Guidelines for open office layouts

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  • 1. Guidelines for Open Office Layouts
    By Ed Kraay
  • 2. The situation
    84% of companies surveyed claim using some Agile practices*
    Open office formats used to enjoy low cost or free communication – aka “Osmotic Communication”
    With more firms “going Agile” more managers are tasked with making open space team rooms work
    Common questions we get:
    How much space do I really need?
    What configuration will optimize communication for my team?
    How much power do I need? How many whiteboards? What about private space? Do I get tables or use desks….
    *Source 2009 State of Agile Survey Version One
  • 3. Common problems with open space moves
    Moving from cubicles to an open space often results in:
    Cramped conditions
    Not enough power or network
    No space for design sessions
    Cross team noise (bad noise) vs Team noise (good noise)
    No private space for phone calls
    Barriers to flow
    Fixed configurations with no room to adapt
  • 4. Two Key Principles to keep in mind
    Workspace should never be an obstacle to getting work done
    Keep the workspace configurable so you can adapt it to your changing needs
  • 5. Guidelines: Size and Layout
    6 feet by 8 feet per person (enough so they could have had a cubicle)
    Privacy for the team
    High Walls, Doors Optional
    Enough space to create separate team areas
    Humans get stressed without access to natural light
    One wall, preferably two or three walls with abundant natural light
  • 6. Working Areas
    Give teams freedom to adjust their working area to suit them without a work order
    Easy to move tables are good
    Some organizations even attach wheels to their desks!
    Fixed to the wall
    Installed furniture
    Enough room to work together side by side to pair program
    Corner Desks
    Photo by Carlos Villela
  • 7. Wall Space
    Ample wall space for task boards, burndown charts, whiteboards everywhere
    Whiteboard paint works very well
    Some teams use movable walls for this
    Photo by Carlos Villela
  • 8. Technology
    Ample amounts as unobtrusively as possible (in desks, dropped from the ceiling)
    For video conferences, planning meetings
    We see more teams using large screen LCD TV’s for this
    Video conferencing and Smart boards for distributed teams
    High definition web cameras work well
    Large Flat Panel Monitors - two per workstation (>20 inch)
  • 9. Breakout Rooms
    A mix of small quiet areas for private conversations for 2-3 people or phone calls
    Larger collaboration rooms for conference calls or planning meetings
    Some teams use an open space for this
  • 10. Table Configurations
    Long Tables
    U Shapes
    Drawing by Dean Cornish
    Drawing by Erik Doernenburg
  • 11. Photos of the ThoughtWorks Bangalore Office…the principles in action.
    Notice the open space between desks
    Photo by SudhirTiwari
  • 12. Plentiful access to power and ethernet
    Photo by SudhirTiwari
  • 13. Wall space for card walls.
    Photo by SudhirTiwari
  • 14. Cube Area for Marketing and Recruiting Team
    Photo by SudhirTiwari
  • 15. Meeting Rooms Along interior walls, so desks can be along windows
    Photo by Chris Stevenson
  • 16. = Happy team.
    Windows to let in natural light…
    Adjustable chairs
    Photo by Chris Stevenson
  • 17. Enough space so that each person could have had 6’x 8’ to themselves
    Photo by Chris Stevenson
  • 18. Another collaborative workspace design
    Drawing by AnupamKundu
  • 19. These are some team room configurations…What's yours?
  • 20. Summary of the Principles
    Workspace should never be an obstacle to getting work done
    Keep the workspace configurable so you can adapt it to your changing needs
  • 21. Appreciations to:
    Erik Doerenburg, April Johnson, Sarah Taraporewalla, Daniel T. Abel, Dean Cornish, Peter Gillard-Moss, Benjamin Butler-Cole, AnupamKundu, SudhirTiwari, Chris Stevenson, Rajeev Singh and Johnny Leroy for photos and ideas.
  • 22. Resources
    Agile Software Development by Alistair Cockburn
    Peopleware by Demarco and Lister
    Martin Fowler on the Team Room: