Atlassian touts future of work will be underpinned by flexibility and choice

Atlassian co-founder and CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes has highlighted how the future of work, particularly for digital companies, will change permanently as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

He pointed out how given that many tech companies are not bound to hardware or machinery to conduct business, it’s likely that more will move to a flexible working arrangement.

“Both [Slack and Atlassian] make digital goods. We have yet to get into the hardware business, so the resources we have come from the brains of people who sit together, and they use to sit in a room together but they can be connecting their brains in a virtual way now,” he said, speaking on Wednesday during a Slack-hosted virtual panel.

See also: How IT teams have been challenged by the shift to remote working (TechRepublic)  

It comes off the back of the Nasdaq-listed, UK-domiciled company internally announcing earlier this month Team Anywhere, a program dedicated to allowing its global staff to work where they choose.

“We still have a lot to work out, but the simple genesis is that we need to change how we work and where we work. We need to separate these two concepts because people often combine them … our policy has been clear … that where you work is up to you … but how we work has to be standardised,” he said.

“If we know how we work and every meeting is going to be on Zoom, we use Slack to communicate these things, we use email for those things, we use Confluence for a bunch of different other things.

“Or, If I’m writing a long-form document versus a short message, what should our norms and expectations be? Should we be on Zoom with video or not, or on mute or not? When should I reply to my Slack messages? We tell people they shouldn’t expect instant replies otherwise people have to be online all the time.”

He added introducing the policy has helped further define what working from home looks like for Atlassian staff.

“We have employees working through the pandemic [asking] ‘Can I move? What certainty do I have if I move my family or change my style or invest in my home office?’ so we wanted to give certainty to employees over a long period of time, which is important as people are making these choices,” Cannon-Brookes said.

In June, the company announced it was building its new headquarters at the Sydney Innovation and Technology Precinct in the CBD. The new building, which will measure approximately 180 metres high, is expected to house 4,000 Atlassian staff when it’s completed in 2025.

Despite the change in the way of working, Cannon-Brookes assured that Atlassian will always have permanent offices. 

“We will still need to provide office space for some employees. Some people will work from home. This is about choice and about norms … and we need to serve all people,” he said.

“We will still have offices in physical locations, whether they’ll look more like collaborative co-share workspaces with a larger amount of office spaces and smaller offices. We have an opportunity in the building to reshape the way we do it … and think about office space differently.”

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