Re: Work participation
From: Kay Argyle (
Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2000 15:17:51 -0700 (MST)
Work participation answers for Wasatch Commons, Salt Lake City.
> minimum number of hours vs. up to each individual

No hour requirements.  It's up to the individual, with a small amount of
peer pressure from people on the monthly team that individual is assigned

> How do you handle resentments from people who are clearly doing way over
> their fair share or simply believe they are.

So far the method has been to tell them if they don't enjoy it quit doing
it.  This of course backfires, when they quit doing it.  Very

> How do you monitor or keep track of whether people are doing their 
> jobs or not?  What happens if someone isn't doing their job?  
> How do you show appreciations for people who are? 

We don't keep track.  If it becomes obvious a job is not being done
(overflowing bins in the recycling center, say), somebody might say in
community meeting.

An Appreciations Board has struck me as a good first job for our proposed
but not-yet-operational Communications Committee.  I'd rather do a bulletin
board than a book for these.

> I understand some groups organize by work teams.  I think other groups
> have individual assignments.   Are there other ways of organizing?

Wasatch Commons organizes by work teams, with each member assigned to a
team twice a year for a month.  Couples were put onto different teams. 
Adult dependents are not included.  Team chores are cleaning the common
house, taking the recycling to the recycler, and mowing the lawn or
shoveling snow.  Exactly what gets done and to what standard is up to the
team members.  

If you need a different month for whatever reason (out of town, new baby),
you can arrange to trade.  

Additional requirements (on paper, at least):   
(a) participate in a work party twice a year (no tabs kept, no
(b) cook or clean up a meal twice a month, or pay a higher price for meals.
(c) participate in a committee (tabs kept, but no enforcement).

Work parties can be called by any committee; most often landscaping.

> Are there other communities without work requirements?   
> How is that working out?  

Routine maintenance is getting neglected.  The common house committee is
discussing writing guidelines for job standards and adding a Job of the
Month to the team chores (e.g., "February:  put up cabinets in crafts room.
 March:  shampoo sitting room rug").

Official recognition of jobs as community work is important.  The two work
systems that are most codified at Wasatch Commons are the monthly work and
cooking; those are the two that are functioning best.  

Among other things, official recognition identifies the workload, which
allows it to be shared.  The Landscaping Committee broke down because,
while the community agreed the committee itself should not be expected to
do the physical work as well as the planning, in practice the people
showing up for work parties -- or doing the work on their own -- were the
committee members.

I have argued occasionally that jobs held by individuals (like
"weeder-in-chief" or "furnace guru") need to be codified also, so far with
no result beyond some token language in the work team proposal saying that
the community depends on volunteer work.  I would prefer language stating
that it's expected in some way of each individual to find a way to
contribute to the community's welfare; leave it broad, leave it flexible,
but say it.  The elves doing the weeding and the taxes and all the other
things that are invisible when well done need to know they aren't the only
ones doing anything (elves working by themselves are invisible to each
other as well). Knowing how much work is being done by elves, we should
each feel called upon to accomplish some elfwork of our own.   

(I never liked calling it "voluntary work."  That makes it sound like
you're doing it because you want to instead of because you see it needs
doing.  But "community elfwork," now, that has a certain ring).

Wasatch Commons

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