How to plan your office space
How do you plan an office space that is right for your workplace? The answer might well be how long is a piece of workplace string – there are so many variables that need to be considered. The type of work done in the office, the number of staff, whether staff are full-time/casual or contract; all these factors and more will influence the best way to plan an office space for you. In saying that, we’ve pulled together some broader prompts that we hope you will find useful, no matter what your workplace circumstances!
Cross your workplace Ts and dot your Is
The first port of call really should be the Work Health & Safety Act, using this resource will ensure you implement ideas that are in-keeping with workplace legislation. Another good starting point is WorkSafe in your relevant state or territory. The economics of ergonomics Gone are the days where most of us lead active work lives – on the contrary more and more of us are desk bound. With this change to a more physically sedate work life comes, surprisingly, the risk of injury. If your staff are seated at desks for the majority of their working day, then ensure their chairs and workstations are ergonomically sound – this can mean everything from the height and angle settings of a chair; or using a computer and keyboard versus laptop for the majority of the day; even to the fabrics and colours that surround your staff. It can certainly be worthwhile investing in quality, ergonomically sound office furniture in the short-term so as to help avoid the potential for longer-term workplace strains and injuries.
How does your team work?
Are you predominantly a group of full or part-time staff, or do you have a lot of contractors? Will you be creating fixed work stations that employees can ‘own’ and add personalised touches to, or is your office space essentially hosting a series of hot desks? The permanent or transient nature of desk work is going to impact the type of work stations you need, how large they should be and where they should be placed in your office layout
What other spaces do you need?
Aside from individual work stations, what other office spaces are required? Assuming there is a kitchen and toilet facility, other possible needs in your office might be: - Reception: is it important that your office has a welcoming area, or is this an unnecessary design expense? If it’s the former, then ask yourself what the reception needs to ‘say’ to a newcomer – how should it look and work so that your business is reflected in the most accurate and impactful way? If you don’t need a reception area, then how does your office function logistically? What is the process for couriers, clients etc. who may occasionally visit? - Support spaces: is a dedicated area for ‘back-end’ office equipment such as printers, fax machines, photo copiers and other support items relevant for your office space? - Meeting room: is it important this room really showcases your office culture? Do you need to make sure it is furnished with items that truly embrace what it is your business does? This could be promotional items on display, framed photographs capturing important business milestones or awards, client plaques, etc. Or do you only need the bare essentials of a meeting room – somewhere with a communal table, chairs, service station for drinks and paperwork, presentation screen, etc.? Must your meeting room be as private as possible? Are glass walls appropriate or do you need to introduce an element of discretion? What about sound – is it important your meeting room be sound-proofed so that occupants are undisturbed, and passers-by are not privy to discussions? - Common areas: will your office encourage team members to come together in certain places to talk, brainstorm, or plan? If so, do these common areas need to provoke creativity, or calm? Can they be close to other work stations or should they be located a further distance away?
Lighting is paramount for desk-bound staff, and it is essential that those who spend the majority of their eight hours+ in front of a computer have access to bountiful and appropriate lighting. In most cases, very little beats Mother Nature – so if you can position work stations as close to natural light as possible, this should be well received. That said, just be mindful to provide blind options as well – nobody wants to be working indoors in front of a computer wearing polarised sun glasses and applying SPF30+! Natural light aside, quality room lighting as well as even individual work station lighting options can make a big difference to staff wellbeing and certainly no matter how naturally well-lit your office space is, you cannot and should not rely on Mother Nature alone!
We’ve all heard people complain about office spaces that can never seem to regulate temperature. Does your office have a lot of natural light and therefore natural warmth? Are the windows double glazed? How well is the space insulated? Is yours the sort of building that will withstand snap freezes for several days, or is it likely to overheat after just a morning of hot weather? Regulating the temperature regardless of what is happening outdoors is a big part of pleasant and practical office life.
Whether you are preparing a home office, moving hundreds of staff, or you’re part of a new start-up, we hope these office layout tips will come in handy!