As the Senior Manager of Workplace Projects and R&D at Atlassian, Omar Ramirez advances workplace solutions that empower the technology company’s people. He’s developed a proven record of workplace innovation and success, working for multiple tech companies at a variety of scales from his early days in the mailroom through managing international fit-outs.

With current responsibilities and projects for Atlassian in North America and Europe, Omar is helping shape his company’s workplaces of the future every day. We recently caught up with him to discuss design, data, workplace and more.

Core to Atlassian’s mission is the goal to “unleash the potential in every team” for its customers. How does this value promise play out in the design of your internal workplaces?

For us, we’re on the same mission internally. We want to enable our teams to do their best work. For that reason, we focus a vast amount of time, energy and research into our spaces. We want our employees to be able to work the way they want to work, from anywhere in the office or the world.

How do you feel technology company workplaces are different from other market sectors? What’s a unique challenge and opportunity facing your industry?

I think technology companies have the benefit of having a group of users who are hyper-aware of what makes them productive. For that reason, we have to work even harder to be a few steps ahead of our teams and to provide solutions that truly work for them. One unique challenge that is tied to this is keeping up with the latest research into the workplace. There’s always a new thinkpiece or article on what is good or bad in the world of workplace, and we make an effort to be able to intelligently discuss these topics with our internal teams.

Designing based on data is critical, but what types of data do you think are most important to study and rely on to fuel design decisions?

Data is great – specifically, information on how people utilize spaces. That said, data is useless unless you actually understand how teams are organized and how they work together. You need to be obsessed with learning about your users at an individual level first, and then you can focus on utilizing and interacting with data. In the hunt for data, many teams forget about knowing their customer.

In preparation for this Q+A, I watched a video of you talking about the experience economy. Can you elaborate on what this concept means to Atlassian?

Our team is specifically focused on the experience of our physical spaces. The Workplace Experience team is a part of the People org at Atlassian. This enables us to tie into the entire employee experience, from your first on-site visit to your last.

What’s one disruption coming to workplaces in the next five years that isn’t being talked about enough?

The biggest disruption I see is the pushback on digital and the need to reconnect with the physical world. We’re always told that technology is becoming bigger and better, and everything will be tech-enabled, but there’s inevitably a pushback from this where the pendulum swings to the other direction and people want spaces without technology. Some of the most used spaces in our workplaces are the ones with a couch and coffee, not screens.

What’s been the proudest moment for the SF flagship location since opening the space, and why?

I think my proudest moment was seeing over 40 people gathering in our common area on the first evening, and then on the next evening, and the next… I was worried it might stop after the first week, but the space just keeps getting used!  People are bringing family, friends and loved ones to show how proud they are of the space. When we create a space that people want to gather in, that’s our greatest success.

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