We’re going on a journey through the most popular office layout styles and how they can encourage productivity, morale and communication. There are various ways in which you can organise the space of your office, but which is best suited to your business model?
Layout can be crucial to the organisation and getting it right (or wrong) can impact the team and output quality. Additionally, changing the layout of an office can be a cost-effective alternative to moving if you’re in need of a revamp but aren’t quite ready to relocate.
This is a pretty standard, modern way of working whereby desks are grouped together and there aren’t many walls to speak of. There may be rooms for meetings, but no one is in a separate or confined area for themselves.
Pros – collaborative, communicative, no major sense of ego/levels or a ‘them and us’ mentality, senior managers more approachable, can keep an eye on the overall morale and productivity of the teams
Cons – Can be noisy or distracting, no separation of team and projects isn’t to everyone’s personal taste, no privacy
Still present in today’s work force but certainly archetypal of the American call centre presented in the media. However, these little areas of discretion can be useful for individual project work, designing, confidential information or where lots of calls are made and therefore drowning out colleagues in a similar position. They are possibly conducive to a sneaky power nap too; whether that’s a pro or a con, you decide.
Pros – Noise control, concentration levels are maximised, personal space for customising and being comforting
Cons – Lonely, reduced social engagement and idea discussion, can seem isolating, may put people off talking to each other
This phrase probably doesn’t need much introduction but, in case you don’t know, this style of working is similar to open plan but integrates other companies and freelancers working together. If you have a business that thrives on social engagement, networking and bouncing ideas off other people then this could really benefit your team.
Pros – More cost effective than a private office, great way of meeting other people leading to possible business, stimulating environment
Cons – Potential for lots of noise and distractions, not all options have areas for leaving belongings behind, can’t have confidential conversations or details on display, not ideal for established teams who may dominate the space
In years gone by there was a desire to separate the senior members of an organisation from the riff-raff as a power symbol. However, now we’re more aware of the impact and have learned that this divide doesn’t really do much for motivation, there has been a cultural shift towards all ranks being combined under one roof. There is still something to be said for having a bit of a team split and, in some companies, there needs to be a way for managers to have space to make decisions and have discussions away from the majority of staff without prying eyes and ears. Having a ‘door open’ policy when nothing private is going on can alleviate the divide.
Pros – Allows for senior level privacy and secure handling of sensitive information, separate offices could be utilised as meeting space when not in use, having an open door allows staff to interact with their superiors
Cons – can be divisive, may prevent senior management getting involved with team ‘on the ground’ and become susceptible to being out of touch with the workforce, management may seem unapproachable
So, with the traditional layouts in mind, how do you think this impacts your team? Are there areas you can improve on? There are ways to enhance the working experience if you feel that a change may boost the working environment in your office if you think things have become a bit stagnant or that your current layout isn’t conducive to your business model.
Phone Booths are a great way of adding privacy and quiet space to an open plan styled office. You could install a couple in a corridor or lone corner if you have room
Sound screens and room dividers are a less invasive way of breaking up a large area and can reduce the intensity of multiple telephone calls
Adding a table and chairs, beanbags or benches to a corner can provide a breakout space for colleagues to visit for coffee, lunch or just to collaborate with other team mates and get a change of scenery away from the pressure of a desk
Even a desk reshuffle can have quite a dramatic effect; moving places, mixing teams or simply rearranging the way desks are positioned can all add value to the work-space you’re in without doing too much or adding cost
If you still need more inspiration feel free to get in touch with one of the team to discuss a relocation for a fresh start in a different building! We’d love to help.