In today’s connected environment, there are many ways to run a software development team. It’s becoming increasingly common for companies to offer remote work, allowing employees to work primarily from their homes. Another strategy is to hire teams around the world, often in an attempt to decrease labor costs. While those strategies can both be used to achieve varying degrees of success in software development, at WillowTree, we only support co-located team environments. Here’s why:
Communication - Even with tons of technology at our fingertips, absolutely nothing beats the effectiveness of turning around and asking your coworker a question. While we use chat clients and email, nothing quite beats a quick face-to-face conversation to keep a project moving. New ideas flow rapidly, and getting the latest change request to the development team is a much smoother and fluid process with the team in the same room. Open communication keeps the feedback loop tight, resulting in quick bug resolution and a higher quality end product.
Brainstorming - Putting pen to paper (or marker to whiteboard) loses its sense of purpose through the ether of virtualized planning spaces. Drawing diagrams all over the wall, quickly erasing, and starting over benefits everyone by iterating on concepts, questions, and solutions. It’s also common for teams to have many ad hoc sessions throughout the day that lead to new ideas. These sessions influence UX and development, thus leading to a highly collaborative product. Without co-locating teams this process wouldn’t be nearly as efficient, nor would the product’s approach be as well-formed.
Team Bonding - Want fantastic software? You need a team that works well together. At WillowTree, many teams often get lunches together and go out for drinks to unwind or celebrate a successful release. Being together creates a sense of camaraderie that can’t be replicated via Skype or Hangouts. Even better, managing projects becomes much easier when working closely together, because everyone is more invested and attentive; there are fewer missed requirements or hidden issues, allowing us to deliver above expectations.
The bottom line is that co-location increases efficiencies and improves the quality of our products. We don’t need to worry about time-zone issues, nor do we have to concern ourselves over misunderstanding requirements. By easily communicating, brainstorming, and being a team, we stay united on the problem at hand and focused on delivering an outstanding product.
As WillowTree continues to grow, we’re continuing our culture of co-located teams to ensure every project gets the attention it deserves. With each project team working in their own space, we are pushing the boundaries of collaboration and ensuring each project is a success.