Designing Truly Collaborative Spaces

While it may look like Agile teams all work in big empty “common rooms”, the truth is that people need more than that. Elements like light, air, traffic flow, noise, refreshments and comfort are not negligible: high productivity teams still consist of people, not robots, and these hard working people can be enabled or discouraged by the spaces in which they work.


While it may look like Agile teams all work in “common rooms”, the truth is that people need more than this. We forget that the classic XP teamroom layout was called “CAVES and commons” and it explicitly recommended that people have access to some personal space (caves), as well as the common space. After so many years of using professionally designed work spaces, teams sometimes “throw the baby out with the bathwater” when they start over from scratch with their own designs. Elements like light, air, traffic flow, noise, refreshments and comfort are not negligible: high productivity teams still consist of people, not robots, and these hard working people can be enabled or discouraged by the spaces in which they work.

Today I published an article on this topic, addressing a common issue with new teams: what should our collaborative space look like? The article gathers the wisdom of dozens of teams, as collected by experienced Agile coaches Joseph Little, Scott Ambler and Mishkin Berteig. The article suggests looking at the status quo for clues as to what a team needs, as well as imagining what tools their future collaborative process will use: projection, flip chart, continuous integration server, whiteboards, etc. The article looks at how much and what kind of space is needed, and reminds designers of facilities that teams need to have in or near their space.

You can read the entire article on InfoQ.com’a Agile community queue.


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