Atlassian plans to open a new 400-person office in Sydney’s CBD – just a few metres down from its existing headquarters.
The company has a second smaller office currently in Clarence Street which will close in the new year, and selected staff from there and the main building will move to the new 5000-square-metre site at 363 George Street when it opens in February or March.
The 30-storey building is part of a precinct that also includes 345 George Street and 24 York Street that is about to undergo a major redevelopment, which will now be known as George Place.
The office will be state-of-the-art, with every meeting room fully decked out with video communications, ample quiet space and will defy the current trend towards hot-desking.
“We’re trying to hand control of space back to the end user, which is the opposite to what facility managers do [currently],” Atlassian’s global head of real estate, Brent Harman, told Business Insider.
“The workspace is like a workshop where tradesmen and tradeswomen ply their trade and it should be their space to configure how they see fit.”
Atlassian now has almost 2,000 employees globally in San Francisco, Austin, Manila, Amsterdam and Sydney, where around half of them are based. The headcount has grown considerably in twelve months — it was at 1,200 employees last December at the time of its IPO.
Harman said that most professions — other than technology — have a precinct in Sydney and tech’s lack of such a physical presence is a problem for an industry facing skills shortages.
He argued that for a school leaver choosing between law and computer science as an example, there are visible places that act as advertising for the legal profession.
“She can immerse herself in the legal area around [Queens Square, Sydney] and within a couple of streets get a tactile feel for what it’s like to be in that industry,” said Harman.
“I personally believe that there’s no place to do that for computer science.”
Atlassian founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes made an ultimately unsuccessful play for the Australian Technology Park in Sydney last year with dreams of turning it into a tech hub.
The 14-hectare site was eventually sold to a Mirvac and CommBank-led consortium, beating the Atlassian and Walker Corporation’s proposal.
Farquhar said at the time it was “a missed opportunity” for the good of the country.
“We lost out on ATP… but that hasn’t weakened our resolve around the tech industry needing a focal point – a place where density can be created,” Harman said.
The NSW government has flagged the derelict White Bay power station in Sydney’s inner west as one possibility, and Google Australia has been in talks about turning the site into its local HQ
“We would eventually like to revisit the whole ‘Where is the home of technology in Sydney?’ issue,” Harman said.
“I don’t know what White Bay is at the moment – we’re not sure where that is. We think that 16-year-old girl deserves to go somewhere to immerse herself in an industry which will change the world.”