If we haven’t endeared you to collaborative consumption (#collcons) yet it’s probably not possible. We introduced you to the phenomenon in An Idea the will change the world, shared the adventures and insights of three boys who crossed the America’s relying on the collaborative economy only in Meet The Sharing Bros – Living the Collaborative Economy & sharing it with you, and we interviewed Mel O’Young who studies, works, lives and promotes the collaborative economy in 5 Minutes with Mel O’Young from Airbnb & Let’s Collaborate, NYC. Now, the spirit of critical intellectual inquiry urges us to look at the challenges of this new market shift and make sure we’re giving you a fair, balanced window into the sharing economy.
So what’s the number one criticism? Is the disruption a little too disruptive?
“What’s going to happen to my job?”
You don’t really have to look too far at the moment to come across concern about the new set of challenges the powerful and rapidly spreading shift of the collaborative economy stirs up.
A recent TIME article by Katy Steinmetz put a lens on the potential for the on-demand economy to take advantage of workers, because the typical person behind the Uber wheel, the vaccuum cleaning your house or the hammer fixing your cabinetry is rarely an ‘employee’ but rather an “independent contractor, which entitles them to greater flexibility but far fewer protections and benefits”.
The article, The On-demand Economy Takes Workers for a Ride, highlights the regulatory issues associated with what is arguably a whole new type of employment. How do you make this economy safe without a knee-jerk reaction that stamps out innovation?
US Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton has even said that multi-billion dollar economy raises “hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future”. In other words, collaborative consumption has made it all the way to the Presidential debate. But does that mean we should shy away from those questions?
Currently there are multiple lawsuits in the US addressing the legal status of the workers behind the collaborative economy, with companies like Lyft “fighting class actions alleging that their contractors are actually employees and should therefore be paid minimum wage and reimbursed for work related expenses”. However, with great technological and social change always comes challenge to our legal systems, and this will inevitably be a legislative contention.
Author Steven Hill is critical of this markets development and characterises it as ‘runaway capitalism’. His book, Raw Deal: How the ‘Uber Economy’ and Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers chooses to focus on the degree to which ‘instruction’ for workers is enforced by the company, in particular how Uber enforces certain instruction around the condition of drivers cars, their provision of bottled water to passengers and even the décor style and approach to interaction with passengers. Does this sound less like an independent contractor and more like an employer/ employee relationship to you? If so then you might sympathise with some of Hill’s concerns.
There are also plenty of those who think this is just some kind of start-up fad; hyperbole around a tradition of sharing that has been part of social structures since the dawn of time, but is now hopped-up on the drugs of technological efficiency.
So what do you think? What will you ask our Distinguished Speaker Rachel Botsman when we have the Q&A at the end of our event of Wednesday October 7th? There are plenty of pertinent questions to ask.
Chloë Spackman, GLP Manager
Make sure you’ve marked the evening of Wednesday October 7th in your diary so you do not miss GLP’s 2015 Distinguished Speaker, Rachel Botsman, inspire you with her vision for Collaborative Consumption. Not only is the event compulsory, but it will be of great benefit to your development as a Global Leader. You have been automatically enrolled in this event on Thrive. Please refer to your emails for further information as sent out by GLP staff.