1. February 2007
|An office with a view…
I have moved myself into an office, away from the
development team! Me and the Team are not physically connected anymore. If they
shout my name, I will not hear them… If I call for them, I’ll be met by a
Here are some of the questions that went through my mind before
I moved into my own office:
How will I know what’s going on
with the Team? How will I get hold of the ideas and suggestions that spring to
life from thin air while the Team’s working? How can I continue to work and
still be influenced by the Team when I’m not there? Will I become more
efficient working from an office? Will anybody come to visit? Will I now become
that sad looking guy that people say “hi” to without ever getting an answer?
Will I gradually lose my motivation, start making other plans and ending up as
a consultant again? Will my company now raise my salary to the same level as
the guy who previously had this office? And the most important question… Will
the Team lose my respect now that I’ve decided to become one of “them” (the
As you can probably tell this was not an easy decision for
me. I have done this in the name of science and with an open mind willing to be
convinced of something I don’t believe in. This is an experiment and here is a
glimpse of what I’ve experienced these last two weeks.
On my first day I wrote a note
saying: “I’m so bored, I’m so f#¤&%g bored. No one to talk to, no one to
bother… How am I going to work in these conditions?” And in huge letters at the
bottom it said: “Be strong!” In the upper left corner there was a very personal
note that I’m not going to tell you.
I used most of the day to get
comfortable in my new surroundings. Since I’m an architect I can’t live without
a whiteboard, so I found one and smashed it on the wall. I then removed some
drawings left behind by the previous owner’s children (nice, but I’m not quite
there yet). When I was about ready to start my day, it was over. I went home
and complained to my girlfriend.
I used the next few days to send
email to people letting them know I was sitting in this office. I hadn’t seen
many people since I moved, so I though this email would help. It didn’t. I just
had to admit to myself that I’ll be stuck here for myself for a while. I then
started to look at the current and upcoming Sprints (ref. Scrum) and
started to work. And the next thing I remember is that the lights went out. The
time was 6.30 pm and I was the only guy left. Wow! Where did the time go? I
By now I’ve started to notice
that the days are getting shorter. I don’t know how it happened, but this
office is in another time zone. I’m still looking for the knob on the wall to
slow things down, but it’s not to be found. I’ve screamed out loud “Beam me up, Scotty”
a couple of times, but nothing has happened so far. Even the hourly sessions of
fussball has been
reduced to once a day (at least I have one social activity). During a day I
have more visits to the zone, than I
usually have in a week.
So am I saying that having your own office is nothing but
good? Have I found Mecca? Have I just been playing around for the last 10
years? Yes, I have. It’s been fun, but
now it’s over. Time to grow up and become a responsible human being! Or is
there something more to this?
I’m an extrovert person (according to this guy) and I like being around
other people. If I’m alone for too long I get restless. This also means that I
like talking to people, being part of and contribute to conversations. This
makes a group of developers an ideal setting for me. So my problem is that I don’t WANT my own office, but I think I need
one. Based on my experience described above I think you understand why.
What about the rest of the Team? Should they have their own
offices to? First of all I think people
who like being more by them self and are not as extrovert, have more to gain of
being part of a team than I have. Why? I think they very often have better ability
to concentrate on what they’re doing, getting into the zone and still be able
to respond whenever their neighbor ask them questions or what not. And even
more important, they are able to get back into the zone again very fast. So
what do they gain from being part of the Team? One guy told me that sitting
with the Team is just more fun! It’s
motivating and you learn quite a bit just by being there. And if your team is
doing Agile stuff, I think it’s mandatory in order to get the team spirit you
need to be successful at Agile development.
One last thing about my role in the Team is that I’m not
very often working on stuff that the Team is working on. I do a lot of
research, specifications, talking to others about ideas and having my own
whiteboard discussions. In fact when I think of it I might be a disturbing
element for the Team, so they’re probably glad they finally got rid of me.
To conclude this rather long tale, I’m willing
to change my mind and admit that for me having an office is a good thing.
However, I still think that for a developing Team to have success they need to
be grouped together. Not necessarily the whole Team, but at least in smaller