Re: List of tasks considered to be "work?"
From: David Demaree (
Date: Fri, 15 Apr 2005 20:35:58 -0700 (PDT)
We are currently designing our "work plan" to be implemented when we move in 
late in '06 (fingers crossed).  Here are the criteria that we considered when 
we first began discussing our work plan.
Dave D.
CoHo Ecovillage
Corvallis OR
Goals of the Plan
1.      Build community by doing things together and enhancing the physical 

2.      Reduce HOA dues.
Plan Basics
·        Scope.  Does the plan only cover maintenance (cleaning the common 
house, yard work etc.)?  Is the meal plan administered separately?  Does time 
spent on committee work counted toward the work plan or is committee work 
separate policy?  Are periodic or one-time projects administered separately? 
(the answers to these scope questions may become clearer as the plan takes 

·        Allocation.  Do we determine participation share on a per-household 
basis or on a per-resident basis?  Does a household with a single resident do 
the same share as a household with two adults and three children?  If not, how 
do we allocate shares among multi-resident households?

·        Participation.  Do we want participation by all participants (as 
defined above)?  If not, who may opt out and under what circumstances?  Is 
there a consequence for not participating?

·        Ability.  How do we account for differences in ability?  How do we 
include a child or a person in a wheelchair?  How do we optimize participation 
of members with special skills, e.g. bookkeeping?

·        Payment.  Do we allow members to pay money instead of participating?  
If I?m too busy or if I?m just not interested, can I pay money and opt out of 
the work?  Do we pay members or outsiders to do any jobs?  What would our 
criteria be for determining whether a particular job could be a paid job?

·        Availability.  How do we absorb the variance in an individual member?s 
availability to participate?  Am I still responsible for my work share while 
I?m out of town on business or vacation?  What if I?m in the hospital?  What if 
I have an 80 hour/wk job and I?m just never available?  If I have lots of free 
time, will expectation of my participation increase?

·        Tuning.  How will we raise issues regarding the structure or 
administration of the plan?  How will we tune the details of the plan as we use 
it on a day-to-day basis?  If I see that some plants seem to be dying because 
of lack of water, or that I feel that it?s a waste of time to clean the rain 
gutters monthly, how do I voice my concerns?

·        Appointment.  How do we match members with tasks? (This is probably 
the single largest factor in determining the structure of the plan.)

Features of a Plan
·        Task List.  Do we make a list of tasks to be done?  How do we 
determine which jobs go on the list (i.e. which jobs are important to the 

·        Selection.  How do we determine who gets to do which task?  Do we 
assign tasks?  Do we let members choose which job they will do?  What will we 
do if there are tasks that nobody chooses to do?  

·        Quality.  Do we monitor quality? How do we define when a job is ?done"?

·        Value.  How do we determine the value of a particular task?  Is the 
value of a task simply the time that it takes, or do we factor in a measure of 
how fun and exciting it is?  Do we factor in an individual?s personal feelings 
about a particular task?  Is every individual?s time worth the same amount or 
different amounts?  Is my hour sweeping worth the same as another person?s hour 
of bookkeeping?

·        Tracking.  Do we keep track of which tasks are being done and by whom? 

·        Administration.  How much overhead will this plan entail?  How does 
simplicity or complexity affect the effectiveness of this plan?  Under this 
plan, will it be plain to me what I?m supposed to do?

·        Ownership.  Will members be willing to participate in this plan?  Will 
this plan be important to us?  How does this plan promote full participation by 
all members?  

·        Tested.  Is this plan (or similar version) being used by another 
cohousing group?  What size is their community?  Is it functioning well and do 
they like it?

·        Goals.  Does this plan meet our goals?  Is there another plan that 
would better meet our goals?
Possible Solutions
·        Anarchy.  Let members do whatever they feel needs to be done.  No 
administrative overhead. No obligation.  No work police.  No hassles.  No ?uh? 
no work getting done.  Communities that employ this policy report a fairly high 
level of resentment around stuff not getting done.

·        Anarchy Plus.  Post a list of jobs and let members choose what they 
want to do.  Similar to simple Anarchy but with a few ideas for those who tend 
to forget what needs to be done.  Some of us feel more comfortable with the 
illusion of having an actual plan.  Having a list makes it easier for me to 
feel confident that I?ve said ?no? to everything.

·        Capitalist.  Everyone gets to choose the job(s) that they will do, 
using the following free-market system:  Create a list of jobs and the 
estimated time to complete each job.  Divide the total number of hours by the 
number of members to get the participation requirement for each member.  Allow 
members to bid on particular jobs, the lowest bid gets to do the job and gets a 
credit for the number of hours.  If your bid is below the requirement then you 
must bid on other tasks to until you have met your requirement.  Hope that the 
excitement of ?winning? a particular task carries over into the actual 
performance of the task.  Hope that the confusion factor doesn?t override the 
personal choice factor.  Toughest job on the list is administering the work 
share plan.

·        Communist.  Assign persons to tasks randomly or on a rotating basis so 
that everyone is responsible for each task for the same period of time.  All 
workers are equal.  Hope that members show up to perform assigned tasks.

·        Teams.  Group tasks by function (e.g. landscape, common house etc.).  
Let members join the team that they want to.  Hope that members join teams in 
proper proportion to accomplish tasks (too many members on the meditation 
team?).  Hope that teams have the same priorities as the overall community.

·        Condonian.  Hire someone else to do all of the work.  Charge a fee for 
members to use common facilities (e.g. common house) in order to raise money to 
pay for services.  See if we can get a fast-food franchise to open an outlet in 
the common house kitchen to raise additional funds.

·        Police State.  Assign a supervisor for each worker to ensure that all 
tasks are done to written specifications.  Assign managers for supervisors.  
Assign executive for managers.  Designate several members as ?Enforcers? (will 
require budget item for offsite law enforcement training).  Remake music room 
as ?debtors prison? for all who fail to meet their obligation in terms of 
punctuality or quality.

Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 09:23:49 -0400
From: Sharon Villines 
Subject: Re: [C-L]_ List of tasks considered to be "work?"
To: Cohousing-L 
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed

On Apr 14, 2005, at 1:10 AM, Maggi Rohde wrote:

> Once again, I come to you for assistance:
> I am asking for a list of jobs your community has made to help in the 
> creation of your work policy. Would anyone be willing to share 
> theirs?

Our community is working on a Time Budget. We haven't adopted it yet 
but here is the list of the kinds of jobs I have identified for them to 
consider. Where hours appear these are yearly estimates. Some of these 
tasks are one time things that need to be done, some are point persons 
who do what ever needs to be done for a room or function, but most are 
maintenance and repair. Officers, Team Point Persons, Minutes, 
Meetings are listed to show how much time these take.

Other huge time takers that we have trouble budgeting because you never 
know how often they will happen: supervising workers on site, 
addressing emergencies like damage to the parking gate, a car crashing 
into the fence, or the HVAC shutting off, and researching a capital 
improvements project. Just researching whether we want to or can extend 
floors over portions of the commonhouse to make more rooms will take 
60-90 hours of phone calls, meeting with architects, getting bids, 
holding budget meetings, getting approval. And that does not include 
the time to actually get the work done. Getting workers to show up is a 
major task.

I'm working on a yearly maintenance calendar for the next issue of the 

Sharon Villines
Building Community: A Newsletter on Coops, Condos, Cohousing, and Other 
New Neighborhoods

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