Six Core Pillars of Office Space Planning
By Jeff Revoy
Chief Operations Officer
Office space planning is a complex task, spanning more than a few critical variables. The workplace is central to all major business operations in some way. A key is finding the right approach to office space planning for current and future success.
Before delving into the nuances of space planning, consider the variables governing the workplace at a fundamental level. These six core pillars are a smart way to glean office space planning ideas for a productive workplace.
1. Layout and space allocation
Available space and layouts that make the most of square footage govern workplace planning. Trying to do too much with too little available space results in poor utilization. Likewise, not doing enough to optimize larger spaces weighs on everything from employee satisfaction to the company’s balance sheet.
The chief factors to keep in mind when observing layout and space utilization are how well employees are accommodated and what level of utilization efficiency is achieved. It’s best to look at these under the same lens. Proper employee accommodation generally coincides with efficient space utilization, and vice versa. Give people enough space and make sure it’s the right type of workspace.
2. Light, greenery, and natural elements
Workplace planning is trending toward demands for more biophilic design and natural light. Not only do employees appreciate the incorporation of natural elements, they’re proven to increase mood, improve focus, and benefit health.
Considering workplace space planning (read more on space planning software) from a natural perspective ensures facilities don’t lose their connection to the human element. Incorporate elements like natural light from windows and skylights, greenery in the form of floor and desk plants, and other organic standouts like a water feature or rock garden.
3. Color, texture, and depth
Colors and textures aren’t a luxury—they’re essential elements of office space planning. There’s no stimulation amongst a sea of monotone colors and drab textures. A flat workplace drags down morale, energy, engagement, and quality of work. It may not seem like it, but workplace vibrancy affects business success through its effect on the workforce.
The best office space planning tips suggest color and texture throughout, following a familiar palate or theme. Use business brand colors to enhance workplace affiliation. Rely on complementary colors and textures to elicit emotional responses to the workplace. Many successful companies employ the psychology of color to their benefit, using texture to further create depth.
4. Acoustics and quiet
As a conglomeration of people, departments, and activities, the workplace is constantly an epicenter of commotion. Every person talking, typing, or playing music creates noise. Managing ambient noise is critical. Forethought to workplace design is one of the best ways to manage noise.
Controlling ambient sound depends on the type of office floor plan. It’s harder to solve noise issues in an open workplace than in a more segmented one. Common solutions include quiet workspaces, convertible work areas, and segmented floor plans. Creative design elements can also reduce ambient noise through acoustical manipulation—such as sound-deadening panels or large pillars or fixtures.
5. Comfort and accommodation
Employee comfort is crucial for so many reasons, not least of which is its effect on productivity. Workers who are comfortable and feel accommodated are more inclined to do their best work. And while core space planning plays a major role in creating employee comfort, true relief comes from what’s in the workplace.
Furniture selection plays the largest role. Ergonomic, supportive, and high-quality desks, chairs, and other furniture are no-brainers. Next comes a focus on amenities. Experiential spaces and “workfree” areas like the break room, yoga studio, or nap room focus specifically on employee comfort. Don’t forget the role of personal space. Wherever they are, no matter what they’re doing, employees need to feel comfortable and accommodated.
6. Diversity and inclusion
Modern workplaces face the difficult task of being both diverse and inclusive in the spaces they provide. Because there’s no one-size-fits-all work environment, space planning should focus on understanding the needs of workers and meeting them with options. The core theme of an office may be one thing, but that shouldn’t be exclusionary to other concepts. The open office floor plan can include private workspaces; the hot desk-focused office also needs conference rooms.
The trick of being both diverse and inclusive is walking the fine line of utilization. In an ideal world, employee demand matches up with utilization, which meets the goals of office space planning. Things aren’t always seamless, though. The best solution is to work from both sides of the equation: Use employee demand for specific types of space to fuel better overall utilization.
Put it all together into an effective plan
When planning a spatial redesign or a brand-new office concept, consider these six factors. Each plays a fundamental role in the workplace, including on the success of key variables like worker satisfaction, productivity, efficiency, and space utilization.
Keep reading: office space management software tips.
Photo by Trish H-C on Unsplash