Characteristics of Highly Effective Agile Workspaces

by on June 30, 2016

A number of our clients lately have recognized the benefits of creating great agile workspaces to foster better communication, collaboration and teamwork. We’ve seen some amazing, inspiring, and effective designs.

Take a look a the spaces below. Could you picture your team working collaboratively on their laptops in an environment such as this? Imagine more natural, flowing conversations that might occur in such environments.




Believe it or not, these are both newly designed McDonalds lounges! Would you rather drive into work to a cube farm or one of these comfortable spaces? It’s our observation that the best agile workspaces today have more in common with modern coffee shops than traditional offices.

With this in mind, here is our list of top 10 must haves for a highly effective agile workspace:

1. Room for the ENTIRE team. Everyone on the project must be collocated to maximize communication and collaboration. Be sure to include some extra seating space for customer visits if you can’t convince them to be on-site full time. Bonus if the space can be re-arranged or reconfigured.

2. Open space. Banish those cubes and minimize the number of walls and avoid dividers of any kind between your team members.

3. Natural light. If you expect creativity and performance, never bury your team inside the interior of a building without exterior windows.

4. Pairing stations. Study after study has proven that paired development increases velocity and quality. Oversized or dual monitors with multiple chairs should be the norm, not the exception. Just last week we watched 5 members of a team gather together a big screen and swarm on a particularly tricky user story. Amazing to observe first hand.

5. Large white boards or white board walls. A must for collaboration and quickly communicating complex ideas visually.

6. Large shared displays. Information radiators are a must these days. The latest batch of 4k televisions can be wall mounted and most include built-in wireless screen casting.

7. Standup meeting area. Preferably located near the large shared displays, this space serves as the gathering spot for all agile rituals. Avoid providing seating to keep the gatherings short and focused.

8. Privacy rooms. There’s still a need for privacy for both business and personal conversations and activities. A good privacy room will have a small table and two or three chairs. A good rule of thumb is one privacy room for every 6 team members. Resist the tendency to turn them into leaders’ offices. They should always be first come, first serve.

9. Comfy chairs, conversation tables, and couches. Most everyone has a laptop these days and for solo work and collaborative conversations, nothing beats sitting in comfy chairs around a conversation or conversation table.

10. Kitchenette and snack bar. Keep a ready supply of healthy snacks and drinks and the team will feel like they are in a second home.


11. Ample power outlets. The more the better and consider their tasteful placement so you don’t have cables and cords running all over the place.

How would you rate your current working environment? Drop me a line and let us know or more importantly, start a conversation with your boss!