How the Sharing Economy is Changing the Way People Work
As work become more flexible, the concept of office culture is becoming more complex and abstract. Here's how the sharing economy has influenced the way people work and the way people think about work.
Defining the Shared Economy
In essence, the shared economy is the seamless circulation of services and products among individuals through sharing, trading, borrowing, renting or giving. By privileging access over ownership, businesses have been able to rent out underutilized assets. In addition to developing new streams of income, the shared economy helps to reduce waste. It also provides consumers with affordable access to products and services that might normally be outside their means.
Some prominent examples of the shared economy include crowdfunding, person-to-person banking, open knowledge, open design and manufacturing, open and horizontal governance. A number of companies, such as Airbnb, DogVacay, RelayRides, and TaskRabbit, have also leveraged the concept to create peer-to-peer marketplaces where people can provide services to others.
How it Affects Work
Over the past decade, the employment landscape has evolved under the influence of numerous legal, regulatory, demographic and social forces. Spurred by rising consumer demands and newfound opportunities, organizations have begun to change how they are structured and managed. In turn, this has led to changes in how work is organized, distributed and performed.
While some have blamed the shared economy for creating a virtual ‘"human cloud" of digital serfs who suffer reduced wages and benefits, the trend does provide workers with some obvious advantages. For one, workers are able to transcend geographic borders in search of new opportunities. They also enjoy increased flexibility that comes with remote work. The shared economy has also provided new opportunities for entrepreneurs, who are able to leverage new technologies to target consumers with their niche services.
The Impact on Work Culture
As the employment landscape continues to change, it seems as though the office may become more of a mindset than an actual place. According to Forbes, one of the biggest trends in 2017 involves blended workplaces, where full-time, permanent employees working "alongside" freelancers.
As this trend permeates the business world, managers will need to cultivate and refine their abilities to manage without borders. They will also need to develop creative ways to maintain a system of shared values, assumptions and beliefs, which all serve to govern how people behave in organizations - whether they are on-site or a thousand miles away.
At the same time, to thrive in the new work landscape, freelancers and telecommuters need access to services and environments that promote creativity and productivity. This is one big factor behind the growing popularity of co-working spaces, which provide a full spectrum of modern office services and networking opportunities, within and across different industries.
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