Blockchain Technology and the Future of Work – Part 2 | HCL Technologies

Blockchain Technology and the Future of Work – Part 2

Blockchain Technology and the Future of Work – Part 2
June 20, 2022

Click to read the first part of this blog series.

In the second part of this blog series on the potential applications of blockchain technologies in the context of workplaces, we explore the implications on end-user experiences, primarily the workforces and some of the day-to-day tasks performed by them.

Enterprise IT services aims to streamline the workforce experience across geographical and time constraints, in order to support the evolving hybrid work model. Whether blockchain technology can find relevance in this field may seem like a big “what if?” at the moment. But if the technology proves its worth, sooner or later, we would see widespread use of blockchain solutions in digital workspaces. Let’s continue to predict some of the possible applications of blockchain in the workplace, hoping that a few of these predictions will see the light of the day.

Employee claims

Claims are integral to any workplace. Employees across the world might be filling out claim forms worth millions every day. The claims might be for travel, bills, and as with any process which is not foolproof, occasionally we will come across scenarios of fraudulent claims which might result in significant losses to the organizations.

Let’s understand this with an example. In an Indian context, a user can raise a claim for tax relief for medical health checkups under the current tax structure. But because most of the corporate employees are covered under group medical insurance, they can claim the expense incurred on the test from the insurance company as well. Ideally, as the employee hasn’t effectively incurred any cost, they should not be eligible for tax relief. But because we are in a world of centralized, fragmented systems, this can easily happen.

#Blockchain Technology and the #FutureofWork – Blog 2

Registering all claims on a blockchain would discourage employees from making duplicate claims for the same event. Furthermore, using smart contracts can speed up the process for claimants to receive payments as the system can validate the bill on its own, thus removing dependency on a human to verify each bill.

For example, a person on business travel just needs to share their copy of the bill for the claim. The system, if connected to the blockchain network of the hotel chain (IHG, Accor, etc.), would be able to validate the bill on its own as any bill on the blockchain can’t be tampered with. This would also result in the instant release of claim amount and reduction of manual overhead. Of course, it would need a hybrid arrangement and interoperability of private or public blockchains of two entities.

Enterprise printing

Enterprises, especially large ones, need to maintain hundreds of Windows print servers to manage their print environment. Printing is estimated to be the third largest unaudited expense for various enterprises. Most of the print cost goes into maintaining the complex web of print servers.

There are already some tools present in the market which greatly reduce the need to have print servers. Some others are talking about a serverless print model where printing happens through a peer-to-peer model. Only the metadata reaches the server for audit, tracking, and reporting purposes. A blockchain-based print environment can probably do away with needing any server. As all the nodes get updated with any change in the chain, all the machines (laptop/desktop) would have the latest info about the printers in the network and would have access to the latest inventory of print drivers. Of course, the network must be connected to a repository of drivers to fetch the driver's info and package.

Employee hiring

Probably of all the topics covered in this article, this one is the most talked and researched about. Most organizations struggle to find resources with relevant skills and hands-on experience in time. A lot of time goes into background checks and it takes months to onboard an employee, thus affecting the productivity of the team requiring a resource urgently.

According to various studies, lying on resumes is common, and often, there is no way to detect the frauds effectively and, in a time-bound manner. There are various online resources that can help create fake official documents and references quite easily. Blockchain in HR can revolutionize how recruiting agencies and potential employers view and scrutinize potential candidates. The level of security that blockchain provides, it can be relied upon for maintaining the integrity of data, such as academic credentials, employment background, or certifications.

This would mean that talent agencies and employers can rely on the data being shared, and candidates alike can share this information without fear of it being tampered or misused, once verified. Of course, with the candidate’s consent, such use of blockchain in the recruitment process can offer both the candidate and recruiter safe access to authenticated records, and applications can then be validated in real time. Employee data would be safer as they can provide read-only access to their data on a blockchain on a need-only basis.

This mechanism also provides HR teams with important information about a candidate’s previous employers or references, along with names and contact details, so that the reference check is reliable and quick. This would need all data regarding degrees, certifications, and employee experience data to be put on a blockchain. This might seem to be a bit far off from today, but when achieved, would greatly simplify the whole process of hiring and would do away with the need of sharing original documents for verification. 

Gig economy workers

The gig economy has created an entirely new era of employment, and the benefits like efficiency and flexibility offered to individuals and corporations alike are huge. An efficient blockchain gig economy platform can allow a job seeker to publish their profile for potential service seekers to see. Potential hirers can also look at the schedules of the freelancer and can book their services as per the need. As explained in the previous use case, the background check can be instant, again leveraging blockchain technology, thus relieving potential recruiters from needing to worry about a freelancer’s credibility. Blockchain-enabled payments would ensure that anybody can be hired globally, and payment could be made in real time without involving a third party that takes a hefty commission today for international payments. 

IDC predicts that global spending on blockchain solutions will be nearly $19 billion in 2024. From a technology perspective, IT services and business services combined will account for more than two-thirds of all blockchain spending throughout the forecast period, with IT services receiving slightly more investment. Although at a nascent stage from an IT services and workplace perspective, blockchain technology is here to stay and would be adopted gradually as it shows more maturity. It’s not a matter of “if” anymore, it’s about “when”.