I pair-develop software in a communal, cube-less, collaborative software development office all day at my current consulting engagement. I wouldn’t want it any other way! Certain pair partners and I just seem to click, we get into the flow, and with other pair partners I find myself extra drained at the end of the day and I wonder why.
Here are some thoughts on being and energized and energizing pair partner:
Foster learning opportunities
One of the most energizing things for me is to help others make mental breakthroughs. I take the opportunity to be a mentor and to be mentored by my pair partners and the other pairs working on the project.
Change your tools
When the way forward has become murky, walk away from the computer and go to the whiteboard or a flipchart. Change your tools often throughout the day. If you are a pen person try a colored pencil or sticky notes. Move your computer to another part of the office. Experiments and change are exciting and energizing.
Treat interruptions seriously
If your pair partner is disengaged by using his/her phone treat it seriously. Ask “Is everything going okay? I notice your are checking your phone a lot?” Demonstrate caring. I do not let disengagement slide because it will drain my energy. Would your doubles ping-pong partner check their phone during a point?
Tweak the sharing interval
Try changing how long each person codes before handing over the keyboard. Sometimes an hour or two of switching every 15 minutes will have you energized and the next hour it makes sense to switch only twice because the particular task is amenable to larger chunks of keyboard time. Keyboard use intervals can be tinkered with throughout the day to get a desired outcome.