Re: Searching for a cohousing community that is satisfied with how its workshare is working. We want to learn from you.
From: R.N. Johnson (
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2013 13:10:35 -0800 (PST)
Things that have worked well for us: 
-We are organized into several work teams- Common house, courtyard/roofs, 
parking lot, and garden. We try to make sure that people are assigned to do 
work that they enjoy and/or care about.  Each team organizes their work however 
they see fit.  I am on garden team, and we hold a lot of mini work parties 
because we enjoy working together.  The parking lot crew prefers to work alone, 
so they do. 
-We have one designated "straw boss"  for each quarterly work party. That 
person's job is to organize the tasks that needed doing, make sure people got 
assigned to ones they could so and to find and organize tools or other 
materials ahead of time.   We have discovered that if the straw boss thinks 
they are going to accomplish anything, we did not get  as much done and the 
boss got frustrated at all the demands.  Also, it does not work well to decide 
what tasks were to be done without consulting the straw boss, because the boss 
needs to have a working knowledge of what is going to be done, so that S/he can 
answer the inevitable questions, and figure out what needs to be bought a the 
hardware store because we have the wrong thingamabob. 
-If you can't make a work party you can help with prep, take on a task or pay 
someone to do the work. People who are not able to do most of the work tasks 
can make lunch on the work day, do the shopping, be the "runner" who takes 
messages/tools back and forth on the work day, be the DJ who keeps the tunes 
coming etc... 
-We have general community agreements on what work is necessary, what is nice 
to have done, but not crucial, and what is fine if YOU want to do it, but not a 
community priority.
We make a brief report on what each group is doing at business meetings.  This 
helps keep us honest- no one wants to have nothing to report. This also helps  
the community to know when a group needs help- for example when  the parking 
lot  group had 3 out of  5 members injured or absent. 
Finally, we try to remind each other that we are never going to get equal work 
out of every one, that people's work participation ebbs and flows as they work 
more/less hours, have babies, get injured/sick/ stressed, and that as long as 
everyone is contributing, that is okay! If someone is feeling resentful because 
they have been doing a lot, we remind them to pull back for a while.  If 
someone doesn't seem to be keeping up with their work, we check in to see what 
is going on.  Over the 5 years we have been here, nearly all of us have been 
the worker bee who got a ton done, and most of us have had at least a brief 
stint as a "slacker." Holding that thought in mind a long with our efforts to 
keep track of work keeps us happier and more connected. 
Randa Johnson
New Brighton Cohousing
Aptos, CA

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