What is it like to work for the sharing economy?
Hands down, one my all time favourite podcasts is Benjamin's Walker Theory of Everything. He is constantly telling compelling stories that keeps me coming back. However, the last "triad" was specially provoking.
Walker got in touch with Andrew Callaway, a 25 y/o San Fco. native who decided to live one whole month as a "sharing economy" worker. The most interesting thing? He had no back up plan, this was his real life and all the bills needed to be payed at the end of the experiment.
There are so many interesting (and wrong) things about this. The "sharing economy" sounds so hip, cool and forward thinking that no one dares to think about its issues. Everyone talks about the user experience, the godsend service design and how the consumer is always the king. But not a soul talks about the workers. Sorry, the word worker is actually forbidden in the sharing economy, I should've said collaborator, right Uber?
On a side note, I don't know how many o you read or heard about a top Uber executive plotting to get rid of Sarah Lacy for openly criticizing the company and the way they treat us. No? Well, you can do it here
Over dinner, he outlined the notion of spending “a million dollars” to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press — they’d look into “your personal lives, your families,” and give the media a taste of its own medicine...
Anyway, back to the podcast. Callaway actually lived one whole month as a sharing economy "partners". Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Washio and many more were his employers. And what was it like? I can only tell you that I had to listen all three episodes one after the other. So interesting and unexpected!
So, why no one cares about the worker?
The following image belongs to Susie Cagle, author of "Interesting Times"
I have to admit that I don't really use share economy apps. My one and only is Airbnb but that is as far as I go. No Uber, TaskRabbit or Washio for me. I do find necessary to keep doing my stuff. And when I think about "the partners" I have been lucky so far: Airbnb has introduced me to wonderful people worldwide. And given the fact that all the experiences were so good, I never "thought about them".
But what about the rest? The podcast had me thinking so much about that people,those who have to make so many irrelevant tasks. Will this jobs be considered in the short term (and therefore labeled) as the current "flipping burgers" positions? A shame when you thirty and a short term money making distraction for the summer?. Then if that's the case, the sharing economy is doomed. There is no more loyalty, only a bunch of college students doing something for a couple of summers. Those who stay for the long run might be those who couldn't get a job that payed any better. How can we have a super happy customer when my "partners" are here only for the short run?
Pretty complex, uh? Before we go, let's see what "they" -Sharing Economy enthusiasts- think about it. This video is part of the shareconference.us event.
I have to admit that I never thought about the workers of this movement. The one thing this companies do pretty good is looking so smooth and nice. Software, service and great user experience blindfolded me (and maybe you as well) and I never thought about the person on the other side. I lacked empathy and that was the mistake.
When minimum conditions are not met and people are treated like things, well then, everything is ruined. No matter how cool, awesome and enthusiast you are.
Uber is employing so many "partners" as of now, but when you see the real expansions plans of the company, you realize that they will force us all to have "one transportation system" ruled by them. And all the workers? They will be displaced by self driving cars.
Do not swallow the sharing economy. Question it. All those billions and power will only bring greed to those in charge.