Coworker Conduct, Mutual Respect, Anti-Harassment and what to call it

Dallas Fort Work is going through some growing pains and we’re being forced to address issues of conduct, courtesy and mutual respect in an organized fashion.

When we had 15-20 members, it was easy to work things out through conversation or as they came up. Now at 70 members and growing, behavioral issues are commonplace enough that we feel we need a policy to outline expectations of behavior.

As a 24/7 space, we also have issues when staff is not present and for that reason alone, we feel a policy is required. There are other reasons too, such as the fact that staff isn’t in every context even when they are on the job or that as the community grows, expectations for behavior/conduct will diverge from any standard unless that standard is established.

So with that in mind, what are the important things to consider with such a policy? What behavior are worth calling out? Is it important to delineate consequences? Process for arriving at consequences?

Lastly, what do you call such a document and policy? We’ve been working with Coworking Buffalo’s Anti-Harassment Policy as a starting point since it seems to cover the basics of what we’re looking to address. http://coworkbuffalo.com/policy/

Despite liking the body of the document, we’re struggling with what to call it. We want to be clear that we actively oppose harassment, but I personally feel that terms like Anti-Harassment or Code of Conduct make me feel like a subject, whereas something like a Mutual Respect policy makes me feel like an equal.

Any thoughts or experiences on this subject would be most appreciated.

Thanks!
Oren

Hi Oren,

Addressing your questions about consequences and how you arrive there, in a former life I found McGregor’s Hot Stove Rule to be useful in being fair and impartial. Everyone knows/has access to the rules & consequences, everybody knows what the consequences are. McGregor compared touching a hot stove and its consequences to breaking any workplace rule and the consequences. The summary of the key points are:

  • You had a warning (rules/guidelines are posted) – you knew what would happen if you touched the stove
  • The penalty was consistent – everyone gets the same treatment
  • The penalty is impersonal – a person is burned not because of who he or she is, but because the stove was touched
  • The penalty is not delayed (within reason)

link to a full article here

Especially with harassment issues, being very transparent and consistent is important. And yes, it’s important to include the consequences.

As for the overall policy, and with no snark or sarcasm intended, something based on Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten might be a good foundation to start with that doesn’t sound very intimidating:

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
  • Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned—the biggest word of all—LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Glen Ferguson

Phone: 301-732-5165

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://coworkfrederick.com

Address: 122 E Patrick St, Frederick, MD 21701

···

On Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 1:56 PM, Randall Arnold [email protected] wrote:

It’s good that you’re addressing this before it gets ugly, Oren (and congrats on the growth!). It’s also good that you’re benchmarking. Mature orgs have already tackled these issues!

I agree with you on naming being important-- how you set that tone will largely determine constituent buy-in. You definitely don’t want to name it “Anti” anything, because you want to emphasize the behaviors you’re looking FOR. People tune out “Antis” right off the bat.

Maybe “Expectations of Civility” or somesuch. “Mutual Respect” is definitely a good starting point.

Randy

On September 8, 2015 at 12:42 PM "[email protected]" [email protected] wrote:

Dallas Fort Work is going through some growing pains and we’re being forced to address issues of conduct, courtesy and mutual respect in an organized fashion.

When we had 15-20 members, it was easy to work things out through conversation or as they came up. Now at 70 members and growing, behavioral issues are commonplace enough that we feel we need a policy to outline expectations of behavior.

As a 24/7 space, we also have issues when staff is not present and for that reason alone, we feel a policy is required. There are other reasons too, such as the fact that staff isn’t in every context even when they are on the job or that as the community grows, expectations for behavior/conduct will diverge from any standard unless that standard is established.

So with that in mind, what are the important things to consider with such a policy? What behavior are worth calling out? Is it important to delineate consequences? Process for arriving at consequences?

Lastly, what do you call such a document and policy? We’ve been working with Coworking Buffalo’s Anti-Harassment Policy as a starting point since it seems to cover the basics of what we’re looking to address. http://coworkbuffalo.com/policy/

Despite liking the body of the document, we’re struggling with what to call it. We want to be clear that we actively oppose harassment, but I personally feel that terms like Anti-Harassment or Code of Conduct make me feel like a subject, whereas something like a Mutual Respect policy makes me feel like an equal.

Any thoughts or experiences on this subject would be most appreciated.

Thanks!
Oren


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+1 to what Randall said.

I’m sure you’ve already considered this, but the more you can make this a participatory process with the members, the better. They are ultimately going to be the ones at front line when it comes to reinforcing the kind of culture they want to see in the community, so it’s up to them to decide what that looks like.

If a critical mass of your members can feel like they are instrumental or at least involved in helping shape this approach, they’re far more likely to stick to it when they see someone astray… because it’s theirs, not yours.

Great coworking communities distinguish themselves from typical office environments in the ways they offer trust by default and respect people’s autonomy. If we have to take too much of an authoritative position on something, we lose. So we have to do whatever we can do address these things in a way that embraces that ethos as best we can.

You can make it a fun event! Everyone discusses what should be included with one point-person taking notes that everyone can see on a big screen. Maybe there are beverages and snacks. Maybe everyone gets together to produce a silly video that parodies corporate HR propaganda, to be included on a page about this on your site.

Fun!

Tony

···

Projects: Open CoworkingCotivation (read about it in Shareable!)

My new eBook: No More Sink Full of Mugs

Connect: TwitterFacebookLinkedIn

On Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 1:03 PM, Glen Ferguson [email protected] wrote:

Hi Oren,

Addressing your questions about consequences and how you arrive there, in a former life I found McGregor’s Hot Stove Rule to be useful in being fair and impartial. Everyone knows/has access to the rules & consequences, everybody knows what the consequences are. McGregor compared touching a hot stove and its consequences to breaking any workplace rule and the consequences. The summary of the key points are:

  • You had a warning (rules/guidelines are posted) – you knew what would happen if you touched the stove
  • The penalty was consistent – everyone gets the same treatment
  • The penalty is impersonal – a person is burned not because of who he or she is, but because the stove was touched
  • The penalty is not delayed (within reason)

link to a full article here

Especially with harassment issues, being very transparent and consistent is important. And yes, it’s important to include the consequences.

As for the overall policy, and with no snark or sarcasm intended, something based on Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten might be a good foundation to start with that doesn’t sound very intimidating:

ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life—learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
  • Wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup—they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned—the biggest word of all—LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.
Glen Ferguson

Phone: 301-732-5165

Email: [email protected]

Website: http://coworkfrederick.com

Address: 122 E Patrick St, Frederick, MD 21701

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

On Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 1:56 PM, Randall Arnold [email protected] wrote:

It’s good that you’re addressing this before it gets ugly, Oren (and congrats on the growth!). It’s also good that you’re benchmarking. Mature orgs have already tackled these issues!

I agree with you on naming being important-- how you set that tone will largely determine constituent buy-in. You definitely don’t want to name it “Anti” anything, because you want to emphasize the behaviors you’re looking FOR. People tune out “Antis” right off the bat.

Maybe “Expectations of Civility” or somesuch. “Mutual Respect” is definitely a good starting point.

Randy

On September 8, 2015 at 12:42 PM "[email protected]" [email protected] wrote:

Dallas Fort Work is going through some growing pains and we’re being forced to address issues of conduct, courtesy and mutual respect in an organized fashion.

When we had 15-20 members, it was easy to work things out through conversation or as they came up. Now at 70 members and growing, behavioral issues are commonplace enough that we feel we need a policy to outline expectations of behavior.

As a 24/7 space, we also have issues when staff is not present and for that reason alone, we feel a policy is required. There are other reasons too, such as the fact that staff isn’t in every context even when they are on the job or that as the community grows, expectations for behavior/conduct will diverge from any standard unless that standard is established.

So with that in mind, what are the important things to consider with such a policy? What behavior are worth calling out? Is it important to delineate consequences? Process for arriving at consequences?

Lastly, what do you call such a document and policy? We’ve been working with Coworking Buffalo’s Anti-Harassment Policy as a starting point since it seems to cover the basics of what we’re looking to address. http://coworkbuffalo.com/policy/

Despite liking the body of the document, we’re struggling with what to call it. We want to be clear that we actively oppose harassment, but I personally feel that terms like Anti-Harassment or Code of Conduct make me feel like a subject, whereas something like a Mutual Respect policy makes me feel like an equal.

Any thoughts or experiences on this subject would be most appreciated.

Thanks!
Oren


Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com

You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].
For more options, visit https://groups.google.com/d/optout.

Visit this forum on the web at http://discuss.coworking.com


You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups “Coworking” group.

To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to [email protected].

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Hi, Oren,

A policy can be as vague or as specific as is suitable, I think the one you are working with is pretty good. But I think it is useful to think of a code of conduct in a broader, more incusive way, and to present it that way also. A code of conduct, and reporting and enforcement of same, is really about trust and about transparency. There comes a time when your community starts to include people who are not part of the initial in-group, who don’t know the unspoken and unwritten rules. And you want to send the message that those peole are welcoem also. When your community becomes more heterogeneous, and that is a good thing. A diverse community isi stronger and makes better decisions and is more creative overall.

A place where there has been a lot of thought and consideration of this topic is in the organization and sponsoring of conferences. The lively discussion started in 2011 or so and and a lot of very good things have come from it. It has led for example to the increasingly widespread use of ASAN’s color cards and the availability of accomodations for people with disabilities, as well as increased attendance and enjoyment by women and people of color. A number of prominent speakers have said they willnto participate if there is no code of conduct, and The Python Sofware Foundation requires a code of conduct for any Conference it sponsors or attends. (the linked blog post is useful food for thougth in developing and launching one).

Here and here are some nifty resources for developing and launching a code of conduct, they are focused on conferences but are easily adaptable I think.

.

One of the things I do want to note about this kind of policy is that 1) it is worth putting the time in to win hearts and minds on it, 2) reporting is often neglected, and 3) enforcement can be problematic. The key really is though that any kind of written policy that works by unwritten rules or leaves people in a state of uncertainty is not a good result.

There is also sometimes a good deal of resistance to the implementation of such a policy, mostly on the ground that Humans Hate Change (the guiding principle of life). This is also to be worked through.

I would call it a manifesto or a declaration of values myself. Though I did not, here it is part of the Terms of Use. Still a Code or a set of House Rules is not a replacement for a culture of accountability to each other and of inclusion; that’s what really solves the problem. In some ways having rules is a way of opening the conversation and communicating, reporting policies are ways of getting the community involved and enforcement is showing that you intend to walk your talk. ,