Hunter-gatherers apparently worked maybe 15-20 hours a week hunting and gathering -- especially if located in a favorable environment. Fairly egalitarian, but with leaders selected for skill. They apparently spent the rest of the week making love, playing with the kids -- moving to better pickings as needed?
The beginnings of large scale agriculture -- with huge tracts of land and elaborate water works (think Euphrates, Nile, rice paddies, Incas, Aztecs, etc. -- was the beginning of the end for that according to historians like Wittfogel. Thousands were needed to work the land and maintain ditches, paddies, etc. So we had autocratic rulers, relying upon some combination of despotic terror and claims of divinity to keep people in line. Much longer work weeks, far less freedom, as that story goes.
Feudal societies had a hierarchy, with agricultural workers near the bottom - but some protections.
The invention of capitalism meant that you didn't have to be a King, Queen, or Pope to fund some monumental work or voyage of plunder and discovery. The merely rich could pool their resources - as for example the East India Company in the run up to 1776.
By and large, being able to pool capital and take on larger projects helped lift lots of the world out of poverty - the US especially up to maybe 1970 or so. Seems (to me) that's about when financial interests started carving an ever-larger part of our economy out for themselves.
The explosive GDP growth of the last couple centuries has also been fueled with fossil fuels. There are at least three reasons to think this won't continue for another hundred years: finite resources; rising costs (and wars) to secure them; and climate/environmental effects. Seems to me we have a choice of either a somewhat smooth or a very rough transition to alternative energy sources - with a full range of options from partial collapse to more or less incremental progress.
The point in all this is that it seems that the technology now exists to go back to a sort of high tech hunter-gatherer economy in some industries -- where smaller firms compete on equal footing with larger ones. Many of the overheads (billing, accounting,etc.) could be automated, leaving the core work and innovation to clusters of smaller firms. Germany's world-leading mid-sized tech companies are part way there.
The running joke at PM seems to be that someone thinking of opening up a small shop might do better with a hot dog stand. The latter is an example of a sort of distributed hunter-gatherer business model that might do reasonably well. These days, an owner might even have an app for customers to call ahead.
The fly in the ointment seems to be that the tech is currently doing more to support aggregators rather than producers.
Instead of people having their own websites for friends/family/customers to visit - we have Facebook. It's the Ubers, Lyfts, AirBnB's, Amazons etc. that allow one man bands to thrive - but also take much of the profits for themselves.
Manufacturing seems sort of stuck. Jobs in old line manufacturing (say, autos, consumer electronics) are being squeezed out or shipped out to lowest cost producers. There's still room for small shops serving the fringes; but not so many of them. The Manufacturing.coms trying to be aggregators haven't really caught on.
Not sure where all this leads . . . Greater opportunities for relatively small and nimble manufacturing companies? High tech aggregators replacing financial firms as those skimming money off the top? A turn backs towards quality / repairable products -- with more jobs for local businesses? Continued production of throw-away products -- with those being made at the lowest automated cost?