Office Space Planning
Have you ever thought about the effect that your office design could have on your employees' workflow, teamwork, and day-to-day functioning?
Are you looking for a new type of office space, but you're not quite sure about which direction to take: a renovation or redesign?
Even if you’re not at the point where you’re ready for an entire do-over, small organizational changes and furniture upgrades can make a big difference for staff.
If you’re looking for new ideas about office layout, here are a few tips to guide you in the right direction.
Determine Your Priorities
Your ideal desk layout and office structure will vary depending on a few things, including the location of windows, the placement of doors, and whether or not you have partitions. It will also, of course, depend on the type of industry you are in — some require more confidentiality than others, and thus a closed desk area is mandatory.
Some companies may be currently stuck with a bland-looking, “traditional” type office space with rows of desks separated by partitions. They may want to change things around, but they don't want offices that are too distracting either.
The first step in this process is to nail down your essential needs and priorities (e.g., privacy for employees, more natural light, areas for teamwork, noise reduction), and then work on your office redesign from there.
Understand Staff Personalities and Consider Demographics
When looking at a redesign, you must carefully consider not only the type of work that people are doing but also how they prefer to work. You’ll want to ask questions like:
• Will an open-concept design appeal to everyone?
• What is the availability of flexible space or private space for people to use some of the time?
• What about noise and movement-based distractions?
• Do people want to connect and talk about projects, or could a collaborative setup deter them from working well?
• Do you want to stimulate communication, or will this deter productivity?
It may be that most work is individual, but that the majority of your staff are still more stimulated by working in an active, slightly noisy, open-concept environment.
You may have introverts who require private space to generate creative ideas or younger workers who are more comfortable in open concept, collaborative environments and less likely to want the “traditional” partitioned office space.
Choose Your Optimal Desk Layout
What’s the optimal desk layout for an office? It depends what you're doing. One consideration is to group desks in specific areas according to the function you want that part of the office to have, be it collaboration, individual focus time, or learning and socializing.
To set up a workspace for focused work, you must consider not only visual distractions but also the type of materials you are using for noise absorption, and they can be adjustable to essentially "create" rooms too. If you don't have closed offices, you may use various types of partitions. Be sure to set up these spaces along the walls and in the corners if possible.
Arrange Desk Clusters
For a more collaborative or social environment, consider small clusters of desks and tables in organic layouts rather than pushing people to be in a huge conference room to work. Casual setups are more likely to help people feel at ease and social, and some prefer to work in smaller groups.
For regular working desk space, one option is a “pinwheel” setup where four desks make up an island, each being at a 90-degree angle to the other, so that some conversation with eye contact is natural, but it’s just as easy for people to focus well on their own screen.
A mix of single desks, diner-type booths, couches, portable tables, and bar-top tables could introduce variety to your office and suit multiple work styles. Bar-style areas can be used for snacking, informal breaks, meetings and even standing desk spaces with laptops.
When you have an open concept, flexible office space, with furniture and equipment that’s easy to move, you can then cater to different needs.
You can use different materials to reduce noise but, depending on what type of office space you have, some people will always be bothered. Collaborative environments work for many newer companies especially those that rely on creativity and teamwork.
Get Specialty Furniture
As you are looking at a redesign, consider new, specialized furniture that can assist workers with not only sitting-oriented ergonomics, but that help them to move around and adjust their positions easily. Studies show a strong link between a sedentary lifestyle and an early death. It's crucial to offer employees a variety of workspaces that encourage standing and movement, instead of sitting all day.
Pay Attention to Light and Air Flow
Natural lighting and airflow will help to moderate the indoor climate, and both are ways of ensuring that people remain productive. And if you have fluorescent overheads but individual desks, encourage a lower-light setting and people to bring their own lamps in if they desire.
The Bottom Line
Are you afraid that your employees’ productivity is being stifled? Office design matters more than you may think, both for your current employees and for attracting great talent.
When it comes to your office environment, including desk setup and layout, you absolutely can change things up to improve the health and well-being of your staff. Traditional, square cubicles are in the past, and more and more people are looking for open, fresh, light-filled areas as a part of their workspace. Employees are looking for unique, well-equipped offices, especially since more and more people are finding work from home options.
Try to offer flexible options for people as much as possible, including laptops and standing areas, so that employees can move around more easily, change positions, or even have a different "view" at different times of the day.
It doesn’t have to cost your business a lot of money to set up your office for optimal enjoyment and productivity – it just might take a little creativity.