El Jefe in the Small Office.

The Tragedy of the Commons or Who’s Responsible for Cleaning a Small Office?

Running a small office such as an early-stage start-up or boutique marketing firm seems like it should be pretty straightforward. But sometimes it’s not.

A challenge that often occurs in this environment is that everyone wears multiple customer-facing hats and it’s not any one person’s job to take care of the little household chores. Like doing the dishes. Or bringing in milk for the coffee. Or tidying-up the conference room.  Or changing the toilet paper rolls.

There is no full-time admin position. Sometimes there are interns.  Sometimes there aren’t.  Janitorial services are sporadic.

The resulting lack of ownership around these basic office chores often makes them (and garbage) pile up… or fall by the wayside.  Or, worse, they end up falling on one extra-conscientious person, who ends up resenting the hell out of everyone else.

glassCanopy’s Answer: The El Jefe System.

El Jefe of the weekWe instituted this rotating position where everyone in the company takes a turn for a week being responsible for the office chores: garbage, wiping things down, stocking the fridge, etc.

El Jefe also get to choose what snacks we have and what message, drawing, or quotation goes on the big community chalkboard.  Plus the authority to purchase larger items that the office needs, like a new chair or shelf.

The El Jefe system produces a sparkling office plus weekly surprises like special snacks and fresh flowers .

There’s also no more grumbling about why there is no milk in the fridge.

Melanie Barter

Melanie is an executive producer with a creative background in film, digital and marketing. She is originally from Toronto and has worked in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. She has been in San Francisco since 2004.

You may also like

Leave a comment