Contributor vs Employee

A comparison between employees and contributors with thoughts on what the future of work looks like


  • Role - Often fixed around a specific skill set. Examples include software development, product management, marketing specialist, designer or customer support.

  • Compensation - Often salaried income, may include yearly share options or bonus based incentives.

  • Barriers to entry - Interviewed, often multi-step with skill tests and environment fit checks.

  • Time commitment - Mostly full time (~37.5 to 45 hours per week). Sometimes part time.

  • Holidays - Ranges from fixed amount provided to unlimited holiday (self selected amount).

  • Work flexibility - Ranges from fully flexible to time range specific (e.g. 9am until 5pm)

  • Work location - Remote or locally in an office.

  • Work colleagues - Mostly interact with direct team that employee is hired into.

  • Management - Ranges from hierarchical to flat management styles.

  • Governance involvement - Ranges from no involvement through to high involvement in the decision making process.

  • Ownership - Often majority owned by a single or group of founders, also commonly could include a number of investors.


  • Role - Contributors select a role however their time can be allocated anywhere that creates the most impact.

  • Compensation - Term based payment (e.g. 3, 6, 12, 24 months). Could include bonuses based on impact provided. Other compensation approaches will need to be explored!

  • Barriers to entry - Part time contribution would have a low to no barrier to entry, full time contribution would require election by community.

  • Time commitment - Part time contributor can provide as little or as much time as preferred. To be a full time contributor a higher time commitment is expected. Time commitment is not tracked, objective remains to be producing maximum impact instead of their time input.

  • Holidays - Unlimited holidays applies to any contributor. Full time contributors are assessed based on their overall impact rather than recording their time input.

  • Work flexibility - Fully flexible, all contributors self determine time allocation.

  • Work location - Remote, contributors are welcome to organise in person meet ups.

  • Work colleagues - Interact with other contributors and the wider community regularly.

  • Management - Self managed along with usage of democratic community governance.

  • Governance involvement - Part time contributors can have optional involvement. Full time contributors would be expected to have high involvement in governance planning and decisions.

  • Ownership - Community owned often through token ownership. Future ownership structures will be considered and could use single person identity over token based ownership models.

The future of work

Decentralized ecosystems with a focus on community, shared ownership and distributed governance provide a perfect environment for a new contributor based approach for helping people find and work on things that have more meaning to them. Becoming a contributor provides anyone the opportunity for a more flexible, enjoyable, adjustable and high impact alternative to becoming an employee in existing top down controlled company structures.

Fulfilling work experiences - Contributors get to work closely with entire communities and share the experience and governance collaboratively together.

  • Communities can more easily form closer bonds and connections when the responsibility and ownership is shared as a collective force around a common purpose. Customers for normal online businesses often experience a more transactional relationship which makes it harder for employees and customers to establish a purpose driven community.

Better work preferences - Contributors can more easily work on exactly what will give them the most meaning and joy when contributing to an ecosystem.

  • Contributors only have the requirement to maximise their impact. The contributor gets to decide how they deliver that impact using whichever skill sets they want to use.

  • Contributors don't need to ask for a role change as an employee might. Instead they can start to allocate more time in other areas and change their roles in future rounds if they repeat being a full time contributor.

Adjustable time commitment - Contributors can commit as much or as little time as they want to any ecosystem meaning they get to create impact exactly as they want to.

  • If a contributor wants to spend all their time supporting an ecosystem they can be a full time contributor. If they want to work in multiple ecosystems they can find part time tasks and roles so they can work in multiple areas. The choice is fully up to the contributor based on their exact preferences.

  • Contributors are able to step back and disengage when they need to for holiday or any other reason. If a contributor needs extended time off they can finish any agreed full time contributor term and then step back. Other ways to pause any existing obligations can also be considered when implementing a contributor model - any approach is up to each ecosystem community on what makes sense.

Maximum flexibility - Contributors can work on different skill sets in any location and at any time that is most convenient or enjoyable for them.

  • Being a contributor means being able to easily utilise any mix of skills whether that's around design, product, programming, governance or others and focus more on the ones that they enjoy most.

Higher impact - Contributors have the ability to make massive changes and impact by participating in a distributed community governance process.

  • A contributor would be able to have far more influence and impact than an employee when management structure blockers are removed and they are able to be involved in a more democratic community governance process.

Better compensated - Contributors can be highly rewarded with bonus compensation when they make high impact within an ecosystem.

  • Community governed bonuses can offer a more effective way to better align incentives around impact instead of top down employee compensation structures. Instead of shareholders and owners being overly compensated the contributors would instead receive increased compensation based upon their impact. Under this model every contributor is treated equally and has equal opportunity to create the most impact.

  • A bonus compensation structure to incentivise high impact is an idea not yet established and would need plenty of review and processes in place. Incentive structures would likely constantly evolve to find the perfect balance of rewarding all high impact contributors with a fair rate against the value that they provided.

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