Adapt or sit back: how will you prepare your career for the sharing economy?

By 2020, half of the workforce is expected to become freelancers, managing their personal brands while sipping cocktails on an exotic beach somewhere around the world… While this may sound like a distant prospect today, it will quickly become a reality, given how fast our economy and world are evolving every single day.

We can all agree that the type of capitalism we have grown with since the last century is slowly evolving, as we are witnessing a clear shift towards the sharing economy. In this new age, Airbnb averages 425,000 guests per night, nearly 22% more than Hilton Worldwide, according to a PwC consumer intelligence study. Seven-year-old Uber operates in more than 250 cities worldwide and, as of February 2015, was valued at $41.2 billion — a figure that exceeds the market capitalization of companies such as Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and United Continental. A recent study shows that five key sharing sectors—travel, car sharing, finance, staffing, and music and video streaming—have the potential to increase global revenues from roughly $15 billion today to around $335 billion by 2025.

The financial crisis of the past decade has shaken a lot of people and made them realize that money isn’t everything; time has become the most expensive commodity, the biggest luxury some even say. Today, we’re constantly reinventing ourselves, trying to discover our passions and do what we love, in order to lead fulfilling lives that make the most of our time. The number of independent workers has never been higher, demonstrating how the existing model of employment is no longer satisfying and the world of work is changing.

The sharing economy isn’t only about goods and services, there are now several sharing platforms that allow people to offer their expertise; promote their work; negotiate fees and connect with companies t are also looking for part-time or project-based workers. Like TripAdvisor, each party can appraise the other and leave feedback on their experience after the project has been completed. Therefore, one’s online reputation is critical for securing new work or talent and this review ecosystem is quickly becoming the new resume.

Large companies are already embracing on-demand staffing and how could they not, when it provides them with a wider pool of talent and the flexibility to hire specific people to perform specialized tasks in a given time frame? It’s a complete game changer for both parties, just like how Airbnb and Uber have been. Some fear the precarity and the challenge for social benefits, others embrace the freedom and diversity that come with this approach.

So the question now is: how will our industry adapt to this changing ecosystem? Will companies embrace on-demand staffing to reduce the costs and save time? When times are tough, instead of hiring full time senior profiles, maybe they will commission pre-approved “business partners” to work on specific projects through online recruitments platforms. Will employees confidently move from the security of long-term employment to become self-employed? This would require them to start managing their professional profile as a brand.

The model we’ve experienced so far isn’t the only path to the future, as taxi drivers, the music industry, retailers or hoteliers have discovered. The transition from the old model to the next one isn’t going to be easy and we can expect many more people demonstrating in the streets. The question is whether you will fight the trend or take steps to prepare yourself for the future.

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