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Timothy McGrath
Timothy McGrath

Posted on

Private Office or Shared Space?

I've worked in a private office for years as a software developer, but recently we tried working in a shared team room. The goal was to measure if it would increase communication, collaboration, and productivity.

I found the shared space to be extremely distracting and decreased overall productivity.

While at times it was easier to collaborate, it was very difficult to find time to focus on a hard problem and experience flow.

One of the developers on the team has a habit of snapping at people and that raised the anxiety of the entire room. However, this really brought to attention that this developer's attitude needs to be addressed as it is always affecting the team, it is just much more clear now.

What are your thoughts?
I personally prefer a private office and having the ability to close my door when I need to really focus on something. I always prefer to pair program using a tool like Live Share from my own PC, so that we can both navigate the codebase at the same time.

Top comments (2)

mbcrump profile image
Michael Crump

I see it two folds

-Private office - productivity increases and I can get things done but can feel in isolation
-Shared space - productivity decreases but I gain insight from listening to other conversations that the team has.

So what works for me?

I do a combination of both. I work in the office which is shared 3 days weekly and then 2 days private (at home).

kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman

Shared offices are distracting for focus work. Private offices make it hard to collaborate.

In private offices, collaboration feels like an intrusion. Especially when scheduled meetings are your collaboration vehicle. It leads more to specialization so you don't have to setup meetings. And perhaps drifting away from shared values. Corps tend to start worrying about "team building". It can be effective if you have mostly focus work to do.

Shared spaces tend to make "meetings" go away. Since it is just somebody saying "hey" and everybody turning around. So collaboration is a lot easier, provided nobody is a grump. But focus work is harder since it is very easy to distract and be distracted. Headphones are commonly employed to achieve some isolation.

I suppose a best case would be to have both. Shared team space and focus rooms.