004: All hands on deck!

Ahoy shipmates!

This is Fei, writing my 1st newsletter for Village One and I'm very excited! The greeting will make sense in a second, I promise. 😄

Posted by Zhuo-Fei Hui on Oct 19, 2022

In September, we properly employed ourselves and paid out our first salaries! 💥 Harry and Doro took care of most of the bureaucracy, and Doro wrote about some of it in her own monthly recap. We will also share more about what our employment contract looks like and how we set salaries soon in our Digital Garden! 🌱

September was also our last chance to enjoy some summer days in Europe (and gather enough serotonin in preparation for the infamous Berlin winter 😏). So some of us took a few days off just to do that.

Harry did a month of workation in the Peak District, Christoph was in Rome and I sailed from Gothenburg to Heiligenhafen.

Photo of a sailboat out on the sea

When you are on a sailing trip, you usually have a lot of time to stare out to the sea and contemplate life. So at some point between Anholt and Kerteminde, I thought about how one particular thing stood out very positively from how we’ve been working at Village One, and how it reminded me a lot of being part of a sailing crew.

There are a lot of things that need to be taken care of on a sailboat during the course of a day. In the morning, the breakfast table needs to be set, then the dishes need to be cleaned. Before setting sail, the boat needs to be checked and cleared for take-off (for example all the hatches have to be closed, the wet dishes have to be dried off and stored away, the plug that connects boat electricity with land electricity has to be plugged out and stored away, …), and after mooring, dinner needs to be prepared, the boat’s water tank needs to be refilled, garbage needs to be taken away and sometimes somebody needs to go through the inventory and go groceries shopping.

The thing that has always been fascinating to me about every sailing crew that I joined is for the majority of these tasks we don’t assign anybody to do it, yet they still get done and always get done excellently! Somebody will make breakfast in the morning, others will check the inventory and buy groceries if needed, and when the skipper asks the crew if we are clear for take-off, you can be sure that the hatches are all closed and checked multiple times.

I always thought that it was a special sailing crew thing until I joined Village One and saw how tasks get auto-magically done one by one without being assigned or pushed around!

When I see people’s behavior repeated in different contexts, I usually get curious about finding out what they have in common. And here are some reasons why I think this happens:

  • Whether in a worker-owned coop or in a sailing crew with friends, we all have the same autonomy, so we don’t need permission to work on something. Each of us can take on any task and represent the group externally.
  • We can pick the tasks we like, we know we are good at or are interested in learning more about, so it's easier to be motivated and creative when working on them.
  • Each of us has our field of expertise, but for internal tasks, we don’t have defined roles, so there are no pushing tasks to others or no "somebody will take care of it" mentality.
  • We are small and share similar values, so finding consensus is easy and fast. When a decision needs to be made, we just directly ask the others and can usually find a solution after 1 or 2 rounds of discussions.
  • We are very attentive to each other's needs, because we care about each other. We regularly ask if anyone needs support or suggest somebody do less when we see that they are taking on too much.
  • We're all in the same boat 😄 and want the journey to be enjoyable and successful, so we are motivated to take on responsibilities, even the hard ones.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this dynamic will evolve when we grow bigger, but I’m very optimistic that as long as we don’t put business before people’s needs and integrity (because we saw how companies use “if it’s good for the business, ultimately you’re going to profit from it, too.” as excuses to make questionable decisions and it never pays off), we are going to do great.


Fei & the crew.

Stronger together: Come along for the ride!

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