What Technology and Blockchain Bring to the Sharing Economy Table
Freelancing is more popular than ever. Its growth has recently been happening in leaps and bounds. Why? Because more and more workers are gravitating toward a flexible schedule, and partially or completely abandoning the traditional 9–5 jobs.
When a person decides to freelance, it means they are able to decide their hours, location, workload, and more. And for corporations, hiring freelancers is sometimes easier and less expensive than taking on someone full-time. After all, many projects are simply once-off, and do not require the hiring of a permanent employee. Freelancers are incredibly useful in these situations.
Technology made all of this possible. It enabled freelancers to find work online through marketplace platforms. It allowed these workers to perform their tasks at any location suited to them and their productivity, instead of sitting at a desk in an office day after day—being in an office works for some people, but not all. Despite the pitfalls of freelancing (such as income instability and a lack of benefits), more people are turning to it in order to be their own boss.
However, the technology that powered this surge in popularity is also a reason that freelancers sometimes struggle to make ends meet. Project platforms and intermediaries make finding clients easier than ever—at a price. Fees are often shockingly high, and there is a chance of payment delays.
Enter blockchain. This decentralized system is so attractive because it takes power out of the hands of intermediaries. Clients and workers are able to find each other directly, and blockchain-based systems create ledgers and smart contracts, allowing for transparency, little human interference, and less stressful financial transactions.
The Role of Technology in the Sharing Economy
The term “sharing economy” is defined as a peer-to-peer (P2P) based activity of acquiring, providing or sharing access to goods and services that are facilitated by a community based online platform. Within this community, workers are more diverse than ever, with some freelancing full-time, and others deciding to keep their job security part-time, and freelance on the side.
Flexible schedules are a big part of why workers choose freelancing. Because freelancing takes place online, workers are able to decide their own start and end times (as long as they meet their deadline). This could help people be more productive, as not everyone works best from 9–5. Some people might work better much earlier in the morning, while others flourish while burning the midnight oil. Additionally, sometimes working on weekends makes more sense for a worker, and in a traditional Monday to Friday, 9–5 situation, this is not possible.
Another big freelancing selling-point is location independence. Why be stuck in traffic on a balmy summer morning to get to an office, when the same work could be done in a cool café with a view? Step into almost any coffee shop, and there will undoubtedly be people working with headphones on, typing furiously on laptops. Being in a comfortable environment can change how efficiently a person works. Workplace communication software (and Wi-Fi being available basically everywhere) means that there is no reason for someone with a freelance sharing to confine themselves to working in an office. They can get the job done anywhere, and can still communicate effectively with the client should the need arise.
Corporations are smartening up to the benefits of hiring freelancers, too. Some companies have projects that need to be completed, which require very specific skills. The project may be a once-off thing, and in such a case, it wouldn’t make sense for the employer to hire someone full-time. Instead, corporations can now turn to freelancers, finding the person with the necessary skill-set. Once the project is completed, client and worker go their separate ways. This is convenient for both parties.
What Blockchain Brings to the Sharing Economy Table
Blockchain’s most incredible feature is its decentralization. This means that instead of a central authority managing freelancing contracts, data is managed by networks. This takes the power out of the hands of intermediaries, saving freelancers and their clients hassle.
With blockchain-based systems, freelancers’ work can be carefully curated by other freelancers in the same field in that online community. This is a huge help for clients, because they know the freelancer they hire has been thoroughly vetted by peers; thus, high work quality is ensured.
Many blockchain-based companies are working to remove or alleviate some of the common problems related to freelancing, i.e. income unpredictability and a lack of benefits. With the rise of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, it’s becoming simpler than ever to transfer funds quicker and more conveniently, so freelancers are not waiting for days or weeks on end to receive payment. In the future, these blockchain networks will be able to provide freelancers with benefits hitherto impossible, such as paid time off and sick leave.
Blockchain Will Change How Freelancers Work
The rise and rapid development of technology sparked the growth of freelancing. People with specific skills are able to work independently, choosing where, how, and when they perform their tasks.
Freelancer recruitment platforms made finding work easier, but workers are charged quite heavily for using them. Blockchain offers a solution to the problem of intermediaries and their associated fees. Instead of working through a third party, freelancers are able to work directly with their client. Blockchain limits human interference, so scams will be basically impossible to carry out. Limiting human interference also ensures that work is delivered timeously, and that payment is given promptly, too.
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