Workshare Policy (2010)

Adopted by consensus in Membership Meeting of 12 December 2010. Replaces Workshare Policy of 2007.

1. Purpose

To accomplish the work of the community, and do so in the spirit of cohousing.

2. Overview

a. Cohousing is distinguished from other housing alternatives by its explicit and implicit expectations of participation in the community by all members and residents. This participation includes workshare, in which the care of the property and the community is accomplished by the community. The entire community does what a condo manager (among others) usually does: we cooperatively manage our property and community.

b. We organize ourselves into affinity groups for this purpose. An affinity group is a group of people coming together to accomplish a particular kind of work. At TVC, affinity groups are teams, the Board, pods, task forces, and small working groups.

c. Work is defined as that which contributes to the safety, security, property value, appearance and/or social health of the community. This includes some tasks that would need to be outsourced if a member did not do them.

3. Guiding Principles

a. Our mission, “TVC is an urban community that fosters mutual support and cooperation while respecting privacy,” encourages us to foster cooperation in this endeavor.

b. Work by members is an integral element of cohousing, which distinguishes cohousing from typical condos or other forms of group living. We, the community, expect teams and pods and individuals to perform quality work for the community.

c. We want workshare to come out of and support the social health of the community. Recognition and celebration of our work encourage and strengthen our community.

d. We promote accountability for work by 1) having people work in small groups to which they are responsible; and 2) having a Pod Squad to help people find work, and affinity groups to find people.

e. We choose not to use shame or punishment or guilt. We will not track hours worked; affinity groups will track completion of their tasks. We will state expectations, encourage interpersonal connections, and celebrate all that is done.

4. Affinity Groups

a. Affinity groups accomplish the work of the community. Working in a cohesive, committed group fosters loyalty and commitment, makes the work itself more enjoyable and rewarding, and helps build the community by allowing us an easy avenue to get to know each other better while we work. Indeed, including social aspects in a group’s activities can strengthen the group. This, in turn, supports the goals of care of the physical plant, preservation of property values, and affordability.

b. Each group has full responsibility and resources to perform its work. Pods, SWGs and task forces report to a team or the Board.

c. Each team’s budget, which includes pods’ budgets, is proposed and approved as part of the overall budget each year.

d. Any group can put its backlog, seasonal work, or special project work of a physical nature on the task list for a workday.

e. Group members can share the work among themselves in any way that suits them. Each group makes its own decision about fair distribution of work among its members, how to achieve that, and how to deal with low-participating members.

f. New groups or reconfigurations of existing ones can be suggested and created as needed.

5. Personal Responsibilities

a. Workshare participants are members (owners who reside here and associate members) and residents (those who reside here but are not members). Members join and participate in at least one group by attending meetings and/or working on that group’s tasks. Residents are encouraged to participate in the same way in consideration of their use of and access to common facilities.

b. Workshare participants (members and residents) talk with the Pod Squad (see below) regarding their workshare-related skills, interests, concerns, and availability.

c. All members and residents are encouraged to participate in workdays, whether or not their groups have projects on the task lists. This is a welcome opportunity to enjoy different kinds of work, to socialize with different neighbors, and to contribute to community life and physical upkeep.

d. Although the goal of workshare is completion of tasks with neighbors rather than putting in and counting hours, six hours of work per person per month, in addition to attendance at membership meetings, is a benchmark for the amount of work expected.

e. Knowing the explicit and implicit expectations of work in cohousing, and the need for individuals to contribute, some may still choose not to work, or be unable to work as fully as appropriate. TVC encourages voluntary payment in lieu of work, at the suggested rate of $20 per hour.

6. Pod Squad (a new affinity group)

a. The Pod Squad helps workshare participants find satisfying work in the community, and helps affinity groups find the people they need. It reports to the Board.

b. Using information from the groups, the pod maintains a current list of all groups, along with relevant information that would help workshare participants find their work. This would include information such as a description of the groups’ focus of work, perhaps a sample of their tasks, their level of need for new participants, and names of current participants.

c. The Pod Squad members divide up the list of all workshare participants among themselves. Each Pod Squad member has responsibility for helping those workshare participants on his/her squad list to match their available skills, interests, and time to the community’s needs. Creating individual squad lists with participants from a wide range of affinity groups allows each Pod Squad member to stay aware of a wide swath of community work.

d. Members are encouraged to join this pod only when they feel they can fully embrace the guiding principles of this policy (above) and the tenor of the conversation outlined in the following item.

e. A Pod Squad member meets privately with each participant at least annually to ask if she/he is finding ways to contribute to the community that are enriching and satisfying to her/his life at TVC.

i. If a participant needs some help finding satisfying work, or wants a change, the Pod Squad member can go over the list of groups and any emerging community needs with him/her.

ii. If a participant sees a community need that is not being met, and is not in the purview of an existing group, s/he may explore forming a new group with the appropriate team.

iii. If that person feels s/he is doing too much work, the Pod Squad member is there to help find a way to reduce his/her workload to a satisfactory level.

f. A Pod Squad member meets with members and residents new to the community within a month of their arrival to answer any questions about workshare, and to help them find a place to begin work within a couple of months.

g. This pod can help surface and constructively work through tensions and concerns over workshare.

h. This pod is strongly encouraged to plan and carry out regular (suggest quarterly) celebration, recognition, or other form of appreciation for work accomplished and workshare efforts made. They are encouraged to include a report about how well labor needs are being met and how well the system is working.

7. Workshare Task Force

Submit an annual assessment of workshare to the community. This will include, among other things, assessment of the balance of contributions, tensions among people relating to participation, whether necessary work is getting done, what is working well, and other concerns. It may also include suggestions for further refinement of the policy.

Notes: Wording changes adopted at the meeting were distributed to email list on 13 Dec 2010. TVCHA Board confirmed membership consensus at their meeting on 20 Dec 2010. The point person of the task force approved minor changes in capitalization for consistency.