The atmosphere you manage to build up in your project office is going to go a long way towards determining how successful the piece of work is. If you haven’t ever thought about this before then now could be a good time to do so.
Here’s a little test for you to take before you start working the next day you go into the office. Take a seat and look around you to see how inspired you feel. If you are surrounded by those charmless office dividers then the answer is probably not very. There are lots of things you can do in order to make your surrounding more inspiring. For a start, I always like to go for the kind of open plan layout which lets everyone take to each other and feel part of a big team. I also like to put up on the wall some graphs or pictures or whatever else might be interest to the tea members. We all work better when we are in an interesting and stimulating environment, so you should be sure to give this aspect of the project the attention it deserves.
The Right Music?
I had never worked with music before but it seemed a good idea when someone suggested it to me. I was leading a team of testers in a secluded part of the building where no one else ever ventured and where our phones never rung. The middle aged lady who made the suggestion seemed very pleasant and strait laced so I agreed when she said she could bring in her music the next day. Yeah, I thought, a bit of Barry Manilow or Billy Joel might help the day got a bit quicker for everyone. Well, the next day I went home with my ears almost bleeding and my faith in the musical taste of middle aged ladies completely destroyed. I don’t know if the “music” she put on would be classed as techno, rave or dance but it was the most horrible collection of sounds I had heard since the last time I had root canal treatment carried out. If you want to add some music to the project then I would suggest tuning into an inoffensive local radio station and tell everyone to let their personal tastes at home.
Open and Welcoming
This point is rather more intangible than the others but it is something you should definitely look at. Some offices simply have an atmosphere which isn’t as open and welcoming as it might be. This might be because there is a conception that the team is divided into cliques or it could be because the staff feel that speaking out isn’t exactly encouraged. If this is the case then you could have some serious problems in store later on if you don’t do something about it. Ideally, you will want to lead a project team in which everyone feels that they have a part to play and that any suggestion or comment they come up would be welcome. This is all part of building a strong project atmosphere and you should be clear with your team members about how you expect them to play a part in helping you find and refine solutions.
A Pleasant but Hard Working Environment
It is possible to run a project office which is pleasant to work in but where a lot of good work is also carried out each day. This comes down to the previous factors we have looked at but there is also more to it than that. For a start, you should look at the little things like the quality of the coffee machines and the rest rooms. Another big issue in a lot of offices is the quality of light which enters it. I hate dimly lit offices which force you to squint at the screen. I always end up with a headache in places like this and I guess other people around me must do as well. Another pet hate of mind is the kind of office in which you can’t ever open the windows. In fact, it seems to be increasingly difficult to find a project office with real windows these days, so it is always a real delight to come across one, which is usually in an older building, as I just feel that the odd blast of fresh air is a wonderful thing. All of these things can have a bigger effect on your team than you might think, so you should be sure to pay attention to them and try your best to get them right.