Re: Workshare
From: Jenny Guy (
Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2013 15:04:26 -0800 (PST)
At Kingfisher Cohousing on Brookdale in Oakland, CA we have just started
using our new "pay or play" workshare system. We require more hours than
most cohousing communities, because we've just purchased (Dec 28) a
run-down apartment complex that is still mostly full of tenants, so we have
to fix it up and manage it as rental property for now, and we're doing as
much as possible ourselves, with only 4 active members.

Our monthly work requirement is 20 hours per adult, and January 1 we each
paid $300 into our Workshare accounts. This is a deposit, like a cleaning
deposit, and can be refunded if you leave the community. $300 is $15 an
hour times 20.

By the end of the month, each adult is expected to have logged their work
hours into our Google Workshare spreadsheet.  At the beginning of the next
month, anyone who has logged less than 20 hours will be billed for the
balance, to bring their Workshare Account back up to $300.

People who work more than 20 hours can save them up for future months, or
submit to be paid $15 an hour. Members may also donate hours to other

We include meeting time and meal prep and cleanup in the 20 hours.

Things we may have to work out as we go:

   - The policy says '20 hours of needed cohousing work' but we haven't defined
   'needed' yet, since this is new. We would like to give regular tasks
   fixed time allowances, as some communities posting here have done. So far,
   we count 4 hours for shopping, cooking and cleaning up after a meal
   (there are only 4 of us, so it's not a big project) and 2 hours for
   attending our monthly game night, which is not just a social event, it's
   also important for outreach.
   - In the 6 years we were in the planning stage, we had tremendous
   inequity in the amount of work people did, and we were happy when members
   participated in any way. Since we weren't being paid, socializing was
   considered community work, and efficiency was not important. Now we're
   looking at it differently, because every hour essentially costs us $15.
   On the other hand, hanging out together is an important part of community
   cohesiveness, so we're trying to figure out a good balance.
   - We have the same requirement for all adults, with the one exception
   that households with young children get a 2 hr per month discount per
   child. At this point we're all single-person households with grown
   children, and we're wondering if we should give couples a break.
   - We require the 20 hours or $300 whether you're in town or not, since
   the work still has to be done (of course if you sublet your apartment to
   someone who works, that counts). We're wondering if people who are
   absent for an extended time should get a partial break, because in some
   ways when there are fewer people there's less work. There's a couple that's
   interested, and one partner spends a lot of time in Haiti rebuilding, not
   being paid much. Should they be responsible for 40 hours if he's gone
   all month?

I'm very hopeful that this system will put an end to nagging, guilt and
resentment. In my experience, you really can't make people work, you can
only be grouchy and feel even worse. Wish us luck!


Kingfisher Cohousing on Brookdale, Oakland, Calif.

>> From: Grace Horowitz <grace [at]>
> >> Subject: [C-L]_ Searching for a cohousing community that is satisfied
> >>      with how its workshare is working. We want to learn from you.
> >> To: <cohousing-l [at]>
> >> Message-ID: <CD1CCA79.2DC92%grace [at]>
> >>
> >> Message to all cohousing communities
> >>
> >> Our committee is looking for cohousing communities that are
> >> satisfied with
> >> how their systems of workshare are working, or at least relatively
> >> satisfied. We want to learn from you.  Do you have a description of
> >> your
> >> workshare system on your website or could you summarize or explain
> >> how your
> >> system works?

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