Our work environment is very important. The average person spends as much time at work than they do anywhere else. A recent survey showed that nearly 50% of American employees rank their office environment as the most critical element of job satisfaction. Many times, however, office space planning is overlooked or swept under the rug.
Office Space Planning is the process of organizing certain office furniture and office functions to work effectively together while using space efficiently.
Proper office layouts foster collaboration and productivity between teammates. Poor space management can have the opposite effect, making workers less efficient and less effective, or unhappy with their careers. Optimal space planning affects a company’s bottom line for the better by maximizing employee productivity and enabling a collaborative environment for your team.
The Importance of Space Management in the Work Space
Before jumping into our tips for space planning your office, you should also understand why space planning is important to your overall office environment. When beginning to design an office, we always first look at the overall objective for that space. There are many common objectives of space planning, first being that businesses are looking to reduce their cost by more properly utilizing the floor plan available in their office space. Instead of sizing up to a bigger office (and more expensive rent), fast growing companies are hiring office space planners to fit more people into an existing floor space.
As mentioned, changing up an office layout can be more than just needing to use space efficiently; it can also be a great way to increase flexibility for workers (such as moving to an office hoteling model or an open plan), attracting or retaining talent and supporting cultural changes (such as accommodating for millennials in the workplace), and enhancing productivity and creativity in staff. Additionally, good space planning can help reduce a business’s environmental impact, which is an important value for many companies.
Critical Choices To Make While Optimizing Office Design
Once there is an understanding of what we want a specific office space to do for the overall company and its staff, there are several critical choices to make in order to properly plan and design a space:
- Use: What purpose do we want a space to be used for? In an office, there are many types of spaces to choose from, ranging from meeting spaces, such as conference rooms to work stations, such as a private office or cubicles. Establishing use for a space is the very first step in creating a functional space that meets the overall needs for your company and the company culture.
- Layout: The layout of a space should compliment and support its use. A layout is often times composed in the form of an office floor plan. This will show where everything goes architecturally or for furniture placement in space design.
- Appearance: Once the layout is understood, the design comes into play. How should the space look and feel? Does the design reflect your company culture? Interior design has been proven to be a critical factor in the success of a space. Studies have even shown that color in the workspace can impact employee productivity and mood.
- Filing: Most offices still require space for storing important paperwork or supplies. These spaces also need to be accounted for in the layout. If it is a medical office, filing is crucial to the everyday functioning of the business and becomes a primary element within the space.
- Standardization: For large-scale implementation of an office space layout and design, it is important to consider which elements can be standardized. For example, should all the cubicle spaces and conference rooms look the same? What elements of the layout or appearance of the office apply to the entire office space?
With these basic questions, space planning becomes more strategic and a workplace can be transformed into space that is both functional and pleasant.
Here are nine key factors to creating an efficient and productive space:
1. Evaluate and Detail Wants and Needs
Space planners should take detailed note of wants, needs and requirements for each space of an office. A well-designed space will feel natural to the occupants. The space will adapt to the needs of the workers and not the other way around. For example, if a company is highly collaborative, they are most likely in need of open spaces for employees to work and meet together. Creating a space with cubicles for an office that requires employees interact through out the day may not be the best fit.
2. Consider Technology and Equipment Requirements
It is also important to consider required technology and the equipment needed for each space. Space planning for technology can also come in the form of not locking the space into a technology or equipment that may change in the near future – for example, many desks in the past were planned around phone jacks, but now many workers use mobile phones for day-to-day communication. Discuss technology in depth with IT and management and get a deep understanding of current and projected needs.
3. Make It Personalized
While space planning, consider areas that allow workers to individualize their work environment. Ask yourself, in what areas can workers make the space their own? This kind of consideration creates a sense of ownership that is critical to productivity and loyalty, and creating a space that employees will actually want to work at.
4. Promote Positive Change
While change is hard for anyone, it is important to motivate employees and promote the new and improved space. Maintaining an enthusiastic attitude and sharing your excitement goes a long way. It also helps to get feedback from everyone involved and remain approachable during the process. We like meet with our clients regularly to discuss each step of the space planning process to be sure that there is general agreement for the plans. We also recommend holding a company meeting to discuss the changes and get everyone excited for the “new.”
5. Remain Budget and Time Aware
During the conceptual design process, often times it’s easy for a space planner to envision an “award winning” space. That vision can sometimes be at odds with the budget and schedule, however. Before developing a design scheme, it is crucial to discover what is appropriate and cost effective. Remember, the most important thing to any client is time and money.
6. Design for Daily Operations
A good space plan must take into account the day-to-day operations of an organization. Where will departments be located? How will people within each department interact? If your marketing department interacts with sales on a regular basis, you wouldn’t want to place the two departments on the opposite side of the building. Considering these types of things in advance will ensure a layout that helps increase productivity and efficiency, rather than deter or hinder it.
7. Different Parts, One Whole
Rarely does a company require one type of space to complete an office. Each department often requires a completely unique type of space to work in. Sales may want cubicles or offices due to being on the phone most of the day and requiring less sound, while other departments would rather work in an open plan. A solid space plan will work the different space types required into a cohesive and logical design.
8. Allow for Growth
In any design, leaving room for a company to grow is almost always needed. Consider the future outlook and how rapidly growth will happen. Will the company need to accommodate more employees in the near future, and if so where will they be place? As mentioned earlier, reducing costs is usually a motivator in utilizing a space more efficiently. Planning for growth can help the plan scale as the company does.
9. Incorporate Adequate Storage
Each company has it’s own unique storage requirements. A legal firm will have very different needs from that of a medical office. In both cases, storage and filing is a crucial part of the workflow and plays a central part in the space planning. Incorporating adequate storage is important for any successful design. Be sure to consider all storage and filing needs in the beginning of a space planning project. Leaving it until the end can create an awkward space, or worse, not enough space.
Space Planning is Great for Business
These tips can be used to plan a great space that is also great for business. A well-designed workspace has been proven to boost productivity and increase the happiness and satisfaction of a workforce. If a company has an office, than they should certainly consider utilizing a space planner to maximize the potential of their space. With some careful planning and creativity, every office can be an inviting place to work.
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CPM One Source, Inc. is in the business of helping organizations just like yours. We are a full-service project management company specializing in office relocation, furniture installation, space planning, furniture reconfiguration, storage & warehousing, asset management utilizing CAFM software serving corporate, higher education, and institutional environments.