Carlos Leyva

Silicon Stories

Chapter 7: Talent Wars, E-Teams and E-Cultures

The Furniture Police

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This sub-title is borrowed from the authors that made it famous, Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister, in their still classic book entitled Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. There is not a better description anywhere of the basics required for a healthy software office environment. This book has become the Bible of workspace design for some of the world’s leading commercial software providers.

Suppose that in addition to your present duties, you were made responsible for space and services for your people. You would have to decide on the kind of workplace for each person, and the amount of space and expense to be allocated. How would you go about it? You’d probably want to study the ways in which people use their space, the amount of table space required, and the numbers of hours in a day spent working alone, working with one other person, and so forth. You’d also study the impact of noise on people’s effectiveness. After all, your folks are intellect workers—they need to have their brains in gear to do their work, and noise does affect their ability to concentrate.

Not only do DeMarco and Lister get at the essence of the problem, they provide solutions backed up by hard research data. Despite the fact that this book was first published circa 1987, I continue to be astounded by how little progress corporate America has made toward providing healthy workspaces.

You cannot create an information age company with an industrial age mind.

If you have been tasked with workspace design, rush out and get a copy of this book for all stakeholders participating in the decision making process.

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