December 12, 2016
A write up of our Global Sharing Economy Network Meetup on the Future of Work by Clare Kandola
The rapid growth of the Sharing Economy has acted as a catalyst for new ways of working.
Increasingly, we are looking for greater choice and flexibility from our working relationships and employers, rejecting the insecure and restrictive employment arrangements of years gone by.
More people than ever are opting to work for themselves, whether that is through entrepreneurial ventures and start ups, via agencies and platforms, or by focusing on delivering services within our own communities.
Freelancing and consulting have become commonplace, with workers often following more than one interest or employment to top up income, provide variety, or allow practice in multiple disciplines.
The Sharing Economy provides a springboard for many wanting to work in this way, many of whom are individuals who would otherwise find themselves disenfranchised or prohibited from entering the world of work. Mothers returning to employment, new arrivals to the country, low earners, tradespeople – these new platforms and peer-to-peer services offer access to the world of work where it simply didn’t exist before.
Additionally, new revenue and income streams are appearing as people utilize under-used or redundant resources. The oft-quoted Airbnb model is allowing people to generate income from formerly dusty spare rooms.
But with these new emerging income streams come new problems –
- How do we ensure workers are afforded the same protection as employees when they operate outside a formal employment contract?
- How can we incentivize people’s entrepreneurial spirit as they share their parked car or empty loft and without onerous taxation or regulation that makes the endeavor more hassle than its worth?
- How do we create a system flexible enough to be proportionate and relevant to an emerging workforce so diverse and so wide-reaching that there is no single definition to encapsulate this workforce, no single demographic to define them?
- How is this workforce likely to evolve – are they a permanent fixture or a transitional force en route to something more permanent or more defined?
No longer is it as simple as being employed or self-employed, but every shade of work in between. And the processes and structures we need to guide and support this must reflect this.
Our role as an industry is to debate these issues, to provide context and thinking about the benefits and impact of the changing world of work on the participants in the Sharing Economy. It is a very exciting time as the SE goes mainstream, but it can also be scary.
The Future Of Work Sharing Economy Meetup evening enabled us to discuss this changing world of work, and to consider how best we can empower, protect and support those working with us. As participants in the Sharing Economy, it falls to us to consider proposals that we as an industry, via this evening’s host organization The People Who Share, can present to:
- The media
- European networks and institutions
- The RSA as part of their study ‘Towards a Fairer Sharing Economy’
Following the introductions by the evening’s contributors, three working groups were established for a roundtable discussion and exploration of some of the key issues facing Sharing Economy participants:
- How is the workplace changing?
- Who is this change serving – and whom does it need to serve?
- What can we do to protect, enable and support this new way of working?
- How do we ensure suitable checks and balances are in place?
What was interesting was just how varied the thinking and approaches to answering these questions were.
Focused on the need to re-define the Sharing Economy and workers within the Sharing Economy. Earlier definitions are likely outdated and need updating to reflect what the Sharing Economy means to those involved in it.
Issues around inclusion versus exclusion need addressing to ensure that the Sharing Economy opens up opportunity for those otherwise excluded the workplace (be that socially or economically).
The emphasis here is on empowering the individual. The Sharing Economy can become a catalyst for developing systems to support and empower workers, be that to connect their skills, negotiate terms of contracts or to invent new infrastructures to facilitate new ways of working.
Ensuring the rights of the worker are represented, providing flexibility and a balance between work and life, particularly in regards to childcare which is often a key factor for those operating within the Sharing Economy.
The issue of regulation was a key point in this discussions, although fundamental to this is ensuring a proportional regulatory framework reflecting ethics rather than destroying the essence and innovation of the Sharing Economy.
This diverse approach to the questions around the future of work and how the Sharing Economy can support, protect and empower the ‘3rd way’ of working provided a solid base from which we defined the key foundations to support workers in the Sharing Economy. The key tenets identified to provide these foundations are:
- Information, classification and clarification on what is means to work in the Sharing Economy
- Principles and ethics underpinning working in the Sharing Economy
- Incentives to attract and empower workers to join the Sharing Economy
- Support and security to protect those whose work drives the Sharing Economy
- Inclusion and engagement for all in the Sharing Economy, focused on:
We intend to use these foundations to build a strong, secure and comprehensive framework that is adaptive and proportional enough to accommodate all working in the sector. As an industry we are just beginning to develop the checks and balances needed to formalize how we work. This session is intended as the first of several looking at the evolving sharing economy and we will pick up on this topic of the Future of Work as we move into 2017.
Incase you missed the event…
Some notes on The Future of Work Sharing Economy Meetup Event held on November 23rd at WeWork Moorgate
Benita Matfoska – Global Sharing Economy expert, writer and consultant; Founder of The People Who Share, the organization behind the Sharing Economy Meet Up series.
Susan Kabani – Co-organiser of the Sharing Economy Meet Ups. Founder and CEO of Ugenie, a platform connecting people with jobs and their interests.
Clare Kandola – Contributor to The People Who Share, Sharing Economy consultant and thinker. Founder and CEO of consultancy network The Vidya Collective.
- Marketing Director for MangoPay, a payment system and Sharing Economy ecosystem.
- Perspective: Structures and regulation of working life originate from Industrial Revolution – the digital revolution we are in requires an overhaul to ensure working practices relevant for the current climate.
- Key points: choice and flexibility
- HR management and employment law expert, partner at Availexe, an innovative network of senior consultants working for a work-life balance.
- Perspective: Frustration at being forced to make a decision between being parents and working at something you have invested yourself in.
- Key points: Protecting and enabling individuals
- Takes cleaning roles via Hassle as easy for someone new to UK with limited English to get reliable, safe work.
- Perspective: Sharing Economy platforms make it easy for people to enter world of work and access services.
- Key points: opportunity and enabling
- Tech lawyer focusing on digital economy and technology at DLA Piper, the legal firm representing Uber’s employment case.
- Perspective: the societal considerations and changing communities as a result of disruptive technology and Sharing Economy. Personal interest in enabling people to (re-)enter the world of work.
- Key points: societal impact and community.
- Works with vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. Storemates co-founder, household space for those needing affordable storage solutions.
- Perspective: How can the Sharing Economy be a force for good, providing opportunity for the poor and vulnerable. Ensuring the ethics remain in the Sharing Economy.
- Key points: Reclaiming a force for good.
- “Pracademic” specializing in social enterprise, understanding failure and the effects of a changing society.
- Perspective: The Sharing Economy subverts the market, but how are people are coping with a changing working environment, multiple income sources, striving for a work life balance?
- Key points: Systems, fairness and expectations.
- Director of Profit Through Ethics, a management tool and business ranking platform to help businesses balance profit with ethics and societal value.
- Perspective: what does it mean to be in the Sharing Economy and how does that differ between business and participants.
- Key points: Definition and clarification.