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InfoQ Article: Creating a Collaborative Workspace

Motivated Agile teams have been known to work in the most dire of circumstances - moving to unfurnished office floors or secretly taking over inadequate conference rooms, just to be all together in one place while they work. Yet, if we think that all Agile teams should work in barren “common rooms," this vision is far from adequate. In fact, the classic XP teamroom layout was called “caves and commonsand it explicitly recommended that people have access to some personal space, as well. When working so closely together, all day long (hopefully) with mininal interruption, it's more important than ever to affirm the needs of human beings for healthy and effective workspaces. To that end, this InfoQ article by Agile queue editor Deborah Hartmann gathers together the collected experience of several Agile coaches: Scott Ambler, Joseph Little and Mishkin Berteig..

As teams move toward a fully Agile approach, the inconveniences that traditional teams once put up with are raised to the level of major obstacles to productivity. And these obstacles may seem more pronounced to more mainstream adopters, who may be less internally motivated (than early adopters) to risk this new approach.

The “osmotic communication” which buys Agile teams immediate feedback relies on team members working within the same visual and auditory space. The classic solution, and a key strategy to support and foster Agility, is co-location: the teamroom, sometimes called the "bullpen" or "war room". And while some teams have trouble getting management to replace cubicles with tables and whiteboards, other teams suffer equally when eager (or scheming) managers remove not only cubicle walls but also other facilities long deemed important to team morale and function.

This InfoQ article Designing Collaborative Spaces for Productivity emphasises the importance of  looking around before eliminating an existing space, anticipating how much space each person really needs, understanding the needs of the new practices a team plans to use, and making room for individual and team creativity. It includes:
  • 8 important areas to consider when creating a healthy and effective work space, from Mishkin Berteig
  • Factors teams should consider if they intend to practice Agile Modeling, from Scott Ambler
  • A real example of a teamroom wishlist, from Joseph Little.

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