Why Good People Are The Secret Sauce to the Sharing Economy
January 14, 2015
By Andrew Nielsen
The sharing economy is beginning to gain traction in our evolving modern era. Innovative companies such as Uber and Airbnb have transformed the way traditional services are handled. The benefit of theses companies is that they offer alternatives to major industries that have long since been disrupted in addition to providing alternative ways of generating income.
The risk of the “sharing economy” services is that it leaves good people vulnerable to people with bad intentions. Pioneering such services comes with certain costs and many innocent people, unfortunately, become victims to these models.
Bad things have happened to good people when using services like Uber and Airbnb. A woman was recently raped in India after enlisting a Uber drivers service. I also recently read a story of another victim who made a narrow escape with her drugged sister after renting a room listed on Airbnb.
Is Uber and Airbnb to fault? Many comments criticize the companies for failure to do adequate background checks. I'm sure there are some truths to this statement, but there will most likely always be an opportunity for people to take advantage of their hosts within the sharing economy.This does not in any way make the action of taking advantage of someone right. Immediate action should be taken against such individuals.
Despite a company's best efforts to provide an environment of safety and support, individuals that utilize the sharing economy will ultimately be left to the mercy and grace of its community of users. The better the community of users the better the quality the service will be. User reviews, trust ratings, and background checks are all avenues that can provide additional assurance of security and safety when participating in the sharing economy. Sharing economy companies and individuals should come together to create innovative systems and processes to keep people honest in their behaviors. Ultimately, behavior shouldn’t be motivated by fear of punishment but rather by a desire to be a part of a movement that can transform the way the people of the world come together to serve each other.
It would be nice to live in a world where everyone was good and had honest intentions. Our nation was framed under this precept when the constitution was drafted. Thomas Jefferson once said that "The constitution was made for a moral and religious people." In the spirit of that statement, the sharing economy requires a user base of people who "do the right thing." Critics will say such a feat is impossible. Skeptics will say there will always be bad people utilizing such services in order to have a means to their own ends. I hope that both companies that create these services and the people that use them will create a stronger ecosystem of trust and goodwill.
Users should perform due diligence inasmuch as it is possible before they use a service in the realm of the sharing economy. Common sense and intuition will go a long way to ensure you have a positive experience with a service such as Uber or Airbnb. Always have a backup plan and have appropriate contact details to notify both friends/family and the company you are dealing with.
I love the vision behind the sharing economy. Great opportunity is in store for companies and individuals who can execute on such business models. Who will be the next company to make waves in the sharing economy?
About the Author: Andrew is an account executive at digity.com and is based in Provo Utah. You can follow him on LinkedIn here
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