We’ve all heard of the new tech wave dubbed ‘The internet of things’, but what I find way more fascinating is the ‘Uber of things’. More generally speaking, the Share Economy that is slowly taking over how we interact and transact on a daily basis. Such tech companies like Airbnb have revolutionized how we think about travel and for some, how we think about sharing our own homes. DogVacay is a brilliant way to connect dog owners with host families instead of using expensive dog kennels. RelayRides lets you borrow your neighbor’s car at a small fee to take advantage of underutilized cars in the neighborhood. TaskRabbit let’s you hire an assistant by the hour to perform all kinds of jobs and errands in San Francisco including waiting in line at popular restaurants or the Apple store so you can buy your next fancy iPhone.
I have used TaskRabbit to hire a last minute photographer for my daughter’s birthday as well as a closet organizer to help me out of my own mess. Both things I would have never done before because it would have been too expensive. As a result there are tons of jobs being created every day that would have never existed before.
Most of all, however, I am in love with Uber Concept. Not only have they given us a superior way to hail a cab but I am fascinated with what they have done for an entire generation of part time and full time workers. The idea that you can just turn on an app when you want to work and turn it off when you don’t is incredibly revolutionary. Every time I take an Uber I can’t help but ask the driver why they started driving for Uber.
I’ve heard many captivating responses. A student from San Francisco State University told me that this is the first job he got where he can’t get fired. You see he is an avid gamer, and some nights he just loved staying up all night playing video games. This did not bode well with his old employers where he would either be a no show or come to work incredibly tired. With Uber he can drive when he wants, and go to school or play video games the rest of the time. Best of all, the ROI (return on investment) on an evening spent driving for Uber is very easy to calculate. This automatically adjusted his video game playing habits and helped him develop better working habits or so he tells me.
Another driver I met was a mom of two who was previously working at a law firm and constantly struggling to balance her children’s pick up and drop off schedule around her strict law firm’s schedule. She always felt like she was either late to work or picking up her kids. Now she tells me she makes just as much money but dictates her own hours without the sinking feeling of inadequacy in her stomach about being late for work or kids.
Another guy I spoke to told me he was a former taxi driver, but eliminating the middleman, ‘taxi cab companies’ meant more money in his wallet and he couldn’t be happier about increasing his margin. He also loved how Uber paid him weekly and resolved any open issue within minutes of reporting it.
When we add it all up, Uber has figured out a way to please both consumers and workers. I often wake up wondering, why can’t I have a mobile app that I can turn on when I want to work, and off when I don’t without the repercussions of being a flakey employee. Yes, I know, it’s called consulting. But I hate the idea that as a consultant, I need to spend just as much time selling myself as I would be doing the actual work I was hired to do. As a result you end up having to charge very high rates to make the same amount you would working a full time job. Seems like a lot of wasted energy.
The concept of getting up daily at 6am, having breakfast, commuting on an overcrowded mode of transportation, returning home, making dinner, sleeping and then doing it all over again Monday to Friday seems really archaic in 2015. I feel like by now we should be able to contribute complex ideas to a rich work environment without the boundaries of a physical office, or the boundaries of a single company.
I would love the idea of an O-desk style company (recently renamed Updesk), that combined the availability calendaring of Airbnb, and the geomapping of Uber mixed in with the sliding profile of Tinder to allow me to work on interesting assignments for companies near me that I found compelling.
I can’t imagine 20 years from now we will still be showing up to a physical office, working for 8-12 hours a day, going home and returning to do it all over again. I think the next big thing to be disrupted is our routine and I simply can’t wait to see what it might look like.