Atlassian says its employees only need to come into the office 4 times a year under its new ‘Team Anywhere’ policy

Image: Chris Pash
  • Atlassian has announced its global staff of 5,700 will be allowed to work from anywhere in the world, in a new policy announced in advance of its annual summit.
  • Workers will be expected to come into the office four times a year, though most have said they still plan to attend in person 50% of the time.
  • “Talent still exists anywhere it just doesn’t happen to need to exist within 50 kilometres of an existing office,” Atlassian co-founder and co-chief executive Scott Farquhar said.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Atlassian will let its employees work from anywhere, the $80 billion Australian tech giant has announced, representing its commitment to remote work well after the pandemic demands it.

Under its new “Team Anywhere” policy, the company’s 5,700 global staff will be allowed to work from any location in the world — as long as it has a base there, they have a legal right to work there, and the time zone is broadly aligned with the rest of their team.

Atlassian co-founder and co-chief executive Scott Farquhar told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald the move to permanent work from home organisational structure aligns with the company’s status as an Australian-based company with a global workforce.

“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,” Farquhar said.

It will still maintain its physical offices, and its planned Sydney headquarters over at Central Station is still going ahead, but the company will pause efforts to acquire more space beyond its existing commitments and look toward creating smaller co-working hubs closer to where employees live.

The company said it estimates it will have around 50% office attendance, based on surveys of employee sentiment.

“If you want to have an office environment you can do that,” Farquhar said of how the new arrangement will work, but add the policy will stipulate that “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.”

Atlassian’s commitment to flexible working was established long before the pandemic forced almost all organisations toward remote work, with a “Team Playbook” that serves as an evidence-based guidebook to ensuring productivity within remote and global teams.

The company has also built a global organisation from its early days when it was based out of Australia but serving predominantly US-based clients.

Even within the tech industry, Atlassian’s new policy is notably lenient.

Google recently outlined requirements for employees to live within commuting distance of its offices and apply if they wish to work from home for more than 14 days a year.

And other prominent tech companies such as Netflix and Amazon have also signalled a desire for their employees to return to the office.

However Farquhar said he’s confident the policy makes sense for the company – its products, designed for global, seamless collaboration, are after all made for working remotely.

“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,” he said.

Under the new policy, pay will be based on labour costs in the region a worker is based in, as opposed to the more commonly used measure of cost of living.

Farquhar said the company will only expect employees to visit the office around four times a year, at events he thinks will resemble attending a work conference, but most staff have said they plan to attend around half the time.

He said companies requiring staff to return to the office a certain number of days a week aren’t going far enough in empowering true flexibility for their staff.

“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, adding that policies that only take half measures end up penalising those who take advantage of them.

“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.”

“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.”