Welcome to the Collaboration Age – Please Work for Free

As I walk into my favorite urban grocery – Duckweed, to get my dinner for the night, I see at the checkout counter, a clear sign that we are now full-on into the Collaboration Age, and no longer in the information age. Not a metaphorical sign. A literal sign…

Sign of the Collaboration Age
Will you please work for free? We want to go party.

Duckweed was celebrating their anniversary and wanted to have a company party with all their employees. But what does a typical company that serves a retail audience do? They have people draw straws, or pick the people with the least seniority, or ask for volunteers to not go to the party so they can man the store. But they didn’t want that. They wanted 100% of their employees to have a night of fun and celebration. So they were faced with 2 options. Shut down the store and lose revenue for the night. Or the collaborative approach – ask their customers to watch the store for them while they went out to party.

I know what you are thinking. “Who would ever volunteer to work for free at a store they are a customer at?” Well, as it turns out, more than you would think. Because when I said, “I’d love to volunteer!” the clerk responded, “Oh, sorry man, I think we already have more than enough volunteers, but you are more than welcome to come in and have a beer anyway!” That’s right. They were oversubscribed with volunteers to work for the store – for free! Welcome to the age of collaboration.

One of the key ingredients for a collaborative based business is that the customers get a real voice in the deliverables of the company they buy from. Duckweed took it to a whole new level and just handed the store over to some of their favorite customers.

So what was the result? Well last night was their anniversary party and as I was walking my dog I heard music coming from the store. I walked over and saw the store unmanned by any employees and volunteers from the community behind the counters. It was an incredible evening where us locals came in, enjoyed some drinks, listened to some live music, and met some new friends. Was it a good experience for the volunteers? A picture says a thousand words…

Collaboration Economy in Full Swing
Local Customers Volunteer to work for Duckweed so the employees can have fun

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