The One Secret of High Functioning Product Teams

 Gemini Mission Control — A high functioning, co-located team.

Gemini Mission Control — A high functioning, co-located team.

Every member of your product team should work in the same room.

That’s it. End of story.

Here is why co-location is so important.

1. It increases communication

While Slack and email are fine, nothing beats face-to-face communication and brainstorming with a colleague. Not everyone is a good writer, so chat is usually inefficient.

Email introduces too much anxiety into a product person’s workday. And the time delay to a response is usually too great.

Product runs best when it unfolds like a story. An initial idea one teammate has turns into a conversation, which then spills over into a white boarding session that ends up sucking in all passersby… which then leads to a design and spec.

When done right, product creation is like wizardry: ideas spill out of the team and coalesce into fully formed product seamlessly.

You can’t get the same dynamic through chat. Don’t even get me started on Hangouts and GoToMeeting…

2. It increases motivation.

Very few people are motivated by abstract ideas. Everyone, however, is motivated by love and care for others. We work hard in school to make our parents proud. We lose that extra bit of weight to impress our future boyfriend or girlfriend. We get up at 6:00AM to bust our ass and build a great household for our families.

Nothing ignites our work ethic like other people.

Yes, a huge salary and great compensation helps. Yes, some people will die in the name of some abstract ideal. But if you want a motivated team, you need to first build a culture of community and friendship. And there’s no way to build deep friendship and camaraderie with body-less faces peering across a computer screen, or by chatting with a blurry profile photo.

Get everyone in the same room. Let them become friends. Let them conquer the world.

3. It’s more fun.

Gifs and YouTube clips can be hilarious, but nothing is as fun as impromptu conversation and joke-sessions in the flesh. When the right group of people comes together, it’s nothing short of emotional alchemy. Laughter builds on laughter. Good vibes reign supreme. Tiredness goes away.

While some people can build amazing internet friendships, nothing beats in-the-flesh, side-by-side companionship.

Get a great group of people together, give them a common task filled with meaning, and then let the friendships bloom. It’s just more fun that way.

4. It’s cheaper.

A motivated, happy team that communicates well does high quality, efficient work.

Your investors and users will thank you for it.

Jason Hreha