Agile Team Space: Don’t Let It Become a Divisive Issue

One often controversial aspect of agile development is how the team is situated. Assuming the team members are in the same facility, there are many options.

  • Is the team spread out in individual cubicles?
  • Are they doubled up with two developers to a walled office?
  • Are they co-located in a larger area?

If you choose to have the team in a larger shared space, you have more options:

  • Are there individual work-spaces around the perimeter?
  • Is there a large table area in the middle of the room with the team all around it?
  • Are there two or more work-spaces with 2 or more people sharing them?

In my view, there is no right or wrong way to setup a work area. Ultimately, it depends on what the team wants. Of course, they may not agree and you risk losing someone who is unhappy with the arrangement.

If you decide to give everyone a private work-space, be sure to setup a team room — a place where any team members can have an impromptu conversation or brainstorming session. The team room should be reserved for the exclusive use of the team. It is not a conference room for anyone to reserve.

If you decide on an open space, define a few rules such as ‘no speaker phones’. Respect everyone’s right to occasional privacy. There should be an area where people can go to make private phone calls, work in peace and quiet, or just get away from the commotion.

Be open to feedback and suggestions for improving the work environment.

Reconfiguring office space can be prohibitively expensive. Try to work with what you have and experiment a little. (You’re agile, right?) Once you have a setup that works and have demonstrated some project successes, negotiate for what you want.

Updated: March 8, 2011 — 9:51 pm