K Shifts

Almost all jobs at Twin Oaks are voluntary. Members can pick the work they want to do, with the idea being if we value a job enough, it will get done. If no one is willing to do a job, by this theory, then we don’t value it. The only exception to this rule is our kitchen cleaning shifts (K shifts). Everyone is required to do one K shift per week, unless they are physically unable. The shifts last for one to two hours right after lunch and dinner.

The idea is that K shifts are the least desirable job in the community and that everyone must do it for the sake of fairness. In reality, not everyone does K shifts. There are two K shifts per day with three people per shift, meaning that we only require 42 (out of 92) people to clean the kitchen during any given week. According to some labor assigners, several people in the community systematically mark of their labor sheets such that it is impossible to assign them a K shift.

Despite the perceived undesirability of K shifts, many people self-assign a regular weekly shift. The advantage to this is that you can choose a time you like and perhaps team up with friends. People on regular shifts often spilt the tasks the same way every week, with everyone doing their favorite jobs.

There used to be the sense in the community that K3s (the after dinner shift) were especially unpleasant (as many people don’t want to do any work after dinner), but currently every evening has a regular crew. Brittany and I do a K shift most Fridays, for example. Because we allow out loud music during K shifts, many of the regular K3s are based on common musical interests. On Sunday there is a “heavy metal K3? and on Monday there is a “classical music K3.” Brittany and I usually listen to show tunes. On Thursday, there is a shift that is doesn’t have out loud music. Some people schedule regular K3s with their friends as a way to have a regular hangout with those friends immediately following the shift.