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Poll: Does office environment matter to developers?

Tell us whether you think the office environment is of importance to a development team by taking our one-question poll.

I am in the middle of getting office space for a development team (I have experience doing this a couple of other times). I feel the physical environment plays a big role in a development team's productivity and emotional well-being. The elements that are important in a good office environment for developers include: allowing work to be done without visual and audible distractions, good lighting, lots of windows to let in sunlight, proper lighting, and so on.

I know a number of programmers who scoff at this idea that the office environments makes a difference and feel that it's only important if you aren't neck deep in your code. What do you think?

J.Ja

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About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

18 comments
sbjiva
sbjiva

I've been coding for over 20 years and I can't code in Open Plan office. It's way too noisy for my liking.

Also too many distractions and interruptions. I found that my productivity from my Home Office was over twice that of my Work Office. Having said that, you do need loads of discipline to work from a Home based office and inter-personal contact with the Team is critical to any project/team.

vineel
vineel

Offices are great for talking to other people and communicating. They suck for writing code. I code at home in my own coding cave that is arranged the way I want, with TV and music and silence, depending on the kind of coding I'm doing at the time and my mental state. There's also a bed that I use to take naps or to think through difficult problems. When I have a job that insists on seeing me at the office, I define "coding days" and "office days". Office days are for talking.

Snak
Snak

saying it like it is. Now then planners...... are you actually listening? Office clang and clatter is fine when concentration requirements are low, like when managing, or secretarying, or buying/selling, duping or screwing customers over, but coders need quiet, exclusive space. Period.

Underground_In_TN
Underground_In_TN

I and the other developers have small, broom closet-sized offices. Most have the flourescent lights turned off and have incandescent desk lamps and dark shades on the East-facing windows to block out the sun and glare from cars in the parking lot. We're a quiet bunch. Folks from other departments walk through on occasion and remark on how quiet it is. I couldn't work in their department's areas, as they're always talking to each other or on the phone, playing music, etc.

minstrelmike
minstrelmike

Apparently, scientists are going to have to redo all the behavioral experiments with mice. Some one discovered that mice act differently depending on the size and shape of the cage they are in. If we think we can learn about behavior from mice, then we need to pay attention to the environment. If you don't think mice are applicable, then simply look up experiments on how color schemes affect human thought processes,

Becca Alice
Becca Alice

Sunlight is nice, but depending on the angle of setup can either be in your eyes or glaring off your monitor. Our developers actually like lower level light in their workspace so you might want to at least make sure there are very adaptable blinds.

markc4321
markc4321

I have been coding for 18 years and have worked in most programming environments. From open bullpen to cubes to private office to home office. Some places were like dungeons, others rather swanky(for a dev environment anyway), Each had pros and cons. I agree with the authors comment on being distraction free. I feel the private office (even if it is a converted broom closet), or home office environment is best fo getting in the zone. Nothing is worse for productivity than cubes or open bull pens. Both are good for knowing everything that is going on in the company and co-workers personal lives, but they offer maximum distraction.

Magic_8_Ball
Magic_8_Ball

Wasn’t this subject covered in a couple of different books like The Mythical Man Month (Frederick Brooks) and Peopleware (Demarco and Lister)? In the development environments that I have worked and managed, I felt the work environment was important. I found that development work is focus work and developers need to concentrate. Nothing derailed the work like continuous disruptions such as placing the developers in cubicles within the call center or next to a noisy break room, two situations that I have encountered and rectified. Additionally, the developers need to be comfortable since many will work for hours in their space and they should be given the latitude to make that space comfortable and their own.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Then I could see incoming nerf darts instead of getting surprise attacked.

Charles Bundy
Charles Bundy

In that a proper setting helps me get and maintain focus. Another major factor is in how much control I have to rearrange said environment. Some setups are more productive than others depending on what I am trying to accomplish (and not all of it relates to expanding territory! :) )

Dina Dadian
Dina Dadian

There used to be time when I believed it does not matter where you are, once you are engaged into project, you can work at Grand Central, if you have to. It is true with a lot of developers, majority of which are also workaholics. The thing is, majority of us are also introverts - and productivity will go through the roof if the environment is set up to accommodate this fact. Promote quieter, more individualized space is less of a face-to-face and more of a face-to-screen setup (not to be confused with desire to be stuffed into a tiny faceless cubicle). Some may scuff this thought as promotion of anti-social behaviors :) however the question was if environment matters to development. It does, even when we think it does not.

anil_g
anil_g

I just want a bit of light on my keyboard for those occasions when I need to look for an unusual key.

anil_g
anil_g

In one office I stood up on my desk and removed two strip lights above my spot. It was a cube set up. The overall lighting in the office was excessive for any purpose in my view. Why do they have a fluoro tube every 3m? Eventually it was replaced and I was told not to take it out again. I think I then rotated it in place so it wouldn't light up.

anil_g
anil_g

Sounds like your productivity is going to be below par.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Where I work, its very rare to get enough time to get into the programming trance. The programmers are also second level support, and first level support is pretty useless. So it helps relieve stress. And makes the office a more interesting place to be.

imGISgeek
imGISgeek

I bought one of those little convex mirrors from an auto parts store - the ones that are made to be stuck on your rear view mirror to help you see in your blind spot - and stuck it on the corner of my monitor. An early warning system with motion detectors and flashing lights and sirens is what I would love to have but doubt that I could get away with it.