How Seating Plans Can Kickstart — Or Hold Back — Product Development

When we’re building products we often overlook how simple, day-to-day details like where we sit can help or hinder development. Here’s how to structure your team’s seating plan for the best results.

It’s About Space

Often when startups get going they move incredibly fast before growing to a stage where progress slows down. This is to be expected: When you have more people interacting, more organization is required and development time therefore increases. The trick is to minimize this problem by making sure people are located in the right place in relation to one another.

Create ‘Delivery Teams’ Arranged by Focus, Avoid Silos

Imagine you’re an iOS developer starting at a new company. The company isn’t a brand-new startup, but it is relatively small, and you’ll be the second iOS developer in the team. Where should you sit?

V1 shows teams seated by role, V2 by goal.

Getting the Balance Right

Of course, this approach isn’t without its drawbacks. For some developers, getting drawn out of their Deep Work mindset in order to answer a question from a product manager is their worst nightmare. But there are techniques to mitigate this, such as specified quiet times. If teams find that they’re spending too much time talking face-to-face and not enough time building product, there’s clearly a problem. The key is being flexible and thinking proactively about the best solution for each situation.



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BCG Digital Ventures, part of BCG X, builds and scales innovative businesses with the world’s most influential companies.