An software CEO worth $12 billion says he goes to the office ‘once a quarter,’ bucking Big Tech's return to office trend

While some tech CEOs are threatening their workers to get back to the office, one is taking the opposite approach—coming to the office just once every few months and allowing his employees to do the same.

“I might come into the office about once a quarter,” Scott Farquhar, co-CEO of Sydney-based firm Atlassian, told Australia’s “60 Minutes” program.

Atlassian implemented a ‘Team Anywhere’ policy in 2020 and has stuck with it, even as companies began introducing hybrid working schedules with the end of the COVID pandemic.

Farquhar said flexible work allows employees to manage increasing cost-of-living pressures by choosing to live in a cheaper location without worrying about how it might affect their work.

“We expect people to be able to work from home, from a cafe, from an office, but we don’t really care where they do their work—what we care about is the output that they produce,” he said.

“We haven’t seen a productivity change,” he continued.

Farquhar is both the co-founder and co-CEO of Atlassian, which makes tools for software developers and project managers. The firm has a market capitalization of around $49 billion.

Farquhar himself is worth $11.7 billion, according to estimates from Bloomberg.

Other executives at Atlassian don’t see hybrid work as a viable solution. “Hybrid is the illusion of choice,” Annie Dean, the firm’s head of ‘Team Anywhere,’ told Fortune in July.

She noted that requiring any office work at all requires companies to carry “all the costs of the old model” like real estate costs, without “any efficiencies of the new model.” (Dean was previously Meta’s first-ever director of remote work, a company which will start requiring workers to come in three days a week next month).

Some Big Tech companies disagree

Farquhar’s views on remote work put him at odds with other major tech CEOs, who are increasingly trying to get employees back to the office at least part of the time. 

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy told employees in an internal meeting this month that fully remote workers likely would not have a future at the company, reports Insider.

Jassy reportedly warned those refusing to come into the office that “it’s probably not going to work out for you at Amazon because we are going back to the office at least three days a week, and it’s not right for all of our teammates to be in three days a week and for people to refuse to do so.”

Despite employee unhappiness with the mandate, the e-commerce behemoth is pushing its hybrid work schedule, including reportedly telling employees to relocate nearer to the company’s head offices. 

Many tech companies that once praised remote work are now trying to get people to the office, citing improved collaboration and productivity.

Even Zoom, whose videoconferencing software helped power the pivot to remote work, is trying to get its employees back to the office at least twice a week. Founder and CEO Eric Yuan told Zoom employees that it was tough to build trust remotely, Insider reported earlier this month.

However, some tech companies are sticking with flexible work.

Airbnb is now in its second year of allowing employees to work from home, only calling workers in when collaboration is needed. 

“I’d rather people know that they will be in the office for five days next week working on a specific program and getting it done than three random days a week when the benefit of that random interaction is meager,” Dave Stephenson, Airbnb’s CFO, told Fortune in June.

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