Do "war rooms" double programmer productivity? : LUSENET : Joel on Software : One Thread

In Peopleware (a book Joel favorably reviews), DeMarco and Lister argue that programmers should have offices with doors, not cubicles or bullpens. They cite studies that suggest that frequent interruptions reduce productivity, due to the time it takes the programmer to mentally reorient him/herself after the interruption. However, a recent University of Michigan study suggests that a "war room" like environment can actually double programmer productivity

Your thoughts?

-- Anonymous, December 13, 2000


The comparison is to cubicles, rather than offices proper. Cubes offer all the disadvantages of an office and none of the benfits, IMO, so I wouldn't be surprised if groups of small, multi-person offices for people collaborating on a project are better than a cube environment.

What would be intersting is comparing single-person offices to multi- person offices.

-- Anonymous, December 14, 2000

The real solution is to provide both. We have "war rooms" for projects where programmers can gather together to bang ideas off each other and come up with solutions. But then they should be able to go off to get some privacy to actually implement what was discussed.

-- Anonymous, December 14, 2000

I can't get through to the actual article, but my hunch is that they looked at productivity on a single-project scale. The productivity of a company over the long term, factoring in things like, er, employee churn, might be a different story.

-- Anonymous, December 14, 2000

In my experience war rooms are for contractors or consultants when you don't have enough office space. They are great for socializing and gossip - valuable stuff I admit. They are great for brown paper diagrams on the wall, storing reams of documentation, and crisis meetings. But they are terrible places to meet, telephone, or get individual work done. I found that they were usually empty and once the immediate crisis abated, folks immediately abandoned the idea.

-- Anonymous, January 06, 2001

Just over the wall from my desk are a bunch of programmers who have had big gaps cut in their walls. I'm not sure whether it's for development purposes, or just so you can aim paper objects more directly :-). The dev't manager regularly leaves his office to work at one of these desks. I guess I don't have a hole in my wall as I mostly work with the person who has to walk past me to get to her cube, or I'm out in the (manufacturing) production sites (my userland!)

I can appreciate the quietness thing, but there is a simultaneous need in most environments to foster better teamwork.

I've recently spent a few months working from home, to escape a lot of the operational interruptions that head my way when I'm around and get into "the zone". It was necessary due to the particular combination of work I am too-well known to be able to do.

-- Anonymous, June 26, 2001

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