Do you need an office?
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sat, 9 May 2015 10:08:21 -0700 (PDT)
I was asked this question off-list. I thought others would be interested in the 

We do have an office and can’t imagine not having it. 

Not all our records are there because many are online. Minutes and financial 
reports are also distributed via email. All our records are supposed to be on 
the website, but as website manager I haven’t yet accomplished this. We are 
considering a professional property management website to store documents and 
replace the website so more people can post information.

In the office we have:

A filing cabinet for Facilities Team invoices, information packets, bids, etc.

A filing cabinet for Admin Team mostly with old files. 

Two locked key boxes — one for the CH keys and one for keys to the units.

DVD and VCR movies that people borrow.

Paper cutter, 3-hole punch, binder maker (the plastic report cover binders).

A table and chairs for working and for small meetings.

A book case for containers of guest room linens. 

Bins for construction drawings and the old flip chart pages from meetings. 

The stand for the flip charts and extra flip chart pads.

A desk top computer and a printer/fax/copier. Some people use it regularly in 
addition to their laptops or phones. Some don’t have printers and use this one. 
(In 2000, it was the primary home computer for many people.) Others use it for 
back up when theirs are broken or they want to check their email when they are 
in the CH. It can also be used to show website information in small meetings.

A telephone which is listed as our public number, with extensions in the dining 
room and kids play room. We could have an extension in all rooms but these are 
the main places where we want an emergency phone to call 911 or for children to 
call home. There is also an extension in the guest rooms, but with cell phones 
I doubt if many guests use it. The office phone is attached to the 
printer/fax/copier and to an answering machine for people who call for 

Storage for paper for the computer and printer cartridges. Dictionary, yellow 
pages, other information sources and references. Pencils, scissors, pencil 
sharpener, stapler, etc.

Bookcase with the closeout binders from initial construction and furnishing. 
Has all the information on the products used and the sources. Often  the 
prices. Product handbooks. These are a gold mine of information. After 15 years 
we consult them often when replacing things.

In the desk for the computer, we have drawers that hold odds and ends that the 
tech pod saves (cords, spare switches, etc.). The book for checking out guest 
room keys and putting in checks to pay for use. A drawer for odds and ends and 
in which lost phones and keys are placed so they are in a locked room.

The office is also temporary storage for current projects. Right now inserts to 
be installed in the kitchen cabinets. A box of our worked-enough puzzles to be 
sent to a puzzle club. Paint and fabric samples from refurbishing. 

We use the workshop for storage of alcohol and R-rated movies because there is 
less in and out. One reason to lock the office is security for the computer (a 
big issue in 2000 when they were more valuable for resale) and to limit teens 
access to R-rated websites.

It sounds like a lot of stuff but it isn’t a big room. 8’x 10’ ? I can’t 
imagine how a community could function collaboratively without a central office 
or at least an office corner of a larger room.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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