Looking for fit, form and function

Does working closer together improve productivity?

with 3 comments


My wife sent me list interesting link from “Tips for Design and Life“. My office is going through an experiment at an open office plan to support us working together more closely. I really admire the products and services that 37signals provides. I think we should all think about this one a little more. By forcing us to work more closely together it might drive us more apart.

Chicago Business interviews Jason

Crain’s Chicago Business recently posted a
video interview with Jason
where he discusses avoiding structure, how
interruption is the enemy of productivity, why it’s a good idea to emulate drug
dealers, the secret to competing with free stuff, and more. Check it out.

Written by mediumtall

August 29, 2007 at 7:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Jack Ganssle is a big proponent of minimizing interruptions for coders. Searching for “ganssle cube” will find you his many articles on the topic. Here’s one of them.

    Brent Logan

    August 30, 2007 at 4:09 am

  2. What a great interview! The 37signals approach really resonates with me.

    Bill Pearson

    September 2, 2007 at 3:53 am

  3. This is probably very dependent on the individuals who make up the team. I’ve spent time coding while sitting right next to someone else (coding) as well as working from a remote location. Both modes have their pros and cons. I suspect a team will be more successful if it is built for one paradigm vs. another, rather than having a team where a paradigm is imposed after the fact.

    I like having a “cone of silence” when focusing on detailed creative work like coding. However, I typically prefer an environment with coworkers within shouting distance to working from home. In part, this is because I can usually impose my “cone of silence” in this type of environment. This of course, works best if your coworkers get it and play together nicely (see Ganssle’s stuff that Brent refers to).

    What I miss most when working remotely are the informal communication opportunities that help to distribute tribal knowledge. Also, while standing up and walking to a coworker’s cube to talk face to face may be less efficient than other communication methods, but it’s a nice break from staring at a computer monitor (exercise!). Plus, face-to-face is just better for some things. Still, if you put coders in an area near the sales team who are talking on speakerphones all day, you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

    I’m currently working in an office where we have large, quiet, 3/4 height cubes. Our primary desks are multi-tiered Anthro carts that we have the option to wheel into a coworker’s cube if there is going to be extended close collaboration. The flexibility is nice and at about 6 months into it, it has become one of the better environments that I’ve had to work in.


    September 5, 2007 at 9:01 pm

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