HRD talks to Atlassian’s global head to talent, Bek Chee, about their new remote work program
Earlier this year, Atlassian rolled out a complete remote work program for the benefit of its employees and to increase its talent pool.
The program is grounded in months of internal and external research which led Atlassian to create an assessment of how ready someone is to be remote, based on an individual’s personality, their role and their team.
Moreover, Atlassian has taken learnings from some of the best remote teams around the world, as well as those who have struggled with the implementation and had to face the consequences.
In particular, Atlassian is rolling out this program for two reasons:
For employees - from a survey of Atlassian employees, 95% of people (600 surveyed) said they are willing to change the way they work to enable more remote work.
To increase the talent pool - Atlassian is the top employer of software engineers in Sydney, yet 63% of software engineers in Australia are located outside of Sydney. Earlier this year Atlassian recruited externally for its first fully remote team in Australia, and found a 25% increase in inbound interest compared to similar roles based in the Sydney office - so they know the demand is there.
According to Bek Chee, Global Head of Talent for Atlassian, the company is very much aware that remote working is something that is a "future of work trend" and their employees have been paticularly vocal about it.
“We have seen other companies who have attempted to implement remote work in a meaningful way, but have struggled in some cases,” Chee told HRD.
“We want to find a way to learn from some of those mistakes and lessons – and see if we can make it work better.
“A key reason might be that they moved really quickly and implemented a global program across the board without necessarily understanding what could go wrong.”
There are often logistics that need to be considered from an operational perspective – legal issues, tax issues – "and some of the factors that are not as fun to talk about”.
“On the HR side, it can get really painful - that’s why it is a good reason to ‘crawl, walk, run’ which is our approach.”
Chee added that it’s also important to remember that not everybody in every team in every role is suited for remote work.
In particular, she said it’s important to go through an approach of saying: let’s do the research – Who is best suited for this? How can we mitigate those risks?
From Atlassian’s internal and external research they discovered that there are many advantages to remote working, however there are also a number of challenges.
While a company can gain a lot of productivity individually you also run the risk of slowing down the organisation by as much as 30% in terms of speed of collaboration.
So what have Atlassian found are the key benefits of remote working?
From a company level, the benefits are clearly around the talent pool, around accessing larger and more diverse talent pools outside of the places where you have big offices, Chee said.
Chee cited a Stanford study which found that if employees work from home for five days they can gain up to a full day of extra productivity because they are not commuting and don’t have to spend as much time in transit and getting ready for the day.
“That full day is a lot of extra time that most employees put back into their work day, so certainly on that level there are a lot of benefits.”
Chee added that it’s important to note that remote work does not necessarily mean being fully remote where you’re at home all the time. For example, there are cases where it makes sense to be out of the office one or two days a week.