Does anyone know of any studies done relating office environments (e.g. noise levels, private vs. open offices, etc.) to programmer productivity? Everyone seems to have a ton of anecdotal evidence (note the many threads when Joel opened the new offices), but have any studies actually been done on this? I've found a few articles on ACM, but most were quite old and a little bit off topic.
There are a few studies discussed in Peopleware on this topic - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0932633439/qid=1069146059/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_1/002-3550164-6430445?v=glance&n=507846
The environment is important IMO, I am working on a large project at the moment and we just got a new project manager about a month ago, one of the first things he realised was that our environment was not too good so we moved floors and everybody was happy, eventually though he upset in some way everybody on the team (5 people), usually by trying to make people work longer hours, the only thing he didn't realise was that our team is a team of people who are already driven, so they're pretty maxed out anyway. Result, the personal dynamics of the team are now screwed, and productivity has sunk to low depths. Team members will now actively find reasons why things can't be done, whereas before any solution to a problem was set upon eagerly.
Used to work in an internet consultancy - soft tone uplighters, personal desk lamps, no overhead tubes, very nice to work in, and sometimes long hours as well, but you felt valued.
I have a friend who loves to work in coffee shops, and is much more productive there. Personally, a closed-door office is the environment I'm most productive in. So, I realize I'm not answering your question, but my point is if you have team members who can tell you that the current environment is hindering their progress, that should be enough justification for making changes.
Assuming of course that you aren't doing pair programming :-)
Don't read Peopleware. It's just bunch of crap put to gether that can't be applied to real life.
Don't read Peopleware at your peril.
Read Peopleware yourself and form your own opinions.
Hey yoyomama, it was from reading Peopleware that I found out I wasn't odd for retreating to the server room to do some thinking. It was just too damn noisy in my cube to get in the 'zone'.
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