Effective Office Layouts for Small Offices

Effective Office Layouts for Small Offices

Are you adding new rockstar talent to your small office space? Are you trying to avoid the clutter creep? Maybe you’re just looking for a way to get the most efficiency out of your limited floor space. Whatever the reason, rearranging your office can make a cramped space seem spacious and reenergize your team.

How to Tell If You Need to Refresh Your Small Office Layout

If things aren’t working with your current office layout as they should, it’s time to change up your space. There are a few key indicators that it’s time to break out the old measuring tape and start pushing furniture around. Here are some things to look out for:

1. Growth

Your small operation is getting a little bigger. Taking on new recruits gives you plenty to celebrate — more people equals more power. New talent also means more desks and possibly even shared offices. As your work family expands, it may be time to reconsider your layout to make more room. With a little adjustment, you can fit far more employees than you think in the space you already have.

2. Wasted Space

There are all kinds of ways you could be losing space at the office. You could have areas of dead space created by your furniture arrangements or even entire desks or rooms that sit empty for much of the day. If you’re in tight quarters as it is, wasted space is enemy number one. You may have two desks arranged in an “L” shape in the corner, which might be making some of the surface area unusable. Or, you might have a gap in the corner of the room, which creates dead space.

Another type of wasted space: conference rooms. If you only use your conference room once a week and employees avoid it like the plague otherwise, you have an entire room going unused. Companies that offer flex time or work from home opportunities may see many desks and offices idle throughout the week. All of this wasted space can limit your ability to take on new hires. If this sounds like you, fear not — it’s also easy to maximize your space through a little office makeover magic.

3. Decreased Productivity

If you see a drop in productivity, one culprit to investigate is your office layout. It’s no surprise that a comfortable work station makes your star employees shine even brighter. Things like ergonomic desk chairs for those who sit for the majority of the day and arrangements that increase airflow and natural light can make an area feel homier.

Other factors to look for are how your space impacts productivity. Are your teams able to book conference rooms or collaborative spaces when they need them? Are employees always vying for space in the break room? Do people have a quiet, distraction-free area where they can focus? Depending on the work you do, these spaces are vital to success.

Tips for Maximizing Office Space

Lucky for you, you don’t need to add another wing to your building — or your rent — to get the most out of the space you already have. A few small changes can add up to a whole new office space with a crafty office layout.


First, look at common types of office layouts and decide what works best for you. Here are the four most common arrangements:

  • Open space: Many small companies with flat hierarchies, like startups and tech companies, adopt an open floor plan. In this layout, partitions go out the window in favor of a space where everyone can see everyone. Desks are arranged in rows or set up in benches that accommodate several people at once.
  • Private rooms: For companies that work with confidential information or need space for lots of one-on-one client meetings, private offices may be best. For a small office that’s set up with private rooms, consider assigning “office mates” to get the most out of each room.
  • Cubicles: A classic choice for call centers, banks and larger companies where privacy is critical, cubicles are an easy way to maximize space. With plenty of configurations between two-by-two clumps and a series of rows, cubicles are a great way to maximize space in a tiny office.
  • Team clusters: For teams in constant contact, desk clusters ease communication and collaboration. They can be grouped by four or six people and can feature shorter, less obstructive partitions.

The importance of your office layout cannot be overlooked. Things like who sits near the printer and how desks are arranged can increase employees’ effectiveness. These small office layout ideas can free up some valuable real estate:

Use Vertical Space

We often think of our small office floor plans in terms of square feet, but this leaves out the all-important vertical space. Like any metropolitan real estate developer might say, build up, not out. You can create more room for desks and common areas and decrease your storage footprint by building overhead storage into your office layout.

Find Furniture That Moves With You

As a small company with little office space, the furniture you use can open you up for growth. For an innovative team like yours, you may need a different furniture arrangement five years from now or even a year from now. Finding a furniture layout that works now and can be easily rearranged as you expand your business is key.

Sunline sliding cubicle systems are the perfect solution to ever-evolving workspaces. They slide and lock into place, so you can easily make and rearrange desk clumps. At Arnold’s, we offer cubicles with partitions at varying heights, so you can shift between an open-concept feel and a distraction-free workplace. For smaller offices, compact sliding cubicles give employees the space they need to get down to business.

Make Space Work Harder With Benching

In the modern, collaborative work environment, desk clumps save space and increase efficiency. They allow teams to work closely and increase interaction with co-workers. Without a practical layout, desk clumps can also create major “dead zones” of space. Two desks pushed into an “L” shape can cause a little game of “chair bumper cars” or create an entire corner of your office space you can’t use.

Benching is a happy alternative that creates collaborative workstations and maximizes space by using long tables that can accommodate multiple people at once. Like sliding cubicles, benching systems are modular and can grow as your team grows. We offer a variety of benching systems, so you can customize your level of privacy and the number of people per bench. You can even get high-tech with your workstations by using sit-stand benches that allow each team member to change the height of their desk with ease.

Go Paperless

Imagine an office where you don’t need a single filing cabinet. Too good to be true? Not with cloud storage! Many businesses go paperless to save trees and printer ink, but it can also save you some major space. Digital filing systems can reduce or eliminate the need for paper storage. Another bonus: going paperless saves your team time. Everyone can access the folders they need right from their desktop, without crossing the room to get to the filing cabinet.

How to Make Your Small Office Layout More Effective

Once you’ve finagled the ultimate square-footage out of your space, take it one step further with work policies that go to work for you. A productive work culture can squeeze some extra efficiency out of a tight space by changing how many people need a work area at any given time.

Ask Your Employees

Getting employees involved in your decision-making is a good rule of thumb for a positive corporate culture. It’s also vital for increasing efficiency. According to one study, seven factors influence the effectiveness of office design. Each one is situated along a spectrum:

  • The degree of accessibility to a location.
  • The degree of openness in the space — for example, the walls, doors and ceilings.
  • The degree of public access versus the privacy of work stations.
  • The ratio of high tech versus low-tech tools.
  • The degree to which the space invites lingering.
  • The perspective offered to users — is the eye drawn inward or outward?
  • The usable square footage in the space.

Each of these items must make sense for the employees who live and work in the area each day. Some might want space to spread out, while others need collaboration space. It’s essential to work with employees when changing the layout to see what they want and what makes sense for their work. Have them rate each of these seven factors along a spectrum to see what their top needs are.

Mix Things Up With Hot-Desking


It’s the “hot” new trend in office furniture: no assigned seating. Employees can change where they sit based on who they’re working with that day, who they want to catch up with or what tasks are on their to-do list. Hot-desking is the perfect match for companies that offer flexible schedules because desks don’t sit idle when their owner isn’t there.

It also encourages tidy workspaces, as teammates must keep their area clean for the next person. Plus, people who are allowed to move around at the office are 1.3 times more likely to be engaged at work.

Implement Standing Meetings

Standing meetings save space by eliminating hefty conference room tables in favor of standing-room-only power meetings. Employees get an opportunity to stretch their legs, which can get the collaborative energies flowing. Another plus of standing meetings — they tend to be shorter.

Embrace the Virtual Commute

Another way to save space is to let employees come and go as they please. Some employees’ weekly to-dos can be done just as well on their couch as in the office. With the power of the internet, it’s easier for teams to stay connected without changing out of their slippers.

It’s great for morale to let employees work from home, and it also frees up valuable desk space. By allowing workers to rotate between being in the office and working from home, you can have two employees share one desk or implement a company-wide hot-desking system.

Try an Open-Concept Layout

Depending on the work you do, an open-concept office might help your team find their bliss. Open-concepts break down barriers and create a friendly, social atmosphere that promotes collaboration. For creators and innovators, an open-concept gets people creative and energized.

When planning an open-concept, remember the value of concentration. Among highly-engaged employees, 98 percent report they can focus at work. As the percentage of people who say they can’t concentrate at their desks increases, many offices are seeing the benefits of some partitions in the workplace. Low-rise partitions keep the “open space” collaborative energy flowing while offering the privacy people need to knuckle down.

Let the Light In

The power of natural lighting can’t be stressed enough. Proper lighting has positive effects on employee health and productivity. Plus, letting in lots of natural light can make spaces feel more open. It gives people a view of the outside world, which might help them mentally expand their horizons, too. Our Sunline cubicles are perfect for directing natural light into your office. Using cubicles with clear partitions can give workers the privacy they need without blocking natural lighting.

How Arnold’s Can Help

When it comes to designing your office space, you don’t have to do it alone. At Arnold’s, we can help you find furniture with a small footprint that’s built for the modern workplace. Plus, when you work with us, you gain access to our custom office design services. Whether you opt for cubicles or benching systems, our design experts will work directly with you to find the best configuration to energize your team.

Small Cubicles, Big Difference


Cubicles shouldn’t be one size fits all, and that’s especially true with limited office space. For small offices, you can maximize efficiency and space by offering small sliding office cubicles. These Sunline cubicles are compact and easy to arrange and rearrange as you see fit. Our shorter partitions can give you a more open-plan feel while giving your employees the privacy they need to get the job done. Our taller partitions come racked up with overhead storage, so you can really get the most out of your space.

Get a Free Office Makeover

With so many layouts to choose from, it’s hard to know what the best small office layout for you might be. We want you to be 100 percent satisfied with your office furniture, which is why when you buy from us, we’ll design your space for peak efficiency. Whether you have a dream office in mind or aren’t sure where to start, all you have to do is send us your floor plans and requirements, and we’ll do the rest.

We’ll develop several office layout ideas and send you digital designs to choose from. Our complimentary design services also cover conference rooms and lounge areas, so you can be sure every room in your office is dressed to impress.

Your Office, Reimagined

With a little design ingenuity, you can breathe new life into a tiny space. A little rearranging and a smart company culture can make a cramped office unbelievably roomy. At Arnold’s, we’ll provide you with the office furniture your team didn’t know they needed and help you find the perfect fit with custom interior design services. With over 90 years of service, we’re sure we can make your office sing, too.

Interested? Drop us a line at 866-370-5133 or request a quote and send us your floor plans online.

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