The 8 Best Office Planning Tools

If you’re stuck with the job of configuring your company’s new office space and don’t know the first thing about creating a floor plan, you’re in luck – there are plenty of easy-to-use tools (many of which are free) available to you on the Web.

We took a few minutes to round up several software programs and applications that will allow you to create and share a professional-looking floor plan without needing knowledge of CAD or other advanced layout software.

Now all you need to worry about is making sure you have enough packing tape.

1. SmartDraw – If you’re a small business in need of office planning assistance, there’s no need to invest in expensive and difficult-to-use architectural software. With SmartDraw, just find the pre-loaded office template that’s most similar to your own, then customize it to best suit your needs. There are easy-to-add symbols for everything from workstations to plants to plumbing to help you visualize the layout. The software will then help you align and arrange items for the best-looking results. Not only can you use SmartDraw to map out seating arrangements and the like, but you can also use it to create evacuation routes and electrical plans. And, better yet, you can try out this popular software program with a free download.

Cost: Free trial or $197-$497 for more advanced software

2. Similar to SmartDraw, Edraw allows you create CAD-like drawings, without the complications of CAD. Create detailed floor plans starting from a pre-loaded template, then stamp into position thousands of ready-made graphics including cubicles, furniture and office equipment. The program aligns and arranges everything for you — even as you rotate, shrink and move elements of the floor plan. Edraw is available for a free 30-day trial.

Cost: Free trial or $99.95 for Edraw Max

3. Apache OpenOffice Draw – If you’re a more confident designer who prefers starting from scratch, download this free graphics software to create your workspace diagram. Unlike the previous programs mentioned, Draw does not have pre-loaded floor plan templates, which means you can build an exact replica of your office. Manipulate and rotate objects in 2-D and 3-D, and create photorealistic images using texture, lighting effects, transparency and perspective. The program comes with a gallery of clip art, but you’re also able to load your own, meaning you can use images of your furniture, workstations and other office equipment to create a more realistic rendering. Your project can be saved in OpenOffice format — making it compatible with any OpenDocument-compliant software — so you won’t be tied to Draw when you want to present it.

Cost: Free

4. Layout Assist for iPad What better way to arrange your office then by starting with its exact blueprints? With Layout Assist you can upload a construction plan (a PDF or photo) of each floor of your office then drag on furniture and plants to arrange the space quickly and efficiently. The app also comes with a gallery of useful shapes, symbols and objects. Share your new floor plan on an external monitor or video projector, or export it as a .jpg or PDF via e-mail.

Cost: $9.99

5. Trimble SketchUp – Amaze your bosses and co-workers by showing them a 3D rendering of what your new office space will look like using this popular software. SketchUp has made creating 3D models accessible to everyone with it’s intuitive tools. You can build your floor plan from scratch or visit the Trimble Warehouse and start from a user-shared model. Need help troubleshooting? There are dozens of tutorial videos, a Help Center and a worldwide community of users to tap into. SketchUp is available with a free download, or buy SketchUp Pro to export and share your model into 2D or 3D formats.

Cost: Free for SketchUp; $495 for SketchUp Pro

6. ExhibitCore Floor Planner Start by building a digital space to the exact dimensions of your office, drag and drop hundreds of objects into it, then show off the results in 2D and 3D. With ExhibitCore Floor you can plan your office using the actual products, which means your layout will accurately reflect real-world dimensions. Plus, after your model is built, you can explore it in 3D by panning, zooming, and rotating the space. You can even take a snapshot of the room from any angle. Get immediate feedback on your plan by sharing links via e-mail or on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Or use Peer-to-Peer to collaborate with another user remotely.

Cost: Free to $49.95/month

7. MagicPlan for iPhone and iPad: If you don’t have time to wait for your building’s construction plan or blueprint, this app can help you out. Just stand in the middle of your office and point and click: the app will take care of measuring your room and drawing a floor plan for you — no extra skills needed. Then you can view the drawing in PDF, .jpeg or DFX format to start adding furniture and other features. Everyone from homeowners to contractors love how easy the app is to use and how useful the results are.

Cost: Free

8. My Measures for Android: Make sure your furniture and office equipment will fit into your space using this app, which allows you to take a photo of any object and store its measurements for you to see and share anytime.

Cost: $4.99