Workshare Credits
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2002 12:58:01 -0600 (MDT)
> I am interested in what counts as work in most communities.  It seems
> there is an assumption that physical labor is considered part of the
> "chores" but not accounting or business management of the HOA, or the
> like.  Maybe there is less of this kind of "white collar" work in a
> completed community.  In a developing community, that is almost ALL
> there is.

In our community it is accepted that all work for the community -- work that
would normally be hired out by a condo association plus meals, facilitating
meetings, security checks, sump pump watch, etc. -- are community chores
including the white collar tasks like budgeting and servicing our computers
and internet routers. One hour equals one hour.

But we don't keep track of who does what and how much. The standard is if
you are doing too much, stop. We do try to get the invisibles involved by
calling them when tasks need to be done. The back side of not recording who
does what is that many people are in fact doing more than others think they
are. Not all people are verbal about the hours they spend picking up trash
from the curbside or changing the furnace filters.

 I have started a database in which I'm attempting to record the necessary
people hours to run the community -- basic people hours required each month
of each season. It takes two people an hour every two weeks to clean the
fountain = 4 people hours a month. The total is looking like at least 15
hours a month per person exclusive of time spent in meetings.

This does not count time spent arranging for social functions like our
cookout today for July 4 or helping neighbors like getting my neighbor
relocate to Rome, straightening out someone's computer, or emergency
babysitting which are daily activities when living in cohousing.

> I live in a condo, have a housekeeper, a handyman, and gardening
> services for the common areas.  When I need painting, I hire a painter.
> When the heat goes out, someone else comes and fixes the furnace.  I
> also have a hairdresser, a doctor, a therapist, someone who gives me
> pedicures, and I get a massage from time to time.  These people are all
> part of the economy of my life.  I don't completely understand the idea
> that paying for services is a negative, especially when the requirement
> is as low as something like 4 hours a month.

As I mentioned above, the needed time, particularly in a new community is
much higher than 4 hours a month.

I do appreciate your example. In cohousing, there is a commonhouse and
grounds which need (seemingly) constant care, security checks (we are urban)
as well as maintenance and development. People do not want to hire
housekeepers, handypeople, or gardening services. These are the chores along
with the white collar tasks -- although we do hire a management company that
takes care of the bills and condo payments. They don't seem to do much else.

One reason I started the database of people hours was to get a reality check
on the number of hours required to run this place. We tend to decide we want
to do something without counting up the hours required to do it or
considering that if someone does  a newly proposed task, it means someone
else has to step in and do what they were doing before.

Many of our members work long hours, coming home after 8:00, and want to go
camping or home to see mom on weekends. When will the work be done? Can it
be done without making everyone crazy?

We do have a provision in our bylaws to charge those who do not work and we
do have people who would like to pay because they do not feel that they are
contributing enough. But before we can set a fee for them to pay, we have to
be requiring a set number of hours from everyone. No one wants to do this --
or at least not enough to reach consensus on it.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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