It is with a mixture of sadness and profound thanks that we say farewell to Shawn Anderson and Pallavi Sharma later this month. After nearly a year of planning and preparation, Shawn and Pallavi will be departing Fractured Atlas on August 31 to pursue new opportunities and new challenges. With their departure, the four-person shared, non-hierarchical leadership team will become a two-person leadership team. Lauren Ruffin and Tim Cynova will stay on in their co-CEO roles, continuing to guide the organization and engaging in the exploration of new structures of leadership and decision-making begun several years ago.
We’re in a moment where workplaces are having more serious conversations about how to become more equitable, less racist, less oppressive. If you aren’t in management, HR, or operations, it can feel like you’re waiting around for the decision-makers at your organization to implement change, however long-overdue.
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Innovation is essential for supporting artists and arts organizations. If we aren’t able to adapt to changing times, to find new and better ways of working, we aren’t able to serve our community to our fullest extent.
Fractured Atlas tries to be transparent about How We Work. Especially when it comes to the transition we made to becoming a fully distributed team. Over three years, we slowly wound down the number of people coming into our Manhattan office, and in late 2019, we fully flipped the switch. Here’s what it looked like for us to transition to a virtual team.
In response to massive upheavals in the arts, nonprofit, and social justice sectors as a result of COVID-19, Tim Cynova (Chief Operating Officer at Fractured Atlas) and Lauren Ruffin (Chief External Relations Officer), recognized that we need to be talking to each other. In the arts and nonprofit sectors, we need to hear about how other institutions are managing crises and uncertainty, and how they are envisioning our future. So, they started talking to their colleagues.
For any organization to remain relevant in changing times, you have to be able to change. Organizations need to be able to adapt to uncertain futures, new technologies, new tools, and the changing needs of the communities you serve. You need to build a working environment where teams are able to try new ways of working and to develop new projects, and to not be afraid if an experiment doesn’t work out.
If you are a manager who had to rapidly transition to remote work and then learn how to sustain virtual work for an indeterminate amount of time, you’ve likely felt some pressure and uncertainty. How do you keep your team on track during a pandemic? How do you let them know that they really can take time to care for themselves and loved ones? How can you make sure that you know what your team is working on without micromanaging them?
The COVID-19 pandemic is shaking the structure of the arts world in an incredibly painful way. People have lost their livelihoods. Institutions (especially the smaller, independent ones) face uncertain futures, and nobody knows what the future holds. Fractured Atlas recognizes the magnitude of loss, grief, and uncertainty that artists and the arts sector as a whole is feeling right now. We also recognize that there is an opportunity for us to build new, more equitable structures.
Fractured Atlas tries to be transparent about How We Work. Especially when it comes to the transition we made to becoming a fully distributed team. Over three years, we slowly wound down the number of people coming into our Manhattan office, and in late 2019, we fully flipped the switch. Here’s what it looked like for us to transition to a virtual team. Even in our own team, we’ve seen that people approach virtual working differently. With the freedom to organize our days outside of an office, we’ve each had to find out what kinds of schedules work for us, how to recharge during the day, and how to organize our workspaces. There’s a lot of information out there about how to make working from home work for you, but we know first-hand that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.
For software developers, as with all kinds of newly remote workers, the adjustment to working from home comes in phases. The first phase is making sure that everyone has the right computers, apps, and programs to complete the functions of their job and to communicate with one another. Then comes a whole new set of questions. How do you know what you and your colleagues are supposed to be doing? How do you feel connected to your colleagues? How do you update your infrastructure to be cloud-based rather than dependent on a physical server?