Where Web 2.0 Works

7 Comments

I recently ran across Office Snapshots – an entire blog devoted to pictures taken inside of (mostly) Web 2.0 companies and their ilk. A recent posting at UADDit brings some more pictures to the table. If you want to get some sense of what the physical surroundings are like at Twitter, or Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Mahalo, or Ning, or dozens of other Web 2.0 garden spots, click on through.

It’s dangerous, but tempting, to generalize on the basis of these samples. Clicking around, I see lots of tables (rather than desks with drawers), open bullpens (rather than private offices), high-end chairs, and goofy decor that probably didn’t cost a whole lot. The overall vibe of most of the companies you’ll find on these sites is “fun to work for” rather than “deeply professional” – which, some would say, matches what Web 2.0 is all about.

As a software developer myself, though, I’ve got to say that I’m profoundly unattracted by most of what I’m seeing here. Have these people never seen the evidence that private offices and quiet help programmer productivity, or do they just not care? It’s good to have meeting space, but personally, I don’t want my entire career to be one continuous meeting. Give me something like Fog Creek’s offices any day.

What about you? Are you working in a Web 2.0 bullpen and loving it? Looking forward to making your money and cashing out so you can have a private office? Or just jealous of those who get the nifty decor instead of a boring cubicle?

7 Comments

Margi

Good GOD those Fog Creek offices are nice. That’s what I would love to do here at home. *snort* Shyeah. Right.

mike

i’ve worked the last 5 years for a large bank in seattle… you can put 2+2. :)

our web application development teams were moving more and more to a collaborative work environment. conference rooms were booked solid for development sessions.

why? when there’s more than one person working on an application, especially across disciplines or in some case, across business units, email/IM/telephone round-trips just take too long. being able to say “hey bob, what class should i be using for this element” or “where did you put that account object you created yesterday” speeds the whole team toward the finish line.

there are times when members of the team break off to go back to their cubes and dive deep, but the collaborative atmosphere is not just a social thing, it’s a productivity tool when working in teams.

now that i’m trying to start up my own business working from home (on the entirely opposite coast) i admit i miss being able to bounce ideas off of people.

COD

I suspect a lot of the programmers at these companies are working remotely anyway and don’t get into the office regularly.

Lance

Just to clarify, I’m not against offices, but I’d prefer a shared table with a great workstation over a waste of space cubicle with a average workstation. Basically, I hate cubicle hell.

Justin Pease

I guess everyone is different. I can’t listen to music with words in it if I’m trying to concentrate on programming. If I’m doing graphics, or something pretty mindless it is OK. But if I have to concentrate I need music with no words, or ideally silence.

Jillian

I agree, I can’t see myself getting any work done in any of those places. I’d much prefer deathly quiet and a closed door.

Lance

I may be making a slight generalisation, but I think Web 2.0 people are more about doing something interesting than hey look at me, I’m an important person with an office. Also, imho, I think it’s pretty smart to cut the reoccuring cost of office space in favor of getting better tools. Almost all of these places run either huge single screens or two large screens per machine (and a lot are Apple notebooks).

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