Office Layout: The Ultimate 101 Guide For Your Business
February 07, 2022
So you've come here because you are about to embark on the daunting task of designing the office layout for your business. I know how you're feeling, it can be overwhelming figuring out what style of office would best suit your company.
Will it be the best option for your employees? Will it reflect your brand accurately? All these considerations need to be made and it can make this process more stressful than it needs to be.
Well, you have come to the right place; In this Ultimate 101 Guide I am going to break down for you all that you need to know. We will be fully covering designing your own personal office layouts so that your business can run at its full potential.
Table Of Contents
- What Does Office Layout Mean?
- Types Of Office Layouts
- Types Of Office Partitioning
- What are your Office Layout Goals?
- Establishing Your Perfect Layout
- Consider Your Budget
- Think About Your Office Space
- Think About Functionality and Flexibility
- Think About Your Staff
- Does The Furniture Reflect Your Brand?
- Finding a Supplier
- Have You Considered Using An Office Layout Designer?
- Things To Avoid
- 1. Purchasing Expensive Furniture
- 2. Prioritising Price over Quality
- 3. Buying Without a Plan
- 4. Getting Caught Up In Design Trends
- 5. Be Careful When Ordering From Two Different Suppliers
- 6. Not Testing Out The Furniture
- 7. Poor Lighting
- 8. Choosing looks over comfort
- 9. Not considering how clients will move around the space
- Now Get Out There!!
What Does Office Layout Mean?
So what does office layout actually mean?
Well, the term ultimately focuses on the design and décor of the office. It looks at the entire arrangement of the furniture, equipment, supplies and accessories. As well as the interior design and placement of all the essentials required for the office to run efficiently.
This includes everything from the addition of a pot plant to entire walls being installed to create a private space. Think of the office layout as a simpler version of the floor plan. It is a way for businesses to work out how they can make their office best cater to their employees; helping them boost productivity as best as possible.
Here, let me provide you with some examples of the different types of office layouts. And you can see how each may cater to a different employee type.
Types Of Office Layouts
An open-plan office is pretty much what it sounds like. It's an office layout that prioritizes a collaborative workspace. All of the employees work on the same floor and in the same space rather than being divided.
There are no partitions and it aims to create a more engaging and group-focused environment. This promotes employee interaction and communication to achieve the tasks and goals of the business.
- Easy to communicate with employees and creates more creative opportunities to bounce and spark ideas
- Costs are reduced due to the open nature of the layout
- Easy to reconfigure and arrange compared to other layout types
- Can be distracting due to the noise and people
- Not suitable for certain types of employees
- Very little privacy
A private or cellular office as it is sometimes referred to is a traditional office layout. It has been divided into smaller sections that are contained within interior walls.
These areas are completely separate from the rest of the office floor. And typically you would see these being used by managers and seniors as their own private office.
Sometimes these offices can be shared by multiple people. And there are some layouts where the entire office is made up of these contained smaller office spaces; An example of this would be businesses such as a law firm.
- Allows more focus and concentration
- Is ideal for confidentrial discussions
- You are less likely to catch an illness from sick employees
- Harder to collaborate and discuss ideas with colleagues
- Can make some employees feel isolated and lonely
- Is much more expensive to set up than open space layouts
Low partition is essentially the more modernized version of the cellular office space. It includes lower partition walls that sit at around half the height of cubicle walls. Employee interaction and collaboration can be taken advantage of here while also providing a sense of privacy.
This aims to have the best of both worlds and may also include built-in offices and rooms. This helps to achieve the tasks that require confidentiality or less noise.
- Allows for employee collaboration whilst still enabling an element of privacy
- Easy to communicate with colleagues
- Can be noisy
- Although there is some privacy, you still can't have completely confidential discussions
A cubicle office layout is the one that you're probably most familiar with. Old school and classic, these boxed in workspaces run up and down the office floor. These boxes or cubicles can house small teams or individuals. And ultimately helps to promote a more private working space for the employees.
It is the most cost and space-efficient way to house your staff. And it would typically have some built-in private offices or meeting rooms for the managers.
- Provides the employees with their own privacy and personal space
- Similar to private layouts in that you are less likely to catch an illness from other people in the office
- Noise distractions are less likely to happen as the cubicle blocks out the sound better than an open layout
- Lack of team collaboration due to the nature of the layout making communication between the rest of the office harder and less of an occurrence
- The walls of the cubicle block the vision for the superiors to keep tabs on their employees so it's harder to ensure work is being done
This layout is designed based on the groups or teams that the employees will be placed in. This means each space is built differently depending on the needs of that team.
The overall layout of the office will be catered to those separate teams; so this will often have a collaborative space instead of individual workstations for each employee.
These offices tend to get quite creative; generally eliminating the need for meeting rooms as each team has its own collaborative area.
- Cost savings as there is no need for a meeting room
- Communication between employees is a lot more fluent and effective as there are not multiple layers of seniors that a decision has to go through to be approved
- Problems can be solved quicker within this team environment
- Potentially could be personality conflicts that hold back the efficiency of the team
- Team environments can make employees underperform and cause the rest of the group to make up the difference
The hybrid office is a much newer style layout. It is a way to combine the best aspects of the previous listed layouts into one "hybrid" office.
They can differ depending on the needs of the business but ultimately allows the office to have a mixture. It combines open areas, team-focused sections, or private offices in whatever combination they choose.
- Allows multiple teams to all work in their ideal environment for the work they are doing
- The open floor sections of the office allow for better communication and collaboration for employees
- Private spaces help to drown out the noise and increase focus
- Can be hard to change the layout of this design once it's completed due to the combination of built-in sections
- Can take longer to organize the layout and final design since the entire office is not being built in the same way
Types Of Office Partitioning
Another important aspect to consider when designing your office layout is if you are going to be installing any partitions. Office partitioning is a way that you can customize your office space with semi-permanent walls rather than built-in walls.
Partitions provide a more cost-efficient way for a business to provide employees with working spaces. This provides insurance for future office changes since they are easy to disassemble and move. Your business can either make your own office partitions or buy brand new ones for your space. Down below, I'll provide some examples of the different types of office partitions that you should consider for your layout.
#1 Glass Partitions
This option will either come in a full-sized or half-sized panel. And have become popular due to the modern style they provide as well as their simplicity. They are generally an aluminium frame with a glass interior; an option that will let light through the office space while also eliminating excess noise.
#2 Floor to Ceiling Partitions
These partitions are full-sized and are a good option for open space workplaces. Especially if you are looking to break up the office into different areas. They are generally made with metal and are easy to move around and reconfigure to the needs of the business.
This partition is what the cubicle office layout is made up of; they are essentially 4 single wall partitions placed in a square. It has an opening placed on one of the walls for employees to enter. And their workstation is placed within the cube along with their monitor and other necessary equipment.
#4 Portable Office Dividers
Portable dividers have wheels attached to the bottom so they can be easily moved around the office. This provides a good solution for offices looking for a flexible and temporary partition solution. However they do not do a good job at noise reduction so they are less private than other options.
#5 Accordion Walls
Accordion walls are in the same ballpark as portable walls. However they give you the option to enclose an entire area and be provided with added privacy. They also have foldable panels that make them very easy to close or open certain sections of the office. Making them very helpful when you want to rearrange.
What are your Office Layout Goals?
Now that you know what all the types of layouts are and what benefits they provide; it's time to start thinking about what sort of layout will best suit your business. But before you go ahead and pick one, you need to first establish what your office goals are. What are you trying to achieve with your new layout? And we are all trying to achieve efficiency and effectiveness so you're going to have to dig deeper than that.
Have a real good think about your staff, your brand and your clients. Then try and define what you think your business office goals are. A few examples could be increase staff efficiency, decrease noise disturbances or decrease walking time between office essentials. Establishing your own office goals will make the following process of actually designing the layout so much easier. It provides you with a roadmap to guide your choices and leaves less room for error.
Establishing Your Perfect Layout
Right, so now that you have defined your office goals. You are ready to enter the process I like to call "establishing your perfect layout". This is where it gets fun and you'll start to see your new layout come to life; and it's really quite simple. Down below is a list of considerations you need to make about your business and office space. Using your office goals as your personal guide; you'll be able to apply these considerations to the different office layout options. So look at the options we mentioned earlier and see which one is the best option for you.
Consider Your Budget
What are you willing to spend?
This may seem quite obvious but it's essential that you begin this process with a clear budget in mind. This enables you to stick to it and be realistic about your buying options.
Have you allowed enough budget to make sure you are purchasing quality goods?
Purchasing good quality equipment for your layout is a must as it will help pay dividends down the line. Cutting costs on quality when first designing your office layout will only cause you more trouble in the future. No one likes it when things start to fall apart or fail.
Think About Your Office Space
Is there physically enough room?
Consider how much space you have available in your office. This will help you understand what kind of layout options would currently be practical for your business.
Doing this will also establish what you don't have the available room for. So the question is, how are you going to create this space? Are there certain walls that can be removed to open up the area? or can the reception desk be moved to a less infringing area? All these factors need to be considered
Is there natural lighting coming in through windows
Is there an available area in the office for light to shine through? If not, you will need to consider where you can install lighting. Perhaps even reposition your layout to take advantage of natural light areas and save on power costs.
Have you considered the security and the confidentiality of your documents and information?
Office security is another important factor to think about when designing your layout. Ensuring that your confidential documents are in a safe area that's away from the main workspace. This will help minimize confidentiality breaches.
Think About Functionality and Flexibility
Can your furniture and workstations serve multiple purposes to maximize space efficiency?
Ensuring you get versatile equipment can help pay dividends in the future. Because it will reduce the number of things you need to buy for your layout. For example, when you are considering desks and workstations; It would be beneficial to purchase one that also doubled as a storage unit. This way you are maximizing space and reducing the number of items that need to be ordered for the layout.
Are you purchasing high-quality equipment?
No one wants their brand new equipment failing or wearing down within the first year of setting it up. And then you need to go to the effort of hiring someone to come remove and replace the old goods; It's an absolute headache. So do yourself a favour and allow a little bit extra in your budget. Get quality equipment that won't need to be repaired or replaced in a shorter period.
Is the equipment versatile so it can be rearranged in the future?
If you plan on moving things around and rearranging the general layout of your office. It might be a good idea to consider the versatility of what you're buying. Can you move it around with general ease? and if you don't think you will rearrange, then maybe something more sturdy and solid is a better decision.
How functional is your layout?
Thinking about what teams are using what equipment and where it is placed is another obvious yet essential consideration. Making it as easy as possible for employees to do their job should be a priority.
An example of this is considering the walking distance between a printer and a sales member's desk who uses it regularly. You would be running less efficiently if you placed that printer on the other side of the building from that sales employee.
Think About Your Staff
Is the space modern and progressive?
Staff is one of the most important considerations to make when designing your layout. And ensuring that they are motivated to achieve their best is essential. Having an up-to-date and progressive feel to a workplace will create more value for employees. And naturally this will help to increase their overall workplace satisfaction. This will keep your staff happy and productive and your company running smoothly.
Is the furniture ergonomic?
Designing a workspace that has ergonomics at the forefront of the to-do list will provide a range of benefits to the business. Consider the actual furniture itself and how it's designed. But also where it is placed in the business to ensure it's comfortable and not clustered.
This will reduce the number of employees who become injured and need to take sick days. As well as complaints about general discomfort from the furniture. So its important to have furniture and workstations that meet the specific needs of your employees. This will make them feel valued and in turn provide value to your business.
Is the office overall safe and free from danger and risks that could cause accidents at work?
Aside from injuries stemming from the ergonomics of your workplace, it is also important to consider other risks and hazards around your workplace. This could include the placement of power cords and other tripping hazards. Or even ensuring the proper equipment is present to handle and move supplies.
Does The Furniture Reflect Your Brand?
Is your brand represented accurately?
This is an important factor because when clients or employees come into your workspace you want them to feel like your company is exactly as it is portrayed to the public. Otherwise, you can feel fake and ingenuine when you try to say your business is something that it's not.
If you run a progressive technology company but you have cheap old computers and devices running the show; then your not practicing what you preach. Ensuring that this office shows off your positive culture and what your brand represents is just as essential as the efficiency levels it runs at.
Finding a Supplier
At this point, you should have a pretty clear-cut idea of what your ideal office layout should be. So now it's time to put all the plans into action. Based on your needs you might just need a supplier who can deliver the equipment so you can install it yourselves. Or you may require a more extensive office layout upgrade which will require an installation company.
Have You Considered Using An Office Layout Designer?
Have you thought about hiring a designer who can worry about these steps for you and eliminate the extra work required?
This is definitely a consideration that needs to be made as not all businesses have the required time or staff to organise such a large process. It may be more ideal for those companies to go through a designer who can help with ideas and organise the layout for you.
At Topaz Furniture we actually provide a design service we call our "Design Hub". Where you can be guided through this entire office layout process step by step with a team of professionals.
Things To Avoid
You've made it! You now know about all the different office layout options. So hopefully at this point you have worked out which one would be best suited to your business.
Before you run off and start your designing journey however, there are a few things that you should definitely avoid. This will make things go much smoother and help you end up spending less time and money.
1. Purchasing Expensive Furniture
Now don't get me wrong, purchasing quality furniture is normally going to come with a steeper price tag. However this does not mean that you should purely make your purchasing decisions based on price. You need to really think about your space and your business as a whole when considering your options. Because you might find that the less expensive furniture is a perfect fit for your needs.
2. Prioritising Price over Quality
This may seem counterintuitive based on the last point but just because something is cheaper now; Does not mean it will be cheaper in the long run. If you fail to find good quality furniture for your office when your doing the layout; you might feel it biting you in the butt later down the track when you need to replace or upgrade. Trust me, fork out a little extra for your budget when getting the furniture. You'll thank me in the long run.
3. Buying Without a Plan
Hopefully after reading this far you understand how important it is to consider your business and plan before you buy. Purchasing furniture without an initial plan can be a recipe for disaster. Especially if you haven't properly worked out what will fit and suit your existing space. Going through all steps of the buying process mentioned before is essential .
4. Getting Caught Up In Design Trends
Make sure you think long term with the overall feel of the office. Otherwise you might put yourself in a situation where your space is looking outdated before it should. Design trends can be good for a little while and may even boost moral and client interest. But most of the time your going to find your space needing to be updated sooner than you would like. Not taking into account the future and the growth of your business is a big No No. So try your best to avoid these Fads and trends.
5. Be Careful When Ordering From Two Different Suppliers
You might find yourself in a situation where you want two specific types of chairs or desks. But you cant purchase them both from the same supplier. Colours may have the same name with two different suppliers. However when put side by side could actually be a colour mismatch. It also can cause you more hassle with costs and the overall style and design of your office. So if you can, stick with one supplier to keep things easy.
6. Not Testing Out The Furniture
Sometimes this can be hard depending on who your supplier is but if possible you should definitely try. Go and see the furniture in person before committing to the purchase. This is important because the look may be different online. And you really don't know how it will feel until you try it so you should consider this. Your supplier might have a show room you can visit in order to do this; but discuss with them and if your making a large purchase, they should be accommodating.
7. Poor Lighting
Lighting is essential, do not overlook this step as it can completely ruin the mood of your office. I covered more on lighting earlier but wanted to reemphasise its importance because it can be overlooked.
8. Choosing looks over comfort
An office might look great. But if the staff are placed in unergonomic working conditions then they are not going to be productive. Clients in uncomfortable waiting areas can also become more irritable. These are both things that you don't want.
9. Not considering how clients will move around the space
This will mainly concern you if you run a business where clients will be coming in and out of the space. If you fit into this category then it is crucial that you take this into account. It is just as important for your customers to be able to navigate your office as it is your employees. And areas that may be considered ideal for your employees may actually be too cumbersome for your clients. So finding a fine balance is key in this category.
Now Get Out There!!
You now have a really solid foundation of information to help guide your office layout process. All that's left to do now is get started. So make some calls, get designing and enjoy the process!!
If you want to learn more about anything office related, be sure to check out our latest content on our website.