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October 18, 2016

What to Learn From Sharing Economy

Summary:

Rather than worrying about status, ownership and hierarchy, think about the benefits of access, collaboration, trust and sharing.

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One thing I learned early on in my tenure as CEO of WeGoLook is that if I wanted to improve the productivity and profitability of my team and business, then I needed to take a closer look at the principles of the sharing economy.

How did Uber generate a $60 billion valuation while owning zero cars? How did Airbnb become the most-valued hotel chain in the world without owning a stick of furniture? Why are complete strangers agreeing to exchange services and assets with little, or no, formal regulation? And how could traditional industry players benefit from the underutilized assets of others?

These are all great questions, the answers to which will help you as a decision-maker understand why the sharing economy is poised to grow from a $15 billion industry in 2013 to $330 billion by 2025.

The sharing economy is based on the principle that people can achieve more when they work together and share (for a cost) their assets. These assets include cars, homes, labor, expertise and much more.

Rather than status and ownership, the sharing economy focuses on access and collaboration. The idea has been gaining a lot of traction in recent years, but some people still object to this shift in consumer behavior. No matter where you stand on the issue, you as an insurance thought leader can learn from this concept, as I did.

So let’s get down to the business of sharing!

Access Over Ownership

The old baby boomer ownership mentality is quickly shifting to one of access. Instead of owning a bunch of consumer items you might use once a month, you can now access the excess of others. Or, if you own a car and have spare time, people will pay for access to that asset.

The new business model of the sharing economy isn’t really about sharing, it’s about access.

See also: 9 Impressive Facts on Sharing Economy

In the workplace, encouraging an access mentality — “what’s mine is yours,” over “what’s mine is mine” — can reduce overhead expenses and increase collaboration. Albeit slowly, many leaders are accepting the access mentality over clinging to the individualistic frameworks we are accustomed to.

Trust and Accountability

The sharing economy couldn’t exist without the pillars of trust and accountability. Without them, new access marketplaces would be a fad. I’m thankful that sharing platforms have developed innovative ways to encourage trust and accountability through P2P evaluation and rating systems.

Instead of a simple review, users and sellers in the sharing economy rate each other. This is a powerful tool that allows buyers and sellers to increase their reputation capital based on performance and service delivery. In other words, you are in charge of your destiny in the sharing economy.

This type of ownership has changed the way we consume and interact with one another because it has given us ownership over our reputation capital.

In the workplace, similar techniques can be encouraged and implemented to devolve traditional and out-dated hierarchical management frameworks. Using a system of trust, accountability and flexible work options will help motivate each member of your staff to improve on a daily basis. Give them ownership over their professional destiny.

Do you think Uber and Airbnb became industry behemoths by making people work 9 to 5? In fact, these companies only employ a couple of thousand employees each, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of people earn income through their platforms.

Community and Collaboration

Collaboration is one of the pillars on which the sharing economy is built, and it inspires everyone to work together to solve problems and move forward.

When it comes to traditional insurance carriers, people often get so caught up in their individual work that they work together less and less. Each worker has knowledge and skills that are useful to someone, and your staff will experience increased efficiency when they share their skills with each other.

Consider the platform and marketplace model to give your employees more work flexibility and the ability to collaborate with one another on a daily, and even hourly, basis.

Unlocking Value of Unused or Underused Assets

If you are like most people, you probably have tools, equipment and other items that don’t get used much. Everything you own has value, and you need to find new ways to leverage your underused assets. Still have the circular saw in your basement, still in the box? I can totally relate to that!

Large corporations are no different.

The sharing economy allows individuals and businesses to leverage the underused assets of others in ways we never dreamed of 10 years ago. In business, finding ways to make better use of company assets — both physical and labor — will be a key factor in your growth in a world of online marketplaces and access consumption.

See also: What Gig Economy Means for Insurers  

As many are finding out, dismissing an idea before fully exploring it is a mistake that can harm profitability and productivity. Keeping an open mind can help your business more than you might suspect.

Rather than worrying about status, ownership and hierarchy, think about the benefits of access, collaboration, trust and sharing. Adjusting to any new form of business takes time, but teams will work better together when they know that they are valued and have control over their professional trajectory.

The underlying principles of the sharing economy can help everyone unite and work toward common goals. I would know, because this is exactly what I have done with my company.

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About the Author

Robin Roberson is the president and co-founder of Goose & Gander.co, a boutique consulting firm focused on enabling rapid growth and adoption of emerging technologies. As previous CEO and co-founder of WeGoLook, she grew the business to over 45,000 global independent contractors.

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