The Sharing Economy Takes Over: Pooling Resources as a Community

Business.com / Sales / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Sharing services like Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb have become increasingly popular and there's a good reason why.

Across the globe, everyone wants to reduce waste. By using everything from wasted time to wasted space, millions of people are finding innovative ways to pool resources for income, creating more jobs in the process.

In fact, according to a recent survey, 34 percent of the workforce is freelancing, and what used to be considered on-the-side work is now moving front and center. Cooperative relationships between third parties using a company as an intermediary are quickly becoming the future of work.

This is how community-oriented sharing services, such as Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb, grew so rapidly by using small teams of employees to manage user-provided resources.

The Challenges Facing Resource-Sharing Services

Spreading inventory to employees isn’t without its growing pains, however. As Airbnb scales, for example, quality control becomes an issue. A large volume of hosts and guests means more horror stories from both sides, as ill-mannered people stay in ill-equipped homes.

When an employee misrepresents your company, you can fire him. But in the case of sharing services, the company acting as the intermediary risks losing two customers in a dispute.

Airbnb is looking to resolve this issue by offering liability insurance to supplement a homeowner’s policy and protect hosts from certain guest damages and accidents. The policies themselves walk a fine line, providing peace of mind for both hosts and Airbnb.

Uber and Lyft are also revamping insurance policies to cover drivers using their own vehicles for business purposes, giving peace of mind to drivers and passengers. The road will be rocky, however, as insurance laws lack federal regulation and each state enforces different laws. The companies also face similar hurdles internationally.

Related Article: What to Learn from Uber's Public Relations Missteps

Incorporating Customer Collaboration

The Internet enables more people to work as independent freelancers and consultants. Consumers flock to sites like Etsy, Blogger, YouTube, and SoundCloud to monetize talents and hobbies. Average people are attempting to move away from large organizations to take control of their time, careers, and lives.

To attract talent in this market, companies need to adjust by learning to depend on short-term, part-time, and project-based contract workers instead of large teams of tenured employees. Websites like Craigslist already connect employers to independent contractors for everything from one-day projects to long-term contracts.

Simple interfaces and user ratings allow anyone from a solo entrepreneur to someone at a large enterprise to locate qualified contractors for any type of work, such as management, data entry, creative, or technical.

Employing these types of small temporary teams allows large corporations to stay nimble and relevant. Small businesses can benefit by temporarily increasing manpower or filling knowledge gaps in a pinch.

Related Article: Remote vs. In-Office Workers: Which Employee Is Actually Better?

The New Business Leader

The sharing economy is at the beginning stages of a new trend cycle, already disrupting the retail, entertainment, and hospitality industries. It’s only a matter of time before even more professionals learn to hustle even more technical skills, trades, and products — and savvy networkers will find innovative ways for them to do it.

These independent freelancers are poised to reinvent the workforce and reshape the economy in the process. Entrepreneurs and small business owners who foster a cooperative community with shared resources and independent contractors are the ones who will be most likely to succeed.

Image via NYmag.

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