Joel Spolsky's Bionic Office
Joel Spolsky's software company, Fog Creek, has moved offices. Joel had the good fortune and foresight to spend what looks to me like a ton of money on building a really great office for his team. He has posted an article about it called Bionic Office.
Couple of things in the article really drew my attention. First is a quote from Philip Greenspun who posits: “Your business success will depend on the extent to which programmers essentially live at your office. For this to be a common choice, your office had better be nicer than the average programmer's home. There are two ways to achieve this result. One is to hire programmers who live in extremely shabby apartments. The other is to create a nice office.” - and that seriously appealed to me! :-) Although I'm not sure about “developers living at your office” because personally I'm into this XP idea that no one should work more than 40 hours a week unless they really, really have to. (Families may not be as much fun as code but, well, you know...)
He's done a couple of neat tricks that can be done without much capital outlay. Firstly he's put twenty power outlets per desk! Now, this is great. I have a dozen on my desk at home, and they're all full, so I'd say that 20 was about right for a geek! Plus four of his are UPS'd. They're also at desk level, which is good news for me as I'm always grovelling about on the floor trying to steal power points from other people in the office. He's also put an 8 port hub on each desk. This comment tickled me: “I sneer at silly building managers who still think that one LAN port per office is about right. For lawyers, maybe.”
On the serious side, all of his desks are straight and don't appear to have any drawers underneath. I'm not a fan of pair programming, but I am a fan of trying to show someone what's on my screen on look at what's on someone else's screen. For some reason though (and I guess that it's to do with more usable space per physical space), companies tend to use corner desks that are notorious for making it virtually impossible to work side by side with someone.
He's also bought Herman-Miller Aeron chairs, which trust me are the most comfortable chairs known to humanity.
Joel is a lucky, lucky man... although I'm not sure about that green colour.