In the age of remote work, few have pushed the boundaries quite like Scott Farquhar, co-founder and CEO of the Australian software juggernaut, Atlassian. Recently, in a candid conversation with 60 Minutes Australia, Farquhar made a revelation that has sparked conversations across boardrooms and coffee tables alike: he only steps into the office once every three months.
Now, for many of us familiar with the traditional 9-to-5 grind, this may seem unfathomable, especially from someone at the helm of a multi-billion-dollar company. However, Farquhar’s stance beautifully captures the evolving ethos of the modern workplace. It's a reality where "work is a vocation, not a location," as Farquhar succinctly puts it.
While many CEOs pride themselves on being the first to switch the lights on and the last to leave, Farquhar's approach is refreshingly different. Instead of focusing on where his employees are, he zeroes in on what they produce. It's all about output and not the backdrop against which tasks are completed. This sentiment resonates with the broader trend of evaluating employees based on their performance rather than their physical presence.
Author's sidenote - this article was written from a campervan by a beach in Papamoa, New Zealand for our company with an HQ in San Francisco and teams based all over the world
Moreover, Farquhar’s remote work advocacy is not just lip service. He embodies the very flexibility he preaches, having built a work culture at Atlassian that encourages employees to "bring their whole selves to work." This isn't a mere corporate catchphrase. Atlassian's "work from anywhere" policy reflects an understanding that the personal and professional are deeply interlinked. By granting employees the freedom to manage their work environments, Farquhar believes that they can manage their personal lives better. The story of an employee moving from Sydney's North Shore to Wollongong to achieve a better quality of life is a testament to this vision.
However, like every coin, there's another side to this remote work utopia. Professor Scott Galloway’s cautionary perspective serves as a counterpoint, warning that while the flexibility of remote work is enticing, it can have far-reaching consequences. There's the looming threat of job relocation, diminished wages, and a potential lapse in the discipline integral to success, especially for younger generations.
But what's undeniable is the seismic shift in how we perceive 'work'. The line between office and home has blurred, and Farquhar's Atlassian is at the forefront of this transformation. The challenge, of course, lies in striking a balance and ensuring that while we embrace flexibility, we don't compromise on productivity, growth, or personal well-being.
In the end, whether you're an entrepreneur aiming to shape the next big thing, a professional advocating for change, or a stalwart the evolving workplace narrative offers food for thought. As we navigate this terrain, Farquhar's three-month office visits might just become the norm rather than the exception.
Watch the full interview below (we've started the clip off at Scott's quote so recommend that you rewind to the start to get more context).