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office "neighborhoods"

Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
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156

As a followup to my team room post, I'm wondering if anyone has experience with "neighborhoods". They sound like grouped "workspaces". Could be cubicles but sounds more like shared desks. Has anyone experienced this. Or seen pictures? I can't even find it on search so I must not have the right keywords.

It's not hoteling and the closest I found a reference to is this.


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Tim Cooke
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Joined: Mar 28, 2008
Posts: 1132
    
  59

This is not something I've heard of Jeanne. It sounds a little like an ad-hoc team room sort of setup.

The only scenario I can think of that would benefit from this sort of thing would be if you have very dynamically changing teams and projects. In this case you'd be working with different teams on different projects quite regularly so it might be ok if you wanted to "set up camp" wherever you wanted. However, in all the places I have worked the projects are just not that dynamic. They're always long term projects, at least for a number of months. For these kinds of projects it's good to have a permanent base, like a team room, or at least just being sat next to each other.

What prompted the question?


Tim Driven Development
Roger Sterling
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Joined: Apr 06, 2012
Posts: 426

Shared work spaces, often called "coworking" or "pair programming" in software development circles, promotes collaboration and shared insight into unique concepts. You can even rent a desk in someone's office; for example in New York for $25 per hour or Australia for AUD7.7 or Denver for $299 per month or Nashville or Cary, NC.

Often, entrepreneurs use coworking as a means to improve their own enjoyment while working. Some people are very social, and being entrepreneurial often means working alone. By coworking, these people can have the social aspect of being part of a larger company but still be their own boss. It also gets them out of the house. If you own your own business and started it in your garage, it becomes very monotonous to work, play, and sleep in the same house day after day. Some new parents use coworking locations to get to a business-friendly atmosphere, especially when the homestead is occupied with newborns needing to be fed (ie. crying). Many coworking sites provide access to a gym, wi-fi, phone, conference rooms and other business needs.

Here are other good sites :

http://www.linkcoworking.com/

http://wiki.coworking.org/

http://hqraleigh.com/



And some good pics:











Jeanne Boyarsky
author & internet detective
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Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30769
    
156

Tim: Someone used the term and I couldn't find anything so I posted here.

Roger: Hmm. That does look like the description sounded. Open air; no assigned spaces; no stuff. All of those pictures look like a horrible environment to code in.
Roger Sterling
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Joined: Apr 06, 2012
Posts: 426

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Roger: Hmm. That does look like the description sounded. Open air; no assigned spaces; no stuff. All of those pictures look like a horrible environment to code in.


Well, some people may not like that style of seating; however, I do like the ambiance. Conference rooms are available, and most coworking plans include use of conference rooms. Drawbacks to conference rooms are the noise level increases and the space can get crowded depending on how many people you collaborate with. When I go, our groups tend to be smaller, one two or three, as many of our team mates are in different cities and all our server infrastructure is cloud-based (we develop AWS applications); so open environment works better for us. My mobile equipment list is : Asus G75 (has a second monitor port) , Dell 24" LCD monitor (second monitor) , ROCCAT Tusko Widescreen monitor Bag (to carry the second monitor) , and Beats by Dr. Dre. You can get an assigned desk with dedicated ethernet port if you choose. The "clover-leaf" table allows us to sit back-to-back at 45^ angle and we can look over shoulder when needed.
Matthew Brown
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Joined: Apr 06, 2010
Posts: 4422
    
    8

Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:All of those pictures look like a horrible environment to code in.


I'd agree with that. All of those look completely in conflict with the advice we get on how to set up a workstation to avoid RSI and similar conditions. It might be fine to use occasionally, but as a main working environment?
Roger Sterling
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Joined: Apr 06, 2012
Posts: 426

If your on the eastern side of the pond, here is a coworking facility in East London. You can use their cafe for free or you can rent a desk with ethernet. http://www.campuslondon.com/ Nice introductory video worth watching.

You can even take a virtual tour.
Jayesh A Lalwani
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Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2409
    
  28

We didn't call it neighbor hooding, but at a previous employer 4 years ago, they had arranged the office in a configuration that could be called a neighborhood. Basically, the office was divided into square spaces divided by half height dividers. One person sat in each corner, and you could walk in and put of the space on the sides. There was enough space in each corner for 2 people to pair program together, although we never did pair programming.

The way we ended up using the space was that each team occupied a square. We would just be talking to each other and if need be simply push off and roll your chair to the other person's seat. The architect was in his own square that was half a square. That gave him enough place to "host" 2-3 other people. Also, he had the biggest whiteboard that he would be drawing on while he explained things to people. This gave an opportunity for other people to stop work and listen to whatever he was discussing if it was relevant to them. It almost felt like a classroom with the architect taking the position of the teacher. I kind of liked that.
chris webster
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Joined: Mar 01, 2009
Posts: 1776
    
  16

Matthew Brown wrote:
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:All of those pictures look like a horrible environment to code in.

I'd agree with that. All of those look completely in conflict with the advice we get on how to set up a workstation to avoid RSI and similar conditions. It might be fine to use occasionally, but as a main working environment?

Amen to that. I get the impression these are environments for people who don't actually need to do much serious thinking while they're "working" - a bit like the poseurs sitting in Starbucks with their MacBook Air sitting between a bucket of latte and a half-eaten muffin. Might look cool, but I bet they don't get much serious development or design work done.

I know everybody insists on constant "communication" these days, but I've worked in conventional open-plan offices for years and I find it's a real productivity-killer (and generally a PITA) compared to the good old days when I shared an office with just a few other people (and when nobody else knew if we took the occasional "Duke Nukem" break ). And at least I still get a comfy chair and a solid desk to work on. Break-out areas and so on are useful - you need somewhere to go and blether around a white board or discuss stuff without annoying other people. But perching on a sofa all day with my laptop on the edge of a coffee table, while lots of other people are talking all around me, just sounds like hell.

I'm reminded of Paul Graham's essay on Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule about the different ways that people in different roles need to use time. I think there are similar conflicts in how people need to use space and quiet.


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Jelle Klap
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Joined: Mar 10, 2008
Posts: 1779
    
    7

Some of those pictures look more like hotel lobbies than workplaces. While I do prefer team rooms to cubicles, I wouldn't like this kind of setup at all. They all seem highly uncomfortable.


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