When it comes to employee retention, efficiency, office dynamics, and budget-savviness, the right office space planning can make all the difference in the world. It's not even a matter of aesthetics only. And yet, not enough Facility Managers and Human Resources professionals give office space planning a real chance.
That's taking into consideration that innovative companies are five times more likely to have smart office plans that foster collaboration and communication. Even more, nearly 70% of green offices that maximize space for a minimal environmental footprint report that their employees are happier and more productive at work.
Wondering how to really maximize your workspace with minimum financial investment, in as little time as possible, and without exerting yourself?
Read on and learn more about the best practices in office space planning.
- Office space planning is the process of allocating the right amount and type of space to employees and departments within an organization.
- Office space planning can lead to several benefits, such as improved employee productivity, reduced operational costs, increased employee satisfaction, improved communication and collaboration, reduced need for office expansion, and easier adoption of the hybrid work model.
- The main objectives of office space planning include allocating the right amount of space to each employee and department, ensuring that the office layout is conducive to the type of work being done, maximizing the use of natural light and fresh air, improving communication and collaboration between employees, and creating a flexible office layout that can be easily reconfigured as needed.
- Facility Managers play a crucial role in driving office space planning and should assess the current office space situation, see how much space the organization really needs, sync with each team individually, analyze what type of space would be best suited for the team's needs, draw a plan on how office space goals can be achieved, get stakeholder buy-in, and drive the plan to fulfillment.
- Guidelines for office space planning include open space, designated quiet areas, integration of collaborative spaces, and maximizing the use of natural light and fresh air.
What Does Office Space Planning Mean?
Office space planning is the process of allocating the right amount of space and the right type of space to employees and departments within an organization. It’s a complex process that takes into account a wide range of factors, including the type of work being done, the number of people working, the need for collaboration, and the amount of storage required.
Office space planning is a crucial part of any office design or relocation project, as it helps to ensure that the new space is both functional and cost-effective.
When done correctly, office space planning can lead to a number of benefits, including:
- Improved employee productivity
- Reduced operational costs-Increased employee satisfaction
- Improved communication and collaboration
- Reduced need for office expansion
- Easier and more financially sane adoption of the hybrid work model
What Are the Objectives of Office Space Planning?
Some of the main objectives of office space planning include the following:
Allocating the Right Amount of Space to Each Employee and Department
To make sure your office space planning starts on the right foot (and serves your team's needs), you need to take into account the type of work being done and how many people are working. You also need to consider the amount of storage required, as well as the need for collaboration and how many people will be in the office at a given time (particularly important if you've embraced a hybrid work model.)
Ensuring That the Office Layout Is Conducive to the Type of Work Being Done
The office layout should support the type of work being done. For example, if you have a lot of employees who work on computers, you'll want to make sure they have enough space and that the layout allows for easy movement between desks.
If your team needs to collaborate frequently, you'll want to create a space that encourages that, such as by having meeting rooms and breakout areas. And if you have staff who are frequently on the phone, you'll want to make sure they have enough space and privacy to do their work without disturbing others.
Maximizing the Use of Natural Light and Fresh Air
Natural light and fresh air can have a positive impact on employee productivity, so it's important to make sure they have access to these things in the office. Studies have shown that natural light can boost employee productivity by 2% -- which, translated for 100 employees, can mean $100,000/ year in terms of monetary value.
Improving Communication and Collaboration Between Employees
When employees have enough space to move around and talk to each other, it can lead to better communication and collaboration. This is particularly important if your team is working on projects together.
Having a well-designed office space can also help to reduce noise levels, which can make it easier for employees to concentrate on their work.
Creating a Flexible Office Layout That Can Be Easily Reconfigured as Needed
As your team grows and changes, it's important to have an office space that can be easily reconfigured to meet your changing needs. This might mean adding or removing walls, or changing the layout of the furniture.
Flexibility is also important if you're planning to adopt a hybrid work model, as you'll need to be able to accommodate a varying number of people in the office at any given time.
Your Facility Manager’s Role and Office Space Goals
As a Facility Manager, you have a crucial role in driving the office space planning (and replanning). You likely already have some idea of the goals you want to achieve with your office space and how to do it, but keep in mind that it will be your job to:
- Assess the current office space situation
- See how much space your organization really needs
- Sync with each team individually
- Analyze what type of space would be best suited for your team's needs.
- Draw a plan on how your office space goals can be achieved
- Get stakeholder buy-in and drive your plan to fulfillment
Guidelines for Office Space Planning
Alright, so now that you have at least a broad understanding of why space planning for offices is important, what your goals should be, and what your main attributions as a Facility Managers will be, let's jump straight to action: how to make a new office space plan happen.
Because every situation is different, we can't give you a step by step recipe for planning office spaces (and running the projects associated with it). However, here are some guidelines to help you in this process:
Open Space Is Still a Must
Open spaces are still very popular. They promote collaboration, innovation, and a sense of community in the workplace. They also tend to be more cost-effective than traditional offices, since you don't have to build as many walls.
Plan for Quiet Areas
You need to give employees some quiet time, so they can achieve maximum focus. This can be done by designating specific areas for quiet work, such as phone booths or meeting rooms.
Integrate Collaborative Spaces
Make sure to include spaces where employees can gather to brainstorm and collaborate. These could be meeting rooms, lounge areas, or even just open areas with comfortable seating.
Light Matters -- A Lot
Good lighting is crucial for employee productivity and well-being (as shown in the stats cited earlier in the article too). Make sure to include plenty of windows and skylights in your office space plan, and use light colors on walls and floors to reflect light.
Make Good Use of Plants
As also mentioned before, plants can help to improve air quality and make the office feel more inviting. They also help to absorb noise, so they're a great way to reduce noise levels in the workplace.
Bring Touches of the Outdoors In
Your office space's natural touches don't have to be limited to plants. Using certain materials, like wood, special natural fabrics, or stone can also help to bring the outdoors in and make the office feel more connected to nature.
Be Mindful of Budget
Believe it or not, an office space replan/ redesign doesn't have to cost a fortune. In fact, there are many ways to save money during the space planning process. For example, you can use existing furniture and fixtures instead of buying new ones, or you can opt for a more modular design that can be easily reconfigured as needed.
Use Every Inch of Space Available
Another way to make sure you maximize your entire office space (even when you're on a budget) is by making sure all space is used: walls, mountings on the desks and under them, doors, and so on. There are many ways to get creative with storage and organization, so make sure to explore all the possibilities before making any final decisions.
Practice Desk Hotelling
If you want an office space plan that's efficient, budget-savvy, and doesn't require a superhuman effort on your end, consider hybrid work and desk hoteling, which allows employees to "hotel" or book desks ahead of time, depending on their needs and whereabouts. Doing this will help you save space, since employees won't have assigned desks, and it will also save you money, since you won't have to buy as much furniture (or rent a space as large as otherwise.)
Use Smart Hybrid Work Software
Hybrid work software is one of the smartest things you can do for your business, as it allows you to manage both remote and in-office employees with ease, save money, save space, and collect important data to help you make better choices for the future.
Using Workplace Software to Plan Office Space
Not only does this type of software make it easier to keep track of who's in the office and who's not, but it also helps to improve communication and collaboration between team members. Plus, it will provide you with invaluable data analytics that can help you make better decisions about your office space going forward.
For instance, Yarooms Workplace Experience Platform can act as a check-in tool, a hybrid work tool, and an office space analytics tool all rolled in one, to create a one-stop-shop for all hybrid work needs Facility Managers and Human Resources professionals might have.
Best Practices for Effective Office Space Planning
In crafting a workspace that meets everyone's needs without unnecessary waste or expense, following best practices ensures that no detail goes overlooked. Let's explore these golden rules one by one.
Assessing Available Space
The journey to creating your ideal workplace begins with understanding what you have to work with:
- Measure your total available area accurately.
- Evaluate how each portion is currently utilized.
- Consider natural light sources, entry points, and traffic flow.
An honest assessment untangles the complexities between current usage and potential optimization. Sometimes, it takes a keen eye to see beyond existing structures towards what could be — perhaps removing rarely used filing cabinets to make room for collaborative spaces is all it takes to inject new life into the office.
Utilizing Proper Tools and Software
The right tools can turn a daunting task into a manageable project:
- Floor plan software allows precise mapping
- Project management tools keep track of progress
- Augmented reality apps provide virtual previews
Utilizing technological aids in space planning brings imagination closer to reality by allowing visualization before physical changes occur. This foresight helps prevent costly re-dos and ensures every piece fits just as intended within our greater vision.
Engaging Employees in the Planning Process
A dynamic workspace isn't designed in isolation; input from those who use it daily is invaluable:
- Solicit feedback through surveys or workshops.
- Create representation across departments for diverse perspectives.
- Encourage open discussion about needs versus wants.
When employees contribute ideas toward their workplace design, they inherently feel more valued —this leads them naturally towards helping maintain its effectiveness once the transition is completed.
Documenting the Space Plan
A documented plan stands as the blueprint for execution:
- Record decisions regarding furniture placement and equipment allocation.
- Update as changes occur, ensuring everyone has access to current layouts.
- Include emergency exit routes, maintaining safety priorities alongside productivity considerations.
Documentation establishes clarity around our office space vision, enabling stakeholders at various levels—from architects to team leads—to stay aligned throughout the implementation phases.
Monitoring and Iterating the Plan
Lastly yet importantly:
- Implement regular check-ins post-transition, assessing the functionality of new arrangements.
- Stay agile, ready to adjust aspects, nurturing continuous improvement within workspaces.
- Recognize shifts in workforce dynamics potentially prompting spatial redesigns down the line.
Space planning isn't set-it-and-forget-it; monitoring outcomes paves the way for ongoing evolution, aligning physical spaces ever closer with organizational aspirations. Bold exploration melded with methodical strategy defines outstanding office space planning guidelines poised not just for present agility but future growth scaling equally with business climbs forever reaching broader heights—where will your plans lead?
Office Space Planning: FAQS
How Much Space Do You Need per Employee?
As a general rule of thumb, you should plan for about 175 square feet per employee. This number will obviously vary depending on the type of business you have, the size of your employees, and the amount of space you have available, as well as what level of seniority your employee is at.
How Many Conference Rooms Do You Need per Employee?
This number will also vary depending on the type of business you have, but as a general rule of thumb, you should plan for one conference room per every 10-20 employees.
What’s an Ideal Mix of Quiet and Collaborative Spaces?
An ideal mix of quiet and collaborative spaces will usually be about 60/40, with 60% of the space being dedicated to quiet work and 40% being dedicated to collaborative work. However, this number will obviously vary depending on the type of business you have and the needs of your employees.
How Do You Plan Office Space?
A solid office space plan starts with a situational assessment and an inquiry into what each team needs from their office space. Furthermore, aside from the good planning, you might also want to consider hybrid work software if only part of your employees are at the office at any given time, as this will help you save money, optimize your office space, and make the team happier.
What Factors Must Be Considered When Planning Office Space?
Some important factors to consider when planning office space include:
- The type of business you have
- The size of your employees
- The amount of space you have available
- What level of seniority your employees are
- How many conference rooms you need per employee
- The ideal mix of quiet and collaborative