Check out these photos from an XP developer room. I was in a conference call recently discussing Scrum, and the participants spent quite a lot of time figuring out what the workspace would look like: who was in it, the layout, how big it was, etc.
I’ve worked in all sorts of development settings from being crammed with 4 other people in a tiny office in the early days of Mesa/FundsXpress to having my own swanky office at BMC. Now that I’m in that swanky office, when the subject of working in a open-space comes up, I’m torn between the high-energy and exciting team-work that an open-space affords, and the quiet and augustness of an office.
In the end, I know I’d prefer to work in a open-space with co-workers for both productivity reasons and for fun reasons. It’s more productive because the effort it takes to communicate is extremely low since you’re face-to-face, and because the team knows what everyone else is doing, bringing in the benefits of transparency.
It’s more fun because you get to hang-out with people all day long, cracking jokes, sharing random thoughts, and sharing your coding struggles and triumphs with everyone.
Of course, depending on your mind set, all of those things can be the reasons why you don’t want to work in a open-space: it’s loud and chatty making it potentially hard to concentrate, you can’t hide out in your office and surf the web all day, and you have to be social with your co-workers all day long. There’s also a morale problem that can creep in along the lines of, “they don’t value us enough to pay for office space” and/or “the VP of Do Nothing has an office while we’re all crammed in this room.” There’s non-cynical reasons as well, e.g., the “programmers in offices are more productive than programmers in the open” research in Peopleware.
Anyhow, check out the pictures. There’s links to other pages that have photos of agile workspaces as well.