Co-location is a fundamental practice for Agile teams, including Scrum. I touched on this in a previous post, but want to spend more time on the topic now.
By co-location I mean that all Scrum Team Members, including the Scrum Master and Product Owner, work together in the same physical location. Not just the same city, not just the same building, not just the same floor, but literally grouped together with constant access to each other.
No offices either. If each person is in his/her own office, we are not co-locating. And get rid of those cubicle walls. They inhibit conversation. A friend calls offices and cubicles located next to each other co-isolation. Think about it.
Scrum assumes we are literally working together as a team. Not a group of individuals who happen to be working on the same thing, but really a team working together to achieve a purpose.
Why is co-location important?
1. When everyone is together communication happens face-to-face. There are fewer misunderstandings when we talk with each other compared to telephone or written communication.
2. If you need to talk with me about something, we can do it immediately. Our work is not blocked because someone is not available. (Some smart person will say, well what if that someone is on vacation or out sick. Paired development resolves that issue.)
3. Team building happens. You don’t need special team building exercises or events. The fact that we are together working on something leads to us to form a team. (And if it doesn’t happen, that becomes obvious as well and we can take steps to resolve inter-personal issues.)
So co-location = less misunderstanding + fewer work blockages + becoming more efficient as a team
There will be times when someone (or some 2) team members really want to work uninterrupted by anyone else. You might find a headset handy. Or maybe you will create a “cone of silence” to surround you and your computer. Or …. The team can get creative and find ways to communicate when there is a need for someone to be left alone for a while.
Then when you come out of your cone of silence, your team is right there ready to share whatever you created.
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