How Leasing and Renting Led to Sharing


A primer to connect some recent thinking about sharing economy, digital products, and marketplaces.

By far the most popular post I published recently was about calculating the lifetime value of the sharing economy. And with good reason.

Following a small trend among mobile workers and their families which began to develop in the U.S. about ten years ago (and that has remained fairly consistent in Europe), the number of individuals who chose to rent and lease by choice has increased steadily.

And by "mobile", I mean upward mobility, as well as the availability to commute long distances during weekends to allow family to live in a place, and the (often) breadwinner to work in another.

Renting rather than moving

One of the principals at a company where I worked commuted from Chicago for years. I thought it was just an isolated case when through networking I came across two more professionals who did the same — and, in a small world kind of situation had met him on flights.

Rather than facing daily mega commutes, professionals who often travel a lot for work to be on client sites, renting an apartment during the week near the work location makes a lot of sense. The family can stay in a city with a better school district, and airports all look the same after a while.

With all the talk about virtual work, most organizations still require workers to show up at the office.

People willing to move to where the opportunity is in many cases require more flexibility to return to home base or sign up for another assignment after a short stint. The availability to quickly up and move to where the need arises is a way to move up within organizations.

In the driver's seat

Leasing has been a good way to afford new car models more frequently for years. Change the concept from one monthly contract with one person to many people with access to paying just for what they need, when they need it, and you have car sharing.

The conversation is no longer about statistics cited to show younger generations are giving up the American Dream. We're now talking about reinventing how we share resources — from co-working spaces, to co-housing developments. 

From digital product to marketplaces

Digital technologies and social hubs are making it possible to engage in many different commerce marketplaces leveraging local resources and delivering the consistency of terms, brand familiarity, and service reliability that create the confidence necessary to (in some cases) replace the old markets.

Digital commerce markets create buying experiences that feel more like making.

I'm writing this quickly to hold on to the thoughts and observations.

As I continue to make sense of the research and chart the evolution of this trend to support my new speaking topics and implications for business promises, I'll be posting brief commentary here to invite reactions.


A handy directory of digital platforms for sharing.



Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.