Updated: May 19
It’s pretty much established that employee performance is strongly linked with workplace design. How the office is organised matters not only for aesthetic appeal but also for the well-being and productivity of its occupants. But it goes beyond getting nice desks, tables, lighting and even a well-stocked pantry – careful thought must be put in to maximise the space available according to the needs of your employees. So, where do we get started?
What is an office layout?
One can describe an office layout in many ways, but in the basic sense, it’s the way employee workstations (desks and chairs) are organised inside the office. It reflects team dynamics in how your employees work and interact. Here are a few straightforward examples.
Cellular office design - The office space is divided into individual private areas such as cubicles. This layout fosters autonomy, allowing workers to concentrate on their jobs. It provides a focused work environment and a degree of privacy and security (e.g., for confidential documents). A drawback is that it consumes a lot of space and may not be recommended for small offices. Communication is also not direct or free-flowing as employees are naturally segregated from one another. While this was popularised decades back, it has lead to a stymied office culture where employees feel like they are boxed in and only expected to deliver the numbers. Yet, this timeless layout has its uses and one that we cannot ignore if we are to maximise different workplace objectives.
Open office design - In this layout, everyone in the office sits together in an open space. Organising workspaces is more effective with this design. It encourages a collaborative, team-based approach where ideas and communication can flow freely across the room. According to some researchers, it promotes organic collaboration and healthy work culture. It also simplifies operations and increases productivity for some people — but for others, the lack of privacy and the commonness of distractions creates some veritable downsides.
Hybrid office design - This versatile and open-ended office plan features both cellular and open spaces to accommodate employees’ unique needs. This arrangement can create a more tailored space so that different personalities can choose to work where they are most productive and most suited for the job they do. This layout can take longer to organise since the entire office is not built and designed in the same way. However, this has the potential to maximise the strengths of both the cellular and open office designs.
Guidelines for planning your office layout
1. Consider how work functions are affected. Consider how job functions will be affected by the changes you make. Try not to affect the proximity and navigational space between departmental members and their technological requirements, such as their proximity to outlets, Wi-Fi routers, or even just a big table space.
2. Project your brand image. Your office design is an extension of your company culture and a projection of your brand and its values. Visitors and staff should be able to feel your company’s brand as they experience the office space and see how your employees work. Do you value creativity? Then eccentric and bright designs that foster inspiration or invested open spaces for increased collaboration can work. Do you require private spaces to do client meetings or 1-to-1 sessions? Create personal meeting rooms to let your clients know you value their time and attention. It all starts with the company’s vision and how to actualise it in your office design.
3. Prioritise creating a safe and healthy workplace. Include your employees in the process. Allow your staff to control the setup of their workspace to a certain extent, such as allowing them to add personal effects or letting them arrange their own furniture in their personal workstations. Some companies have even given their employees a budget to get various types of desks and ergonomic chairs for them to maximise comfort and productivity in the workspace.
4. Prepare for future growth. Design your office with the future in mind. Ask yourself how many employees you plan to add within the next year and how the additional foot traffic will affect existing spaces and facilities. Make sure that you can accommodate these changes and rework your layouts accordingly.
5. Maximise your office space. You can maximise the potential and functionality of your office space with flexible layouts, innovative organisation, and strategic designs. You can set aside a multipurpose room that you can use flexibly and that your employees can use as a touchdown space based on their needs.
Office layouts can affect employee experience and reflect your company’s values. Thus, it’s not simply a matter of going by current trends but also considering the best options suited for your unique workforce and business needs. Contact us at OSCA to discuss your office needs and determine which choice makes sense for you – we will share concepts and new design trends that you might not be aware of and can even help with office renovation design in Singapore that will greatly benefit your employees and business as a whole!