Jun 27, 2023

Office Space Planning: Learn The Basics

colleagues in a hybrid workplace planning the office space

Office Space Planning: Learn The Basics

Picking the right workspace style is not an easy task, given the demands of the modern workforce and changing trends. Additionally, office layout plays a significant role in impacting productivity and creativity. If you're interested in learning more about office space planning, keep reading to find out more!

The importance of office planning

If you want to maximize space in the office and create a productive and motivating working environment for employees, office space planning is essential. It encompasses various elements such as layout, bathrooms, HVAC, and employees' desks.

Companies that aim to scale up or down require meticulous space planning. In today's fast-paced world, it is crucial to adapt to changes and go the extra mile to achieve results. With the rise of the hybrid work model, facilities managers must address these new changes by implementing flexible solutions.

Here are some aspects to consider when designing the office:

  • Costs - It's important to adhere to a budget. However, investing in new layouts could actually help reduce overhead costs in the long run, especially with the rise of the hybrid work model, which leads to fluctuating occupancy rates in office buildings.
  • Size of the building - Always take a bird's-eye view of the building and analyze the floor plan. Are all the nooks and crannies being utilized efficiently, or can the office space be optimized?
  • Number of employees - Do you have an accurate count of the number of people present at the office every day and for how long? In addition to permanent employees, there may be new staff such as interns, temps, and freelancers. You should also anticipate a certain number of guests from time to time, attending sales meetings and conferences. It's also important to make future predictions. You may know the current total headcount, but what about in 5 or 10 years? And how many departments are there?
  • Concept - The office layout plays a crucial role in employer branding. How would you like the office layout to be perceived: elegant and modern or trendy and chic? The choice of colors and furniture should align with the brand.
  • Safety - Take a careful look at the current office layout and ensure that all safety procedures are in place. Are there sufficient fire exits on every floor, and is there an evacuation floor map? Make sure that ventilation and heating comply with national standards and laws.
  • IT-infrastructure - Communication is key, especially in a hybrid office environment where IT needs to be top-notch. Employees should be able to communicate both online and offline seamlessly using instant messaging and email clients. The helpdesk should establish a ticket system where employees can request support. When IT processes run smoothly, daily work won't be disrupted.

What makes a good office layout?

Open office plans

Cramped and stuffy offices are not at the top of the list. They can cause employees to experience migraines and fatigue, leading to decreased productivity and creativity. The goal is to design a welcoming and inspiring office that motivates people to come to work. Keep in mind that the new hybrid work model means the physical office is competing with the comfort of the home office.

If you truly want to improve collaboration in the office, office space planning is necessary. An office with open spaces gives people room to move and breathe. Avoid cramming as many chairs and desks as possible into the same space.

Open spaces make it easier for employees to navigate and find other team members to collaborate with. A designated collaboration area with comfortable lounge furniture is perfect for employees who want to network and mingle.

Results have shown that open spaces can reduce real estate costs by around 20-40%. It's definitely worth trying instead of cubicles and small, closed office spaces. Another benefit is that the space can be easily redesigned. Tearing down walls and performing maintenance is noisy and costly compared to rearranging desks.

Accommodate all employees

Always consider offering different huddle rooms, even in an open office space. They are usually appreciated by introverts who prefer to work in solitude or employees who enjoy brainstorming together in private.

Quiet and private spaces

In addition to open spaces, design quiet areas where employees can engage in deep work and concentrate. Rooms with doors are perfect for meetings or brainstorming sessions. Participants can work without disturbances, and other people won't be bothered by them.

Mindful Office layout

In addition to designing the floor plan, the interior design of the office is crucial for boosting creativity and motivation. Firstly, incorporate plenty of natural light from windows. Since not everyone can be seated near a window, LED lights that imitate natural light are a good choice.

There are different types of lighting as well. Ceiling-mounted lights are usually cost-effective and provide a sense of safety during late hours. Desk lamps at each workstation enhance concentration when working in front of computer screens. Some wall lights are also used for decorative purposes, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Another idea is to add numerous green plants, which add warmth and provide extra oxygen to the room. Research suggests that they spark joy and increase productivity. Some green plants even absorb unpleasant odors. If you're concerned about plant maintenance, there are several succulents and other lush plants that require minimal watering.

Overall, you want to avoid a sterile office that lacks personality. However, having too many busy interior elements can cause distractions. Therefore, try to design spaces differently and provide employees with a variety of rooms to choose from.

Other things to consider

There are many factors that need to work smoothly in order to provide a seamless working environment. Here are some other aspects to consider:

  • Daily cleaning
  • Reception desk
  • Fast Wi-fi
  • Printers
  • 24-hour access
  • Light sensors
  • Bike storage
  • Coffee makers
  • Hot desking with Flowscape’s app

How do you plan an office space?

Before you start planning the office space, it is important to have all your ducks in a row. What are the current obstacles and possibilities? A few office space planning guidelines can come in handy.

Map out the current office - where are the doors, fire exits, windows and bathrooms?

If you want to make use of existing space, like adding new rooms or removing walls, it is important to localize structural components.

Leave the guesswork out of the picture. With the help of Flowscape’s app, you are able to gather occupancy data and figure out which office spaces are used and identify spaces that get crowded during certain times of the day. 

Some bathrooms might not be used because they are too close to other desks or are hard to find. It will also give you an idea if office aisles are too narrow or if you need to design new entryways and exits.

Why not conduct surveys in different departments to identify their needs? Some people prefer to sit close to each other to collaborate and others want to have easy access to printers and IT-equipment. Maybe customer service can be next to the helpdesk.

The goal is to create a good mix of assigned desks, bookable desks, huddle and meeting rooms, and common areas. In a company with around 50 employees, the amount of space could be allocated as follows:

  • 15 assigned spaces
  • 15 reservable spaces
  • 2 huddle rooms
  • 2 meeting rooms
  • 2 common areas

During the pandemic, the amount of office space increased for each employee due to remote and hybrid work. You would need to determine the required space for each individual. In a hybrid office, the person-to-person ratio should be 2:1, with approximately 6 square feet per person.

What about other spaces? In a conference room, there should be sufficient space between chairs and tables, as well as extra space in front of the whiteboard where the speaker stands. Ensure that the room is spacious enough, ranging from around 50-200 square feet. A smaller meeting room can ideally be around 25-50 square feet.

In addition to proper room size, it is important to equip the rooms with the necessary equipment such as speakers, Wi-Fi, and visual screens. Meeting rooms are perfect for communication with remote workers using headsets and webcams.

Office planning is worth the effort

It takes a bit of fine-tuning to design the perfect office, but with a combination of data, surveys, and floor plan analysis, you will eventually create a workplace for the future. Remember that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and that's what makes office planning fun!

Seeking guidance on how to set up your hybrid office for success?

Don't hesitate to schedule a meeting with one of our product experts. They can provide valuable insights into our solutions and how technology can help streamline your office processes without disrupting employees' daily work.

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