When outfitting your new office, it’s not a good idea to just throw a bunch of cubicles and furniture into a room.
For one, foisting that conference table over your head will probably throw your back out (not to mention ruin the table). But more importantly, you’ll end up with a big mess of dysfunctional space.
Before installing your used cubicles, it’s a good idea to do a little homework (and yes, this might involve some math). There are several things you should consider when laying out your office, including how much space you are working with and what the space will be used for.
Here’s what you should think about:
1. Size of the office.
Before purchasing any workstations or furniture, make sure to measure how much space you’re working with. Looks can be deceiving when estimating the size of a room, so use a tape measure.
2. Size of the furniture.
Measure all of the larger-sized furniture – filing cabinets, conference tables, etc. – to make sure it will fit in the space.
3. Size of the negative space.
No, this isn’t some Zen experiment. Once you’ve measured your space and measured your furniture, you need to make sure there is room for employees to move around comfortably in the spaces not occupied by furniture (hence, negative space). Make sure aisles are wide enough for two people to pass by each other (wider if you have a bigger office with more employees), that employees can push out their chairs without bumping into furniture or other people, and that there is enough room to open cabinet drawers and doors.
4. Location of infrastructure.
Consider the location of things like electrical outlets, phone jacks and good lighting when determining where to install workstations. The last thing you want is for employees to be tripping over extension cords (or worse, your clients).
5. Location of social areas.
Avoid installing cubicles near breakrooms, kitchens, or conference rooms where noise can be a distraction from productivity.
6. Location of communal office equipment.
Put printers, copiers and fax machines in areas of the office that are easily accessible to the people who use them the most.
7. Types of employees.
Consideration should be given to both the type of workstation an employee needs, and its placement within the office. Typically, managers or supervisors need larger cubicles that offer some privacy and room for others to sit down and talk. Their cubicles should also be more centrally located because, theoretically, more people are seeking their help. Employees who work more collaboratively should have cubicles with lower walls that promote an easy flow of conversation (and ideas), and people with the same types of jobs should be grouped together.
There have been many studies done concerning creating a productive workplace environment. When possible, try to make sure employees get natural light and that they can see outdoors. If this is impossible, hang artwork that depicts outdoor scenes. A layout that is clean and easy to navigate will make a good first impression on clients.