Is it time to remodel, expand or move into brand new office quarters? Take a scientific approach to office space planning. Each of the seven points in our Formaspace guide to creating an ideal office layout will help you work more productively than ever before, while at the same time, laying the foundation for your business to grow in the future.
Office space planning is in a state of rapid change, with more and more companies moving away from fixed offices and cubicles to an open office plan. Employers springing for these new or renovated open office layouts are hoping to see quick concrete results from their real estate investments. Some of the most common goals are:
- Attracting and recruiting new talent to the company.
- Promoting innovation and productivity at work.
- Breaking down information silos.
- Keeping real estate costs down in expensive markets by increasing density.
On the other hand, current employees and potential recruits may have differing opinions about open office layouts. While younger Millennials employees often prefer open office floorplans (which feel as comfortable as working in their local coffeehouse), older workers may find the change uncomfortable due to the perception of privacy loss and increased noise.
Navigating to find a solution that satisfies these competing goals and perceptions is not straightforward. We’ve gathered together a seven-point process to help guide you as you take on the process of managing your office space planning challenges.
1. UNDERSTAND YOUR TRUE OFFICE SPACE PLANNING REQUIREMENTS
If you are opting for a new office or renovating your existing office layout, start by writing down the top three reasons (in priority order) for this decision.
Sometimes the reasons are clear-cut; there is a new merger or acquisition, the lease is up, the company is moving to a new location, or there is a need for space consolidation between existing divisions or departments. Other reasons might be less straightforward; nonetheless, you should take the time at the beginning of the planning process to understand, verbalize, and challenge each of your assumptions. For example, if you have run out of room, could you increase the density of your office by redesigning your current office; that’s often much cheaper than moving. What if you are simply not satisfied with your current office layout? Could renovation be the answer?
Next, identify the top three goals you have in mind for the new space. Possible responses could include: preparing for future growth, increasing productivity and efficiency, projecting a more modern brand to internal and external audiences, instilling a sense of pride in your employees, and making it easier to attract younger talent.
Now you should investigate what other companies in your industry are doing to discover any ‘best practices’ that you can learn from. The requirements for an architect’s office will be as different from a software company as the office of a law firm will be from a call center, so inform yourself. Take tours of other well-regarded offices, or use social media, Glassdoor and YouTube to learn about current office layout trends. Collect your thoughts by creating a large “mood board” with pinup suggestions that you have collected. These notes will be invaluable in working with your space planner or architect.
Reflect on your top three goals as you look at the functions of each of the departments in your office. If your goal is to reduce real estate costs by increasing density, how will that affect each department individually? If one of your goals is to encourage innovation and break down silos, which departments should be co-located together?
You may have goals for the company that will involve everyone, such as getting people to work as one team. These might lead to space requirements for a space large enough to hold all-hands meetings or a cafeteria where everyone eats together.
Finally, be sure to account for practical requirements, such as providing room for the company to expand, space for technology, such as computer servers, or allocating sufficient departmental storage. With an open office plan, files still need to be available but held in secure storage compartments to maintain confidential company information.
2. THE RIGHT OFFICE LAYOUT DESIGN HELPS BUILD YOUR COMPANY BRAND
What kind of company brand are you trying to project to the world and impress on your internal company culture? People make up their minds quickly. Visitors to your company will create a positive or negative impression within a matter of seconds, so creating a visual image that supports your company’s vision and brand is more important than ever.
Ask yourself the question: “Who will visit your office?” Is it a so-called ‘back-office’ that doesn’t receive visitors? Or is it a high-profile office headquarters that will receive visiting customers, potential recruits, investment analysts, or members of the press on a regular basis?
The visual design of your office also sends a strong message to your workforce. It can inspire your employees by affirming your company values and that you care about them and what they do.
Some of the more important office designs trends to familiarize yourself with are the industrial-look designs, which often employ an urban loft look that emphasizes authenticity through raw materials and tall open spaces. Another office design approach that is currently trending is the incorporation of comfortable home design features, such as comfortable sofas and other residential features that make the office feel like home.
3. TODAY’S CAREFUL OFFICE SPACE PLANNING WILL HELP PREPARE YOU FOR FUTURE GROWTH
Growth is the goal of every business.
But how can you plan for it?