An Australian company that designed the software that ran the Curiosity rover on Mars has recently opened an office at Fort Bonifacio, where free beer overflows every Friday and employees can wear shorts and work in any part of the office.
“We try to do as many things as we can to create community and connection times and so you see that all around our offices. We come up with ways to create social connection points. We want the office to be an extension of the connection that people have and part of that is creating events like these,” says Jeff Diana, chief people officer of Atlassian, a leading provider of collaboration software founded in Sydney.
Atlassian opened a new office at the second floor of Building 3 at the chic Bonifacio High Street in Fort Bonifacio CBD. The new office will expand Atlassian’s operations in the Philippines, as it aims to soon double its 40 employees or advocates who are engaged in shared services in human resources, finance, systems support and customer service divisions.
Atlassian, which derived its name from the word ‘Atlas’ with the aim of changing the world through the power of software, inaugurated its Fort Bonifacio office on Jan. 15, 2015 and already projected a new, vibrant and dynamic work culture in Fort Bonifacio.
“You can come in casual attire. This space really allows for that. It is an opportunity to find a space that fits our culture and our values,” Sandi Kochhar, head of Atlassian people operations and shared services says, referring to the new Fort Bonifacio office.
“We are growing very quickly and this is a great opportunity for us to find a great location that is growing with us. We thought we are optimized here at the Fort,” she says.
“The other thing is we are looking for a non-traditional space, because we are not a traditional company. So what you find in Makati and Ortigas are more traditional office buildings. For us to have this space, it is very much like Atlassian offices. It is a unique environment that we have here. We are lucky to have found it in the Fort,” says Kochhar.
Atlassian, which established its presence with one employee in the Philippines in October 2013, transferred from a small office in Makati City. “We considered infrastructure, how people will get to work easily. We found a perfect space which is this one that fits our requirements,” says Bennieson Co, head of Atlassian’s shared services division in the Philippines.
Founded in 2002 by Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar on a “no bullshit” ethos, Atlassian, a private company, was named Australia’s best place to work in last year. Its 40,000 clients range from small companies to scientific organizations such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration and large enterprises such as Proctor & Gamble and Coca-Cola. Its main products include JIRA, Confluence and HipChat, used by many companies for collaboration.
“Our business model is very unique. We don’t have typical sales people. We don’t target specific industry. We target all teams. We have all sorts of products for small companies to large enterprises. We tend to go after all industries, and all team types. We give away the funds that we get from very small customer accounts and we give that to our foundation,” says Diana.
“The Mars rover used Confluence and one of our developer tools. Essentially, they [NASA] used those products to track their work in creating a software that actually monitors and moves the equipment. When you look at it, great things … come from software. Our products allow to create magic through software,” says Diana.
“Opening this new office in Manila was a strategic decision for Atlassian,” says Co. He says the country’s bustling economy, proximity to mainland Asia and highly talented knowledge base make it a great place for software companies to grow their global business.
“Opening our first office in the country is just one of many milestones we are eyeing here this year,” says Co.
Atlassian, which employs 1,000 across its six offices in Australia, the US, Europe and Japan, saw its global revenues rise 44 percent year-on-year to $215 million in the fiscal year ending June 2014. Establishing a presence in the Philippines is key to sustaining this growth, according to company executives.
Diana, who is responsible for the recruitment, growth and development of Atlassian’s staff across its global presence, says Atlassian’s values are about collaboration and transparency, evident in the office space that allows easy flow and access among teams. “We are really a transparent company. We want to create informal meetings,” he says.
Diana says the company encourages team play. “We have video games and a big bag room. We have air hockey upstairs, so it is very much like a very entrepreneurial spirit,” he says.
Atlassian encourages a balance of work and play. Employees get paid five days off per year to support the cause of their choice. The company donates licenses and money to non-profit organizations.
It has a fully stocked pantry with breakfast, snacks, beer on tap and energy drinks. Co, an11-year veteran in the Philippine business process outsourcing industry, says the company offers competitive salaries.
“You can come to the office wearing shorts. We have a well-stocked pantry. You may not even spend anything for lunch. You are given a Mac Book and move around the office anywhere you want. Those are the things that I really enjoy. Personally, I came from BPO for 11 years and it is a welcome change for me,” says Co.
Healthcare benefits include life insurance, in-office yoga, flu vaccinations, bike amenities, health fairs and paid sick time. It also offers paid vacation time.
“We are very flexible when it comes to working arrangement. We let them work from home and we provide Internet access. We recognize people have family lives. They have needs,” says Atlassian vice president of operations Andrew Rallings.
The company holds quarterly innovation events that encourage employees to step out of their day-to-day mindset, think creatively about anything that relates to their business and then deliver a solution within 24 hours.
Employees are given 20 percent of their time to work on personal projects related to work.
“It is also important to connect people and to appreciate and value culture and differences,” says Rallings. One of the Fort Bonifacio advocates will be sent to Amsterdam office, he says.
“We are sending one of our advocates to Amsterdam for three months. She is so excited. She has never been on a plane before,” says Rallings.
Kochhar says Filipino advocates have opportunities to work in other offices overseas. “We have several who have gone to Sydney, to San Francisco. We are excited to create bridges between the teams here and teams in other locations,” she says.
“We treat every location like an equal,” says Diana.
Diana says Atlassian employees are not only well compensated, but are also owners of the company. “Everyone is an owner in the company. We provide stocks to the employee, which is very unique,” he says.
Diana says while Atlassian’s Sydney and San Francisco offices handle software development, the Fort Bonifacio facility is expected to have more roles in the coming years.
“At least in my experience in coming to Manila, if you bring one or two groups…then you start to add other functions. At least for the next year or two, we will continue to add work in this space. Down the road, it may be software development,” he says.
“Some of us had experience bringing work to the Philippines. I just had great success with the quality of people here, the culture fit, the positive energy, the raw smarts of the people that we find. We had great success in the past. We don’t come for the low cost,” says Diana.
Diana says the Philippine operations continue to grow. “It started doing work in the HR space, which is my team. Andrew’s team does customer support. We also do all types of finance such as procurement. We see it as a critical shared services support for Atlassian,” says Diana.
Andrew Rallings says the customer culture and the friendliness of the Filipino people make the Philippine facility an important part of the Atlassian culture.
Diana says the Philippine facility does “a whole bunch of services in the HR suite, from recruiting support to traditional HR operations and analytics support.”
“We also have customer advocates work. We are also in the finance space, from procurement to analytics,” he says.
“You will see us over the next couple of years go past 100 [employees]. It is a question of how successful we are growing the team here and it depends on how the business continues to grow. We just had great success. We already have three types of work, and we are adding four or five,” says Diana.