The Agile Office – Part 2, Nature

One of the most important aspects of software development, as not the most important aspect, are the team members. The people who have to build the software. You could come up with all kind of processes, documents, methodologies, etc., in the end the team members have to build the software. Therefore, I believe the agile office is a very important aspect of software development. I would not say good software development is not possible in an agile office. However, the other way around is certainly true. A a real agile office stimulates good software development.
I gave a presentation about the Agile office on the Benelux XP Days 2009 and an improved version on the Mini XP Days 2010 in Rheeze, near Eindhoven. For the improved version I created an survey to collect data about the use, benefits, advantages, disadvantage, etc. of the agile office. I am still interested in extra data. Therefore, if you have time please fill in this survey.
In three articles I will explain what I think an agile office is. There are three elements important in an Agile Office:
  1. Communication
  2. Nature
  3. Fun
In this article I will discuss nature in the Agile Office. If you have any questions, remarks, disagree, etc. please let me know! I understand that most of these topics are also nice to have in a not agile office. However, I think they should be really there in an agile office.

Climate Control

Most countries have a seasons with different temperatures, in some countries it is always a summer and in some other countries it is almost always winter. A comfortable temperature for humans is between 20  °C and 25 °C. Without climate control the temperate in the office will be determined by the temperate outside. There will be days that the room temperature will be between 20  °C and 25 °C. However, there will be certain days that the room temperate is below or above a comfortable temperature.

An agile office should have some kind of climate control to make sure the temperate is in the comfortable zone during the whole year. When thinking about a climate control system, keep in mind that an agile office should be a team room. There will be more then two people working in the room, people also generate heat.

Every office should have climate control, not only the agile office of course! However, when you have to set up an agile office you should definitely not save money on the climate control.

Windows

We all lived outside, or at least our ancestors, 10.000 years ago. The last two centuries factories and office buildings have been build. In terms of evolution this is all on very short time scale.Therefore, I believe we are connected to the weather outside. When the sun shines, most of the people are happy and when it rains we are not happy.

Working in an office without any windows to experience the weather is something people don’t like. 88% of the people who participated in my agile office survey really valued experience the weather outside. The photo of the office, in this section, where you don’t see any windows doesn’t look very motivating to me.

If possible, an agile office should have windows to experience the weather outside.

When you have a lot of windows in your office, you should also have some kind of climate control to control the temperature when the sun shines. See the previous section.

Chairs

As already described in the previous section, humans are not “designed” to work in an office. Therefore, the best chair is a bar stool, it is not comfortable. Therefore, it guarantees you will walk around and not site whole day in your chair.

Make sure there are desk chairs in the agile office that can be adjusted to your personal requirements. On the photo above you see some desk chairs that are ok for a meeting room, not for a workplace.

When you have flexible workplaces in your agile office, make sure you have also adjustable desk chairs for those workplaces.

Desk adjustable in height

As you probably knew, not every person has the same height. Therefore, every person needs a different desk height. It should be possible to adjust the height of the desks to create an ergonomic workplace.

When you have flexible workplaces in your office, you could consider a desk that is automatic adjustable in height. Just enter the height and press the button and the desk will adjust itself.

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