Envision this: free of the 9-to-5, more of us are “micro-entrepreneurs” who set our own hours and incomes, empowered to profit off our own assets and time without traditional employers.

It’s not a far-fetched scenario; in fact, it’s the future of work – according to Arun Sundararajan. Widely regarded as the leading academic on the sharing economy, or what he calls “crowd-based capitalism,” Sundararajan details the dramatically reshaped workplace of tomorrow in the June issue of Finance & Development.

It’s a future to be embraced, not feared, by companies and individuals. But first it needs to be better understood. For example, companies won’t cease to exist; they’ll be leaner, yet the scope of the resources from which they draw will expand dramatically, Sundararajan explained in this in-depth Wall Street Journal interview (also published in the June 19th print edition).

He also acknowledges the challenges and cautions that careful choices must be made along the way: regulations must ensure that sharing-economy platforms operate fairly and safely alongside conventional businesses. New policies and funding models must give independent workers the insurance, retirement benefits, paid leave and other safeguards that have been long attached to full-time, traditional employment. It will also require a fundamental rethinking of secondary education.

Importantly, the rewards of the sharing economy outweigh the risks, says Sundararajan, and they’re not only economic. “As digital machines compel us to reshape our world of work, perhaps they will also show us a path toward the more equitable society we’ve been seeking for years.”

Professor at the NYU Stern School of Business, Sundararajan is author of “The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism” (MIT Press, 2016). Contact us to learn more about how he can help your company navigate and capitalize on the future of work.