An A-Z (Atlassian & Zoho) of Enterprise Web Working

Back in October, I had the pleasure of attending O’Reilly Media’s Web 2.0 Expo Europe, at the Berliner Congress Centre in the heart of East Berlin. One of the more interesting conversations I had was with Jeffrey Walker and Laura Khalil of Atlassian, creators of the Confluence enterprise wiki software.

In describing the company and product’s history, Walker and Khalil indicated a corporate culture that was very much based around the notion of web working. While this isn’t completely unheard of for a large corporate, web working is a style that’s more closely associated with freelancers, startups and smaller organisations.

Khalil pointed me to a post on the company’s blog that discusses some of the cultural and technological adjustments the organisation has made as it needed to manage offices in Sydney and San Francisco:

  • Internal communication is oriented around the Confluence wiki product: bringing together product management, HR, marketing, business metrics, template emails and PR.
  • Task and project management, such as customer requests and bug reports, are tracked and managed using the company’s own JIRA product.
  • Email is discouraged as a collaboration tool, being displaced by Confluence and JIRA, but still employed for 1-to-1 and “broadcast” communication.
  • Lightweight tools such as Flickr and, notably, Delicious bring other collaboration and knowledge-sharing capabilities.

Interestingly, the company’s internal and external blog authors number around 160: an extraordinarily high figure for a 200-person company, with 80 percent of its staff publishing and sharing their work.

Also at the Web 2.0 Expo, I ran into Rodrigo Vaca, Zoho‘s director of marketing, responsible for leading efforts to promote the popular web-based office suite.

Like Atlassian, Zoho’s  solution to geographically distributed staff in many different timezones is to employ its own products and services as a component of the company’s culture. More so perhaps, with a thousand staff in offices from India and the U.S. to Japan and China, the web-based foundation of the company is critical. Vaca related how even the company’s COO works from home in order to minimize time wasted in physically commuting.

What both Atlassian and Zoho’s utilization of web working indicate is that it’s a working pattern that’s very much suited to large, mainstream, multinational organization – something we discussed a while back in Telecommuting Trends and our coverage of the emergence of Smart Work Centres.

Read more about Atlassian’s web worker culture and tools in An Insiders Look: Part 1 of 2 on how we (Atlassian) collaborate.