Membership of Agile Collective is entirely voluntary and open to all employees who work a minimum of 28 hours and who have successfully completed their probationary period, provided they are willing and able to accept the responsibilities of Membership.
We feel that 28 hours is the necessary minimum amount of time required to be able to actively participate in decision-making and in the day-to-day running of the business.
In exceptional circumstances you may be able to become a Member if you work less than this, at the discretion of the Membership.
If, after having been a Member, your working hours fall below this you may be allowed to stay a Member, at the discretion of the Membership.
Another requirement of membership is owning one share of the company (currently the value of £1).
Agile Collective is owned and run by its Members, who are responsible for the company, its business and resources. Members responsibilities are to:
- Be a part and embrace the co-operative movement by:
- Accepting and promoting the co-operative principles.
- Seeking and undertaking training and personal development in order to be a more effective Member.
- Be a business owner:
- Be legally responsible for the business of Agile Collective, ensuring that the company complies with all relevant laws.
- Be informed about the ramifications of being an employer and shadow director* .
- Be informed of the economic and financial situation of business, and actively promote actions to preserve financial and economic stability.
- Manage the business by:
- Actively participating in the management and development of the business, and having a shared responsibility for current business plans and the successful functioning and development of the specialist teams.
- Making active contributions to the collective management functions and processes of the business. This means that a proportion of every Member’s time will be dedicated to aspects of running and improving the business that may fall outside their primary role.
- Taking on one or more areas of specific responsibility as required by the business.
- Participating in decision making, and delegating decision making when appropriate.
- Be an employer:
- Ensuring the company has a sustainable business model, providing a stable and rewarding environment for our workers to thrive in.
- Promoting worker self-management, while also providing help and support with time management if needed.
- Promoting worker happiness, health and longevity
- Be an entrepreneur:
- Actively contribute to the business vision and strategy, and keep them relevant, competitive and exciting, aiming for business longevity and sustainability for the foreseeable future.
- Read, understand and agree with the values and mission of the company, and contribute to shape their evolution.
- Be a worker and employee in the business (see details in the relevant chapter).
* A shadow director is somebody, who is not actually a registered director, but who advises, gives instructions which are acted on, or makes decisions in that company, then they are in fact "acting and are accustomed to act" as a director. Source: HMRC Website
There are a number of benefits to being a Member, which include (but are not limited to):
- Ownership and control of the business
- A say in business matters
- Business strategy
- Structure and governance of the co-operative
- Potential clients
- Pay, bonuses and profit shares. The right to a number of Member benefits
- Autonomy in how your day is structured, and the direction you take in prioritising your work.
Becoming a Member
New employees at Agile Collective are placed on the Membership track, if they qualify for Membership, and are given the status of Probationary Members.
The standard probationary period for Membership is 1 year, although this can be less in certain situations.
The probationary period is more involved than a normal employment probationary period as it also involves learning how to be a Member of a worker co-operative as well as learning how to do the job you were hired to do.
All probationary Members will have a series of review meetings after:
- 3 months
- 6 months
- 9 months
Members will give you feedback on your progress in your job role, as described by your job description, and your responsibilities of Membership.
As part of this review process, you will be asked to do a self-assessment to reflect on how you are fulfilling the Member responsibilities. You will also solicit feedback from Members in the company (feedback form) and meet with representatives of the Membership (meeting template).
The purpose of the review process is to ensure that you are clear on what’s expected of you and so that there are no surprises at the end of the probationary period.
At least a month before the end of your probationary period, the Members will meet to decide on your Membership, with 3 possible outcomes:
- You are offered Membership
- You are not offered Membership
- Your probationary period is extended
If you are offered Membership
Membership of Agile Collective is voluntary and open, and is a serious commitment.
If, for any reason, you do not feel able to accept the offer of Membership we will meet with you to discuss your reasons. Depending on the circumstances we may still offer you a permanent contract, but you will not have the responsibilities and benefits of Membership.
If you have serious concerns about becoming a Member at any point during your probationary period please speak to your buddy or raise them in your review meetings.
If you are not offered Membership
If the Membership decides not to offer you Membership of the co-operative we will discuss the reasons for this with you. Any serious concerns should have become clear during the review process so this decision should not come as a surprise. We may still offer you a permanent contract, but you will not have the responsibilities and benefits of Membership.
If you are unhappy about this decision you can follow the usual grievance procedure.
If your probationary period is extended
We may decide to extend your probationary period for a maximum of 6 months. You are also at liberty to request an extension if you have concerns about becoming a Member. Please inform your buddy or raise this in your review meeting.
If the extension is our suggestion we will meet with you and explain our reasoning.
Your probationary period will continue as before, with 3 monthly reviews until the agreed end period.
Membership is voluntary and can be renounced at any time. Please give two weeks notice to the People Circle as there are a number of practical actions that need to be taken to formalise this (i.e. reimbursement of share, reverting Member’s benefits). The People Circle will arrange a meeting to discuss your reasons, and meeting outcomes will be shared with members, so that the Membership as a whole can reflect on this.
Renouncing your renouncing of Membership
You may be asked to do a probation period (members decision), and also ensure the membership understand why you want to be a member again (eg. what has changed?).
As stated above, Membership of Agile Collective is voluntary and open, and is a serious commitment.
If you are not offered Membership (but are offered a permanent contract), have decided to renounce Membership or you do not qualify for Membership any more after changing your working patterns, you will be employed as a non-Member employee.
A non-Member employee needs to:
- Participate in the core tasks upon which the operation of Agile Collective depends.
- Be part of a multi-skilled team, working in a supportive and communicative manner.
- Participate in the core tasks upon which the operation of Agile Collective depends.
- Deal with our clients, the public, employees and freelancers courteously and helpfully.
- Seek and undertake training and personal development in order to be a more effective worker.
- Communicate openly, supportively and honestly with other workers.
- Read and listen to all communications from fellow workers.
- Work collectively for the good of the organisation and its employees.
- Take guidance and direction from the Membership of the co-operative.
- Read, heed and abide by the policies of Agile Collective.
- Seek and accept responsibility within the co-operative.
In return Agile Collective will:
- Provide you with the equipment you need to do your job and will kit out one workstation for you, at the place specified as your main place of work
- Allow a flexibility in your work (hours and location) so long as you keep us and the team informed in a timely manner
- Try to accommodate any reasonable requests for extended flexibility or a permanent change to your normal place and hours of work
- Try and consult you on decisions that affect you
- Endeavour to keep you informed of what’s going on in meetings that you aren’t party to
- Try to maintain a great working environment, so any feedback you have about how running this organisation will be listened to.
- Try and make expectations of you clear, and give you constructive feedback to help you develop
- Support your personal and professional development
Membership & sociocracy
Sociocracy is the management system the Members of AC have decided to implement. What it is, in essence, is a way of delegating decision making down to subsets of the workforce. By delegating responsibility to circles we are distributing decision making, encouraging progression and increasing efficiency.
Despite this, Members are all still (legally) responsible for all that happens within the co-operative.
Circle membership is open and voluntary. Both Members and non-Members are allowed to be part of one or more circles.
If your primary role clearly relates to a certain circle, then you will be expected to join this. For example, someone employed to do book-keeping or business development would naturally join the Finance or Business Development Circle respectively.
Where a circle falls outside your primary role, all Membership of circles is voluntary.
Non-Member workers may ask or be invited to join a circle outside of their primary role. The desire to participate in additional circles will be weighed against the needs of the business in relation to your primary role.
When you join, you will be assigned a buddy whose job it is to support you through your first few months at Agile Collective, and answer any questions you may have about the co-op and its workings.
They can offer a number of things that a line manager might typically do:
- Answer any questions you may have about the way things work,
- support you to meet your personal development goals,
- help make sure you do the things you said you were going to do,
- Be a supportive listener if a colleague is being challenging,
- put a human face on talking to 'the organisation'.
Buddying is not about managing your daily work. It’s about you as an individual, and your relationship to the co-op. They can be your mentor, or your guide, or your sounding board. If you ever get into a conflict situation, they’ll be by your side making sure you are well supported to a resolution.
Becoming part of a worker co-operative can be daunting so training is an important aspect of your probationary period.
We will provide training in key co-operative skills, such as consent-based decision making, to give you the confidence and understanding in how we operate. This may mean going on a course run externally or may be done internally.
We will also encourage you to take part in at least one co-operative event such as the Worker Co-op Weekend, a CoTech gathering, workshop, talks or a Co-operative Meetup.
We want Members to be actively engaged in the wider co-operative movement in line with Principle 6 – co-operation among co-operatives.