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Atlassian – everyone is open and wallboarded

by Thomas Murphy  |  February 25, 2012  |  2 Comments

Atlassian recently moved into new offices in San Francisco.  I recently visited the office  and found it quite unique in a few aspects.  Like many of the other agile development organizations Atlassian uses a very open floor plan.  Teams work together and there are no cubicles or offices—well the CFO does have the only office in the company.  The space is two stories and features a lot of light through skylights and a large open amphitheatre for presentations.  All this open space may create fear of noise and distraction but I found it to be as quite as any other office.  A number of photos can be found on the Atlassian Flickr site

One feature in Atlassian is  pervasive use of wall boards.  Every team has at least one showing current state of progress, and other key stats.  Here is the board for customer support:

Atlassian support wallboard

There are small phone call offices, and a set of meeting rooms.  There is also a flex use area for training and user events that opens into a lounge area.  Because they are located in San Francisco’s SOMA area there is also a large indoor bicycle parking lot. 

Here is a view of the first and second floors and across the amphitheater.  Up-stairs is product support, downstairs is development for the Atlassian Marketplace.  Developer desks can be raised and lowered for sitting or standing use: 

 Atlassian theatre

The design of the space involved use of Atlassian’s tools and a lot of iteration, here are the primary design goals:

  • creative space: we invested a lot in creating fun, untraditional areas for staff to work, both independently and together. Brainstorm areas, small little meet-up areas, sunlit and plant-enclosed idea-generating areas. A lot of thought went into making the office a very unique and productive environment for creativity and collaboration.
  • openness and transparency: the space embodies one of our core values in a very visual and visceral way. Every conference room is transparent, lots of glass, and the building itself was selected because of the open footprint it allowed us to build on.
  • a "community" space: from the beginning we planned to build an office not just for staff, but a space we could use to engage our customers and community (the thousands of developers and technical teams building software and changing the world). We created an amphitheater space that is used for all-staff meetings, but will also be used for large events and gatherings. And we created a separate space we plan to use regularly for developer and community meet-ups and events.
  • an open process: we used to Confluence to capture ideas and requirements from staff as we embarked on the project. Many of the ideas we incorporated came directly from staff collaborating openly on what would make a great office for all of us.

Here is the original first floor sketch:

Atlassian first floor olan

Category: agile  atlassian  space-planning  

Thomas E. Murphy
Research Director
13 years at Gartner
27 years IT industry

Thomas Murphy is a research director with Gartner, where he is part of the Application Strategies and Governance group. Mr. Murphy has more than 25 years of experience in IT as a developer, product manager, technical editor and industry analyst. Read Full Bio


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