What makes Atlassian Australia's best workplace?

Start-up poster child Atlassian is touring the country in a typically unorthodox way of finding Australia's best software talent.

The Atlassian motto: Source: Business Spectator

Atlassian, recently awarded Australia's best workplace, has embarked on a hiring road trip around the country in a bid to further bolster the appeal of its world-beating workforce.

Oft lauded as Australia's start-up poster child, Atlassian has built a name for itself delivering what some of its employees describe as 'lustful' software development products - HipChat, JIRA, Confluence and Bitbucket -  and backing it up with a culture fostered around its five core values.

The values - 'Open Company, No BS', 'Build with Heart and Balance', 'Don't #@!% the Customer', 'Play, as a Team', and 'Be the Change You Seek' - led BRW to name it Australia's best place to work after a survey of more than 28,000 workers.

Business Spectator visited the company's 'sold out' Melbourne pop-up, held in a Richmond restaurant, to find out what it takes to be labelled Australia's best workplace;  and why the company would decide to drum up interest through a nationwide pop-up tour when things have never been better.

"What makes us a great place to work is the work we do, it's genuinely really interesting," says Atlassian's Cait Staunton, head of APAC recruiting.

"We don't just hire people to come in and execute on what we've already decided, we really empower our employees," she says.

"We want their ideas and their minds, not just their code."

Headquartered in Sydney but with offices in Austin, Amsterdam and San Francisco, Atlassian has established a now-popular tradition at software firms where developers can spend 24 hours working on anything they like.

Now dubbed ShipIt Days, Atlassian originally called them FedEx Days until FedEx asked for its name to be removed. The company says so far 300 products have been pushed to product stage during these days, and it has also borrowed Google's '20 per cent time' concept, allowing employees to spend 20 per cent of their time on a passion project.

Staunton also cites free food, boutique beer on tap, pool and tables tennis tables and the fun atmosphere that keeps employees in the fold, while employees also get five days a year off to work with a charity of their choice.

But if a company has become renowned for its culture surely applicants will be banging on the door, negating any need for a long and costly road trip?

"Changing jobs is a really big deal," Ms Staunton told Business Spectator.

"A lot of the people that we hire are really happy in their jobs, because they're great people and they find great employers who treat them really well.”

The tour, as Staunton points out, is an opportunity for those hesitant to take the leap have a sneak peak into what life Atlasssian might be like, and hear from employees.

“If they're considering us it'll help them in their decision,” she adds.

The company conducted initial interviews during the day and is looking to fill 150 roles before June; mostly software developers, from junior to senior, QA and testing, and design. It said it would offer generous packages to help relocate the employees partners and family to Sydney.

The Melbourne room was filled with a range of people who had either approached the company or who Atlassian had contacted through LinkedIn or email, and while some of them said they weren't ready for a job quite yet, all were at least keen to learn more.

"I use the tools and I love the tools, but the main thing is the culture for me," says developer and prospective Atlassian employee Andrew Bishop. "I hate walking out of a place after a day's work and saying f-this, I really don't want to be there anymore.

"On a Friday night you have a couple of beers and you actually want to enjoy your weekend, instead of spending it trying to forget the week you just had," he said.

The company has come a long way in 12 years, to the point where it's now valued at around $3.3 billion, and start-ups find it notoriously difficult to hold onto good talent in a world where Silicon Valley looms large.

But Staunton says the company's managed to keep its talent through consistent values, but being brave enough to know the culture's going to shift.

"The culture has changed but the values have not," she says. 

"The culture is always going to change, and I don't think that's something we necessarily want to keep the same. We tell every person that we hire we want them to add to our culture and bring it to the next level. But the values remain constant, and that's a big part of what makes Atlassian a great place to work."

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