TUNING IN TO TURNING ON
Imperial College London has been at the vanguard of scientific research on psychedelic medicine for several years. Last month it launched the world’s first formalised centre for psychedelic research with a focus on three complementary areas: mental health, neuroscience and social science.
Psychedelic medicine and therapy refers to practices involving psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin (the active ingredient found in the most common ‘magic mushrooms’), and DMT and MDNA (the active compounds found in ayahuasca and ecstasy, respectively).
One such practice is micro-dosing, which involves taking tiny amounts of a substance, particularly psilocybin, to obtain an enhanced connectedness, which is not a high as such. Busy parents, workers, and those feeling anxious or depressed are among those seeking the benefits of micro-dosing.
The substances involved are typically illegal in the US and the UK but, just as with current tensions around the use of CBD oil and related products, evidence is growing that micro-dosing can provide benefits to individuals along with reduced side effects compared to traditional pharmaceutical drugs. Hardly surprising that it’s growing in popularity.
“Evidence is growing that micro-dosing can provide benefits to individuals along with reduced side effects compared to traditional pharmaceutical drugs.”
However, there’s also caution. Barbara J Sahakian, Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge’s Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, says “increasing lifestyle use of ‘smart drugs’ by healthy people” is not the best route to improving brain health. “Some people,” she says, “would prefer to take a drug, as it is rapid acting, rather than consider other means of enhancing cognition, like exercise or cognitive training, which take time and require effort.”
Ingesting a tiny quantity of substance in order to feel sharper, happier, more creative and engaged may sound ideal, but the long- term evidence remains inconclusive. With Imperial’s new scientific team, armed with strong financial backing and working toward evidential comparisons with anti-depressant drugs and psychedelics, that could all change.
The point of this? It evidences how avidly many are pursuing the goal of optimal health and wellbeing within a busy life. The options are increasing but not all of them are legal – or even clinically proven but pursuance of business opportunity in this vein is vast.
Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence
News that Marriott is stepping into the home-sharing sector adds heft to the global behemoth movement that began in earnest 11 years ago with the launch of Airbnb. On average today, two million people stay in an Airbnb property each night – half a billion since 2008. That this spells a commercial win for hosts and home-sharing companies alike is apparent. The issue lies in the need to preserve and protect the communities where home-sharing has taken off, especially the towns and cities where tourists want to be.
The rapid growth of home-sharing has eroded the sustainability of communities in cities such as Barcelona, Palma, Edinburgh and many others. Whilst it is not directly to blame for over-tourism, home-sharing in its current format contributes to the problem through creating plentiful, competitively priced options for travellers to stay. Rents escalate and a more transient population displaces traditional neighbourhoods.
“Whilst it is not directly to blame for over-tourism, home-sharing contributes to the problem.”
Cue Fairbnb – the ethical counterpart to Airbnb that will launch in five European cities in June. Its founders are citizens living in mass tourism cities who have witnessed at first hand the issues that result from unregulated growth of home-sharing platforms. They have sought to create a sharing economy model that is better for the users, for the communities and for the tourism market. 50% of the commission charged by the company is directed back into the community, and there’s a rule of ‘one house, one host policy’ – which prevents large property owners from exploiting the model.
The enormous success of home-sharing raises the question of whether the more traditional hotel models will eventually phase out. What’s critical is the need for a win-win model that means local communities are protected, regulations are met, taxes are collected – and hosts can benefit without the opportunity being exploited.
Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence
WORKING LESS, WORKING SMARTER
Plans for a four-day working week with no adjustment to pay were quashed by the Wellcome Trust just a few months ago. The organisation concluded that it was too complex, and could not be introduced equitably across the 800-strong workforce in the UK.
Now Simply Business, a small business and landlord insurer, has announced that it will pilot a four-day week for its 250 call centre staff from September 2019 – in what is set to be the biggest trial to date in the UK. The company has been reassured by data from Perpetual Guardian, the New Zealand-based financial services company that moved to a four day work week last year, and has reported increased productivity as a result.
“Millions of people would like to work less but cannot, due to stagnating wages and the increasing cost of living.”
It will not be alone. Pursuit Marketing in Glasgow moved a to a four-day working week in 2016 and claims this has been instrumental in a 30% increase in the company’s productivity.
These are still exceptions. The reality is that millions of people would like to work less but cannot, due to stagnating wages and the increasing cost of living. But the emerging evidence of plummeting stress levels, happier people AND increased productivity is likely to position the move as a policy and legislation option. Get ahead of the game, don’t wait for it to be mandatory!