Multi-Collective Free Geek

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The Free Geek Collective ceased to exist on February 28, 2013. For information on current staff, please go to Staff. For detailed information about the re-organization of Free Geek's management structure, please go to 2013_Restructuring_Documents.

In thinking about the Meta Question we go through the exercise of fleshing out what Free Geek would look like if we were open ten hours per day, six days a week with three collectives forming the staff, rather than one.

This is a thought experiment, not a plan.

RfS 10:47, 29 January 2007 (PST)

Basic Projections

Assuming we are still using the current space and we want to increase production to a maximum (open 10 hours per day 6 days per week), staff would have to increase to provide coverage for the extra time we are open. Using current ratios of coverage and adding in some leeway since we're understaffed I've made some basic projections. (See the end of this page for what I did to come up with this stuff.)

How many people on staff?

  • 20 collective members working between 20 and 40 hours per week.
  • 10 interns working 24 hours per week on average.
  • 5 substitutes picking up the slack when needed

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

  • 35 people on staff total.

This allows for a higher staffing ratio than what we have today and it includes more interns per staff than we now have.

The schedule

Let's say that our hours of operation are 10 am to 8 pm, we arrive 30 minutes early, we leave 30 minutes after close, and each day has three 4 hour shifts in it, each shift overlapping with the next by 30 minutes:

  • Morning: 9:30-1:30
  • Afternoon: 1-5
  • Evening: 4:30-8:30

40 hour people would need to cover a maximum of nine shifts per week (allowing for some administrative time. 20 hour people would be able to cover 4 per week. If someone works two consecutive shifts, we'd add an extra hour to one end or the other and have them take a lunch break, something like how we do it now.

Communication / Seeing other people

Right now if you're a 35 hour worker, you're probably here 4.5 open days (90% of the time we're open). That means 10% of the stuff that goes on happens when you're not here.

In the scenario, you'd be working 40 hours and be here 10 out of 18 shifts (55% of the time). 45% of the stuff that goes on would happen while you were away. That means we'd all be four and a half times as far out of the loop as you are now.

We'd have to be more disciplined with email communication, transitioning between shifts, etc.


Each collective would do its own hiring and firing, set work schedules for its own area. Each staff member would have a "home" collective, but would be able to pick shifts in the other collectives. This would keep the decision making structure small and nimble without centralizing it into a traditional hierarchy. An umbrella coordinating group would be made up of staff members selected by each collective. That representative group could hold weekly open meetings. Software for scheduling would need to be in place, and we'd need common policies and procedures for hiring and firing (which we pretty much have already).

Receiving and Recycling
All of the Action Standing Committee's functions. Manage the main stream of gizmos (from receiving to recycling).
Associated staff positions would include
  • Receiving Coordinator
  • Recycling Coordinator
  • Receiving Intern
  • Recycling Intern
Production and Sales
All of the Reuse and Knowledge Bees Standing Committees' functions. Pull from the main stream of gizmos for triage, refurbishment, sales, and granting. I imagine both a Production and Sales Committee.
Associated staff positions would include
  • Retail Sales Coordinator
  • Online Sales Coordinator
  • Build Coordinator
  • Prebuild Coordinator
  • Production and Wholesale Coordinator
  • Alternative Build/Advanced testing Coordinator
  • Thrift Store Intern
  • Build Intern
  • Laptop Intern
  • Prebuild Intern
Administration, Development, Planning, and Education
All of the C7, HR, Knowledge Bees, Outreach, Propagation, and Technocrats Standing Committees' functions.
Associated staff positions would include
  • Front Desk Coordinator
  • Bookkeeping and Budgeting Coordinator
  • Outreach Coordinator
  • Education Coordinator
  • Front Desk Intern
  • Outreach Intern
  • Education Intern

Staff Meetings

Weekly staff meetings would probably be for communication between any standing staff committees and the collectives. There'd probably need to be a monthly all staff meeting that would last longer. Could the interns and volunteers run Free Geek for two hours while we all met? Of course!

Office Space

All those people would need a place to sit. We would probably be sharing more offices and taking over artists' space above the warehouse and meeting room. This would mean an increase in rent and a reduction in rental income.