Space is at a premium in many offices. With rents on the rise in many areas, and a shortage of suitable properties, many firms find themselves staying in offices that their firm has outgrown, or that are unsuitable in some way for their business. However, you don't have to grit your teeth and suffer through the workday. There are ways to maximise the amount of space you have, and one of the most effective methods is known as space planning. This method is used by interior designers, architects, and other professions that involve designing spaces used by people. Here are a few ways it can be used in your office.
The first step of space planning is to examine the space you already have, and take stock of everything that's in it. There are often areas of the office that are usable space, but have been neglected or overlooked, and sometimes it can simply be that the furniture is too big or unsuitable for the space. It's best to get the professionals in to assess the space and come up with a plan, as they'll be able to see things through fresh eyes. Using space planning in an office requires a specific set of skills, and a professional designer will be able to use their creative eye to find new ways to use your office space.
Another reason why it's important to have a professional carry out space planning is so you can ensure all local health and safety laws are followed. This could include:
It's important to stick to the legal requirements, not just because breaching the law can see you taken to court, but also for your employees welfare. Following these guidelines will help keep people safe in an emergency, and ensure they have a pleasant working environment, which will help cut down on injuries and absence.
Each company will have its own specific needs, and a plan drawn up for one office might not work for another. For example, those who work in creative industries might need space to collaborate on work, while those in more traditional workplaces might want a more formal conference room. Some places like to separate management and junior employees, whereas other places will have them all sitting together to make supervision easier. Space planning for small offices is also very different to larger spaces, although the principles are the same. These are all things that will be taken into account in the initial planning stages, so that the final design meets the requirements of your business.
Using space planning in an office also helps to contribute to your employee’s comfort levels. Nobody wants to feel crammed into an office, and if you're trying to fit more people into an office space, then it needs to be planned properly so the rooms don't feel as crowded. It's also important to look at the little details such as furniture. The right chairs, for example, can make all the difference to comfort levels and take up less space.
Another of the main aims of space planning is to increase productivity, no matter what size or shape of office you're dealing with. There are lots of reasons why space planning increases productivity by making a more pleasant, efficient workplace for your staff. Some of the simple things space planning can do include:
If you think your office design may be stifling productivity, then it's worth bringing in some specialists such as Saracen Interiors. Their joint managing director Michael Page says: “We take a great deal of time to understand our clients’ needs as business and plan their office space accordingly to ensure the most efficient office space”.
It's also important to think about the needs of your staff when planning your space, and by speaking to your designer you can create an office that's pleasant to work in and can boost morale. If staff are working long hours, then you might want to add a break room or chill out areas, and legally you have to provide things like toilets and drinking water to your staff. These are all important things to add into your office design, and a good planner will be able to take your requirements into account and add the facilities that you want.
A major decision that any office will need to make is whether to go for open plan offices or individual cubicles. Open plan offices are great for collaboration, but not great for privacy, so it really depends what sort of business you run. Even if you go for open plan, it helps to have some smaller meeting rooms, and these are the kind of practical details that will need to be discussed during the space planning process.
Space planning is a great process to plan your office layout, as it means you can define different areas, work out how people will circulate, and ensure every inch of office space is used efficiently. The rent or mortgage on your commercial space can be one of your business's biggest expenses, and if you can't afford a bigger premises when you're expanding, then using the principles of space planning can help make the most of the space you do have. Proper space planning can help boost morale and productivity, and generally makes your office a more pleasant place to work.