Last summer, when the lease was up on their home in Santa Clara, CA, Diane Giulioni and her husband decided to move more than halfway across the country. They were working from home because of the pandemic, and a rental house they owned in Fishers, IN, became available.
Giulioni, a global talent acquisition business partner for software company Atlassian’s engineering organization, says they initially expected to stay in Indiana temporarily.
“We wanted to get out into the country and away from crowded areas, and hide out there for a couple of months,” she explains. “Then we found that we really liked it.”
So, in August, when Atlassian launched TEAM Anywhere—which enables employees to permanently work from (almost) anywhere—Giulioni was thrilled. “It took away the hard decision of moving back to California to jobs that we love or quitting and being able to stay in Indiana,” she says. “It really made it easy.”
TEAM Anywhere gives employees the freedom and flexibility to choose where they work, as long as they meet certain criteria. In addition to increasing retention among current employees, Atlassian’s leaders have high hopes that it will expand its recruiting capabilities.
Here’s a look at how TEAM Anywhere works and how it’s helping Atlassian redefine the future of work.
Going All in With Highly Distributed Work
Atlassian’s founders have long believed in remote work, but the pandemic inspired the company to examine its existing policies and processes on the topic. “It became clear that in order for us to work in a highly distributed way, we needed to take a look at how we were currently working,” says Nicki Bellington, a talent and organizational development lead at Atlassian.
Atlassian assembled a team of internal subject-matter experts to figure out how and where teams could work in a new highly distributed way—which the company decided was the way of the future.
As they built TEAM Anywhere, Bellington says sharing information and decisions made through blog posts and emails kept employees up-to-date on the progress. Employees also got the chance to share their thoughts about remote work and respond to updates along the way, and their feedback was taken into account as TEAM Anywhere took shape.
Deciding Where Employees Can Work
The first order of business was to determine where exactly employees could work within the Atlassians company footprint, says Ashlee Aurandt, the program manager for TEAM Anywhere. Employment law, tax guidelines, immigration, and work authorizations are just some of the factors that had to be considered when working to establish TEAM Anywhere for Atlassians across the globe.
“We can't support Atlassians working from a country where we do not currently have a legal entity because we don’t have the infrastructure to pay employees and provide employee services, benefits, et cetera,” Aurandt explains. “So our first focus was to unlock our company footprint.”
Currently, employees can work in about a dozen countries—including the recently added New Zealand. Another factor is “right to work,” or whether an employee is legally allowed to work in a certain state or country.
Keeping Distributed Teams Connected
According to Aurandt, one of the keys to TEAM Anywhere’s success is being intentional about fostering an environment of collaboration and connectedness. To do this, employees must choose a place with at least four hours that overlap with their core team’s time zone and be able to complete their duties, including team meetings, from the new location. If most members of a team are based in San Francisco, for example, it likely doesn’t make sense for one individual to move to New Zealand.
To keep teams even more connected, Atlassian has relied on Slack, as well as its own products—including project tracking software Jira and the remote team workspace program Confluence—for digital communication and collaboration.
“We’re moving in a direction where we’re measuring outcomes, not hours,” Aurandt says. “So it’s not about how long the green dot on your Slack is up. It’s really about the work you’re producing and how you’re collaborating.”
The company is piloting asynchronous communication, too. For instance, company founders and executives are recording more video messages, which can be distributed across time zones.
Some aspects of TEAM Anywhere are still a work in progress—including a way to bring teams together in person four times a year once it’s safe. “This will help build trust and morale for distributed teams,” Aurandt says.
Adjusting Compensation to Reflect the Location
Atlassian’s compensation strategy is based on individual markets, so an employee’s pay may shift based on where they decide to move. To help employees understand this process, Atlassian created a self-service compensation estimator where an employee can plug in various locations and find out how their pay would be adjusted if they were to relocate there. The tool promotes transparency and “gives employees the ability to make a very informed decision for themselves and their families,” Aurandt says.
Once an employee agrees to a compensation shift within the estimator, they can start the relocation process in the same software. Aurandt says the request goes through an approval process, which looks at visa requirements, budgets, and other factors. Depending on the case, approvals can take just a couple of hours.
More than 1,600 employees used the compensation estimator to make about 3,600 requests during the first month it was available. The program doesn’t track why someone wants to relocate, but Aurandt says reasons have included wanting a lower cost of living and to be closer to family.
The tool is also providing Atlassian with insight into which markets are most attractive to employees, which could inspire the company to further expand to new places.
Boosting Recruitment and Retention Potential
Giulioni, who used TEAM Anywhere to permanently relocate to the less expensive and less crowded city in Indiana, says it has been really freeing. “It gives us a ton of flexibility as we think about the future and not having to be tied to a location in order to keep working for a company you love,” she says. “I think there’s a lot of people that we’ll be able to hang onto because they’ll have a better quality of life.”
In addition to keeping current employees happy, TEAM Anywhere will likely make it easier to attract top-notch talent from around the world thanks to fewer restrictions on where they live.
“We don't have to force new hires to uproot their families or move halfway across the country or to another country,” Aurandt says. “TEAM Anywhere allows us to not be bound by the physical footprint of our offices anymore.”