Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cube Farms and Segregation Do Not Mix!

For the past few months, I've been examining my production values. Here's something I wrote earlier today...

Walls are barriers erected to provide isolation from one's neighbours. When a group is divided by walls, or physically separated by function or class (perhaps to afford senior staff with more window area), rigid constraints are imposed upon allowable communication patterns within the group.

A properly functioning team can be gathered around quite closely with little or no need at all for walls. Limited privacy and sound isolation are occasionally beneficial but the members of the group should still be proximate to one another physically or virtually. A good team thrives on an effective and productive ambient flow of communication.

When members of a team strongly wish to isolate themselves from the group, it is a clear sign that these members have abandoned any efforts to improve communication within the team.

A thoroughly isolated team is no longer a team.

I've not talked about where I work much because a few of my coworkers read this blog. In any case, these comments should not be construed as representing anything other than my own personal opinions.

I live in a cube farm. I very seldom interact productively with any of the people nearest my cube, though they are nice people. The people with whom I have the most engaging and valuable discussions are located a hundred feet down the hall. This is in marked contrast with the tight-knit teams to which I belonged at other workplaces. I fondly remember hallway usability testing, group brainstorming, weekly planning sessions, hashing out problems at the pub, and the whoops of joy (or frustration) from down the hall. I miss engaging team communication and effective collaboration.

I live in a cube farm, and I miss people! How ridiculously broken is that?!

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