In software development (and I imagine in other fields) it is reasonably common for a small team to temporarily relocate into a single office or conference room for a few days in order to make progress on a particular project. The goal is typically to reduce distractions, improve communication and gain momentum, while making it clear to other employees that these folks shouldn't be disturbed unless absolutely necessary.

What do you call such an arrangement? I'd like to do some research about best practices and such, but without a name for the concept, that is proving rather difficult.

More details:

  • This is not a "war room". As I understand it, the goal of a war room is to get major decision makers in the same space so that important or time-sensitive decisions can be made face-to-face and/or in real time. This is about actually getting work done, not about making decisions.
  • The arrangement may be put in place by management or organised by the team themselves.
  • Team members may be made exempt from some or all of their everyday duties, especially meeting attendance.
  • Meals and/or snacks may be provided by the company to encourage folks to hang around so that momentum and conversations can keep going during breaks.
  • There isn't an expectation of extra working hours. The goal is to give the project a boost by making more efficient use of normal work hours.
  • This isn't a Death March to complete a project. This may come at the beginning, end or middle of a project.


Thank you for all the responses. From the results, I think it's pretty safe to say there is no generally agreed upon term for this concept, which honestly comes as quite a surprise to me. People love naming things, especially business and development practices.

  • 8
    I know this as "Boot Camp", "Ivory Tower", "Hackathon" or "Lockdown". Not sure if all of them have been applied correctly, but given your description, that's what it has been called. Oh, and a manager from sales asked us if we are again doing our little "focus pokus" ... haha
    – Fildor
    Jan 20, 2020 at 17:35
  • 4
    I would use "work"...
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 20, 2020 at 19:48
  • 3
    Somebody downvoted all the answers — enlighten us, oh great one, what’s your alternative? Jan 21, 2020 at 4:27
  • 4
    "What do you call it when a small team sequesters itself away to make progress on a project?", possibly because I am just reading the new edition, but the state of affairs that leads to this is generally a Death March
    – Mawg
    Jan 21, 2020 at 6:27
  • 3
    @Fildor I guess the sales manager got his job for a good reason. Focus pocus is hilarious.
    – ObscureOwl
    Jan 21, 2020 at 15:48

7 Answers 7


I've heard it called everything from "The cone of silence" to "The Iso-cube" to "The Bunker" to "Battle Stations" to "The Bat Cave"

The name doesn't matter so much as the function. It should be clearly defined, and the rules laid out such as:

  • Will meals and/or other accommodations will be provided?
  • When (if at all) calls may be taken
  • Cell phone usage policy
  • Break/lunch schedule
  • Duration of sequestration
  • 1
    In Academia it's called a "retreat".
    – user29390
    Jan 30, 2020 at 14:54

We usually call it “going head-down.” If my team is head-down it means we’re not answering the phone, we’re not coming to your stupid meetings, etc. Go away, don’t bother us!


The correct answer is: skunkworks.

skunkworks /ˈskəNGkˌwərks/ (noun): an experimental laboratory or department of a company or institution, typically smaller than and independent of its main research division.

  • 8
    No, skunk-works is independent. Jan 20, 2020 at 18:11
  • true, but it's still the first word that sprang to my mind :-/
    – Mawg
    Jan 21, 2020 at 6:24

You've marked this question as not having a definitive answer - that being said teams I've been on have called this a "Code-March". The principles being:

  • Excused from majority of ceremonies
  • Should not be put on other lines of work except where highly urgent
  • Start their own slack channels or lines of communications for better cohesion

At my workplace we would call this a WORKSHOP (noun) or workshopping (verb.)

Oxford dictionaries defines a workshop as follows: "a meeting at which a group of people engage in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject or project."



If the purpose of the meeting is to discuss strategy, planning, etc., rather than (say) writing code, then one term is a "woods meeting".

The term originated in DEC (the Digital Equipment Corporation). The original woods meetings actually took place in the woods - the president of DEC, Ken Olsen, was a keen outdoorsman who had a cabin in the woods, and holding a meeting there was intended to make sure the participants were kept away from their usual work distractions. Woods meetings could last more than a day, though I have no idea whether attendees "camped out" there.

Over time, since not everyone has a cabin in the woods available, the term lost its literal meeting and became a metaphor for any extended meeting where normal work was kept at arm's length.

Note that as well as preventing people outside the attendees from interrupting the work of the meeting, the woods meeting also prevented the attendees from slipping out to attend to other things (this was before the days of cell phones, of course).


Closest meaning i know to what you described is a "think tank"

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