As part of Co-operative Fortnight [19 June–3 July], Felix Lozano from wave design shared his experiences of working co-operatively at an event at the White Rock Hotel in Hastings. Zelly Restorick from Hastings Online Times went along to find out more.
Most of us have grown up in the world of authoritarian hierarchy and competition – at home, at school and at work – and yet there are huge benefits on offer from working in harmony and co-operation with others. wave design is a worker’s co-operative based in Hastings. Now in it’s 28th year, wave’s graphic design work can be seen both online and off for clients including WaterAid, The Multiple Sclerosis Society and St Michael’s Hospice.
Felix Lozano, co-director at wave, told the audience that “working together on an equal footing is empowering… the equality is a positive and you share the risks. The main asset is the people, but also the people can be the trickiest element… all our differences and needs need to be balanced, but we’ve never had to fire anyone. The co-op is really supportive of its members. That’s possibly one of the drawbacks – once you’ve worked in a co-op, it’d be hard to go back to a structured hierarchy within the work environment, as you’ve had a taste of empowerment, independence and self-determination”.
He added “the flexibility of our structure has allowed us to weather some storms better than if we had been in a more conventional set up and jobs have been saved because of it. Plus rather than the business decisions resting on the shoulders of just one or two directors, we have the benefit of nine directors’ input. This may sound off-putting initially but when you think that each director brings with them their own business experience and skillset you have just increased your business acumen ninefold”.
I asked about the qualities that a person might need to fit into this alternative work structure? Shared values and principles; flexibility; enjoying both shared and personal responsibility; commitment; a desire to be a part of something; honesty, openness and caring for others; an ability to make decisions and choices; a belief in – or at least a willingness to explore – the values of democracy, equality and solidarity – and a desire to make a contribution to the common good.
If you’re interested in exploring the co-operative option for a new or existing business there are some useful references tools shown below.
Felix is also happy to be contacted for further information about working together, the co-operative way.
This is an extract from an article by Zelly Restorick for http://www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk