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Our office is moving soon and we have the opportunity to redesign our office space. We have five developers and a couple of testers, working with a project manager, and a business analyst.

I'd like your ideas for an ideal office layout for a a small development team like ours.

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closed as off topic by Yannis Feb 29 '12 at 9:28

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3 Answers 3

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Depends a lot on your team. I'll give as an example the place I'm at now, which is an open office- no cubicles, all one big room (~15 devs there). We've sort of adapted how we work to the space- we tend towards non-verbal communication (email and IM) to keep the noise manageable, and we duck into the conference room downstairs when we need more in-depth discussion.

Some upshots to a design like this:

  • Fewer barriers between people. No coworker is further than 15 feet away from me.
  • Sunlight. I have three walls of windows.
  • Sociability- a lack of walls allows for a bit more team camaraderie.

Some downsides:

  • If you want to be distraction-free, you sometimes have to do it yourself (ie, headphones).
  • No room for whiteboards.
  • No private or even semi-private phone calls unless you want to get up and leave the main room.
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We'll definitely need whiteboards, but other than that, I like the ideas! I'm interested in how your desks are set up, too... – Damovisa Sep 2 '10 at 4:50
You know your a programmer when you consider sunlight a perk of your workspace. – TheLQ Sep 2 '10 at 11:09
@TheLQ: Ever worked in a cube farm? ;) – Fishtoaster Sep 2 '10 at 12:25
@Damovisa: Yeah, I really miss whiteboards. Regarding the layout, we have a more-or-less grid-like layout- most desks are freestanding, though a couple are monitor-back to monitor-back. Of course, it being open, it'd be much easier to change and try new layouts if needed. An interesting consequence of all this is that almost everyone's screen can be seen by someone else at a distance. I wonder if that's keeping flash-games and facebook-surfing down. – Fishtoaster Sep 2 '10 at 12:35
Thats the one thing I wouldn't like about that layout... people would see how much time I spend on Programmers.SE or StackOverflow :) – Rachel Sep 24 '10 at 15:32

I think one of the critical things when you have a group who work together is to have a small conference space with a whiteboard and a computer hookup (so you can remote in to your work computers) with a screen and a conference telephone. If you can't get the conference space, make sure the manager gets an office with room for a small conference table and a whiteboard. You need a place to exchange ideas freely and brainstorm.

We have a bunch of these here (we have over 100 devlopers) and they are in constant use for teams to discuss technicial issues or design possibilities, or for confernce calls with clients, etc. It keeps the discusions out of the work area so those not involved in the discussion can work without interruption.

Office space, ideally private offices for everyone, not likely you will get that though, so at least try for cubicles where you are all near each other.

I was once attacked in the office once, so I insist on a cubicle where I face outward and can see who is coming up on me. I think almost everyone feels more comfortable this way. Cubicles where every one faces the wall and everyone comes up from behind make people jumpy and they can be dangerous.

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This might be a bit overkill, but check out Joel Spolsky's offices:

Some more interesting information (That also link to studies conducted)

Just some ideas to lighten things up:

You have 5 developers so I would worry more about a nice colourful decorative work environment than too many layout considerations. Maybe it would be a good idea to experiment with layouts as you go along?

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