First Interim HR Workgroup Report

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First Interim HR Report - March 11, 2008

This page has been updated as of March 13/14, 2008 to reflect the final report presented and accepted at the March 11th general
meeting. There are several changes to the report's descriptions, as well as modifications to the staff structure. The structure
modifications have been tagged with starred numbers as follows:

   * the movement of responsibilities from one position to another (*1)
   * the incorporation of swing responsibilities by copying some responsibilities from one position to another (*2)
   * the rewording of one responsibility within a position to clarify its intent and avoid confusion (*3)
   * the inclusion of several new responsibilities (*4)
   * the rewording of one responsibility to incorporate a broader scope (*5)

Structure items which also have a reference within the minutes of the March 4th contingency meeting are marked with (*m)

Free Geek Vancouver

Interim HR Workgroup Report

March 11th, 2008

Prepared by:

Paul Teehan, Volunteer

Sean Hill, Director


Free Geek Vancouver (“FG”) has depended entirely on volunteer labour for most of its existence. Around the beginning of 2008, the organisation's finances were sufficient to begin paying wages to some full-time volunteers. Preliminary budgets suggested the organization could hire three full-time workers at wages of $1500 per month each. Two full-time volunteers were converted to employees at this wage. A third position was discussed at the general meeting on February 12th, 2008 but consensus could not be reached.

At a contingency meeting on February 19th, 2008, it was decided to strike an interim HR workgroup to interview FG employees and volunteers in order to define FG's job descriptions. The workgroup consists of Sean Hill and Paul Teehan. As stated in the minutes, the mandate of the group was:

- Define FG's job descriptions

- Bring a fresh view to FG's operations

- Interview people on-site in order to determine tasks that need to be done, and tasks that are being done and how they are currently filled

- Consider what jobs can be done by volunteers and which require paid staff

- Keep in mind that there are people already working.

This report represents the draft recommendations of the HR workgroup.

2.Principal recommendations

Based on the work that is currently being done and that needs to be done at Free Geek, we have recommended four full-time positions, listed in detail later in this report. They are:

- Recycling & facilities coordinator

- Reuse & infrastructure coordinator

- Revenue & finance coordinator

- Communications & volunteer coordinator.

There is an obvious problem in that the original budget provided for only three full time staff at $1500 a month each. Updated financial numbers will be provided at the meeting on Tuesday March 11th.

In order to develop a financially sustainable organisation, we we will be required to either:

- Raise more money, and/or

- Lower the monthly wage, and/or

- Scale back operations or convert paid work to volunteer work

It is our belief that the first option is the most desirable and is within our means. Providing adequate staffing on all fronts while defining a full-time employee whose main purpose is to develop revenue streams should allow us to make the necessary extra funds to cover all positions.

3.Job Descriptions

The job descriptions are provided below. In making these divisions, we referred to the Free Geek mission statement: Free Geek is a not for profit community organisation that recycles used technology to provide computers, education, internet access and job skills training to those in need, in exchange for community service. In particular, we would like to note that while revenue generation is a vital part of operations, its purpose is primarily to support the other endeavours, namely reuse and volunteer programs, which allow Free Geek to fulfil its mission.

These roles are intended to define spheres of responsibility. No coordinator is necessarily expected to perform every task within their sphere, nor are the spheres intended to imply any final say on the coordinator's part regarding decisions within their sphere.

On the first point, many tasks could and should be taken up by volunteers.

On the second point, it is not up to this report to define how open a coordinator must be to the influence of volunteers within their sphere. That is up to the General membership.

This document merely outlines a set of tasks which the coordinator must ensure are covered.

Duties marked 'swing' are to be coordinated between 2 or more coordinators

3.1.General tasks and responsibilities

All coordinators are responsible for the following as they apply to their own spheres of influence:

- Organisation and cleanup of space

- Cleaning

- Awareness and compliance regarding community standards and policy (*5)(*m)

- Volunteer supervision

--- Instruction

--- Education

--- Safety compliance

- Documentation

--- Policy and procedure writing

--- Station posters

--- Shop wiki

- Working within a prescribed budget (*4)(*m)

- Basic understanding of and participation in consensus process (*4)

- Attendance of FG general meetings & operations meetings(*m), as well as staff training workshops (e.g. first aid, anti-oppression, consensus, etc.) (*4)

- Subscription to relevant workgroup mailing lists (*4)

- Being present at the Free Geek headquarters during paid hours unless a duty requires attendance elsewhere (*4)

3.2.Recycling & Facilities Coordinator 

This position is primarily concerned with managing the flow of hardware in and out of the warehouse. Facilities has been tied to the Recycling Coordinator due to geographic convenience. Realistically, the facilities responsibilities should not take a great deal of time.


- Recycling

--- Receive donations and refuse unacceptable donations

--- Route good hardware to eval stations

--- Organise and sort recyclable hardware

--- Build and organise skids

--- Plan and arrange outflow pickups (swing - Revenue) (*2)

- Facilities

--- Waste (garbage, cardboard)

--- General supplies: kitchen, bathroom, office

--- General maintenance

3.3.Reuse and Infrastructure Coordinator

This position is concerned with managing the flow of hardware through the various testing and evaluation stages to its various destinations (build, store, hardware grants, or back to recycling).

Inflow pickup coordination has been placed with the Reuse Coordinator under the assumption that they are an expert in knowing what the organization needs to fulfill its mission of distributing hardware to those in need. Traditionally, it has been managed more from a revenue-oriented viewpoint. It could be argued that the Revenue Coordinator has the best expertise to 'value' the potential pickups monetarily; this is a topic for further discussion.

An infrastructure coordinator is included on a part-time basis primarily for maintenance needs. New infrastructure development should be undertaken only as time allows.


- Reuse

--- Eval 1 & 2

--- Testing

--- Build

----- Gathering

----- Assembly

----- Installs

--- Sorting

--- Hard drives (*1) --- Rerouting

----- Store stock

----- Hardware grants (swing - Communications) (*2)

--- Planning and arranging inflow pickups (swing - Revenue) (*2)(*m)

- Infrastructure

--- Maintenance

----- Testing stations

----- Database admin

----- Network admin

----- Hard drive wiping station

--- Development

----- Ticketing system

----- Asterisk server

----- Software engineering

----- etc

3.4. Revenue and Finance Coordinator

All financial-related tasks are collected into this position. This position has the primary responsibility of bringing in and increasing revenue, and managing expenses.


- Revenue

--- Store sales

--- Phone sales

--- Online sales

--- Rentals

--- Pricing research

--- Stocking

--- Scrap/recycling revenue

--- Repairs (*1)

----- Laptops

----- LCDs

--- Plan and arrange inflow pickups (swing – Reuse) (*2)(*m)

--- Plan and arrange outflow pickups (swing - Recycling) (*2)

- Finance

--- Paying bills

----- Rent

----- Payroll

----- Other bills

--- Bookkeeping

----- Sales recording

----- Expense recording

3.5.Communications & Volunteer Coordinator 

This position is responsible for interfacing between Free Geek and the outside world, administrating the volunteer program, and ensuring some other administrative tasks are handled.


- Communications

--- Outreach

----- Hardware grants (swing - Communications) (*2)

----- Media inquiries

----- Public inquiries

----- Interfacing with other non-profits

----- Trade shows and booths

----- Provincial recycling program

----- Promotional materials

------- Posters

------- Cards

------- Website

--------- Content

--------- Events listings

----- Education

------- Windowsless Wednesdays

------- Workshops

----- Grants

------- Research

------- Writing

----- Event planning

--- Operational

----- Operations meeting coordination

----- Pedal

----- Landlord

----- Board (*4)

----- General (*4)

------- Meetings (*4)

------- Announcements (*4)

--- Official

----- Permits

----- License

----- Insurance

--- Document filing and storage

--- Documentation oversight

- Volunteer

--- Interviews

--- Scheduling

--- Updating database (*3)

--- Orientation

----- Tour

----- Intro

----- Safety

--- Sign in/out

--- Feedback

4. General Recommendations

The following recommendations came about as a result of the interim HR process. While they fall outside of the scope the interim HR group's mandate, they are included here as they are broadly supportive of the success of our principal recommendations.

4.1. Regular Operations workgroup meetings

The staff collective should hold frequent short meetings and regular full meetings to deal with coordinating use of the space across all spheres. This will help Free Geek to work smoothly and efficiently across boundaries and nurture the flow of communication.

4.2. Develop an effective HR policy

Whether Free Geek decides to have a permanent HR group or strike one as the need arises, there are many situations where an HR group may be needed. These include but are not limited to hiring, firing, handling grievances, and employee evaluation.

The HR policy will need to include sub-policies regarding HR spheres, including, but not limited to, hiring, firing, handling grievances, and employee evaluation.

4.3. Define the role of employee relative to other roles

While all members of Free Geek should feel comfortable to engage in the consensus process regarding all areas of Free Geek operations, an employee should recognise that their involvement as a coordinator will limit the influence they may have regarding other spheres. All employees should be broadly trusting and supportive of each other's roles and decisions. Grievances should always be handled professionally and appropriately.

4.4. A general structure contingency meeting within 3 months

Assuming this structure is adopted and hiring goes ahead, Free Geek should convene a contingency meeting within 3 months to evaluate the structure and processes.

4.5. Develop a contingency plan

In the possibility that this structure and hire do not work out as planned (ie. we are not able to afford it), there should be a clear understanding that we may need to alter things drastically. Anyone hired under this plan should realise that this phase is somewhat experimental and risky.