Top seven co-operative tech alternatives for working from home during Covid-19

We made a list of co-operative alternatives to some of the most used tech tools.

Technology can facilitate remote working but navigating through a wide range of options can take time. Co-operators might also have concerns about the ethical credentials of some of the companies behind the technology they use when working from home.

We have put together a list of software and tools developed and owned by co-operatives or which support the co-operative sector.

  • Loomio

Loomio is a collaboration platform enabling groups to make decisions, discuss ideas and collaborate online. It was developed by activists from Occupy Wall Street and social entrepreneurs from the Enspiral Network in New Zealand, who formed a worker co-operative in 2012. Released in 2015, Loomio has become a go-to tool for many co-operatives. Subscription plans start at US$1 per person per month.

  • CoBudget

Following the success of Loomio, the worker co-operative behind it developed CoBudget, a tool that enables all members of an organisation to get involved in decision-making by proposing projects and allocating funds to the proposals they like. London based tech co-op Outlandish uses CoBudget to democratically distribute their dividends to everyone in the organisation and make it easy for them to invest in work they care about. CoBudget is available for free those wishing to evaluate it as well as for a subscription of €49,99 per month per group, which comes with expert support.

  • Collective.Tools Meet

Collective.Tools Meet is a fully encrypted, 100% open source video conferencing solution. No account is needed. Collective.Tools provide a range of other services such as Nextcloud, an all-in-one collaborative office suite, Rocket Chat, which enables structured conversations in multiple public or private channels, on your mobile or desktop; and Deck, a tool supporting users to get organised.

Collective.Tools is a cloud service where users as members are co-owners of the business. A platform co-op, it was set up in 2018 by Petter Joelson, long time entrepreneur and web strategist for civil society organisations and Andreas Jonsson, climate and social justice activist. They decided to go for the platform co-operative model after meeting Trebor Scholz, a scholar-activist and founding director of the Institute for the Cooperative Digital Economy at The New School in New York City.

  • Lilo

An alternative to Google, Lilo is a search engine that finances social and environmental projects. It boasts 676, 365 users who execute of 41m searches on a monthly base. Each time users search on Lilo, they earn a symbolic drop of water, which represents the money gained from advertising linked to the web page. They are then asked to choose a project they want to support and the drop of water gets converted into money. Some of the projects listed on the page include co-ops.

Related: French ethical search engine invests profits in social projects and co-ops

  • CommonsCloud

An alternative to corporate clouds, CommonsCloud was developed by Catalan co-operative femProcomuns to encourage people to use more ethical and democratic digital tools and strengthen the free software community.

The co-operative provides three tools: Office, Agora and Project Manager. Office enables users to store documents in the cloud, work with private or share folders, have individual and group calendars and contact books. The Agora feature allows users to generate different threads of debate, facilitates internal communication, and gives users different participation channels. Through the project management feature, users can organise and prioritise what they need to do in a project, assigning tasks and using lists and other options.

To access the CommonsCloud, users must become a consumer member of the femProcomuns co-operative. This also gives them a vote in their assembly and access to the channels of participation for users. Becoming a member requires a unique and returnable capital contribution of €10.

  • Resonate

Research shows that listening to certain types of music can increase productivity. But most music streaming app providers make listeners listen to a song over 100 times to own it. This is not the case for Resonate, a music streaming service, which is jointly owned and managed by artists, listeners and record labels. How does it work? Users pay to listen to a song and, after they pay listen to it nine times, they can download it. A platform co-op, Resonate also uses Blockchain technology to track and distribute payments.

  • Fairphone

A Dutch social enterprise, Fairphone produces smart phones that are, where possible, built out of responsibly-sourced, conflict-free, and recycled materials. Its latest model – Fairphone 3 was released in September 2019 as an android-based smartphone. In the UK the Phone Co-op is the only telecoms provider selling the Fairphone.

Related: ‘Fire the bosses’: Platform co-ops set out their radical stall

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