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Office space planning: why and how to make a positive change?

Published:

April 27, 2022

Updated:

December 28, 2023

The way we work has evolved drastically over the last few years with the rise of work flexibility and technology. To smoothly and successfully embrace these changes, office space planning is necessary to upgrade the workplace so that it remains agile as employee needs shift.

Employee experience and satisfaction must be central to your strategy when reshuffling work policies and workspace planning. Is your office designed to enhance teamwork and collaboration? Do your hybrid team members have their own assigned desks when they need them? Does the layout and design generate an atmosphere of well-being or stress?

In this article, we share the benefits of creating a physical work environment that adjusts to the new requirements of modern workforces. We also provide an office space planning checklist emphasizing six core aspects to make a difference and establish a workspace that matches everybody’s needs.

What is office space planning?

Office space planning explained

The definition of office space planning is quite simple. It is the process of designing a workspace that fulfils the needs of both the company and the employees. Not only is it used to maximize space efficiency but also to improve creativity and productivity among the workforce. Team members should enjoy coming to the office knowing they can work and collaborate in the best conditions. This includes having access to the right equipment and technology and feeling motivated and inspired by their surroundings.

Planning the office structure and design is not just about how your workspace looks. It also includes the atmosphere you want to create. Your choice of furniture, floor-plan, and decoration create a certain vibe and reflect your values. On the one hand, opting for a biophilic office design and incorporating areas for relaxation boost employees’ well-being, leading to more creativity, engagement, and productivity. On the other hand, not anticipating the need for individual desks and quiet zones for people who need a place to concentrate on specific tasks can cause frustration and stress. 

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The core benefits of office space planning

Successful workspace planning considers the organization’s and teams’ expectations. If you’ve also implemented flexible work arrangements over the last few years, you might have noticed that you can downsize your office. Not everyone will come in daily, therefore, the needs of employees have shifted allowing for cost savings and more sustainable, energy-efficient practices. Moreover, your staff is more likely to focus on group projects when coming on-site and on individual tasks when working from home. This changes the role of the physical workplace entirely. For instance, you might want to add more meeting rooms and other collective spaces.

Creating a well-designed office space benefits your business and its bottom line just as much as it benefits your team and their satisfaction at work. Among the most apparent advantages, workspace planning helps you in the following areas:

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How to plan out office space in 6 steps?

1. Analyze the current use of the workspace

Before starting to plan anything, you need to know how your office space is currently used. For example, how many people are allowed to come on-site each day? What type of workspaces do they prefer? Can they easily access the desks and meeting rooms they need, or are there scheduling conflicts

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Analyzing how your staff utilizes the workspace is also crucial. For instance, if your team members are working on their computers while sitting on the sofas rather than sitting at a proper table, ask them why. It might be that they feel more productive in this kind of space instead in a single workstation with a simple desk and a hard chair.

To understand your office use and occupancy, we highly recommend checking your workplace analytics to make data-driven decisions and getting your workers’ feedback to create an employee-centric work environment.

2. Include your employees in the process

How you design your office space must match your company’s requirements, but it should also include the environments that enhance productivity and well-being among your team. Employess are the backbone of your business, and giving them a place to work with the best conditions is crucial not only for them but also for the overall performance of the organization. A great place to start is by speaking to your team and create and environment for open and honest communication. The best way to plan your office space to reflect the needs of your employees is to include them in the process.

You can ask them in person how they feel regarding the current use of the space and what they might consider is missing. Understanding what is working and what is not, will allow for better decision making that can positively influence if they want to come to the office and work or if they continue home or in a third workplace. Employee satisfaction questionnaires are also an easy solution to get honest and constructive feedback. This way, your team has time to think about their answers and write down the most important aspects they expect to find when coming on-site. Doing so allows you to set up an office space that matches your staff’s needs and gives you the insight to improve what might not be working.

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3. Consider your workplace culture and values

Your office building layout should also reflect your organizational culture and your values. For example, is your culture employee-centric? Then your office should prioritise employee wellbeing in the form of resting spaces and biophilic design. Or, if you want to foster teamwork by asking your workforce to engage in more collaboration. Yet, they regularly struggle to find a space to meet, this would lead to frustration and disappointment and they would therefore feel disconnected to the corporate values. Moreover, it would be difficult for individuals to embody these values in their jobs if they cannot see them in practice. This can have an influence on your company’s development in the long run, such as a negative effect on job satisfaction and, therefore, on employee turnover. So, building an office space that echoes your workplace culture is fundamental as it drives loyalty and feelings of connection. In hybrid settings this is even more crucial as less time is spent in the office and interacting with others in the company.

For example, if having a positive impact on our planet is important to you, you must make a genuine effort to include sustainability practices in your office space planning.

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4. Prioritize a floor plan configuration based on space variety and flexibility

An ideal office layout has to be balanced for it to work. For example, having individual desks only is no longer a useful workspace layout as people are coming to the office with the primary goal of connecting with their colleagues. But an office space only composed of collaborative workspaces does not serve certain jobs that also need some quiet space for concentrated work. 

You can’t have the perfect number of desks, meeting rooms, etc., as your workforce’s needs can change from one day to another according to the tasks they have to accomplish. Yet, offering various spaces based on their needs is the closest you can get to creating a work environment that will allow as many employees to thrive as possible.

This is when the outcomes of your workplace analytics and your employees’ feedback become very useful. They enable you to determine the right mix between assigned workstations, meeting rooms, one-to-one conference spaces, huddle areas, etc. You also have to consider other factors, such as whether your floor plan structure will be built on an activity-based working setup or not, for instance.

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5. Design a safe and healthy work environment

More than ever, creating a safe and healthy work environment is crucial. This not only includes following the common Occupational Health and Safety guidelines, but it also implies building a place that enhances physical and mental health. The design of your workplace plays a key role. It can trigger stress and anxiety as much as it can foster well-being and creativity. The psychological impact of artificial light in comparison to natural light differs, for example. The same goes for employees exposed to a biophilic environment compared to those evolving in a lean workspace. 

Therefore, according to your budget and what matters the most for you, you might want to:

  • invest in ergonomic furniture and technology;
  • dedicate a room to sports activities;
  • focus on the air quality of your office;
  • review your workplace design and create one that boosts mental health;
  • implement more spaces to promote social interactions and community feelings.

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6. Assess your future needs in your office space planning strategy

Like any business, you are probably willing to develop and expand. If set up correctly, your office layout and the steps we’ve shared with you can help create the right environment to boost company growth. 

Remember, one of the reasons why focusing on office space planning is crucial is that it plays a key role in enhancing employee satisfaction and productivity. With happier and more engaged team members, the chances for them to thrive and expand your business increase.

Looking into the future and being ready to adapt to the ways people work, the technology they engage with, and the trends that are emerging in workplace management should be central to how to you plan your physical office. This also requires keeping a close eye on utilization data and how it changes over time within your own organization. You don’t want to end up with an obsolete office space in a few months or years that doesn’t meet your capacity needs and your employees’ requirements. Therefore, you must remember your goals and adjust your office space planning strategy accordingly.

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Why is the deskbird app key to improving your office layout?

deskbird supports all companies that embrace a hybrid work model. Our desk booking app helps you manage your workspace and successfully meet your employees’ requirements. Our technology helps avoid the office space planning issues that can creep up in a hybrid setup.

Office analytics helps you understand office use and occupancy

For example, our desk and room booking software helps you understand how your staff uses the office and identify their needs. You can see the number of people in the office daily, which areas are booked the most and for how long. You can arrange your office space accordingly from your observations and analysis. However, remember that even if our tool gives you a clear idea about where to improve, your employee’s feedback is equally important.

People-centric features boost employee satisfaction and experience

Moreover, our people-centric features have been created to make everybody’s lives easier. For instance, we realized that although the future of work is all about flexibility, this doesn’t mean all employees enjoy working from a different desk each time they come on-site. Therefore, we recently launched the assigned spaces feature to enable managers to allocate specific workspaces for a certain amount of time to team members who request them.

Improves collaboration to fulfil needs of your hybrid teams

In various ways, the deskbird app enables your hybrid workforce to collaborate better. The week planning feature allows managers and team members to see each other's timetables. Consequently, schedule their office days according to when their colleagues indicate they’ll be on-site to. If they have to work on a collective project, they can easily use the room booking option to ensure they have the meeting space they need. The interactive floor plan feature is great when people decide to work in-office at the last minute and haven’t booked a workspace yet. Within seconds, they can see where the available spots and their teammates are in the office. 

While some companies are trying to get their employees back into the office, office space planning has become a crucial topic for every organization. Your facilities have to answer your workforce’s needs and embrace the trends of the future of work

A well-thought workspace planning enhances workers’ satisfaction, productivity, and well-being, directly leading to positive outcomes and business growth. However, it requires upstream work based on data and staff feedback analysis. The six steps we shared with you in this article should help you create a thriving work environment. Lastly, remember to consider how the office design makes your team members feel. Because hybrid workplace technology is a must to answer the needs of today’s workers and remain competitive, using a hybrid workspace management platform like deskbird is key.

Start a free demo of the deskbird app to discover more about our user-friendly solution!

Paulyne

Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.

Office space planning: why and how to make a positive change?