Space for people now. Space for people you’ll add later. But how much space? The math to figure it out isn’t as difficult as college calculus, but you do have to crunch some important numbers. You also have to keep in mind the shared elements your team will have, such as a conference room and a kitchen or break room.
The most popular design trend at the moment is an open office layout. Many business owners believe it increases collaboration and relationship building, while at the same time reducing construction costs and offering flexibility for the future.
Lower costs because of less interior infrastructure is a strong benefit for an open office layout. It also helps you remain prepared for growth down the line. However, this design approach isn’t for every type of business and it can drastically reduce productivity. A recent survey by Staples found that almost 40 percent of employees said that their open office design actually caused increased distractions.
With that in mind, an open office design might be better if a majority of your employees spend parts of their workday outside. It’s also important to remember that an open office design doesn’t mean you still can’t make use of partitions. You don’t have to transform your office into cubicle land. Often, just a few freestanding walls to demarcate departments is all you need. These partitions can also help you with noise reduction.
Alternatives to Open Office
If they’re not used to an open office, you may get push-back from your team. Instead, consider a zoned design featuring shared desks with high barriers. This will still give you the benefits of allowing groups of workers to share a collaborative space.
Separating partitions that are high enough so people have to stand up to see a deskmate offer efficient privacy. The commercial design firm Gensler found that as the height of the barrier drops, so does workplace effectiveness.
Doing the Math
Today’s office planners say you should generally allow anywhere between 125 and 225 usable square feet of office space per person. It’s a generous amount, considering that elsewhere in the world, that allotment drops to only about 100 square feet per person. Here are a few more basic square footage allocations to consider as you plan for a new small office.
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