Getting Essential Work Done

Essential work is usually recurring tasks that must be completed at regular intervals whether this be machine maintenance, cleaning, site audits, etc. All volunteers in the team should be assigned to the same amount of essential work each, typically around 1 hour worth of work per month. Volunteers must abide to their contracts in order to retain their volunteer status which allows them to vote in team meetings. It is best to use volunteer contracts to define essential work to keep the team running that would otherwise be hard to achieve.

Setting a limit to the work ensures team members do not lose interest in their role from being overburdened by tasks. This, however, puts a cap on the maximum amount of essential work that can be performed per month based on how many members are in a team. To determine how much work your area needs, collate a list of all tasks that must be performed in your area and record the duration of performing the tasks and frequency it should be performed. From the list of tasks, calculate the amount of hours per month you would ideally need to keep your area at an optimal level.

If the amount of hours required to complete essential work is higher than you have available with the number of members in your team, begin to prioritise tasks by reducing the frequency that each task needs to be performed and see if any tasks could be removed from the list and performed ad-hoc instead. Do not increase team member workload just to achieve the ideal level of performance. If your team does not have enough members to maintain good performance, refrain from purchasing plant or starting projects that will create additional recurring tasks. Instead, target available capital at automating processes and replacing time consuming equipment with equipment that is easier to maintain.

Team Projects

One of the benefits of being a team member is being able to head up projects at the space. Rather than necessary work to maintain volunteer status, projects should be seen as an opportunity to improve the space and learn some new skills while doing so. Team leaders, and members within the team, are usually highly competent in their area of the space and can offer mentoring as an additional benefit of members being involved in projects. While projects are exciting, it is important to keep the number of ongoing projects at a reasonable level and ensure frequent progress is being made. The recommended way to track progress on projects is through the Kanban methodology.

When managing a project using kanban, a board is created with different list of tasks sorted by their current status. Typical lists are: backlog, to do, in progress and done. When a project is started, all tasks identified should be inserted into the backlog. All tasks that need to be done in the near future should then be moved into the to do list. When a team member is available to complete a task for the project, they are assigned an appropriate task from the to-do list and the task is moved to in-progress. Finally, when the task is complete, it is moved to the done section. When new tasks are identified, they should be added to the backlog so they can be prioritized and allocated as necessary.

A kanban board can be a great visual reference for team meetings. Each meeting, the projects board should be displayed and everyone involved in each project can briefly explain how they've progressed on their assigned tasks. New tasks can then be prioritised and allocated as necessary. This method of sharing progress allows the team to see how projects are progressing and provides a platform for members to voice roadblocks they may be experiencing which allows action to be taken to ensure progress can continue on a project.

One key aspect of kanban is ensuring there are not too many ongoing tasks at any one time. If there are a large amount of tasks in-progress, these should be completed before starting any new tasks. It is up to the team to decide how many projects to attempt at any time, however, the kanban board should provide a visual reference as to whether the team will have enough resources to start a new project before completing current projects. Keep a list of project ideas so that when the team is ready for a new project, they can decide via team meeting which projects should be attempted next. Not allowing new projects to start provides an incentive to members to close off open projects as they will need to do so if they wish to start new projects.

Working Bees

Working bees are a particularly useful tool for getting things done around the space. If performed effectively, working bees can achieve work that would take several months of ad-hoc work.

  • howto/run_a_team
  • Last modified: 3 years ago
  • by ryan6338