In grade school, classroom seating charts always felt so restrictive. It always bothered me that we had to sit everywhere the teacher told us to. Looking back there was probably a good reason for this. Most importantly it keep the classroom running smoothly. The teacher separated the trouble makers so they couldn't conspire. They spread out the hard working kids so they can help others around them. A good seating chart makes the classroom more productive, and a bad one could lead to disaster.
Recently my team moved buildings. In our last building all the of the testers, program managers, and developers were all right next to each other. The layout looked like this:
This worked very well for us. We had a lot of hallway conversations where actual decisions were made spur of the moment. Often times we would find 3 or 4 of randomly ended up brainstorming in a room when there was no meeting planned. We always felt a little disconnect from our extended team(marketing, design, etc…) that were in different buildings.
Now that we are in the new building, and we are spread across 5 hallways, things have started to change a bit. More conversations have moved from in person to IM or email. This always leaves a bit of room for ambiguity or not being able to get an answer to something that is blocking.
Even though it has only been a week, I have noticed we don't go to lunch as a team anymore. It is harder to gather the whole team when they are all over the place. This leaves less face-to-face talks that used to happen during this time.
Over time, I hope we begin to move our offices to closer to each other. Our team is known for moving fast and I would hate to see that change because of where we sit.