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Part I: Group Development > Official Space

Chapter 5. Official Space

Your office mate chews gum, plays “Where-in-the-World-is-Carmen-San-Diego?” on his desktop machine, and interrupts with burps, groans, and stupid questions whenever you are trying to logic your way through some obscure bug. You've been with the company several years and feel it's high time you had a private office. You go to your boss saying you need more room and more freedom from distracting noise and interruptions. You say it's cost effective, that if you had more space and fewer distractions you'd be more productive. You mention studies to prove it. You need at least a hundred square feet of dedicated work space and thirty square feet of desk-and-table-top. A window would be good, too. In Denmark they legislate that you inform your boss. In Denmark she would have to give you a window.

In the folk wisdom of software development, more space, more quiet, and fewer interruptions yields higher programming productivity with fewer defects. A hundred square feet of office and thirty square feet of work surface has become the plea of programmers around the world. This notion was made a permanent part of industry folklore by Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister in their 1987 classic, Peopleware. Drawing on several sources, but primarily their own annual “coding war games,” they concluded that programmers with privacy, more elbow room, and more space to spread out their diagrams and listings were more productive.


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