Nomadic Teams

Here’s a groundbreaking, revolutionary experiment… in seating arrangements.

Yesterday one of our project teams started sitting with each other. They picked up their things — computer, monitors, accessories, USB-powered Nerf dart launchers — and took over an unoccupied set of contiguous desks. The idea was to sit together for the project’s duration, pounding out great software, monitor-to-monitor. We call it “nomadic teams.” The draw for us is a function of our size, organizational structure, and ample spare desks. It might be interesting to your team too.

We’re structured, and normally seated, in a way that inhibits efficient project conversation. Our team is organized functionally and that’s how we’re permanently seated. Projects, however, are carried out by temporary combinations of engineers and testers, who normally work apart at their respective and physically separated desks. How lonely, how inefficient.

Despite the past century and a half’s technical advances, and our technologist and geek bias towards asynchronous communication where no human-to-human contact occurs, we hypothesize that this thing we call speech still hasn’t been trumped by anything that’s come since. Ignoring mathematical and scientific notations, nothing’s more information-dense.

Yes, you can read more written words per unit of time than you can speak them, but first-hand, in-person speech takes the cake for problem solving and relationship building. Think about the back and forth of a great conversation — or how about the info carried in non-verbal cues?

So we hope this will enable us to build a better product even quicker, and we’ll have a better time along the way. We’ll report back on how it works out.