It's no secret that I work at Atlassian as an Engineering Manager.
In fact, I've managed to somehow hold it together long enough to have survived for a full year!
In that time, I've never actually visited an Atlassian office. I've not met a single member of my team in person.
Honestly, it hasn't been an issue, but it's safe to say that it's time for a visit.
I've tried to visit the Atlassian office in Sydney a few times, but reality consistently got in the way.
The first time was not long after I started, but then Sydney quickly turned into an apocalyptic hellhole thanks to covid, so I wisely decided to not take that particular trip. Also, the office closed down anyway, so it would have been pointless.
The second time was a few months later when it looked like things were coming good again until they weren't.
But everything has settled down now, I'm fully vaccinated, the office is open and some of my people are actually there on a regular basis, so it's as good a time as ever.
For me, this trip had two goals:
- Meet some people in person. Eat some food with them. Have casual conversations without getting distracted by an assortment of electronic slides and whistles
- Scout out Sydney for a full team get together, gathering everyone in one place for some real team bonding. I've got people in New Zealand, Melbourne, and Canberra, so it would be best if I give it a go myself first and see how it feels
Simple goals, supported by the current Atlassian policy around travel and togetherness.
Maybe. Who Am I To Judge?
The good news is that I actually managed to make it to Sydney, and by extension the office!
There is no bad news.
Here is an album of appropriate photos, mostly of the office itself. But also a sunrise, because the flight to Sydney was super early in the morning and sunrises are pretty.
I don't really have any complaints.
The office was nice. Well-appointed and maintained with with everything I needed to do my job easily available. I wouldn't say it was packed with people, but it certainly wasn't a ghost town either. I imagine it would have been quite a sight back in its heyday, buzzing with energy and conversation.
There was free food, which is great, because I am easily bribed with sustenance. Breakfast was more than adequate, with an assortment of healthy things like bread, eggs and yoghurt. I hear there is also lunch as well, but in the short time I was there I mostly just ate out.
As you can see, no deep reflections.
Or are there?
Oh. So You Joined A Cult.
It's been well over a year since I tried to actually do work in an office setting.
It's really hard.
Especially as a manager, where I spend a lot of my time walking from meeting room to meeting room, because I don't want to disrupt the people around me as I chatter on about all sorts of things.
When I'm at home I'm free to attend all of the meetings, while also doing all of the other things I need to do thanks to the magic of technology and multi-tasking. For the meetings I don't need to be fully present for, I don't have to be.
I can definitely see the value in having everyone in the office at the same time though.
I remember the heady days of regular collaboration, whiteboards, post-its, lunchtime Mario Kart and that hum in the air that happens when a bunch of really smart people are getting shit done.
But that ship has well and truly sailed at this point.
Having said all of that, it was wonderful meeting people in person, sharing food with them and just drinking in the atmosphere of an office that is almost certainly a shadow of its former self.
I feel more connected with Atlassian as a whole and to the people that I'm responsible for and I consider that a victory.
It was definitely worth a trip, and I will do it again.
And next time, I'm bringing all the people.