I was part of, and used to write a lot about a Scottish based start up called ki work founded by Michael Wolff. ki work tried to bring the concept of teams to the on demand, fractional working economy. A kind of Odesk for teams. Sadly, after nearly 10 years of development ki work has been dissolved. RIP.
This is what Michael had to say:
The experience with letting go of Ki Work has been an interesting time for reflection. I’ve been developing Internet projects now for 20 years. I don’t think anyone was more enthusiastic or more evangelical. So what went wrong?
My belief was that the Internet was going to empower people to create their own businesses. What has happened is the opposite. A few immensely powerful monopolies have sprung up, and wherever you look, it’s winner takes all. In whatever niche I look at, there are a handful of big winners, with thousands of losers.
So that does create an opportunity: how to build structures on top of these monopolies that will enable the masses to get a fair share of the cake.
The book gives a chilling vision of the future, where over the next fifteen years most knowledge-based services will end up like Kodak – completely decimated and millions of jobs destroyed. So, what will the new jobs look like?
And talking about fractional work, the book refers to the ultimate in fractional working, a kind of Uber for work called Task Rabbit, from the worker’s perspective, the ultimate in zero contract working.
In 2005, I created some cartoons for my book Winning By Sharing, ostensibly about how social software changes the nature of work. Here's the one for the chapter called People on Demand.
Fast forward 10 years and the Economist published this cover in January this year.
What will the new jobs look like?
Economist draws very similar, somewhat veiled conclusions as Michael Wolff:
"But even if governments adjust their policies to a more individualistic age, the on-demand economy clearly imposes more risk on individuals. People will have to master multiple skills if they are to survive in such a world—and keep those skills up to date. Professional sorts in big service firms will have to take more responsibility for educating themselves. People will also have to learn how to sell themselves, through personal networking and social media or, if they are really ambitious, turning themselves into brands. In a more fluid world, everybody will need to learn how to manage You Inc.
Michael's observation about how 'winners take all' is true but the universe's power law or the 80/20 rule is everywhere. I don't have all the answers but there's an opportunity for someone to aggregate all the sources of work (Odesk, Elance, Task Rabbit, PeoplePerHour, TaskSquad and so on) to remove the cost/effort of search for fractional workers so that work comes to them, and they're able to easily create a 'whole job' from a number of part time sources of work.
..and that's the opportunity Michael alludes to when he asks, how to build structures on top of these monopolies that will enable the masses to get a fair share of the cake?
I never anticipated a side effect of fractional work described recently in a post called the Shut-in economy.
In the new world of on-demand everything, you’re either pampered, isolated royalty — or you’re a 21st century servant. Well worth a read on the impact of on demand work on society and communities.