An Aussie tech billionaire has cautioned companies against forcing staff back into the office, arguing remote work has enabled his staff to be more productive.
Atlassian co-founder and co-CEO Scott Farquhar - who is worth a reported $24.1 billion - had some critical words for companies who introduced mandatory in-office days for their staff.
“In today’s global world, in-office mandates don’t bring entire teams together or solve challenges rooted in archaic ways of working,” Farquhar said. “Work is a vocation, not a location, and it's about time we recognise that. This resistance to change is based on fear, not fact.”
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The tech giant has today released research on its first 1,000 days as a “distributed” workforce - in other words, a workplace where work is done online, rather than in-office, shoulder to shoulder.
Since 2020, Atlassian staff have been given the option to work from anywhere - including from home or from one of the company’s 12 global offices.
It found that 92 per cent of staff said the company’s distributed-work policy allowed them to do their best work and be more productive, while 91 per cent said it was a reason they stayed working at the company.
The tech company also argued remote work allowed them to access a greater talent pool and figure out more effective ways to work, including by spending less time in meetings and having intentional team gatherings to boost connection.
The report argued that all modern companies were distributed and companies needed to adapt to this as the “new normal” in order to harness their full business potential.
“Distributed work isn’t a sacrifice,” global head of Atlassian’s Team Anywhere, Annie Dean, said. ”It’s a huge opportunity for businesses and for people - especially underrepresented groups.
“We’re finding that teams designed to be distributed are actually figuring out better ways of working.”
The data also found staff saved 10 days a year in time they would have previously spent commuting, while the company was saving money on real estate.
Return to office calls
Nearly two-thirds of bosses believe workers will return to the office full-time within the next three years, according to a recent global survey by KPMG.
CEOs were also willing to reward employees for coming into the office, with 75 per cent of Aussie CEOs saying they would give these workers benefits like pay rises, promotions and better projects.
We’ve already seen signs of this happening at big Australian companies, with ANZ, Suncorp and Origin telling staff their bonuses would be linked to their office attendance.
A separate survey by Herbert Smith Freehills found 37 per cent of employers were planning to differentiate pay between remote and in-office staff in the next three to five years.