On an Agile Space

A couple weeks before our friends at Atomic Object wrote about the Benefits of an Open Office Environment, we were setting up our first ever office space. After years at cafés and dining room tables, we were invited to join our friends at Worksighted in their new downtown office. I didn’t have Atomic’s article as a guide, but I had been to their offices and we definitely have a lot of common ideas, but we also had many of our own.

We did have a couple constrains (or benefits):

  • Furniture provided for us
  • Sharing space with other companies


Much like Atomic Object, we wanted to be able to see each other to be able to quickly bounce ideas and problems off of each other. The lovely furniture we’re using (Herman Miller’s Resolve line) let us arrange a pod of 4 desks facing each other. While the dividers aren’t ideal, we get around that problem with stand-up desks.

While hanging around the local coffee shops, we’d often work at the raised bars to take up less space. We decided that we loved the stand-up experience so much, that we modified two of the 4 desks to be at a standing height. We’ll likely do more.

Shared workspaces

Nobody has their own desk. With 3 of us in Holland, we should always have at least one pair programming team at any given time. To that end, we made 2 prime workspaces, two alternatives, as well as the private office. The two prime workspaces are stand-up desks, sport a 30” Apple Cinema Display, and are generally fantastic.

Nobody can claim a space as their own, and having fewer prime spaces than people encourages pair programming and, moving around. It also has a side benefit of keeping our workspaces tidy and void of distractions. We have the basics at every workspace: pens and notecards, and while we may have toys or books floating around, you don’t get the stockpile of stuff you do when the space is yours.

Sharing with others

Because we share the space with other companies, we have a separate office (but with a glass wall) that we can use for meetings or to make phone calls. Its important to have a private space to talk, which we never had in cafés.

We also have use of a larger conference room for bigger meetings, though most of our meetings involve Skype or iChat these days. We use it more often for hosting meetups, like the West Michigan iPhone Developers group.


Instead of pets (I’m not a fan) we have plants. I made sure to have many plants around, and at least one is on every desk now. Plants are known to have a calming effect, clean the air, and they add a nice splash of color.

We’ve also tried to be “green” in other ways. We’re conscious about waste and avoid buying, printing, or using things we don’t need. As a reminder, we also put a green plant in sustainable containers (bamboo and canvas) on each desk.

Finally, we are centrally located to where we live, allowing us to walk or bike to work. We love being in the heart of Downtown Holland.


Check out many more photos on Flickr. Or stop in and see us in person!

Photo of Daniel Morrison

Daniel founded Collective Idea in 2005 to put a name to his growing and already full-time freelance work. He works hard writing code, teaching, and mentoring.


  1. janice@collectiveidea.com
    June 10, 2010 at 13:16 PM

    I was immediately impressed. It seems to be on the cutting edge. I have note read through everything but I wanted you to know my initial impression.

  2. June 15, 2010 at 22:40 PM

    Keeping desks clutter-free is a great benefit to shared workspaces. I’m always astounded at how much junk my co-workers pile on their desks, for months or years. I agree that plants liven up a living or work area - I have several in my office and home. The option of walking to work is always a plus - I’ve been doing it for almost a year. Looks like you’ve made a nice place to work!