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A quick guide to designing an office

  • 29 Apr 2015

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Print retailer Cartridge Discount offer a short guide for anyone considering office development.

What to consider when designing an office

Interior architecture is important in all kinds of sectors. Whether designing the interior layout of a warehouse, a commercial kitchen or an office your design decisions heavily impact anyone in the space.

A well designed office promotes and inspires creativity, happiness and relaxation, which lends to an improvement in productivity.

In a report by Knoll on open plan offices, a study of businesses revealed that a move to open plan offices results in a 440% increase in productivity. However, there are articles written in The Guardian which dispute the usefulness of an open plan office, saying they can be distracting and can help spread illnesses.

Often the decision of which style of office to build comes down to the overall designer of the project. Once done, its up to companies who will be letting the space to decide if theyd like open plan offices or closed ones.

Regardless of which style is constructed, office design still needs to inspire creativity and meet the changing trends as the future forces evolution.

Mobility and space

An open plan office excels through mobility. The age of tablets, skype and WebEx takes the attention away from designated conference rooms and instead demands a flexible environment. Filing cabinets are now smaller than ever thanks to the cloud, with the majority of them on wheels.

Mobile chairs and tables are also an essential for impromptu meetings. Workstations are shrinking in size to save cost per square foot, but this can be counter-effective to workers who enjoy their own personal space.

Its a tricky balance to strike, but space in an office needs to have enough room for employees to move around and get their work done in peace. It also needs to encourage co-operation and cultivate a fun atmosphere. Creating breakout spaces for eating lunch and getting away from a desk helps encourage conversation and creativity.

The scrapping of high-walled office cubicles means most new offices will only feature a few specialist rooms for CEOS and those of chief importance. Even in a non-open office, cubicles should never feel restrictive and instead design should focus on maximising space for employees, which is easier since technology has made office machinery and furniture more compact and saved on valuable space.

Lighting

Artificial lighting can cause many problems in an office. While its important to have lighting for dark days and winter, dim lights in an office cause eye strain and headaches. A study by North-western Medicine and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that exposure to natural light meant employees slept for an average of 46 minutes longer, leading to a higher quality of life.

A builder planning an office should consider sources of natural light as a priority. The study concluded that workstations should be designed to be at most, 20 to 25 feet away from windows. This setup encourages natural light penetration.

As the trend towards open plan offices continues, designers will have to focus on windows and natural light penetration. Skylights are also great for letting light in and need to be considered for spaces where windows wont suffice.

Retaining focus

An excess of noise in an open plan office can be distracting. To reduce the distraction caused by employee meetings, design small meeting rooms and spaces that can be quickly set-up for conferences or collaborations.

With landlines slowly being replaced by mobile phones its worth designing small spaces that can be used for employees to take phone calls and sound-proof the walls. These places will provide privacy (increasing happiness) and also decrease distraction for other employees.

Consider the future

Any office designer must consider the shifting standard of technology and the effects it is having on the workplace. This decade has seen the growth of open plan offices driven by mobile technology and a focus on employee happiness. It has also seen the inclusion of organic and entertaining distractions brought indoors, from pool tables to garden areas.

As famous offices at companies like Google and Facebook continue to press ahead with employee happiness and leisure, so too will aspiring brands and businesses who wish to emulate the same productivity increases. Any builder planning an office project must incorporate lighting, mobility and space into their designs. Pushing the boundaries can pay off bigtime, creating inspired offices which employees adore and love coming to for a hard days work.

Sources:

https://www.knoll.com/media/878/738/OpenClosed_Offices_wp.pdf

http://www.theguardian.com/money/work-blog/2014/sep/29/open-plan-office-health-productivity

http://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/news/2014/08/Zee-office-light.html

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