4 principles of office design and layout

By Fordhay

|News|Feb 2020


Offices are completely personal depending on the nature, size and identity of your business. No two offices are the same and each workplace has different needs to suit your employees and operations. There’s a clear connection between your office design and layout and bottom-line results. Your employees must remain motivated and have everything they need to work productively and efficiently. You need space for collaboration, privacy and concentration – but the main principles of office design and layout remain the same. How you manage your space, the colour of your interior, the efficiency of your technology and the use of light. These principles all determine the functionality of your workspace and productivity of your workforce. Here are the four main principles of office design and layout:

Space management

It’s fair to say the biggest consideration when designing your office is space management. How your office is set out has a profound impact on the daily interactions of your employees. Most businesses have limited space to work with, so making the most of your square footage comes down to each element of your office serving a purpose. It’s often the case that you don’t need to add extensions or move to a larger space. Intelligent use of your current layout can reveal more space than you originally thought. Making a space management plan allows you to see the room you have available, how it’s currently being used and how you want it to perform in the future.

Place your employees and departments that work with each other regularly in close proximity. For example, sales and marketing or finance and HR will have daily contact that needs to be supported. You don’t want time wasted going up and down stairs or across the office floor unnecessarily. You should also place equipment used by these departments in the same area. Your admin team is likely to need the photocopier and paper shredder more than your IT department. Placing your printer which is used by most of your team in a walkway will disturb the flow of traffic. Mapping out your layout and noting doorways and walkways allows you to place equipment and resources in the most efficient areas. This will do wonders for your employees’ productivity and prevent them from becoming frustrated by an office that doesn’t support their work.

Colour consistency

Colour may seem a lot less important than space management, but it’s a vital principle of office design. Colour is proven to impact the quality of work and the mental health of your employees. Warm colours like red, orange and yellow can make your staff feel comfortable, excited or angry. Cool colours like blue, green and tan can have a calming influence on your team members and tend to be the most popular palette in the workplace. Colours also have a physical impact on your workforce. Yellow and white are stark colours that can cause eyestrain and headaches so use them sparingly. Colours also have an impact on how your business is perceived by your customers and clients. Using pastel and whimsical colours in the office of an accounting firm might send a disconnected message to your clients.

You don’t just have to use colour on your walls as this might not be consistent with your business’ identity. You can incorporate colour within soft furnishings like cushions and chairs or via imagery and furniture. This is a more subtle approach and is just as effective at motivating your employees. Media, technology and marketing companies may feel more comfortable using colour all over. While it may be more appropriate for a law firm or bank to use accents of colour in the reception and waiting rooms. Having your brand name, logo, imagery and symbolism around your workplace do wonders for motivating and connecting your employees to your brand purpose.

Technology for efficiency

Your employees need the right resources, equipment and technology to do their jobs properly. Old systems can waste your team’s time when waiting for slow devices to load or for technicians to fix breakages. The use of updated technology should be implemented where possible to improve the productivity of your business’ general day-to-day activities. You may have to spend time training your staff to use the new technology but this is a worthy investment in the long-term. You should also use mobile technology where possible to encourage movement around your workplace. Your employees should be able to set up stations in quiet spaces, break out rooms or meeting rooms depending on their needs.

Different departments need different technology and equipment so their desks must support this. Your IT and web development teams will have multiple monitors and devices that need large workstations. Your HR team may spend a lot of time face-to-face with other team members so will need comfortable seating areas and documentation storage. As well as the technology used for your daily job roles, your facilities are just as important. Your heating, lighting and water systems help the comfortability of your employees. Smart facilities management ensures your team members are able to control the temperature and airflow of your workplace.

Lighting is key

Light is a critical principle of office design and layout. Working in a dark and dingy workplace does nothing for productivity or motivation. Maximising natural light is a great way to improve the mood of your employees. Being exposed to daylight rather than harsh artificial light will help to reduce eye strain and headaches. It can also make your space feel much larger than it actually is. Paired with cool colours like green and blue can create a really calming atmosphere for your team. Even if this isn’t your desired look throughout the whole of your office, creating quiet rooms using this palette and lighting creates a moment of relaxation for your employees during their working day. Maximising natural light will also help to reduce your energy consumption and save business costs.

With natural light comes the consideration of desk and technology placement. You don’t want to place technology and equipment in direct sunlight that can overheat. Similarly, sitting in front or behind natural light can cause glare on a computer or laptop screen – making it difficult to see whilst working. Ensure you have suitable blinds or coverings for these windows should your team decide they don’t want the natural light. This is also vital for privacy at the end of the working day to keep your business-critical information and personnel secure.

There are many elements to think about when designing and laying out your office. Primarily, space management, colour, technology and lighting are great principles to begin with. Frame your workplace around these aspects of the workplace to ensure you have thought about everything within your space. Your office should improve the bottom line of your business and keep your workforce motivated, productive and efficient every day.

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