Office layouts have changed dramatically over the years, responding to different industry needs. Tightly-packed office cubicles were all the rage in the 80’s, while open plan offices that encourage collaboration are widespread today. However, there is no one-size-fits-all office style, with some arguing that there are six different job personalities and corresponding work environments. This means there are many things you should consider before designing or re-fitting your office.
There are four work modes that are common to most businesses, and which you must cater for in your commercial office fitout. The first is focus, which means that an environment has to be conducive to long period of focus. The average employee spends 28% of their time being interrupted or disrupted (Basex, 2009), indicating that focus is heavily affected in a lot of businesses.
The next work mode that you need to cater for is collaboration. Projects require great minds to work together, so your work environment also needs to be flexible and adaptable so that impromptu meetings can sprout up whenever needed.
Learning is another work mode to keep in mind when designing your office fitout. This involves versatile spaces for training, including informal training areas where employees can learn from each other.
Finally, socialising is a critical yet often overlooked factor that needs to be facilitated in your office space. Workplace burnout results in unmotivated and unproductive staff, meaning social places to take a break are crucial.
The right fitout can increase employee retention, productivity and morale, so keep reading to find the right office fitout and layout for your company:
- Open Plan: Open plan offices are by far the most popular layout, and often require minimal fittings, making them a cost-effective solution. These offices have no walls, dividers or passages, with all staff often seated in the same direction.
Open plan offices are preferred by many employers as they reduce costs and save space, allow for easy communication among the team and allow for easy supervision.
This makes open plan offices most suitable for teams that are working on the same project.
However, open plan offices also present some disadvantages, especially if used for the wrong type of company. It can be a distracting environment for staff and result in a lack of privacy. This is particularly problematic if team members are working on vastly different projects or in completely different departments, such as putting Sales next to IT.
- Private Office Layout: Private offices are usually occupied by one person and are an entirely private room with walls from floor to ceiling. Sometimes, private offices may be occupied by 2-3 people, but often it is for an individual of seniority.
Private offices are great for those who require privacy in their work, such as law firms discussing confidential issues, or senior management.
- Combination Office: Combination offices, unsurprisingly, combine the above two forms. Private offices surround the common spaces, letting individuals focus on their work and allowing other staff to have the privacy space they need.
Combination offices are a great solution for companies that have multiple different departments.
- Co-working Office: The days of desktop computers and cubicles are gradually disappearing, with more of a focus on laptops, remote work and shared spaces. Co-working offices are often shared spaces where employees can be mobile. Anyone can sit anywhere, and come and go as they please, after paying a small fee.
Co-working offices are therefore perfect for freelancers and self-employed workers who enjoy networking and flexibility.
- Cubicle: Office cubicles were hugely popular in the 80’s and 90’s, during harsh economic times. Even now, some offices continue to use cubicles, which are workstations which generally have three walls of partitioning around them.
Cubicles provide a high level of privacy and block a great deal of sound.
However, they can feel claustrophobic, lonely and dark – but this can often be remedied by using glass panels for the partition.
Cubicles are good for teams where many staff members need to make phone calls throughout the day.
- Half Partitions: Half partitions are an adaption of cubicles, allowing workers to see each other when standing. They are intended to divide the space, but are not very private. This makes them best-suited for teams that need to communicate but are not always working on the same project.
However, private conversations can easily be overheard, and concentration can also be affected.
Choosing from the above styles, or making your own combination, depends on the purpose and makeup of your office team. It may, for example, be necessary to put each member of your sales team in their own cubicles due to the amount of phone calls they make, and to have your creative team on one large table together where they can use their own laptops.
When devising a commercial fitout, it is also important to think beyond just each employee’s workstation. Amenities and common areas are a very important part of the office, directly affecting team morale.
Common areas are a great way for your staff to socialise and relax. This can be a lounge area, balcony or coffee and tea station where staff can take a quick break. Some staff may even prefer doing their work in a lounge area, without a desk, so consider whether this flexibility may be beneficial for your team.
Also make sure to provide amenities as part of your commercial fitout. A sufficient number of toilet cubicles and a kitchenette are the bare essentials. Companies like Google and Apple, of course, are known for their sleeping pods, onsite gyms and inclusive meals, providing some aspirational inspiration for those wanting to provide the best for their employees.
By bearing in mind what sort of environment your team needs, you will dramatically increase your productivity and employee retention.