We visited the new San Francisco office of $19 billion Atlassian, where every little detail is designed to help people work together

atlassian san francisco office 42Katie Canales/Business Insider

  • Atlassian, the $19 billion Australian software giant, has new offices in San Francisco.
  • The new digs take up six floors, but Atlassian is currently only using four.
  • Atlassian invested heavily in making this office represent the company's ideals around teamwork - the desks are on wheels, there are tons of nooks and crannies for quiet conversations, and even the artwork on the wall was created by teams of artists working together.
  • We visited the space, take a look around.

Atlassian, the $19 billion Aussie software giant behind the popular Jira bug-tracking tool, takes the concept of teamwork seriously - so much so that it literally trades on the stock market under the ticker symbol "TEAM."

So when Atlassian moved into new San Francisco offices this year, the company took the opportunity to rethink how its own employees work together. In the same way that the new Apple Park campus reflects designer Jony Ive's attention to detail, Atlassian wanted its headquarters to be at the cutting edge of design that encourages people to work together.

"Companies are realizing that physical spaces are a reflection of the culture," said Helen Russell, Atlassian's chief people officer, in a recent interview.

We swung by Atlassian's new digs to see how it put that concept into action.

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This is Atlassian's old San Francisco office, circa 2012. A converted warehouse, it was plenty spacious — but also, located deep in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood, a far walk from public transit hubs. That wasn't a fun trek after dark, says Russell.

This is Atlassian's old San Francisco office, circa 2012. A converted warehouse, it was plenty spacious — but also, located deep in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood, a far walk from public transit hubs. That wasn't a fun trek after dark, says Russell.

So for the new space, Atlassian opted to go right into the heart of San Francisco's financial district, not terribly far from a Microsoft office, and a short walk away from the San Francisco Bay Area's BART train system.

So for the new space, Atlassian opted to go right into the heart of San Francisco's financial district, not terribly far from a Microsoft office, and a short walk away from the San Francisco Bay Area's BART train system.

Atlassian technically controls six floors of the building, but currently occupies four.

Stepping inside the office, you can see that it was designed with lots of open spaces, with tons of seating for people to meet — a reflection of the fact that Atlassian makes some of the most popular tools for software developers to work together.

Stepping inside the office, you can see that it was designed with lots of open spaces, with tons of seating for people to meet — a reflection of the fact that Atlassian makes some of the most popular tools for software developers to work together.

The office project was overseen by Scott Hazard, Atlassian's global head of real estate. He joined Atlassian earlier this year from Google, where he oversaw the search giant's presence in retail stores, including its holiday pop-up shops. Before that, he helped design Apple's flagship retail stores.

The office project was overseen by Scott Hazard, Atlassian's global head of real estate. He joined Atlassian earlier this year from Google, where he oversaw the search giant's presence in retail stores, including its holiday pop-up shops. Before that, he helped design Apple's flagship retail stores.

The office space shows the level of detail you might expect with that pedigree. Every desk is on wheels, says Russell, to enable people to move freely between teams and set up ad-hoc working groups. The power cables dangle from the ceilings, such that you're never far from a place to easily plug in, wherever you end up.

The office space shows the level of detail you might expect with that pedigree. Every desk is on wheels, says Russell, to enable people to move freely between teams and set up ad-hoc working groups. The power cables dangle from the ceilings, such that you're never far from a place to easily plug in, wherever you end up.

That also means lots of places to kick back and have a quiet conversation...

That also means lots of places to kick back and have a quiet conversation...

...a meditation room, complete with hand-and-foot wash station...

 ...a meditation room, complete with hand-and-foot wash station...

...a library, where no talking is allowed...

...a library, where no talking is allowed...

...and kitchen spaces with lots of room to schmooze and chat with coworkers over coffee or the free catered lunches.

...and kitchen spaces with lots of room to schmooze and chat with coworkers over coffee or the free catered lunches.

(With a formidable beer selection, both draught and canned, if you're into that.)

(With a formidable beer selection, both draught and canned, if you're into that.)

Most of the food is served on the 13th floor, as a way to encourage people to get up from their desks and mingle at least once a day for lunch.

Most of the food is served on the 13th floor, as a way to encourage people to get up from their desks and mingle at least once a day for lunch.

The same floor also hosts lots of wide-open spaces to pick up a game of pool.

The same floor also hosts lots of wide-open spaces to pick up a game of pool.

Shuffleboard is also on the menu.

Shuffleboard is also on the menu.

There are also patios to go outside and get a breath of fresh air.

There are also patios to go outside and get a breath of fresh air.

Russell says that the office is very big on greenery and natural light — two things that were missing from the old, cavernous warehouse space, she says. The flags are abstract representations of Atlassian's core values — "don't bull#$t the customer" being one of them.

Russell says that the office is very big on greenery and natural light — two things that were missing from the old, cavernous warehouse space, she says. The flags are abstract representations of Atlassian's core values — "don't bull#$t the customer" being one of them.

But there's also a quieter corner of this floor, used for special presentations like the weekly company all-hands meeting, which is often hosted from Atlassian main headquarters in Sydney.

But there's also a quieter corner of this floor, used for special presentations like the weekly company all-hands meeting, which is often hosted from Atlassian main headquarters in Sydney.

Russell highlights the stairwells between floors as part of what Atlassian was going for with this space: The stairs make it easier for employees to get between floors and talk to each other.

Russell highlights the stairwells between floors as part of what Atlassian was going for with this space: The stairs make it easier for employees to get between floors and talk to each other.

The stairwell has another little secret, too: The mural on the walls was actually painted by three different artists, none of whom had ever worked together before. The idea, says Russell, was to get across that notion of teamwork in a subtle way.

The stairwell has another little secret, too: The mural on the walls was actually painted by three different artists, none of whom had ever worked together before. The idea, says Russell, was to get across that notion of teamwork in a subtle way.

The entire piece winds up and down the stairs.

The entire piece winds up and down the stairs.

If stairs aren't your thing, for whatever reason, the office of course has elevators — you need them, given that they're on the upper floors of a tall office building. The "A" here is actually a Bluetooth speaker that gets used for special events.

If stairs aren't your thing, for whatever reason, the office of course has elevators — you need them, given that they're on the upper floors of a tall office building. The "A" here is actually a Bluetooth speaker that gets used for special events.

On the subject of attention to detail, check this out. This graffiti was outside of the old Atlassian office, and became a favorite in-joke among employees. As a tribute to the office of yesteryear, Atlassian recreated it in the new space, outside a conference room.

On the subject of attention to detail, check this out. This graffiti was outside of the old Atlassian office, and became a favorite in-joke among employees. As a tribute to the office of yesteryear, Atlassian recreated it in the new space, outside a conference room.
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