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How to Enable your Software Development Team

 

Software developers all have the same amount of time every week. Some use that time effectively to ship great products and others push things to the next sprint. For a software development team to have peak productivity, both skillset and work environment matters. Unfortunately, even for the most skilled teams, the modern work environment can become a productivity killer. Constant pings on messaging apps, interruptions from well meaning office colleagues, and the constant pull of emails, social media, and other time killers make a team highly unproductive.

How can we design a better work environment for a more productive software development team?

Current office designs are not suitable for teams that require uninterrupted time to do deep focused work. Most offices are designed with an open office plan. These are terrible for focused work, or any kind of deep work. 

Most companies decide to implement an open office plan due to cost consideration. But they come with a lot of disadvantages that make it impractical for software development teams. Here are some problems software development teams face while working in open office plans:

Co-workers interrupting to get an opinion: When you sit an open office plan, co-workers assume that you are always available. They can just walk up to you and interrupt. And they generally do, because it will only take a minute. One minute is not one minute in software development time. One minute of interruption can cost 45-minutes of time to get back in the zone. Software development requires uninterrupted blocks of time to achieve optimum output. It is not the number of hours, but the quality of time spent.

Audible Noise: In an open plan office there is always background noise. Be it coffee mugs being slammed, phones ringing, printers whirring, general chatter, or sudden loud noises. Noise in general can be distracting, irrespective of how good that noise cancelling headphones are supposed to be. 

Visual Noise Visual noise is distracting images or shifts in the field of view that grabs our attention, distracting from the current work. It could be something as simple as someone walking by in a colourful dress, to some screen on the wall. Visual noise is more of a problem than auditory noise. At least auditory noise can be filtered away using headphones or music. 

Status Update Requests: It is common to seek status updates when a planned project is underway. But in an open office plan, this can become an impromptu meeting. A quick 5 minute meeting, which extends to half an hour. And the expectation is that all members of the team attend these meetings, since they are “important.

Ad-hoc meetings: Has it ever happened that you took a coffee break and started chatting with a colleague, only to realise that it has turned into a meeting with 5 more people participating? Or even worse the chat becoming a gossip session? It happens quite often in open office environments. Easy access to your colleagues makes it easy to get into random conversations and ad-hoc meetings.

With so many interruptions and opportunities for interruptions, it is no wonder that most software development projects exceed their timelines and budgets. And many times the teams are not able to keep up with changing demands fast enough. But there is a way to design offices for software developers.

A better work environment for software development teams: 

Ideally, every software developer should have an independent cabin with very high performance equipment with a high bandwidth internet connection. In the real world, software development is a team game, and interaction with team members is a necessity. Office design for software development teams have to take care of the contradictions between individual productivity and team interactions. 

Private Co-working: 

Co-working, the new style of designing office spaces, is much disliked by software development teams. Because they are quite similar to open office plans. Private co-working on the other hand are team spaces designed within larger office spaces. Think of a conference room that is exclusively used by a team.

Private co-working spaces are designed for teams of 3-8 people. These offices are designed such that the individual developer has his/her own space, and at the same time the team is right there in the same room.

Since all team members sit in the same room, it is easy to meet to discuss the project. The team can be very agile and adapt to changes fast. At the same time, since the entire team is focused on getting the project shipped, they will not interrupt each other. And the larger company still exists outside the room.

A perfect mix of individual productivity and team interactions.

Decentralised offices:

Why should all the employees be in one big massive office? Other than cost considerations, it does not make sense to seat different types of teams doing different tasks in the same space. Each team requires different spaces, different levels of interactions, even different types of technologies. Such office spaces are a disaster for productivity.

Besides productivity is the time that is wasted in trying to travel to the office and back home. Leading to health issues, work-life balance issues, and overall dissatisfaction due to the time being wasted in traffic jams. 

Software development teams can work from any location as long as the internet is available. 

Decentralised offices allow team members to avoid long travel times, be in an effective and productive environment.

Online and effective:

Teams today use a lot of online tools. Sometimes all the tools are on the cloud. In such scenarios does it really make sense to call in the employees to one location just to use some cool looking office space.

Using online tools and technologies can enable software development teams to be productive and yet be in touch with the rest of the company. And all this without missing out on any important information or announcements.

Conclusion

About the time that companies invest in decentralized private co-working spaces for software development teams. For a more productive and effective software development team, space uniquely designed for their needs is important.

The basic thing that all software development teams need is "more focused time" that they can spend on more meaningful work, which in turn will give better results in less time.

You find Joy at Work when you are in the flow and accomplish something. It is not about the number of hours you spend, but what you get out of the hours. Let us help you design the perfect work environment for your software development team.




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