Efficient Office Layout: 5 Features To Prioritize

More people want flexible working arrangements today. Whether salaried employees or self-employed, people have become more demanding about not only where they work but how they work. The work environment is more important than ever.

However, getting the office layout right can be challenging for building managers and employers alike. Besides, a good physical working environment can have a significant impact on staff wellness. It also improves productivity levels.

This article will explore five of the features that you should prioritize in order to attain an efficient office layout.

1. Intelligent use of space

Space usage is a key factor in determining an efficient office layout. The two factors that determine how well your space is being used are:

  • space utilization
  • space efficiency

Basically, space utilization is your building’s current occupancy divided by its actual capacity (how often it is used). Space efficiency looks at how much space is necessary for employees to work productively.

Source: Pexels

For example, consider a training room. Using it for 22 hours out of a 40-hour work week means its utilization rate is 55%. If the room can accommodate 20 people and 9 are using it, then it has a 45% efficiency rate. Those numbers may suggest a space that is not fully optimized.

Efficiency has an in-built financial imperative that is also important to consider. To establish your space usage in financial terms, you would do well to consider the 3-30-300 rule. For each square foot occupied, $3 will be spent on utilities, $30 on rent, and $300 on payroll per year. There may be variations in calculations, but it can provide invaluable insight into your space usage's financial viability.

2. Smart furniture and design

Of course, your office design features should be conducive to worker efficiency. As such, you need to take different personality types into consideration. Some workers may thrive in an open-plan environment, while others crave their own small space.  

efficient office layout
Source: Pexels

There may be other spatial considerations, such as ensuring that there is 200 square feet per person in an office. A UCL study found that employees near a window with free space around them were the most productive. Employees need to have some form of visual control over their environment. Your design needs to reflect that.

Furniture is also fundamentally important. Always consider investing in multi-use or modular furniture, preferably made from lightweight and modern materials. Ergonomics, or the relationship between a worker and their work station, is fundamental, too. Comfortable, adjustable chairs, footrests, and ergonomic keyboards are some of the factors that need to be taken into consideration.

3. Work-flow and movement

In office lingo, work-flow is typically used in relation to project management. However, the way in which people are able to work in their physical space can also influence work-flow. It’s not a stretch to assert that discomfort can have a negative impact. How people are spaced relative to their immediate colleagues or team members can also influence rates of work.

Nevertheless, you want to encourage movement in an office environment. There is a reason why “sitting” is know today as ”the new smoking”. For example, instead of waste baskets at individual desks, create a central disposal area that people have to walk to. Ditto for printing. Ensure that stairwells are not dreary or monotone but bright and cheery. That way, people will enjoy using them more.

4. Good office maintenance

Sound office maintenance improves overall facilities management. This, in turn, can facilitate a more efficient office layout. A tidy office ensures that both working and adjunct areas are structurally sound, clean, and fit for use.

In offices, the maintenance function is diverse and complex. It may include janitorial and cleaning services. Additionally, you have to consider maintaining heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems in the building. Maintenance workers can do regular inspections of office furniture, equipment, and portable appliance testing (known as PAT).

Good maintenance also helps to create the right impression for employees and clients alike. Your offices could very well be the windows to the soul of your organization and brand. This is especially true of co-sharing office environments or other leased office spaces in which clients use the spaces, too.

5. Quality of the working environment

Occupational hygiene factors such as illumination and ventilation transcend the technical by ensuring better wellness for all occupants. These factors are measurable. Good indoor air quality (IAQ) should regulate the temperature between 70°F and 75°F. In addition, humidity levels should be between 20% and 60%. The ASHRAE recommends buildings reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) levels to no more than 700 parts per million (ppm).

Poor ventilation can cause difficulty breathing and allergic reactions to the malaise known as sick building syndrome. As for illumination, poor or too bright illumination can cause eye irritation and migraines.

Poor occupational hygiene factors are known to negatively impact productivity in offices. For example, malfunctioning HVAC systems can result in high humidity levels. This could mean that the body cannot thermoregulate as necessary.

Meanwhile, a Harvard study says people working in green buildings had a 61% growth in cognitive performance than those in conventional spaces.

Bottom line

To conclude, an efficient office layout ensures intelligent use of space. Likewise, it results in better productivity by those who use it. Your layout needs to take both tangible and intangible factors into consideration. By being comprehensive with the former, you take care of the latter.

Author Bio: After earning a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Erin Wagner built the custom social media analysis division for the world's largest PR measurement firm working directly with clients like Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, and GLOCK. From there, Erin landed in computer vision startups working on products like facial recognition for loss prevention and breath detection for medically-fragile newborns. As VP of Marketing for Limble CMMS, Erin and her team get to share with maintenance teams around the world the good news that there is an easier way to manage - and get credit for - their amazing work.

*Featured image source: Unsplash

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