As well as being about changing the land system Shared Assets has always been a long term experimental project in creating a healthy organisation.
We want to create an organisation that supports people to live good lives in and out of work, and where people can 'bring their whole selves' to work: passions, past experience, heritage, identities, health conditions, family responsibilities, whatever.
For us that means that we want Shared Assets to be:
- self managing
- self administering
- accountable to each other, the work and clients rather than to the organisation or to a manger
Things we do that support that include:
We operate a four day week. We were already largely a part time team - that started as a financial necessity as we often didn't have the funds to immediately employ new roles on a five day basis. However all of our staff are also involved in other projects (a community garden, a veg box scheme, racial justice or gender / sexuality activism, trustees or directors of other organisations) so even when given a choice have often opted to only go to 4 days. Having people involved in other projects and activities that are linked to what we do builds our networks and knowledge as well as enables people to have a life outside work so we have adopted this as the norm across all roles.
Our 4 day week is 4 x 7 hour days and pro rated - people aren't getting paid for 5 or expected to work 5 in 4. Our starting salary for a four day week is the equivalent of a five day / 35 hour salary at the London Living Wage as we aim to make a four day week sustainable for all staff.
Our aim is that nobody is more than 80% fully deployed on fee earning work (after taking meetings etc into account) so they have time to develop their own ideas and contribute to organisational development.
We roll bank holidays into annual leave (so 25 days plus 8 public holidays pro rata) so if people want to take different days to the set public holidays for family / religious / personal reasons they can (some people would much rather work through Christmas or Easter and take the time at a different point in the year).
We are fully remote; work hours are flexible and systems are set up for remote working, online collaboration. We aim to meet up as a team at least monthly for strategy days (and in between for optional co-working sessions) to make sure we are building the team culture.
‘Core' hours are 7am to 7pm so whatever hours people work we encourage people to do the majority of their work within those, but at hours that suit them provided they don't negatively impact on colleagues, partners, clients, or the work.
The same principles apply to taking holiday or working remotely: make your own arrangements provided they don't negatively impact on colleagues, partners, clients, or the work - don't ask for permission but be accountable.
We all have a 'user manual' so that everyone else can see how we best work, how we like to communicate, things we enjoy / find difficult, preferred pronouns, anything else we think people should know and wish to share such as health conditions, hobbies, skills, caring commitments etc.
We are transparent - all internal conversations happen on Slack so everyone can see what's happening on different projects and we share financial / governance information openly.
We collaboratively set pay rises for the past year and are planning to develop more in depth conversations about how the organisation values its team.
Anyone can propose agenda items for team meetings.
All meetings start and end with a check in / check out where people share what is going on for them personally, emotionally, as well as work issues.
We are currently experimenting with a 'consent based' participative decision making process so anyone can make a proposal which is fully explored before making a decision on whether it is 'good enough for now and safe enough to try'.
At the start and of the day we check in / out on slack with what we are each planning to do / got done so others know what we're up to and as another accountability tool
Everyone has a discretionary training budget (currently small at £300/year but to spend on any personal development without having to get approval.)
At Board level:
We have a rotating Chair (two meetings each and act as the Chair for any administration or decisions between meetings).
At the start of each meeting we ask for what stood out in terms of things that excite / concern members about the papers that have been provided and collectively agree priority / weight / timings / order of discussions of each topic on the agenda.
We also institute the same check in and check out as we do at staff meetings.
Developing a healthy organisation is an ongoing project and we will keep experimenting and adjusting as we go, and as the context and the needs of our staff and associates change.
We are currently considering how we effectively ‘blur the boundaries’ of the organisation. We already aim, where possible, to pay participants in research or events. We are also currently exploring how we can develop a cohort of practitioner-researchers and practitioner-consultants, and create more opportunities for activists and practitioners to be paid to undertake work with and alongside us on our movement building work.