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Work/Life at PreviousNext

As a company that's been running since 2009 we've evolved our working culture and approaches over the course of the past decade. When new people do join we provide them with a handbook that outlines how we work together and the benefits we all enjoy, so we wanted to share some of this publicly for people that might be considering roles we're currently advertising.

by Owen Lansbury /

Our company's origin stemmed from a freelance Developer and UX Designer joining forces to be able to work on bigger projects together. As the scale of projects quickly grew, we were joined by a number of other contractors who were all highly experienced and were used to working independently and remotely from each other. Even in these early days we'd adopted advanced processes and tools to enable highly productive remote teams. 

Within a couple of years of forming, the scale of the projects we were working on meant that a permanently employed team gave us more stability and we settled at around 20 staff as our ideal team size. This enables us to maintain multi-disciplined, self-directed teams that facilitate projects and ongoing enhancements for their own portfolio of clients that they work consistently with. In the years since then we've consciously stayed around this size, as it ensures we can maintain a close knit team whilst generating sustainable revenue and profitability. As a result, we've been able to avoid the stresses of both rapid growth in boom times or rapid down-sizing when the market's dipped.

Adding to this stability is the relatively long average tenure of team members, which is currently five years, or well over double the tech industry average. Many of our staff already have several years of experience before joining PreviousNext and are often buying their first homes or raising young children whilst working with us, so stability of the company is vital for this stage of people's lives. 

At the core of this stability is the clarity for everyone in the team around how much billable work they need to be fulfilling in the course of their week, which for most people is 80% of their full-time availability. As people are responsible for their own time, there's a lot of flexibility around how and when they complete their project work.

The remaining 20% of paid time can then be directed to open source contribution or professional development. Team members self direct in terms of how they'd like to develop their skills and careers, with a budget of up to 5% on top of their base salaries available for conference attendance and training courses. Other team members choose to use this 20% time to develop projects that fulfil an internal need for the company, which leads to the development of things like our Skpr hosting platform

While we pay close attention to matching market-rate salaries, we enhance pay with a staff profit share scheme and automatic annual salary increases that keep pace with inflation. With everyone now working from home since COVID lockdowns began, we also provide an equipment allowance that ensures people can pimp out their ideal machine and office set up. Personal wellbeing is critical for everyone, and we've long provided a $100 per month subsidy for any regular activities like gym memberships, yoga classes or sport team fees.

While we adhere to all Australian standards for annual leave (20 days), personal/carer's leave (10 days) and all public holidays (~10 days depending on the state), we do provide a few extra days leave between Christmas and New Year that would otherwise be forced annual leave. We also have an Early Long Service Leave scheme that provides a full month of extra leave after 5 years of service, with another extra month at 10 years.

While these approaches have kept our team in good stead over the past decade, we're always keeping an eye out for new approaches to ensure we facilitate a stable and fulfilling work life balance at PreviousNext.

Posted by Owen Lansbury
Co-Founder & Chair

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