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February 14, 2013

An Agile Workspace

Often when people think of an Agile workspace for a team, they envision the classic set of adjacent tables stretched across an open space. While this is often a component of an Agile workspace, it is not the whole picture.

The goal of an Agile workspace is to create a physical environment that enables and supports a team entering and sustaining “flow“. This requires multiple elements to that support the various stages of team work.

  1. Normal work and ad hoc collaboration
  2. Rest
  3. Intense collaboration

I recently created a workspace layout for a client based on the team spaces used at Spotify, one of the shining beacons of organizational Agility.

Scrum team agile workspace

A couple other of my favorite items to have in the space that support the team are:

  • A projector: having a projector so you can display images on the wall promotes communication and collaboration.
  • Toys: the tactile experience of having simple toys such as Lego bricks, Silly Putty, Nerf balls, hand puzzles, etc., to play with in hands often helps people to get unstuck.

It really helps to think of the team a mini startup company of super creative geniuses. You want to give them all the space and environmental tools they need to create and build without impediments.

Last but not least – a powerful and critical complement to this kind of workspace is a separate place to make personal phone calls or do sensitive work such as filing a health claim. You want to ensure there is option for individual privacy.

Once you get this working for one team, you may be tempted to formulate a checklist for the “ideal” team room, to perhaps aid facilities in creating more agile team workspaces. Resist this temptation, as each team’s needs will differ in degree, so leave room for creativity. Instead, create guidelines that focus on the goals and not the final form.