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Open Space vs Cubicle – Agile Way


I always find my cubicle to be a little space where I am sure which will always be there when I reach office. It creates a kind of attachment, a place where I can keep my stuff and be comfortable. Agile demands a collaborative team, but to me making an open space will help team collaborate more is a myth. Working with few agile team and discussing with few team who had implemented open space (e.g. Top retailer we work with in US) feels crowded gathering than collaboration. There are few companies that I know has this policy of open desk and get your laptop to any of these seats and start working, but at least few I had discussed confirmed my views. While being collaborative, every one requires a little space private since evolution (Territories – Just a nomenclature, not applicable in this scenario). Working in solo is also not good.

Having a private space not just started today. Though today’s generation might not be aware of such “Bench” concept (Do not confuse with our Bench and please don’t suggest ZeroBench J ) but back in 90’s we had Benches and Desk’s in the school. We use to draw small lines which is hardly visible to our teachers to have our space. Sitting in the front row was my identity and I always tried finding a space in the first bench every new academic year. Once the place is occupied it will be with us for the whole year until the teachers moves you to a different place. Even then if you keep switching the places teacher will ask the reason. May be it is the way I grew up but am sure that my classmates did the same. Moving to college till 2004, we had Benches but then sitting on Front Row was not a good idea since with a specs already in the face, it gave me chashmish bookworm look. Even then I had a place to sit and people identified me with it.

Open space where few people work together may provide a single system and a revolving chair to work and maybe I can use the same revolving chair throughout, but it still miss the personal touch of cubicle. A board I can scribble, a place I can leave my coffee mug, photographs, printouts and that is awesome to have it arranged near my phone.
Some methods to have more collaborative teams is to having standups, interactions, grooming and quick team bonding activities together is more productive than denying me to have a little personal space.

About dhanus@dhaneshnair.com

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