It’s no surprise that people who have been working remotely this past year (or for longer) are sick of Zoom. I’ve been a remote worker for years but it is only this past year that the video face boxes fill me with a deep sense of exhaustion and boredom. For years, Zoom was what I used for work, but now it has to also be what I use to talk to my family and mentor, and to watch movies with my friends.
At Fractured Atlas, we think a lot about the structures that govern our interactions with one another; the structures that determine who gets decision-making power in a group, and who is accountable to whom.
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Nobody stays at a job forever. If we’re interested in developing healthier work cultures, that has to encompass what it means to leave a workplace. We have to build work cultures that allow us to do better than politely pretending that we’ll all work somewhere until we retire and then out of the blue give our two weeks notice. We have to become more open about job hunting and interviewing.
Before I really entered the workforce, I assumed that the people I worked with would all be my best, most lifelong friends. Without realizing it, I had assumed that my coworkers would begin to form my core social group as I got older. That hasn’t actually happened to me, but I know why I thought it would.
For organizations and institutions that are on the long, and never-ending path towards anti-racism, there are a lot of fronts to work on. To increase equity, diversity, and inclusion, workplaces can and should consider everything from hiring to working conditions to benefits to meeting structures, and more.
At Fractured Atlas, we’ve extolled the virtues of working remotely since before it was a requirement. We’ve talked about how it has helped us as an arts organization expand beyond New York City as a locus for staff, how it’s provided more flexibility for our staff, and allowed us to work together without some of the pressures of an office.
2020 laid bare the ways that our current systems have been failing artists for a long time. It has also shown us new forms of collective organizing and power-building in the arts and among creative communities. We saw the limitations of individualistic, atomized approaches to succeeding or surviving in the arts, as well as the fragility of formal institutions like museums, galleries, and nonprofits. We have been inspired by artists coming together collectively, pooling resources and sharing information to help support the broader creative community. If we are building a better, more equitable arts sector in the coming year(s), we need to nourish that community.
The Fractured Atlas team thinks and writes a lot about working; how we work, how we see others structuring their workplaces, how we think the nature of work can and should change in changing times. Often, this comes through Work. Shouldn’t. Suck. Two of the pieces of workplace culture that we have focused on a lot over the years are remote working and anti-racism in the workplace.
There’s a lot of advice out there about how to interview for a job, including what kinds of questions you should ask employers. Most of that advice around what questions to ask in an interview is about positioning yourself most strongly as a candidate. It’s valuable advice, especially when you feel desperate for a paycheck and you are competing with a very qualified and very big pool of other applicants.
When we talk about building a more anti-racist, anti-oppressive world, it’s often framed as doing “the work.” It’s called “the work” because it’s not something that happens overnight, and while we can approach it with joy and optimism, it is frequently difficult and painful. We know that building a better world with one another is ongoing; it doesn’t happen once every four years at the polls and it doesn’t just happen during demonstrations in the streets.