In October 2013, Stephanie Günther gave a presentation at homo ecos: about “collaborative consumption”. In this series of nine blogs, she explains what it is, and how it can help towards a more sustainable society. Chapter 9 (final): Sharing for Businesses.
In an economy that is based on profit, cutting costs by sharing or renting products and services is perhaps more in the interest of the market actors, than it is in the interests of private consumers who follow rather their desires, than rational considerations. On the other hand, the pressure of competition can also hinder cooperation and share. But even in a competitive market, there are lots of opportunities to share services and products, to optimize the use of costly investments and to network instead of scheming against one another.
In agriculture, founding cooperative societies and sharing machines for cultivation and harvesting have a long tradition. And also sharing office buildings and with it maintenance costs and service infrastructure like canteens or reception staff is not a new development.
But internet has largely increased the possibilities to develop shared services, the rental or sale of second-hand products and the temporary use of tools and machines. Instead of sharing office buildings, you can share office rooms and all the technical equipment you need: copier, printer, data projector, personal computer and also service staff like assistants and secretaries. This form of co-working is especially interesting for freelancers who start their business and are interested in networking. Another, more informal way to get out of the isolation of a start-up freelancer, is co-lunching: you meet people for lunch and get the opportunity to exchange about everything, including your business.
For the occasional need of special products and services, different rental forms have already showed their proof: the rental of a data-projector when you have to do a presentation; the rental of equipment for a stand when you want to present your enterprise at a trade fair; or the rental of tents, tableware, cutlery, glasses, decoration, furnishing and animation when you want to organize an event fort your business partners.
The opportunity to share and rent products and services or to buy and sell second-hand tools also exist for other economic sectors: washing-machines and dryers, bed and table linen, towels and work clothes for hotels and restaurants; packaging tools, returnable containers, machines, site vehicles, construction and working equipment for industrial production.
In a highly specialized, work-sharing economy you can even make a business out of selling the function of chemicals instead of selling the chemicals as a product (for more information, see internet site below)
All these forms of sharing, exchanging, renting and selling business services and products exist in many countries. Some of them certainly also emerged in Latvia, but perhaps there is still work to do and business to develop – for the economic benefit of enterprises and the ecological benefit of nature.
- Co-working, share of office space and facilities:
- UK: http://www.londoncoworking.co.uk/ (platform for sharing office space in London); http://coworking.com/ (site for general information and exchange of experience about co-working)
- France: http://www.bureauxapartager.com/ (office share; offers in different countries; site also in English: http://www.shareyouroffice.com/); http://www.colunching.com/ (platform to meet people for lunch; offers in different countries; site also in English)
- Germany: http://www.meine-buerogemeinschaft.de/ (platform for organizing the share of offices and facilities)
- Rental of products and services:
- USA: http://www.rentittoday.com/ or http://www.rentmystock.com/ (all sorts of office equipment, construction machines and work tools); http://www.rentacomputer.com/ (computers and equipment; also sale of second-hand material – see below)
- Germany: http://rentaprinta.com/ (printer, copier, data-projector); http://computermiete.de/ (personal computers, monitors, screens, printer, data-projectors and other technical equipment; site also in English); http://www.ipadverleih.com/ (tablets); http://www.geschirrmobil-verleih.de/ or http://www.rent4event.com/ (party and event equipment); http://www.beyer-mietservice.de/ (construction machines and vehicles); http://www.mietwaesche.de/ (bed and table linen, towels and work clothes for hotels and restaurants); http://www.mietwasch.de/ (washing machines and dryer; offer for professionals like hotels and hospitals); http://www.artothek.org/ (artwork); http://www.lesezirkel.com/ (magazines and periodicals); www.winhal.com/ (furniture; site also in English); http://www.mieten-statt-kaufen.eu/ (agricultural engines and tools); http://minikran-mieten.com/ (tower cranes); http://www.klvrent.de/ (utility vehicles; offers also in Austria); www.ifco.com/ (reusable transport packaging; offers in different countries; site also in English); http://www.chemikalienleasing.de/ (function of chemicals; site also in English: http://www.chemicalleasing.com/)
- Sale of second hand products:
- USA: http://www.contractorassets.com/ (building machines); http://www.rentacomputer.com/sales/used (second-hand computers and office equipment)
- Canada: http://www.hwequipment.com/ (all sorts of working machines, trucks and cranes)
- UK: http://www.gumtree.com/ (all sorts of products and tools)
- Germany: http://www.bauteilboerse-berlin-brandenburg.de/ (used building elements, also historic components); http://shop.my-computec.de/ (formerly leased electric products, like PC and telephone systems)
Author: Stephanie Günther