What’s the Best Office Layout for Productivity?
By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
Because we’ve come so far from a “standard” office layout, there are many different designs to consider when building the best type of office. Some companies choose to go all-in on open-office formats. Others think of different spaces like building blocks, assembling them in various ways to fit their needs.
It’s best to approach office design from the standpoint of your goals. Knowing who your office space needs to serve is the first step in choosing the type of office layout to boost productivity.
Office layout types
Often, it’s not possible to nail down one type of office workplace design. You’re going to have different needs, and that’s okay! The first step in building the best office layout is recognizing those needs and understanding what types of spaces support them.
Here’s a quick guide:
- Do you need to improve collaboration? Collaboration happens when people are together, which makes open office concepts, desk neighborhoods, cubicle groups, and coworking spaces the best option.
- Do you need to accommodate large groups? Larger groups are best served by larger workspaces, which equates to open office concepts, conference rooms, multipurpose spaces, and activity-based workspaces.
- Do you have a small amount of space to work with? Less space means making your square footage work for you in smarter ways. Hot desks, desk neighborhoods, agile environments, and more will serve you well.
- Are you trying to improve company culture? Raising morale means focusing on your employees. Giving them personal space, private areas, and recreational facilities (kitchens, game rooms, etc.) can boost morale and make people feel more appreciated.
- Do you need private, quiet areas? If you can swing it, individual offices, meditation rooms, small conference rooms, and secluded hot desks give employees a chance to get away from the drone of daily work.
- Are your workers constantly on the move? Teams on the move need activity-based workspaces, flexible work environments, and spaces large enough to accommodate a broad variety of tasks and projects.
Consider the variables
Beyond determining what types of spaces you need, the best office layout is also one that takes into consideration the many variables of your current office. Unless you plan on moving to new facilities, you’ll have to work with what you’ve got.
Here’s what you should consider:
- Total square footage available. You can’t magically create more square footage unless you want to pay for more. If you need more space, that’s one thing. If you’re trying to optimize the space you have, that’s another. Figure out how much square footage you have and how it’s currently being put to work.
- The number of employees. Every employee will need a finite amount of personal space. Designing your office without taking this personal space into consideration is a recipe for disaster. Factor in full-time vs. part-time workers and how much space each person needs at any given time.
- Cost per square foot. How much you’re paying per square foot dictates the effectiveness of your office design. You can’t know if you’re maximizing productivity or stifling your workers without having a baseline for what you’re paying per square foot.
- Fixed office layout. This means looking at walls you can’t move, the location of amenities, proximity to exits, and more. These are the features of your office you can’t control, but still need to account for.
- Growth prospects. Are you planning on expanding or growing soon? Either account for this growth in your planning or be prepared to change your office layout. You don’t have to account for specifics—just build in wiggle room to adjust for growth.
Changing the layout of your office on design premise alone will leave you dealing with unforeseen problems, like having desks too close to an emergency exit or trying to cram too many workers into a small space.
Experiment with optimism
Redesigning your office is a trial-and-error process, which is why it’s a good idea not to go all-in at once. Make small changes if possible, and adjust as you go. Keep a clear focus on what you want to achieve with an office redesign, but understand it takes a few steps to get there. Plan ahead, execute strategically, measure results, and adapt to problems as they arise.