Era of Meaningful Independence

The way we work in the United States is undergoing a fundamental shift. Out of the manufacturing age workers have learned the hard way that the traditional stable 9 to 5, isn't so stable. Now, independent work is giving Americans a chance to secure happiness in the work place.

via LA Times

via LA Times

Currently, a third of the nation's workers are freelance. This number is expected to hit 40% - 60 million people - in the next decade. LA Time's Sara Horowitz's recent piece America, Say Goodbye To The Era Of Big Work talks about why this employment shift has been a long time coming. 

A number of factors both economic and cultural are causing the independent workforce to swell. Technological advances and globalization have greatly contributed to the erosion of traditional work arrangements. The private sector’s need for speed and adaptability is increasingly incompatible with maintaining a large, full-time workforce. And of course, the Great Recession has put to rest the notion that there is such a thing as a stable full-time job.

Despite all these factors, it seems like the number one reason persons choose freelance work is for the flexibility. Horowitz quotes a recent survey done by oDesk who found that 89% of freelancers prefer work flexibility to a traditional corporate career. And over half of millennials prioritize job flexibility over pay. This is such a cultural shift from the era of corporate life and Horowitz believes she knows why.

In reality, millennials tend to value experiences more than things. Their consumption habits are driven less by what kind of job they have and more by their pursuit of ever-evolving technology, brands that align with their ideals and sustainable and social purpose purchasing.

While the government struggles to catch up with this new era of work, freelancers thrive. Check out the rest of the LA Times Article and let us know what you think. Are you considering a shift to the freelance world? And if you have already, was it worth it?

Formula For Success In The Sharing Economy

Investors are starting to take notice of the ever growing sharing economy. With a consumer peer market worth $26 billion that continues to develop the sharing economy has some serious potential. This week Raj Kapoor of TechCrunch gave us a comprehensive review of what a sharing economy start up needs to succeed. 

It seems like there are new start ups daily, especially within the shared economy. Kapoor points out that, like in other businesses, those who do best are usually scratching an itch that consumers haven't been able to reach.  

Sharing economy models work great when there is a high degree of consumer pain. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In a lot of markets, consumers are happy with the status quo, and it will be hard to get user adoption.

Kapoor believes that is why ridesharing and fitness have done exceptionally well:

For ridesharing and fitness, the consumer pain is more obvious. Until Uber and Lyft, it was impossible to hail a taxi in most cities, a huge pain to force drivers to accept your credit card, and an all-around unpleasant experience in the car.

When you look at the fitness industry, it’s generating $75 billion each year on gym fees, yet 60 percent of people who belong to gyms don’t even go and our nation’s growing obesity and inactivity problem are evidence the solution isn’t working. Lyft and fitmob hack these pain points by creating an experience that is fun, accessible with the push of a button, and affordable giving consumers clear benefits that are lacking in traditional services.

Kapoor also cautions start ups to be aware of the watchful regulatory eye, currently challenging the sharing economy daily. Lyft, Uber and Airbnb are a few of the many sharing platforms that are constantly under fire for violating the law. Kapoor wisely recommends that you should work hand in hand with the government to create a win-win for all parties. 

To see what else is needed for your sharing economy start up needs to be successful, check out the full TechCrunch article and let us know what you think.

Cooperative Jackson Works to Transform Mississippi

Shareable's Cat Johnson recently covered Cooperative Jackson, an organization promoting economic justice in the nation's poorest state. Mississippi has a median household income of just over $37,000 and almost a quarter of residents live under the poverty line. Cooperative Jackson hopes to change that by developing a strong network that encourages economic democracy and equality.


via Shareable

via Shareable

Shareable interviewed the Coordinator of Cooperative Jackson Kali Akuno, to talk about the organization's goals, challenges and the impact they have had on the community.

Founded in 2005, Cooperative Jackson is a network that includes a training center, a cooperative bank and several other established cooperative institutions. Aside from teaching people about the importance of cooperatives, they also provide education on how to create one. Recently they hosted Jackson Rising: New Economies Conference, a successful event that attracted international attention. 

While well-received by the majority of residents, not everyone is pleased. Campaign contributors to Jackson's new mayor have shown opposition, but that does not discourage Akuno. "WIthout question, the arms that are open to us are far more powerful than the few detractors when they act as a unified front. But, the detractors presently control much of the economy of the city and region, so we have a fight on our hands."

Jackson aims to lead the south in creating a new economy, and perhaps even the US.

We believe we are in prime position to do many things that have not been done to scale in the U.S. overall as it relates to cooperative development and solidarity economics. The greatest challenge we have is securing the resources to fully capitalize our vision. That is our challenge. But, we have thousands of individuals in our community who ready and willing to work to make our city a beacon of the cooperative movement.

Cooperative Jackson aims to have a minimum of 10% of jobs in Jackson be drawn directly from the federation of worker cooperation. If successful, Jackson would set an example for the influence the sharing economy could have on struggling economies. 

Check out the rest of the interview on Shareable and let us know what you think. 


The Peer Economy Under Fire

This last week was a rough one to market the peer economy. Berlin recently announced that Uber was effectively prohibited from their city while several others, such as Barcelona and London, continue to voice adamant opposition to rideshare services. As per usual, Airbnb is faced with challenges across the globe. 

Justin Sullivan - Getty Images

Justin Sullivan - Getty Images

In addition, the peer economy is constantly being critiqued in the media. recently posted an article titled "6 Horrible Things the Sharing Economy is Being Accused Of". Sabotaging each other, wrecking the housing market, and illegal currency trading were a few of the troubling accusations listed. The article highlights that the shared economy can be "brutally cut-throat in the way that seemingly everything and everyone is monetized", which unfortunately, has resulted in a slew of negative press. 

The New York Times recently did a profile piece on a few sharing economy employees, specifically highlighting a mother of 3. The Times followed Jennifer Guidry on a 19 hour work day, doing everything from giving rides, to cooking private meals. Guidry talks about how the sharing economy gives her the flexibility she needs to spend time with her kids but comes with the instability of any ad hoc job. 

I like my freedom — fixing someone’s cabinet, driving, pulling up weeds, cooking,” she told me as we sat in her dining room on Monday morning, recapping her weekend of work. “I would not like to do any of those things as a full-time job.

Guidry sheds light on what it is really like to work in the gig economy, and what the payoff is. While she enjoys her work, the article poses concerns about the lack of stability and benefits that come with a traditional full time job. While some platforms have started to offer some services to employees, such as discount health insurance and accounting services, economists worry that it may not be enough.  

While some may see the sharing economy's recent increase in negative media as a sign of impending doom, this could be a very unique opportunity for the sharing community. Watching an economic movement develop in real time has never really been an option before. Enthusiasts can use this advantage to approach issues as they occur and come up with solutions before they become a characteristic of the collaborative economy. The question is whether or not we are willing to utilize this opportunity as a community or if the competitiveness of business will prevail. 

What do you think?

The Government [Finally] Takes Advantage of the Collaborative Economy

In light of the recent pivotal controversy involving government interaction in the shared economy, a new ecosystem has arrived, specifically focused on sharing government resources. MuniRent is a platform that makes it very easy for local governments to lease heavy duty equipment to other governments. Based out of Ann Arbor Michigan, MunitRent is one of few peer-to-peer platforms among businesses.

The site gives municipalities access to hundreds of pieces of equipment available with photos, machine specifications, and locations.  "There are early adopters who are excited about the sharing economy coming to the government level," says CEO Alan Mond. "Our vision is to be the hub for collaborative government."

The potential for both parties is cost. MuniRent claims that renters can give equipment up to 70% cheaper than on the open market, and the renting municipality can use the cash to offset equipment upkeep. 

FastCoExist's Ben Schiller spoke with CEO Alan Mond who reckons that governments are more likely to share than businesses, because, aside from political differences, they don't compete. "If you have two construction companies, one of them may not want to rent a crane to the other one. Governments are all trying to do sewer maintenance on reduced budgets. They're not competing. They just happen to be in different jurisdictions," he says.

It's incredible to see the government get involved in the collaborative economy to save the taxpayer dollar. We'd be interested to see if they'll continue this onto other services as well, and if their involvement will cause them to alter current views on sharing economy policy.

Check out the full article on MuniRent in FastCoExist and let us know what you think. Where else could the government benefit from sharing economy platforms?

The Sharing Economy Meets Healthcare

Healthcare has found the sharing economy. Israel-based app HelpAround, connects people with diabetes in the immediate area and is the first 'sharing economy' app to hit the healthcare world.

Founders Yishay Knobel and Shlomi Aflalo started HelpAround last year after a friend forgot his diabetes test strips at a sporting event. The app provides users with a local support group of nearby helpers who could be of assistance. A person could share in the app forum that they don't have their supplies, are feeling unwell, or need help with using equipment. Other users in the area can connect with them to provide assistance or support.

"Here at HIMSS [Health Information Management Systems Society] it's all about hospital-to-patient, doctor-to-patient, nurse-to-patient. Why is no one talking about patient-to-patient?" Knobel said during a recent interview. "Especially when research has shown that peer support drives medical outcomes."

The app has been quite successful so far, with thousands of users and about a 90% response rate to questions. As Knobel mentions, higher levels of social support are associated with better diabetes and other illness self-management. Additionally, studies suggest that providing social support may result in health benefits comparable to - or even greater than - receiving support. 

With an increase of focus on patient satisfaction and aftercare, peer support apps such as HelpAround can help medical facilities better educate and support patients. 

"Diabetes management is exhausting for both patients and caregivers, yet there hasn't been a healthcare industry after-care solution that helps patients by connecting them to each other," Knobel has said. "HelpAround premise is: the best resource for a patient is another patient. We harness the superior trust, empathy and camaraderie within the diabetes patient community, allowing members to discover peers who truly 'get it'."

We are interested to see what other healthcare based sharing economy platforms spin off of HelpAround. Check out Mobi Health News' recent article on HelpAround and let us know what you think. Where else could you see a peer-support app being beneficial?