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Office Space Planning: 5 Questions for Your Business to Answer

corporate real estate culture Sep 15, 2015

Office space planning is an essential requirement in any office relocation or expansion.

To figure out how to best utilize the space, create a strong culture, and maximize efficiency, you are going to have to do some office space planning.

There are many ways that you can plan the layout to make it comfortable and conducive for work. To properly plan your office space, it's vital that you consider things from your team member's perspective.

Plan in Advance

Finding the right new office space for your business takes time and once a few buildings or spaces have been selected to consider, you'll want to start the space planning process at least 9 months before you intend to move in.

A great first step is to interview several architects/space planners and select a professional that understands your business objectives in detail.

Talented space planners can quickly interpret how the organization operates, make suggestions to improve efficiency and flow, which will translate into a design that balances company vision, space utilization, department adjacencies, and future growth.

Not to mention, the scope of work will be outlined, saving you and your team a ton of time which will allow you to focus on your own business.

1. What do you need?

When beginning your planning process, think first about how your business will use a space.

Will each of your employees need a dedicated workspace or can you utilize a more open floor plan? Does your business have customers visiting often? These are questions you must think about well in advance.

Your office space should support your business, not the other way around.

Think function.

For example, you shouldn't be paying for a conference room you never use, or holding your meetings in a cramped office because your space does not have enough breakout rooms to collaborate.

Here is a worksheet to help you along.

2. Room for Growth?

Companies aim to grow, not to remain stagnant.

As jobs increase and new business develops, you will find yourself in need of more space to house employees in every department.

Be sure you consider your expansion options when negotiating your lease.

By analyzing and understanding what the maximum headcount may look like over 3 to 5 years,  you limit any foreseeable hiccups in the future regarding your occupancy situation.

Plan for future employees now so that when your company does grow, you'll already have a place to put them.

There are risks to planning big, however. If you are unable to meet your growth goals, you may end up with too much office space to use.

You may need to consider subleasing your office in this case, or re-evaluating your space planning so be sure there is a sublease provision in your lease that addresses this potential issue.

3. Open Spaces or Cubicles?

One of the ongoing debates that have been raging in the office space planning community for a long time is whether it's better to have an open plan or enclosed cubicles.

Which direction should you take?  Should you consider an open plan?

That decision strongly depends on your industry and what makes your team perform.

Do you get better results by your team collaborating and interacting or do your employees perform better in a focused, productivity driven environment?

We can't deny that people are working differently these days but also can't ignore that some don't want to change their work style.

Generational dynamics have been much more at play as technology has dramatically impacted our workplace.  I suggest leaning on your professional space planner for conceptual ideas as perhaps a hybrid of the two may be suitable for your company.

Creating different zones for private, focused work (quiet rooms) and open space for your team to interact is a good solution that addresses alternative work styles.

4. Going Remote?

With the growth of cloud computing, many businesses have begun utilizing remote working plans to give their employees a bit more freedom in working from home or away from the office.

If your company has a remote working policy, your selected space planner may consider the space utilization ratio (or percentage of time the employee spends in the office) as they develop the most efficient, cost effective layout.

For example, you may have 100 employees, but only 70 of them are in the office at any one time.  This factor may provide an opportunity to shrink the footprint and create a workspace arrangement (ie. hoteling environments) that is more cost effective.

A good idea may be to include an area where the floor plan is flexible with movable furniture which allows you to keep your office comfortable no matter how many or how few employees show up in-person on a given day.

5. Special Considerations?

Rooms for specific uses such as a larger lunchroom, break rooms or private meeting areas may be necessary for your business and unnecessary for others.  We are seeing many more companies create a business lounge environment for their staff to eat lunch so you may not want to dedicate too little space to your lunch room.

Appliances for use in the office should also be taken into account when setting the layout for this room, as well.

  • Do you have a space to hold video conferences with your remote workers?
  • Is there space for technology, such as servers or cables and wiring?
  • How about a copier, fax machine and charging station?
  • Will you need an employee dedicated to this room in its entirety?

If so, where will they be located, inside the room or just outside? All of these things have a marked effect on your overall office space planning layout.

Seeing the Big Picture

Some offices may only need minimal construction to move into, as there are existing conditions in place to take advantage of, but this is not always the case.

If your office is not too large (less than 50 people) it may make sense to work directly with the Landlord's architect and contractor to plan and build your space.

But in many situations & projects, it makes sense to speak with a professional that has your best interests in mind, can speak on the current trends and can walk you through the office space planning process in detail.

If you'd like to speak further or be put in touch with several professional office space planners, call me directly at 201.694.2870, we'd be happy to help.  In the meantime, click on the office space calculator here to help you get started with your space requirement.

Other great articles:

Set Them Free: How Alternative Work Styles Can be a Good Fit

3 Things to Not Forget When Looking for Office Space

Office design today embraces flexible workspaces