Koko is a social network designed to enable any employee to share with a community during episodes of stress or depression and crowdsource reasoned advice, ideas for coping and wise words.
Figures compiled by Nielsen in 2014 reveal that eight US citizens out of ten claim to suffer from stress at work. Of course not all stress necessarily has a negative impact, but the potentially disastrous consequences for a person of high levels of stress at work, whether in the short or the long term, are well known. It is often hard to find someone in the work environment to talk to and help you calm down, and many sufferers have a very real fear of talking to anyone about their workplace problems.
To help combat this phenomenon, Robert Morris, a psychology graduate with a PhD from the MIT Media Lab, has created Koko – a social network through which anyone and everyone who is currently having a stressful time at work, or is going through a period of anxiety or depression, can put out an anonymous distress call and obtain support and relief through moderated feedback from the community.
Koko interface; Koko is a crowdsourcing app designed to help people manage their workplace stress
Koko is already being used by several thousand people in over 130 countries. In similar vein to Wikipedia and California-based question-and-answer website Quora, Koko draws on collective intelligence to provide what online tech news site PSFK calls “a form of crowdsourced cognitive behavioural therapy”. So if users feel the need to open up their heart or clear their head, they can use the Koko app to post a description of how they feel. The user is asked to supply some context, so that willing helpers can come up with the best possible advice.
It therefore appears that digital tools – a smartphone with crowdsourcing app in this example – not only have the capacity to help employees optimise their performance, but also have the potential to foster workplace well-being as well.