Wednesday, 9 February 2011

What is it like to have a healthy workspace?

Some body asked a question on Quora .. on how to create a healthy work environment with respect to the workspace not a cultural aspect included really... reminded me of a post written way back in September on Healthy Environments But I think that is not enough.. I missed to cover the healthy workspace issue for which I am fighting and struggling now for almost months.. So what is a healthy workspace structure?

Free Will
A structure that helps engineers or team members push their chairs and roll to the desk of his pair or team mate. A structure that will help the engineers to freely move in and around the office. No heavy cubicle structures, no heavy barriers. I really think the studio type structures helps free space all over and also effects the luxury to have a free will space for the engineers. Of course if you are not a development team and you have clients and customers visiting you very often, it doesn't make sense to have this type of structure. In such cases better keep a separate space a bit away from the development section.

Loads of NON CHAIR related sitting arrangements
Sofa, cushions, bean bags , lazy rolls help the engineers take a break from the regularly back-aching chairs.. A set of bean bags lying around helps people to pick there laptops and start working from there.. of course helps the teams light approach.

A bit of fun, jokes around is very much required. People obsessed with silence and concentration phobia are the only blockers, but there is always this need to get them involved. Fun activities needs to be done only in the workspace and not in conference rooms.. I sometimes prefer gatherings and announcements in the open areas.. so other teams can also have a glimpse of it. Builds a liking towards a team as a whole..

The bit of Noise
Light music is always inspiring, people talking , debating around is highly effective. If you have everyone with their headsets on listening to their own choices of music it is like working in a graveyard. I also prefer rotational DJ's unfortunately not many takers always. A central music system lets you learn choices of people.. helps people go and ask DJ to demand for specific music to be played.

UnPrivate Affairs
NO to Cubicles and cabins.. If managers and leads are going to sit in cabins, they are away from what is happening. Not that you should be placed to supervise / monitor people.. but been with the team helps you understand the day to day issues. You will always find leaders sitting with teams to be more interactive and pleasant than ones sitting in cabins.. of course not to forget you have to face those meaningless cribbers who whine about everything and some scared goats who cannot give you feedback openly. Who cares for them anyways?

Loaded Interactions
Promote and prosper the culture of open interactions.. I always like to jump into conversations and talk about things.. this helps build a good rapport and understanding of people's principles, values and attitudes. No matter people call you nosy or not.. ensure that open interactions are a part of your culture.
A decent floor plan for an interactive agile team

Smiling faces
If there are none.. you were as well good at those government offices with fat bellies all around you.

Visible walls
Have walls that puts Team events, status of teams work and agile boards.. of course visible to everyone. Try to not keep these walls with stale data.. a stale wall represents the laziness of the team.

Play areas 
Small areas where you can play a short few handy games.. like a mini cycle, a game of one touch cricket, a bit of golf etc. Rolling soft toys, balls and gadgets whats the harm if you have a developer with a barbie doll on his desk?