How and why we work has changed beyond recognition in recent years, thanks in no small part to the growth of the Sharing Economy. The People Who Share are creating a space to think and talk about this seismic change in our working lives.
Since the crash of 2008, job security has become a key issue leading to many professional workers opting to become freelancers or to offer their skills for hire to enable them to undertake other, passion-based projects.
The rise of digital platforms offering peer to peer commerce has also enabled thousands of people previously excluded from or penalised within the employment sector to proactively find paid for work on hours and terms that suit them. We're talking about new arrivals to our country, mothers returning to the workplace, lower paid blue collar workers, creatives and retirees - all have been offered fresh opportunity to earn a living in a way that suits them.
This brave new world of opportunity is not, however, without its darker side. There have been stories of workers in both the mainstream and Sharing Economies facing poor working conditions without regular income, security or basic benefits. Court cases have seen workers pitted against company interests. These cases are mercifully few, although the high profile they have received in the media has resulted in government, industry, unions and the press all taking interest. Chief Sharer, Benita Matofska took part on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme debate on this topic.
Most workers in the Sharing Economy, however, are advocates of the freedom and opportunity that this new style of working offers. Choice, flexibility, freedom and opportunity are all cited as reasons for joining the Sharing Economy and, more importantly, for staying.
On a more practical level, issues of how to regulate, tax and legally provide for workers in a sector that is neither employed nor self-employed, neither a business nor a contractor, are becoming more pressing. If the Sharing Economy is set to be worth $335 globally by 2025 and over 15% of the UK's workforce are now self-employed, how can we best administer and grow a new economy based on micro-payments and peer-to-peer transactions?
The People Who Share has been focusing on how we can best support, empower and promote workers in the Sharing Economy. In addition to our regular blogs, we have held recent workshops looking at The Future Of Work, resulting in our 5-point plan and manifesto for a strong and successful workforce to support the growth and well-being of the sector.
This section of The People Who Share is where we will be sharing our thoughts on working in the Sharing Economy, providing updates on developments on working in the sector, and publishing our recommendations for best practice and tools to support worker well-being. We hope it will be useful and thought provoking. After all, the growth of the Sharing Economy is dependent on the work of those who build it.
If you’d like to get involved in this topic and our activities on the Future of Work, email firstname.lastname@example.org.