About the author: Ronnit Wilmersdörffer has been working in the social start-up sector for five years and recently joined the Expedition Basic Income team. Expedition Basic Income initiates and accompanies referendums for a state model experiment of an unconditional basic income. By the way, the expedition is currently looking for a front-end developer – click here for the call for applications (in German).
How can one do justice to the purpose and the people in a team equally? This is not a trivial question: in business and the social sector alike, sacrificing for work (or a cause) is often expected or at least encouraged. Despite New Work Methodology and agile mindsets, the well-being and self-organisation of employees usually remains a means to an end to improve performance. So what does an organisation look like in which human well-being is more than a generously designed factor towards efficiency?
For five weeks I have been part of Expedition Basic Income, which is dedicated to the political advancement of Unconditional Basic Income. This is based on the freedom of the individual as an end in itself, but also on the belief that this is what enables people to have a positive social impact. The founders have also firmly anchored this attitude in their organisational culture: in addition to the expected drive, vision and entrepreneurial attitude, the preservation of self-determination – beyond social expectations and pressure to perform – is a significant component of organisational culture. This manifests itself on different levels.
On the one hand, the framework conditions for cooperation are individually designed – as is now the case in many places. On the other hand, there is an honest respect for the fact that people need space in their lives beyond work and projects: for hobbies, family, relationships and for physical and mental health. That is why the regular working week is only 32 hours long. Other elements of cooperation also change when the human component is given equal space to the factual work. In the team, there is relatively a lot of talk on moods, discomfort or conflicts on the spot – which is by no means always pleasant. But it also opens up space for research into causes, consideration, mutual support, conflict resolution and a more agile, sustainable way of working together.
The founders* of Expedition Basic Income – Laura and Joy.
It always remains a tightrope walk to reconcile the individual needs of all team members and the factual requirements of our work. Because, as everywhere else, in this organisation there tends to be more work than personnel, bottlenecks and hard deadlines. We also work overtime, sometimes even beyond our comfort zone. But the difference is this: If the baseline is self-care and sustained personal effectiveness – and not efficiency as an end in itself – then exceptional workload is more like a 45-hour week than a 65-hour week. Decisions are made to avoid such situations as far as possible and not to accept them. The space for self-care is confidently demanded by all team members and not excusingly justified. Because this is how we imagine a working world in which people participate out of their own motivation and not out of economic necessity. And this is the kind of world we are ultimately working towards.