What Is an Office Layout? (With Tips and a List of Types)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 1, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The layout of an office can help a company increase its employees' productivity levels. To plan and apply its office design, a company may consider its objectives, employees' needs, heavy equipment, privacy requirements, technology, budget, and long-term goals. Understanding what an office layout is may help you assist a company in implementing the best design to improve its performance, reduce its employees' stress levels, and achieve its goals. In this article, we outline what an office layout is, determine its types, and discuss how a company can improve the layout of its office.

What is an office layout?

An office layout is the distribution of the office spaces that a company can implement to provide a suitable setting for its employees. This distribution can increase the company's productivity and efficiency levels and usually involves a systematic organization of office furniture, heavy equipment, machines, and computers. Usually, an office manager is responsible for assigning spaces and offices. You could perform this task by assessing the communication and privacy requirements, considering how different teams interact, and identifying how the upper management might oversee their activities.

A proper layout within the office can lead to better use of the company's resources and time and to a decrease in operational costs. The layout directly affects how the staff can perform their activities. Usually, the major factors a company might consider while implementing a design within the office include:

  • Working conditions for each employee

  • Capacity to expand the operations within the same space

  • Distance between the reception area and the building's main entrance

  • Noises that can disrupt the employees' activities

  • Privacy to perform certain activities, especially for clients and HR teams

  • Rooms the company can use as deposits or to store and protect confidential documents

  • Safety conditions available on the floor and the potential hazards

  • Space available for management offices

  • Space between tables, chairs, desks, and computers

  • Different purposes for the reception area

  • Employees' opinions about their office allocation and the common spaces where they can interact and meet

  • Use of power and telephone services

  • Managers' supervision styles

  • Company's workflow

  • Communication processes and practices among employees

  • Windows and the artificial lights available on the floor

  • Teams' interaction according to their projects and goals

Related: How to Write a Cover Letter for an Office Administrator (With Tips)

8 types of office arrangements

There are many types of office arrangements, and a company usually chooses one according to its objectives, needs, and budget. These office arrangements can support diverse work styles and fit the nature and industry of an organization. Here are eight different types of office arrangements:

Traditional office arrangement

Traditional office arrangements comprise a group of individual rooms that function as individual offices for each employee or a group of employees. These rooms can be permanent or may change them according to the company's needs. Typically, traditional office arrangements also include common spaces, such as meeting rooms where employees can interact with one another, deliver presentations, or make decisions.

These types of layouts usually benefit employees' concentration, as they can work with no interruptions. These settings can also preserve confidentiality, enhance privacy, and offer a more comfortable area for each employee. The major disadvantages of these types of office arrangements are that they can hinder interaction and communication between personnel and teams, misuse the available space, and increase office expenses.

Related: What Is Work Culture? Definition, Elements, and Examples

Cubicle office arrangement

Cubicle office arrangements comprise partitions that aim to create workspaces by allocating walls on three sides to create cubicles with a desk. These cubicles are usually cost efficient and can maximize the use of the space. You might implement this design combined with meeting rooms, individual offices for managers and executives, and common areas to encourage personal interaction among employees.

Cubicles usually provide employees with the opportunity to customize their workspaces. These types of office arrangements are cost efficient, may require a lower budget, and allow companies to save on office expenses. The major disadvantages of these settings are they can disrupt interaction and communication among the company's personnel and teams, encourage the creation of small groups within the office, and create visual barriers that may affect the work of managers and supervisors.

Low partition office arrangement

A low partition office is similar to a cubicle office arrangement, but companies usually use walls that allow more light into each space. In this layout, the walls have a low height that encourages communication and interaction between employees and teams. These types of layouts also comprise individual offices for managers and supervisors, and common spaces, such as meeting rooms, where managers can hold meetings to make decisions or inform their teams about a project.

These types of layouts can be cost effective and improve upon the features of cubicles, as they can encourage communication between teams with lower barriers between each space. The major disadvantages of these settings are the distractions involved because of the lack of privacy, and they typically aren't suitable for projects or activities requiring confidentiality and concentration.

Team-based arrangement

Team-based office arrangements comprise spaces allocated to the company's teams. This means considering each team's responsibilities and projects. Usually, these settings have collaboration spaces that encourage communication between colleagues but also reduce or avoid spaces like meeting rooms, which can represent a better use of the area in a building. Companies can benefit from these types of layouts because they can contribute to achieving higher productivity levels. Employees can use this arrangement to build up their network and share information with colleagues.

Open-plan office arrangement

These office arrangements use furniture to create workspaces or areas for teams. Typically, these settings have desks next to each other or employ large modern tables where colleagues or teams can share the space while working on their projects. These layouts also include collaboration areas that encourage employees to hold informal meetings and share information.

Open-plan office arrangements can be cost effective, maximize teamwork, improve and encourage networking, and you can modify them according to the company's needs. The major disadvantage of these types of layouts is their lack of privacy, which may lead to distractions and affect project deadlines.

Hybrid office arrangement

Hybrid layouts are highly flexible and modern office arrangements. These layouts can take and use the best elements of each style depending on the company's short- and long-term goals. This model also considers the technology the company is using and its future technological requirements.

Hybrid layouts allow employees and teams to customize workspaces and collaboration areas, which can benefit the work environment and improve managerial activities. Their major disadvantages are their cost, which can discourage small companies from implementing them, and the space they may require to have a positive effect on employees.

Shared office arrangement

Shared offices usually have all the elements a modern office may need, such as collaboration areas, private rooms, meeting rooms, modern lounges for informal meetings, and abundant light throughout the space. These settings are spaces employees and teams can share with colleagues who work in different companies. These shared offices aren't part of a particular company, which typically means an organization pays a fee to allow its employees to use the facilities, equipment, and services.

Shared offices can mitigate the stress of working from home, enhance productivity, and represent a minimal cost for the company. Their major disadvantage is the lack of privacy, which may affect projects that require confidentiality.

Home office arrangement

Home office arrangements comprise adapting a space at home for working. This layout usually requires an agreement between you and your employer, because some companies may provide computers, furniture, and equipment to their employees. Home offices are very flexible and depend on the space you can allocate for work purposes.

A home office usually means a workspace with few or no distractions. It can be very cost efficient, increase your productivity levels, offer you more comfort, provide more privacy, and allow you to customize the space. Its major disadvantages are its limitation to conduct in-person meetings and the distractions that may arise if there are family members, friends, or pets at home.

Related: The Best Work From Home Jobs

Tips to improve an office arrangement

An optimal office arrangement includes maximizing the use of office space. You might choose a cost-effective layout that the organization can adapt to their business, improve productivity, and smooth operations. Here are a few tips you can suggest at work to improve the company's office layout:

  • Create private spaces: To reduce distractions during working hours, you can enable or create rooms that work as a private office. Employees can use these individual offices to review confidential documents, make private business phone calls, or meet with an important client.

  • Use common areas to share information: By sharing information while working within these areas, you can encourage collaboration between teams and improve the work environment.

  • Use meeting rooms as classrooms: You could reserve certain hours to use meeting rooms as spaces employees can use to attend courses and workshops. These activities can enhance their professional skills and specialized knowledge.

  • Promote networking: You could encourage other employees to increase their networking efforts during their interactions in the common areas. Lounge areas may facilitate conversations and informal meetings between teams.

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