Sprint over, sprint starts

I got the chapters done, they seem really happy with them, which is great. If they’d sent them back for another set of massive revisions I’d have snapped, I think — I was edgy and stressed all week.

Meanwhile at work, I start working on a scrum team (it’s a development methodology, where you try and deliver small chunks in two-week increments) this next week, and at the end of the week I lose my lovely office, which I share with a dude I really like, and go to work in a giant room with tables and no shelves or anything, because… I don’t know. I haven’t heard a good explanation yet. Essentially, someone made a very early decision that the new project team would have its own space and Expedia’s extremely complicated politics related to office space made it unworkable, so they bought space.

At some point, though, as they continue to build out open space, they’re making a business decision that

“collaboration” + cost savings > productive employees in private/shared offices

The big issue I have with this (well, besides working in offices with doors that close being a big reason I joined the company) is that it assumes that everyone works the same way: that someone like me, who tends to do really well at things like writing specs quickly, coming up with eight random implementation ideas, research, whatever, all things that require me to sit around and concentrate for a while, is going to be just as well-off as the team leader who loves working in open environments and isn’t bothered at all by constant distraction because they’re not working on stuff that requires that kind of sustained thinking.

This is all ridiculous to me. The cost of having a tech worker is easily $100,000/year in salary and benefits. Getting more out of your tech worker dramatically improves the return on that investment. Office space is not that much more expensive than raw cube space.

Anyway, this has all been studied and documented and whatever, and companies still do this. I’m not even surprised, though.
“We need to put 80 people in a tiny space.”
“Let’s make them all stand! Standing takes 20% less space than sitting. We can give each person a 18″ wide countertop for their computer and then 18″ in depth off the countertop…”

Hey, that’s great, instead of requiring 8’x 8′ for a cube, you’re down to 2’x 1.5′ !! How outstanding! And I’m sure everyone buys into whatever corporate cultural argument you’re making, so morale will go up, too.

Every person who quits over this stuff costs the company a ton of money. Turnover’s amazingly expensive. Every person who is 10% less effective costs the company $10k/year at least.