The Atlassian story has been one success after another.
In just the last year, the Australian-based tech business launched a global data centre in Europe, bought Trello — a productivity app with over 14 million users — to take on global giant Microsoft Office, hired a new CMO and a former Apple exec.
In December last year Business Insider reported that Atlassian had acquired a new office space and were planning to move in earlier this year. It took a bit longer than first planned, but now they’re (mostly) all moved in, and we had a first look at their new digs on George Street right in the heart of Sydney CBD.
Atlassian enlisted Siren design for the office fit-out. The firm also designed the new Lendlease, Domain.com.au and uber offices in Sydney.
They currently take up four floors of the building, but have allowed for six. They have room for 400 people but currently only have 250 in the new space. In this particular location, there are seven teams as well as dozens for smaller cross-functional teams, including support functions, finance, securities, engineering and design.
Let’s take a look around.
Let's start in the main reception foyer. The receptionist controls the playlist of songs that pump through the office speakers, and songs are funky and upbeat.
There are iPads at reception which are a clever way to automate the reception process, although there is still a human at the desk. When signing in on the iPad, an automatic Hipchat message is sent to the host. To the right, there's a huge open are where visitors can sit and wait for their hosts. It's a bit louder here than in the rest of the office, so workers can come here if they want to chat or need to have a group discussion.
So much so, they've even created teamwork hacks, which you can check out here.
The entire space was created around the theme of team itself, and was designed to enable teams to do their best work together.
Teams are only about 5-8 people big. Depending on the team, most workers are in by 9.30, and each team has a daily stand-up meeting from 10-10.30am. Healthy, open debate is encouraged.
Each team has a different working day schedule, but there's a global all-hands meeting every Friday morning, and it's a great way to see what other offices around the world are doing.
All the work spaces can be moved and configured to each team's needs.
In fact, each team is encouraged to be self-sufficient and to move their configurations around as they see fit. Some teams change theirs daily!
As Brent Harman, head of workplace experience and real estate says 'Innovation doesn't wait for someone to fill a ticket.'
They purposely wanted to have a mix of teams in each office location to encourage inter-team mingling and innovation and creation of connections. They're made up of a diverse workforce, and actively encourage people with 457 visas to work with them.
Nor are they workers who are tied to their desk. Everyone has their own desk but is free to move around the office and work from different areas, such as these pods.
As such, a lot of trust is placed on each member of the team, although they say that in digital, it is evident pretty soon if someone isn't pulling their weight, and as such, worker's don't take advantage of the trusting relationship.
Harman says 'we think of each worker as a craftsperson and their desk is their workshop, and their instruments are their tools. It's important for everyone to feel like they have their own workshop.'
The meeting room booker needs to sign in on the meeting room tablet at the door, and if 3 meetings are missed, that particular person is scalded (notified via a Hipchat bot) and all their recurring meetings thereafter are cancelled.
Note the meeting room name.
Each meeting room is named after a hit song. There's 'Xanadu', 'Ice Ice Baby' and 'Take on Me' as well other huge hits.
They also get a Windows monitor to hook it up to, although I'm told the finance teams get their own hefty Windows machines to support all the spreadsheets that they use.
Not one square metre of space is wasted. Even the walls of the little nooks and crannies are lined with whiteboard.
They're soundproof! And a great way to hold one-on-one meetings.
You can connect Spotify from your phone to pay music in the pod, and because it's soundproof, you could even have a party by yourself in there.
Check out that view behind.
They 'codified' the way people work. What this means is the experience team created typical Atlassian worker profiles through hundreds of observational studies, interviews and surveys.
Taking it a step further, engineers created a highly elaborate 'space budget' spreadsheet that spat out the exact number of linear metres of whiteboard space that would be needed in the office.
Harman says, 'we'll never win a design award, but the office design is perfect for what we need.
It's functionality over form, definitely. We want to reduce the friction that a worker has day-to-day, so they are enabled to do their best work.'
The question of what is and isn't appropriate arises often. The general consensus is that as long as people are wearing shoes, especially when going to the bathroom, everything is fine.
Instead of casual Fridays, they have adopted formal Fridays, and it has become a competition to see who can out-formal who complete with tuxedos and bow-ties.
Workers are encouraged to get their daily caffeiene dosage by teaming up with other workers and heading down to the cafe downstairs or across the road.
There's cold breakfast options of cereal or porridge, as well egg boilers and toasters with a range of spreads for those who want something warm.
They don't encourage people to stay in the office until dinner time.
The placing of the food is deliberate. They've put the healthier cereals at eye level, and if you look closely you can see the naughty snacks hidden away underneath.
This is the salad station. There's leafy greens in abundance, as well as all kinds of salad dressings and add-ons.
When we took the tour, unfortunately we had just missed the hot lunch and all the food was already packed up.
But we were told there are always a few options such as meats like salmon, beef, and salad and vegetable sides as well as vegetarian, halal and kosher options to cater for the diverse workforce.
Lunch service ends at 2.30 sharp, so it's your own bad luck if you're late. There are full-time workers who look after the food station.
There's free self-serve local beer on tap, as well as boutique bottled beer like Lazy Yak, Young Henry's and Stone & Wood. This is only allowed on Fridays though.
A big part of the design of the office is to enable 'way-finding', or reducing the friction that a worker has when trying to find their way around the office.
There are a lot of signs pointing the way to go, such as this one printed on the floor which tells you where to go for drinks, breakfast, hot food, cold food and even ice-cream.
Here they're printed in big letters.
Atlassian is a very family-friendly office and is all about the work-life balance. Check out this cute Atlassian baby. He's come to give a hand to Dad while he works.
I'm told each new parent at the company recieves a baby gift which is hamper full of Atlassian swag for babies - a pair of socks, t-shirt, pants and nappies.
The office experience team ran a post-occupancy survey which is just a fancy way of asking the workers if they were happy with their new digs. Amazingly, with over 100 responses, they got a 99% approval rating for the new home. With the free food, booze, agile working spaces, clever soundproof meeting pods and funky meeting areas, we can see why Atlassians rate it so highly.
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