Space for Agility
10 Key Principles for Agile Space Design
The essence of designing an Agile space is to remember that the foundation of Agile are teams, so spaces are designed around teams. Best practice is to keep team members together in spaces to maximize opportunities for collaboration and real time information exchange.
Remember that the original Agile space principles was “Caves and Commons”. Caves are private spaces for uninterrupted alone time, concentrated work. Commons are group areas for shared working and collaboration. Both are equally important.
The reality over the past two decorates has often translated to emphasizing Commons at the expense of Caves in the name of cost conservation. This tends to be short-sighted and these spaces are often identified as belonging to organizations that value appearing to do Agile instead of being Agile and can make it difficult to attract the best talent.
A good rule of thumb is that collaborative team space accommodates no more than half the number people it would if arranged as a conference room.
Make a space that is flexible and adaptable as needs emerge. So consider furniture that is not locked in place and “walls” that can be collapsed or added as needed.
Information radiators are a hallmark of Agile teams, so plenty of writeable wall space or white boards are essential. Providing space for flip charts and for people to group around each writeable area is also helpful. It can also be helpful to have to screens near team areas, so that individual computers can be projected on the screen for group discussions, whether for wireframe or code reviews.
Remote team members are a reality so plan accordingly with phone and remote video feed to a monitor at a central location/table so that remote members can potentially interact with whole team. Also, there need to be a few spaces for when remote members or supporting individuals are physically in the team space.
Team spaces need to be surrounded by private rooms for telephone calls, small meeting rooms, large spaces for wall activities, etc
A range of meeting spaces that do not require prior reservations plus spaces for privacy would provide a good balance.
When many people, computers, and collaborative tools like flip charts, whiteboards, projection screens, require extra planning in advance to remain unobstructed and useable, rather than being trip hazards when added to tight spaces.
Agile spaces involve people spending most of their time collectively, so it is important to plan for plenty of light (natural is always good), plants, and other details that make a space feel welcoming during intense work periods.
In essence, plan to provide a diverse range of spaces within your available office space for Agile teams and team members.