This year I’m keenly aware of when my birthday falls. Why you ask? Because, this year, my birthday coincides with the U.S. federal Election Day: November 3. It feels like I’m getting hourly reminders of just how few days remain between now and then. And as Election Day quickly approaches, companies who care about the health and safety of the people who work for them must spend time — especially if they’re not already — planning for November 4 and the months ahead.
As an arts service organization, Fractured Atlas is dedicated to supporting our community. Our primary community is made up of the artists we work with through programs like fiscal sponsorship, but they aren’t the only community we’re accountable to and work to support. Our other community is made up of fellow arts organizations, nonprofits, and other businesses that hold our shared values as an organization. They understand the value of building equitable workplaces where employees can thrive, both because it is the right thing to do and because if a team is able to work well, they are able to thrive.
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With my heart pounding out of my chest and feeling an urge to vomit, I raised my hand and then watched as the microphone was tossed across the cavernous room towards me. There I was, shakily holding one of those foam box microphones and standing in a room of some of the most recognized CEOs and companies in the U.S. I then opened my mouth hoping audible words would form as I nervously said that I didn’t think the Conscious Capitalism movement would be sustainable if it didn’t confront capitalism’s role in perpetuating racism and oppression.
Someone recently asked me, “When do you think we can start pushing our teams to achieve pre-pandemic performance levels again, I mean, it’s been five months?” This past March in North America a giant remote work experiment began for many as an Adrenaline-fueled sprint. Organizations raced to get workers set up with home offices, stores sold out of computer monitors and tablets, and internet providers were inundated with rush requests to set up new or upgraded access. Coworkers helped each other learn how to use Zoom, access files on the physical server still located in their office, and move money without the ability to access check stock. The thought for many was, “let’s hunker down for a bit until this blows over. We’ll see each other back in the office in a few weeks, maybe a month or two, tops.” That moment feels like it was a lifetime ago.
The question that I’m increasingly asked nowadays (and something the team at Fractured Atlas who helped manage our own transition have been discussing) is: now that we’re an entirely virtual organization, having evolved into it over 4-5 years, what if we had to do again, overnight?
Challenge How does a Board of Directors (re)craft its annual assessment of the CEO when that role is filled by a four-person, shared, non-hierarchical leadership team? This was precisely the challenge the Fractured Atlas Board faced in early 2019. Below, in detail, we describe the process we crafted to answer this question.
Virtual Realities and a Fully Distributed Workplace Fractured Atlas “Fun” Fact Of the eight staff members currently at the Senior Director and C-level tiers, none live and work in the same state (Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Vermont). And more than half of our Fractured Atlas team now live in 11 U.S. states and 6 countries, with fewer than half spending any time in our sole physical office on 35th Street in New York City. Long exposure image I captured after a productive day of writing in this former one-room school house.
Applying a Lovingkindness Lens by Tim Cynova, Chief Operating Officer at Fractured Atlas Remember when it seemed like everyone was trying to achieve “work-life” balance? More recently, perhaps in a nod to the challenges of balancing “work” and “life” in an always-connected world, or maybe because for those searching for meaning and purpose in their activities there’s not always a bright line distinction between “work” and “life,” the phrase has shifted to “bringing our whole selves to work.”
Note: The librarian’s last name is Reading. How awesome is that?! (Also note, my mom saved everything.) Around Memorial Day each year when my sister and I were kids, our parents would take us to the McCollough Branch of the Evansville Public Library. It was that annual rite of passage — the summer reading challenge! We’d select a hefty stack of books, and then hope to God come Labor Day we’d have read enough of them to earn that sweet certificate for a free scoop of Baskin Robbins ice cream.
[This time of year brings a whole host of looking back, looking forward pieces. Instead of a round-up of the top books or movies, or predictions about what’s to come in 2019, I thought it might be a good time to check in on our anti-racism, anti-oppression journey at Fractured Atlas.]