There is a new wave dubbed as the You Economy that has blown up in recent times. It refers to the global network of individuals who are taking their future work into their own hands. They’re sharing resources, taking up small projects through job sites, working as freelancers for various industries, and innovating methods of generating income for themselves. Along the way, the people they’re meeting, and the places they’re seeing are enriching their lives beyond what they thought was possible. And the best part of it all? YOU decide the work schedule! Some have transformed this endeavor into their full time job, or just put in some hours in your spare time for some extra cash. Working in this new economy is incredibly different from the traditional 9-to-5 job, and that is why so many have been drawn into this new fascinating industry.
First, to understand what the You Economy is all about, let’s take a look at some businesses in the industry. One prominent example is the ride sharing company Uber. You’ve probably heard this company that allows for its “independent contractors” to use their own car has a taxi service. And here’s the crux of the business and how it fits in the You Economy: you can choose when you are available to drive and how much you want to drive. Uber has no control on how much you work other than setting certain hours that have increased prices known as “surges.” These time frames serve as incentives for drivers to work during certain hours (usually busy hours). Along with the sharing industry, the You Economy also encompasses freelancing businesses. As long as you have specific skills that are marketable, you can join the You Economy as a freelancer. There are several companies out there that will help act as a medium between the freelancer and the potential client. For example, the company Task Rabbit allows clients to ask for certain chores to be done such as yardwork, packing and unpacking, furniture assembly, home repairs, etc. But it isn’t just limited to chores, per say. Clients can ask for almost anything, like helping them propose to their significant other! Those who have the skills necessary will complete the project and be paid for their work. In addition, the contractor has the freedom to set his/her own rate and work hours.
Much has been said about the emerging ‘You Economy’ over the past couple of months, but most of the conversation is non-descriptive. Buzzwords like ‘revolutionary’ and ‘new age’ have been thrown around, but does the concept behind ‘You Economy’ back those phrases up? And could the work lifestyle embedded in the You Economy be incorporated into the current corporate system to increase overall productivity?
Let’s look at the current job market in the context of the United States’ economic position and its stability. Finding an appropriate job for someone out of college that both pays well and inspires passion is a difficult prospect to say the least. Traditional industrialists and recruiters employ strict requirements in their hiring process that has rendered much of the capable workforce unemployed. This desire to maintain traditional work environments is spurred from a profit and efficiency driven mentality, yet these efforts have a high potential to work counterproductively. There is a dearth of information on why the 9-to-5 model is grossly inefficient and, to a degree, unhealthy and even harmful to the work environment. For instance, a common criticism is that enforcing a strict hourly work scheme compels employees to stretch out their work across hours, rather than working productively within a more appropriate time frame. Anthropologists cite habit and entrepreneurs claim productivity in defense of this model, but, clearly, it would be more beneficial to have people complete more work in a lesser amount of time than to constrain employees to an unhealthy and inefficient work cycle.
So what’s the solution? Some say it’s the reform of the current business model, but there are those out there who tout the benefits of the so called ‘You Economy’ as the way to make the workplace a better environment overall. Tara Gentile designates nine principles as the foundation of the You Economy, the paramount of which is the ninth, “Entrepreneurship is Citizenship.” This three-word phrase encapsulates the other eight listed; an open source, collective and a non-monetary driven set of initiatives that successful companies in the You Economy operate upon. She mentions that “Global is the new local, and Competition is an opportunity for collaboration”, which expresses that the You Economy is, above all else, about reconstructing the work experience to meet a completely new economic schema. Expanding into other businesses should be viewed as more than a simple increase in profit; rather, it should revolve around the expansion of an enterprise’s service, idea and expression.
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