January 11, 2005 - The Feng Shui of Developer Seating

Over the past year we've had several different variations on our seating, with the common theme of an open workspace. Originally there was an 8 desk circle, which in time was supplimented with some cube space. Then we broke off a separate team for The XPeriment and added a separate 'pod' of 4 tables. With several minor variations all these seating options worked well and I felt pretty safe thumbing my nose at those people who advocate offices with doors that close as the best environment for development teams.

Then a couple of months ago we decided to bring (almost) everyone together in re-unified collaborative seating: 4 groups of the 4 table pods that worked so well on the XPeriment as well as a few cubes for those people who preferred it. This seemed like it would be a GoodThing because we already knew we liked working with desks like this and in open collaborative space, and this grouping would even give us a couple open desks for people we are looking to hire.

But obviously it sucked or I wouldn't be writing this, right?

In explaining why it didn't work the most rational explaination we could give was that there would be times when people on either side of you would be talking past your head, and it was really hard to tune out converations that were seemly directed at your head. But like a lot of rational explainations I think that one was only a proxy for the truth.

A week or two ago we switched the seating again, this time to a big 14 desk circle (still supplemented by cubes). In asking different people what they thought of the new grouping I was struck by the similar responses: "when I look at the desks now I just say 'ahhhh' and relax", a reaction that I share and yet still find surprising.

So if you're struggling with your collaborative workspace and you're ready to reach for an office door to close take hope! Perhaps you just need to consider the problem from another perspective.

Posted by Jeffrey Fredrick at January 11, 2005 05:54 PM

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'Vaastu' in India is something similar to this !

Posted by: Chidambaram Danus on April 14, 2005 08:50 AM

Hey, good call! And a quick search on "Vaastu seating" gives me the tip that "Four sided rectangular or square shapes are good and auspicious." Of course our big circle of desks is actually a rectangle, so there you go...

Posted by: Jeffrey Fredrick on August 18, 2005 08:50 AM

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