I think it's a case of penny-wise, pound-foolish...  Companies will spend
top dollar for whatever programming talent they can get, that's a fact.
Many times pay thousands in recruiter fees.  Usually pay for PCs, tools,
sometimes education... and then pay NO attention to the work environment.

It appears to be a political issue, as offices are generally reserved as a
perk for management.  (Oddly, to make the perks more egalitarian, some
companies have taken the back-arsewards approach of eliminating almost ALL
offices, to deal with the politics...)

In my experience, you'll get more ROI by improving the work environment, and
you'll see that ROI fairly quickly (I'm guestimating a one-year payback)...
NOT to imply "it's a good thing" to sacrifice education, but that
programmers will only be as effective as whatever the limiting factor is.
AFAIK, the limiting factor of work environment seems to be hit a lot sooner
than the limiting factor of knowledge...  When the difference in
productivity is 10 to 20 TIMES, between the optimal and the
slightly-less-than-optimal...:  Well.. that don't make much sense to me...

IMV, what's incredible is that, while I don't recall when this IBM study was
done, the book that cited it was written in the 70's or 80's...

Companies give lip service to the idea of flat management structures...  The
way you accomplish that, IMHO, is giving your personnel at least a DECENT
SHOT at optimal performance...  I think it's FAR easier, and cost effective,
to give them this shot at reaching their existing potential, than it is to
make them a whole lot smarter.

(IMV, more lip service again:  "work smarter, not harder"...  ...Sheesh.)


| -----Original Message-----
| From:
| []On Behalf Of PaulMmn
| Sent: Saturday, December 08, 2001 7:19 PM
| To:
| Subject: RE: "One person per product"
| Importance: High
| >Demarco also sited an IBM study that the ideal environment is an
| office, not
| >a cube.  With 100 sq ft of space and 64 sq ft of desk space.  I
| don't quite
| >have that here, but have used that in the past and it IS the
| best approach,
| >IMV.
| >
| >
| I believe I've seen the study referred to--  I probably have either
| an article about it or a copy somewhere in my archives--
| The study was in preparation for a new facility to be built
| Somewhere.  They wanted to evaluate the best environment for a
| programmer.  They evaluated such things as the space needed to hold a
| terminal (this was pre-PC days), hold several opened-out greenbar
| listings, network connections, power, storage, etc. etc.
| Plus the fact that people tended to change project teams from time to
| time, and that they occasionally need to hold meetings.
| The result was that each person (no matter -what- level-- manager,
| programmer, grunt) got a 10' x 10' office.  Not a cubicle, an office.
| With a door.  And most (all?) of them had a window.  When a person
| moved to a new team, the FromOffice and the ToOffice were the same
| size; the contents could be moved and everything would still fit!   (:
| Furniture was modular, and included work surfaces, overhead storage
| bins, mini conference table, chairs, etc.  Each occupant could choose
| among the 4 or 5 options available.
| Each floor of the new facility would have (IIRC) 4 clusters of
| offices, plus common conference rooms (I don't recall if there was a
| lounge area near rest rooms or not).
| They mocked up several of these new offices and had people living in
| them to see how well they worked.  The article I read showed that
| they had even mocked up the windows, with pictures as if they were
| actually in the new building!
| Of course, this was IBM-- and no company I've worked for since then
| has seen the advantage of 'real' offices vs cubicles (indeed-- the
| company I work for now has the habit of re-arranging large blocks of
| cubicles every 6 months or so as the current idea of 'efficiency'
| takes hold.  One company I've heard of has everyone out in the open--
| no partitions, no cubicles, just rows of desks.  Modern.).
| --Paul E Musselman
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