“Team Anywhere”: Atlassian’s new flexible work model means employees will only go into the office ‘four times a year’


Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar.

Atlassian is planning big changes in how it operates. Step one: mandate that employees will get to work from home.

“Team Anywhere” is a new policy that will see the $80 billion tech giant’s 5,700 global staff work from any location in a country where Atlassian has a corporate entity.

Caveats? Employees must have the legal right to work in that country and be in the same time zone that is broadly aligned with other members of their team.

Employees’ salaries will be based on the costs in the region they are based in, in lieu of the ‘cost of living’ scaling method.

Scott Farquhar, Atlassian’s billionaire co-founder and co-chief executive, believes the new policy will work well for a company like his — a software company that is known for ferociously snapping up tech talent.

“We’ve built a great company, tapping into a global talent base and so the idea of ‘Team Anywhere’ is that talent still exists anywhere it just doesn’t happen to need to exist within 50 kilometres of an existing office,” Farquahar told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. 

“If you think about Atlassian historically we’ve basically been a global company, we’ve had a belief that talent exists everywhere in the world, not just in Silicon Valley.”

According to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, Atlassian staff expect to be at the office roughly half the time; however, the company’s policy mandates that employees only need to attend their nearest office four times a year. Farquhar thinks the trips to the office will have the same feel as going to a work conference.

“A conference you go there, you meet a lot of people,” he said.

“It’s an intense experience, often residential, you might be away from family or at least you’re dedicated towards that particular endeavour.”

“It’s a lot of learning, it’s a lot of building social networks and connections and we think that the office will be dedicated more towards those activities versus ‘Let’s come together to do the work’.”

Farquhar himself has only been in the Atlassian office three times over the past 12 months.

“If you want to have an office environment you can do that, but you’re not allowed to have meetings with only some of your co-workers, if one person is on Zoom everyone’s on Zoom individually,” Farquhar said.

Farquhar had a few words about said companies that require staff to return to the office a certain number of days a week. He believes they are not effectively letting staff to work from various locations and are only saving a bit of commuting time.

“I think a lot of companies that are just doing it two days a week, they’re going to really struggle because they are not going to attract or retain talent, and I think they’ll end up going back to the old way because it’s inertia,” he said.

He believes systemic change must come from the executive levels because when managers are going into offices full time, employees will be expected to follow.

“People taking advantage of this two or three days at home maybe are disadvantaged in terms of career progression which we know generally falls on to minorities and women,” Farquhar said.

“It’s pretty bold what we’re trying to do, there’ll be some mis-steps along the way, no doubt, but we really want to do that because we have got to bake it into our product, in our practices, into the way that work happens.”

For now, Atlassian will continue to run its physical offices, and is going ahead with plans to construct new headquarters in Sydney.

This is an edited version of an article that was first published by Women’s Agenda.


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