In my 15+ years of development I have noticed changes in the workplace development environment. In the traditional sense, developers were head down, “bill bill bill” and spoken only to when needing to give instructions. As a developer grows and becomes more self sufficient and confident in ability, the creative side of development will start to emerge. I have mentored many developers in my time. What I have noticed is that you can speed up that sustainability and confidence by changing to a more collaborative, agile environment.
The traditional mindset of non-technical leadership is that productivity goes down if developers aren’t heads down and billing for 10-12 hours per day. In the agile method of development, if your environment is collaborative, this is not the case. Developers get more efficient, innovative and less stressed. Senior level developers can pass knowledge to others, and in a lot of cases get new knowledge from younger developers. All of these things contribute to a more efficient work environment. More good development happens in a 9 hour day than the traditional 12 hour day. If you are company that bills on market value for a solution and not an hourly rate for development, then it is a win. Quality increases, thus strengthening the client relationship. You also attract top talent to your team as many of the big name development companies are already instituting these practices.
It is not always an easy transition to an open development environment. The challenge is to do it at a pace that is right for your company. Engage developers in the transition plans, and get input from them on how to change the physical environment. If there is some buzz and excitement about the changes, it can be easier. Train operational staff on how to interact with technical staff. It is a vastly different world inside the tech room, they should be armed with the knowledge of how developers think.
And oh yeah, have lots of Red Bull at all times.
Here are some resources that may help:
http://www.agilealliance.org/the-alliance/what-is-agile/ (be sure to look at all the info, it is a snapshot of good principles to follow)