdown, employment prospects in crypto are far from dead.

Polygon’s Bhumika Srivastava gives her take

This is echoed by Polygon’s newly appointed Global Head of HR, Bhumika Srivastava, who is championing a drive to expand the company’s employee base and move to a fully decentralized workplace.

By email exchange with CryptoSlate, Srivastava dismissed the notion that crypto employment is on its knees. She said, in general, the industry is in a much better place compared to the past. This is because digital asset infrastructure continues to grow as projects develop practical solutions to real-world problems.

Although staff cuts may have happened to “alleviate financial distress,” winning projects with a long-term vision still require the talent to fulfill that vision, especially in the Web3 space, which Polygon is focused on.

“The global infrastructure and the ever-growing number of use cases, solutions, and diverse platforms are booming. While some firms may have no choice but to resort to layoffs to alleviate financial distress, the ultimate long-term goal is to continue building toward a decentralized future.“

Polygon on a hiring spree

In terms of what’s happening at Polygon, Srivastava was keen to stress the firm is on a hiring spree, having already grown its headcount by 400% in the past year.

Moreover, Polygon continues to “aggressively” hire “high-profile specialists” from leading Web2 firms, including Microsoft, EA Studios, Amazon, NASA, Meta, YouTube, and others.

Given that Web3 is a diverse sector, it’s not just those with coding skills that will benefit. Srivastava said Polygon is on the lookout for all talented professionals who can support the realization of the company’s goals. Current opportunities with Polygon can be found here.

“Additionally, the intrinsic diversity of the Web3 sector — which consists of numerous verticals — guarantees that there is always demand for professionals with all manner skill-sets at Polygon.“

What’s next?

In line with the concept of decentralization, Polygon’s 450 staff members are fully remote, which benefits both the company and staff in allowing for flexibility and being able to pick from a wider pool of talent.

As for the bear market reversing the trend of crypto firms poaching top talent, Srivastava mirrored the earlier comment made by Kraken, saying those who remain, or actively pursue crypto at this stage, do so because they believe in what the industry is trying to achieve and are confident that crypto will prevail.

“many who opted to join the crypto industry did so because they believe in the longevity of the space.”

With that, cyclical market moves do not impact the process of building for the future.

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