The sudden growth in technology has changed business models and which is having a profound impact on the working lives of people across the world.
This change needs an enormous amount of deliberation. However, what’s interesting is that whenever society undergoes a massive change, there will always be a resistance to change. A lot must have happened with the advent of the Industrial Revolution which was fast displacing feudal lords and changing the concept of work. People were leaving farms and villages to work in cities attracted by a secure, lucrative and stable 9 to 5 job. Similarly, jobs and the nature of work is being redefined. We must bring in intellectual curiosity and be open to debates and questions so that we can shape the contours of the future. There are some pertinent questions that need probing.
Will Platforms lead to a greater concentration of power?
Will distribution of wealth be highly skewed?
What regulation is suited for the Platform Economy?
What are the social implications of temporary arrangements of work?
What are broader skills needed by people in the Sharing Economy?
What will be the impact of reduction in consumption?
Will technocrats and code writers be the next elite?
Society, governments, businesses and policymakers are having intense debates about the implications sharing economy will have on people worldwide. The broad social and implications seem promising, but in order to understand these, it is imperative that we shift our attitude towards work, rewards, benefits and the consumerist ways that define our lives. Work can no longer be looked at as secure lifetime employment with a daily 8 hour fixed schedule with bank holidays and pension. Compensation too is archaic and now sounds feudal. External rewards and recognition also for people looking for constant approval in an atmosphere of fear psychosis. It sounds pretty much a corporate hangover with respect to colonial past or a feudal mindset. Extensive regulation too is regressive and as seen in the Financial Meltdown of 2008, counterproductive. Platforms should run on consensus of the participants. However the spirit behind running these platforms should be of conscious capitalism and not cold blooded, winner takes it all approach. Consumerism has been the main ideology behind the spectacular growth in the previous century, largely driven by debt and a plunder of earth’s resources both unsustainable as we have now realized. The Sharing economy has the potential to shrink the global economy back to a sustainable level. But in order to embrace ourselves for this paradigm shift, we need to prepare ourselves with relevant skill sets, empower ourselves with right choices and let go of the entitled mentality that we cling on to.
A question that needs to really be addressed is the distribution of wealth and opportunities to all. Civilized societies ought to provide some kind of a safety net to its citizens. As of now, jobs will definitely shrink if the sharing economy is propelled further by automation. In such a scenario, is the concept of a Universal Basic Income feasible and fair? We need to redefine vulnerable sections and collectively come up with concrete solutions. In the end, the sharing economy should not only be about sharing gains but about sharing pains.