work allocation [was Re: how many people for common meal...just starting]
From: R.P. Aditya (
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006 11:13:37 -0700 (PDT)
On Thu, Aug 10, 2006 at 12:04:15PM -0400, Sharon Villines wrote:
> Thanks for the great post -- I'm particularly interested in the 
> allocation of work hours.


The general description of the Great Oak work survey and allocation process is
as follows:

- we have an online survey every 4-6 months (trying to coincide with seasons
since we don't have to mow the grass in winter nor clear snow in summer etc.)
that lists all the various jobs in the community (the list is compiled by
committees and there is some vetting by the work committee to keep it
reasonable, but we don't have a formal work budget or agreement about what a
viable job is other than it has to be sponsored by a standing committee), how
many hours per month it is expected to take (with a link to a webpage with a
job description) and how many positions are available

- each adult worker fills in the survey with their personal preference for
each job on a scale of -2 to 2 with -2 being "I really wouldn't like to do
this job", 0 being "neutral" and +2 being "I really want to do this job".

- some jobs are preassigned by committees based on skillset, continuity etc.

- the preferences expressed in the survey are taken by our talented neighbor
Dale, run through a program he wrote that tries to maximize "happiness" and
equitably spreads-out hours in the allocation

- the program of course can't evaluate every variable in a worker's life, so
the work committee sits down one weekend afternoon after the survey, and
fine-tunes the allocations taking into account whatever special requests/needs
are known or expressed

- once the allocations are made, workers are encouraged to swap/trade as they
need, and if they have any chronically unresolvable problems, they approach
the work committee for help

interesting tidbits about work at Great Oak:

- most desired job: meal cleaner

- least desired job: finance and legal committe convener (who is the
association treasurer)

- this upcoming season, we have 96 distinct jobs, 225 total positions for 438
hours of counted work per month shared amongst 60 adults

- meal work comprises 220 hours per month of the total, next is Common House
jobs which comprise 53 hours per month

So all this is probably over-engineered but we have seen a reduction in the
number of jobs and hours necessary over the last 2+ years as we've gotten more
established and the site/community has matured.

Was there a specific aspect of the work hours allocation you were interested

Great Oak Cohousing
Ann Arbor, MI

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