In Agile, co-location of teams is the preferred option because of the various benefits it offers such as osmotic communication, face-to-face communication and tacit knowledge.

What is Co-Location

The work environment has a significant impact on the agile team's ability to collaborate and communicate. In Agile, co-location of teams is the preferred option because of the various benefits it offers. Some of the agile team co-location benefits include:
  • Osmotic Communication
  • Tacit knowledge
  • "The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation." – one of the 12 Agile principles.
  • Helps to avoid the gulf of evaluation
  • Physical proximity – pair programming
  Agile teams are ideally within 33 feet or ten meters of each other. There is physical barriers  (e.g., walls, doorways) between them.   Distributed teams use collaborative softwares. However, they often require face-to-face kickoff meetings.

Top related courses to Co-Location

Related methods and techniques to Co-Location

  • Osmotic Communications

    1. Osmotic Communications

    Osmatic communication is about agile teams obtaining useful information by overhearing the conversations of other team members.

  • Tacit knowledge

    2. Tacit knowledge

    Tacit knowledge is unwritten collective information accumulated over time by individuals through observation and practice, but is difficult to transmit to others through verbal means, documents, texts, or symbols.

    It is difficult to build tacit knowledge when the entire team is not in the same place (co-located) or when the team is very large.

    An example of tacit knowledge is the scaling of servers under different load conditions of customer demand.

  • Pair programming

    3. Pair programming

    Pair programming is a core practice of the XP framework that allows team members to learn from each other, increase productivity, and find bugs by writing, directing, and reviewing code in pairs. The driver writes the code while another person, the navigator (aka. observer), reviews each line of code entered. The pairs (two members) change roles (i.e., driver and navigator) frequently. The navigator looks at major problems and errors and makes notes and share ideas on possible next steps or obstacles.

    Pair Programming is best done when team members are in the same location.

  • Caves and Commons

    4. Caves and Commons

    Agile teams sometimes need silence and a quiet place to focus on their work. At the same time, they need a space where they can collaborate and benefit from co-location, for example for benefiting from osmatic communication, pair-programming, etc.

    Therefore, the collaborative agile team space include two areas:

    • Caves – private areas for alone time, thinking
    • Common – open areas for collaboration
  • Gulf of Evaluation

    5. Gulf of Evaluation

    The gulf of evaluation refers to the difference between what is said and what is perceived, interpreted, or understood. As a result, intangible projects are often affected by this gulf. For example, what does DONE work look like?

    Co-location, higher levels of stakeholder (e.g., customer) engagement, and early and frequent review, validation, and delivery of value can significantly reduce or avoid the gulf of evaluation.