Membership: How to join the team

Village One is a cooperative and that means joining the team comes with a few extra benefits compared to your regular employment contract. It also means we need to explain a few things first. Let’s get into it!

Posted on Sep 19, 2022; updated on Nov 01, 2022

Here’s what you need to know up-front:

  • Here’s a primer on what a cooperative even is
  • Here are our reasons why we founded Village One as a co-op
  • We are a fully distributed team, no offices, no expectation to come to a particular place
  • Most of us are currently located in Germany, but we also hire internationally
  • Our language for all communication is English (German is a plus, but not required)
  • We run on a four day work week with a maximum of 32h/week
  • We mostly work asynchronously, so being able to express your thoughts in writing is important
  • All members of our fully independent cooperative also actively work within the company—there are no dormant partners or outside investors
  • We put a lot of emphasis on self-management and have no managers on the team, because we think the people doing the actual work will make the best decisions
  • It’s important to us to build a team that reflects the diversity of the societies we live in: We especially encourage everyone from underrepresented groups to get in touch: women, lgbtqia folks, bipoc, neurodivergent people, you know who you are! Please reach out!

A few words on cooperative ownership

Please note that you can’t be a long-term employee without also becoming a member of the co-op. From the outside this may seem stressful, but consider the upsides: Your voice is guaranteed to be heard, no decisions happen behind closed doors, there’s full financial transparency, as well as equal profit sharing and you can truly shape this company—since it’s also yours! You can’t get this level of participation and autonomy at almost any other workplace. We realize this might not be for everyone, but we think it presents a fantastic opportunity for most workers! If you’re wondering about liability: you are only liable up to the price of your share, which is precisely 100€.

Village One has a strong set of rules that ensure everyone’s voting rights and share of the company’s profits, as well as processes for decision making. We even have to undergo a yearly examination of a German cooperative association, ensuring that all these processes are in place and followed.

Intrigued to join? Here’s what you can expect from the process, let’s take it step by step!

Step zero: you get in touch somehow

Most likely you’ll send us an email to hello@village.one with a bit of information about yourself and why you’re interested in joining us. This can be loose, we’re interested in understanding your motivations and who you are, rather than a hundred detailed references. Don’t stress over the format too much, just take the first step!

If you already have a personal connection to one of us you can also reach out on Twitter DMs, WhatsApp or LinkedIn. Use what you’re most comfortable with!

Step one: getting to know each other

After first contact (🖖) we’ll reply within a few days and schedule a short zoom call to get to know each other. This should take 30-45mins and one or two of us will be present, most likely from the same field as you work in. Together we find out if we’re a match regarding skills, values and ideas: We talk about your ideal way of working, about financial expectations, and discuss ideas regarding the cooperative form. We also expect you to ask us anything—it’s an open conversation, really, and not a classical job interview.

Step two: meeting the rest of the team

If we’re on the same page so far, you get to know the rest of the team. This is important for us because within our democratic procedures we need everyone’s agreement before taking on new members. We also believe you should get a chance to meet your future colleagues, since we’re a small team and everyone matters!

If you’ll be working in a very hands-on role, like design or engineering, we might want to look at some code or designs from a previous project of yours and have a conversation over it. No ad-hoc challenges or quizzes, just a talk about a real project: its goals, the hurdles and challenges, the compromises and solutions. In our experience having a conversation over an actual work artifact yields a lot more insight than a fabricated (and stressful) coding or design challenge.

Step three: employment

Once we’re all on the same page and have also discussed parameters like work capacity, salary and your role, we’ll set up the employment contract: It’s fairly straight-forward and outlines what we’ve agreed upon. Usually, our contract includes a probation phase of six months, to give everyone enough time to explore if it’s really a match. Otherwise the contract runs indefinitely, we don’t do limited contracts.

During the probation months you won’t be a full co-op member yet, but around three or four months in we’ll do a check-in and retrospect how it’s been going so far. Afterwards there are two paths: You become a co-op member at the end of the probation period or we go our separate ways.

Step four: joining the cooperative

Assuming it’s all been going well so far we will hold an official vote on accepting you as a new member into the cooperative: As Village One is democratically organized, all members will have to agree on taking you on. We do that in an all-hands meeting with a written record, which is then signed by one of our board members. If we unanimously vote yes, you are offered to buy a share for 100€ (yes, it is that cheap to become an equal owner of our company).

There’s a bit of paperwork around that, but it’s relatively quick and easy, no lawyers or notarization involved. Congrats, you’re now an equal owner of our company—your voice carries the same weight as everyone else’s, you get the same decision-making rights, the same financial access and also the same share of profits at the end of business years. Welcome to the team!

Currently open positions

We are always open to receive applications for all kinds of positions, but right now we are particularly looking for a digital interaction / interface designer with a focus on systematic design. If that’s you:

Fire up that email client!

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