Rule Changes: Clear-Desk, Desk Rental, and Hazardous Chemical Safety Policy Updates

TL;DR: After going through due process, the desk usage policy has been updated to: explicitly state that un-rented desks should be cleared after use; that members have the right to move equipment left on un-rented desks to communal storage areas; which desks are currently rented/hot-desk/communal; and implementing standard COSHH practices.

Here at Farset Labs, we started off with a relatively simple, if comprehensive, sets of Rules, Policies, and Codes of Conduct, covering the use of the space, equipment in the space, and the guidelines that we as a community agree to abide to.

99% of these can be summarised as:

  • Leave the space better than you found it.
  • Treat others (and their stuff) as you expect you (and your stuff) to be treated.

However, sometimes it becomes necessary to be a little more explicit about the expectations of the wider community. Two issues that have been raised with the management and director teams occasionally but persistently since day one is “someone left a desk covered in junk, what do?” and “Is this desk rented?”.

Around May time, discussions in the Slack boiled up to a point where the Directorship and Management teams realised that for about a year we’d been discussing a “Clear Desk Policy” that we were absolutely sure we definitely, definitely, had one that said “clear up your stuff when your done”…

So, in the June Town Hall, I raised a proposal to address a few simultaneous issues around ‘where should be clear, who should clear it, and where can I put stuff?’. This was, after some discussion and deliberation around which desks should be on/off limits for renting, ratified unanimously.

As part of a similar “Huh, I thought we had that?” discussion, we realised we didn’t explicitly state any limits on hazardous chemical handling. We have since day one had an explicit exclusion on firearms/ammunition , explosives, Offensive weapons, Unlicensed radio equipment, large quantities of combustibles, inflammables, or pressurised gases, stolen equipment, or banned substances. However, the eagle eyed reader may have noticed from the old rules, ‘large quantities’ was never defined, so naturally we eventually got a couple of reports of members effectively bulk buying both high end solvents and pressurised containers on the cheap, and stashing them in boxes somewhere… So David Kane and Colin Kelsey took on the task in writing up their own proposal to expand and extend the coverage of our COSHH policies, that was similarly unanimously ratified at the June Town Hall.

Now, for a bit of behind the scenes process; that doesn’t mean in ‘Farset Land’ that the new rules came in to force; just that the community had agreed in principal to the rough outlines; the proposal still needed to be turned in to the actual changes required in the Rules, Policy’s and Codes of Conduct to bring them up to speed with the proposal; if it’s not on the website it’s not a real rule.

Since moving our website to Github hosted Markdown in 2013, any changes to ‘the rules’ have been recorded and mostly Pull-Request/Reviewed as part of the ratification process in order to be as open as possible. We’re not always perfect at this but we’re getting better about being as transparent and open as possible and not just rushing through rule changes without consultation.

The COSHH pull request was relatively simple to review and merge as it was mostly technical and ‘edge case’.

The Desk Rental pull request was a bit more complex, with members of the community collaborating and beating out the policy changes to cover any edge cases, and was signed off on at last nights’ Town Hall.

“Significant” changes in this policy are:

  • Currently-Rented Hot-Desks, are indicated as in red on the Facilities page, and it is the responsibility of the Directors and NEMs to keep this up to date.
  • Any desks labeled in green in the facilities diagram are available for Rental
  • All Green and Blue desks are subject to a clear desk policy, which means these desks must be cleared of all equipment (on or under) before leaving the space
  • Any equipment left unattended at such desks can be moved by any member to common storage facilities.
  • Two desks in the workshop are being opened up to being rented.

While I’m here, I’d like to thank the members who made it out last week to blitz and “defrag” the whole space; it’s survived a week without turning back in to a tip which is always a pleasant surprise!

So anyway, that’s a little notification/story from the governance of Farset; as a reminder, Town Halls are held on the first Monday of the month in the Event Space at 7pm and are open to both members and interested-non members (however non-members can’t vote). A lot of Farsets’ day-to-day governance is handled in our Slack, which, again, is open to both members and non-members.

If there are any questions or ideas about how governance is handled, we’re more than happy for those to be discussed publicly on Github or Slack, or privately by emailing, or if there is something sensitive to be discussed.

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