Time banking is, in effect, a bartering system whereby people use time, instead of money, to pay for services. For every hour of help you give, you earn an hour’s credit from your time bank. You can spend your time credit by receiving an hour of someone else’s time. For example, you could learn how to make a milk tart, get help with painting, plumbing, babysitting, legal advice, etc. It doesn’t matter whether that time is spent on highly skilled work, like accounting services, or a simple job like doing laundry. If you give an hour, you get an hour. Ying is an app that uses time banking principles for communities to share skills. The Chinese government has implemented a programme whereby younger Chinese care for the elderly and earn time credit which they can use for care when they turn 60, a retirement policy of sorts.
Why is it important?
One of the major benefits of time banking is the cost saving, especially for those with low incomes. It enables them to access services that they would be unable to afford in the traditional market economy. Loneliness is a societal problem which can be addressed through time banking. It enables people to feel more connected within their communities and improves personal and community wellbeing. It also helps those who are uncomfortable with asking for help. In many parts of the world, the proportion of elderly people in the population is growing. Time banking elderly care is a way to address this challenge.
What can businesses do about it?
Time banking need not be reserved for neighbourhoods but can also be applied within organisations. Businesses could start time banks for employees to access non-work related services from their colleagues. These could also be used from a business perspective to exchange IT mentorship services between young and older employees, for example. The old adage “ time is money” is true in the context of time banking. Would you save time now to spend in the future?
By Faeeza Khan
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