Share, share – that’s fair (and more productive too!)
Did you know that individuals, enterprises and cities that engage with one another and bring in new ideas from the outside are more productive, more creative and even live longer, healthier lives? A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the MIT Human Dynamics Lab in Cambridge, USA where I learned how crucial the flow of ideas is to the health of society and for its individual members.
Take the case of the call center that the Lab studied. As is often the case, employee’s coffee breaks were scheduled to be taken separately and alone. However, when the breaks where instead rescheduled simultaneously so that employee could meet each other, stress decreased by 20 percent, engagement increased by 30 percent and the company saved USD 15 million thanks to productivity gains.
With their high levels of complexity and interdependencies, cities are the ultimate symbol of our ability to work together. Currently new technologies and services are expanding the type of activities that are open to collaborative behavior. For example, the trend towards sharing is deeply connected to the reality of finite resources and a growing global population. In many cases this will make sharing a necessity in the future.
In the average home in a developed city, there are a considerable number of items that are used only rarely. This means that sharing is not such a farfetched idea. Power tools, some kitchen appliances and gardening equipment could be shared among neighbors and the community. For example, half of all US homes own a power drill, but most of these tools are only used for 6 – 13 minutes during their lifetime.
Collaborative consumption represents a new economic model, where access rather than ownership will play an increasingly central role in the lives of city residents. There are already a number of online platforms (e.g. Sharetribe and Unstash) and companies (e.g. Zipcar, Craigslist and Airbnb) enabling people to pool, swap, share or sell items, services or space. As we speak, individuals and small businesses are coming up with new ways to share resources and enable social and environmental sustainability.
It does not end there. Collaborative behavior is clearly undergoing massive growth. Not only do city residents collaborate, but increasingly so are scientists, enterprises, governments and their constituents.