‘We’re not looking to run back’: COVID vaccines won’t stop Atlassian from pushing ahead with its work from anywhere policy

Atlassian will continue letting workers choose where they want to work. Image: Getty
  • Atlassian is sticking to its work from anywhere policy for employees, despite coronavirus vaccines starting to roll out.
  • The company introduced a ‘TEAM Anywhere’ policy in August where employees can decide whether they want to work from home, in the office, or a combination of both.
  • Atlassian Head of Workplace Experience Scott Hazard told Business Insider Australia, “We’re not looking to run back into the way that work was pre-February.”
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Australian tech giant Atlassian has no plans to change its work from anywhere policy for employees despite coronavirus vaccines starting to roll out.

The global company introduced its TEAM Anywhere policy for employees in August, giving them the option of working from home, the office or a hybrid of both.

But despite coronavirus vaccines starting roll out in the UK and the US, the company doesn’t plan to change its policy.

“No, we’re not looking to run back into the way that work was pre-February, even with a vaccine in place,” Scott Hazard, Head of Workplace Experience at Atlassian, told Business Insider Australia.

Working remotely is not a new concept for Atlassian, with 10% of its employees having worked in this style prior to the pandemic.

“We’ve always thought a lot about how do we have the best of both worlds?” Scott said. “How do we let people balance their personal lives and the things that often aren’t centred around our offices or our global facilities, while at the same time recognising that the facilities in our offices do play a role in our culture, the way people connect and how we collaborate on work.”

Atlassian will forge ahead with its distributed workforce all while it heads closer to completing its massive 40-storey headquarters in Sydney. When construction finishes in 2025, it will be the tallest hybrid timber building in the world.

Hazard explained that project will end up taking 10 years once it’s complete and acknowledged that Atlassian doesn’t know what its employees will want by that time. “One of the things we love to say in workplace with lead times like that is we know we don’t know what the world will want at that time,” he said. “And starting with that humility to recognise we won’t have the solution today.”

Instead, the company has been experimenting around the level of flexibility it should have for workers, relying on feedback from its team.

“We don’t have the answers”

With many Atlassian team members having a background in retail, Hazard said the way they think of the workplace and culture is the same as the way they would think about a retail store.

“We’ve always believed – just like in retail – that no two shoppers or customers or employees are the same,” he said. And because of that, they are aware that employees need a variety of work environments depending on what they are working on.

“In a given day, you actually needed a range of environments – quiet to loud to social to isolated,” he said. “Different people have different personal preferences.”

As a result, Atlassian has embraced that range to allow its team to be more productive.

“We believe that if we provide the right range to our employees, they can actually self navigate to optimise for their own preferences and for productivity and efficiency in our environments,” Hazard said.

When it comes to what the company will be doing differently for its employees after the pandemic, Hazard said it will all be about supply and demand.

“We provide the supply and the demand comes from employees feeling what I would call psychologically safe to come into an environment,” he said. So while the company may have a clear idea of its current supply, it has a “very unclear sense of demand”.

Nonetheless, Hazard is keen to see how the workplace will be reinvented in the future.

“I’m very excited about the concept of reinventing this hundreds-year-old way of working and creating some of these alternate parallel ways that in many ways we think could be more effective than just sitting at the same desk every day and leaning over to the person next to you when you have an issue,” he said.

“We don’t have the answers. We probably won’t for some time, if we do, we’ll continue to iterate on them. But the idea that everything needed to be in person has clearly been disproven over the last nine months.”

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