So you’ve been asked to sort out your office – part 5

Here is part 5 in our guide to improving your office

Space planning-

The most important thing when space planning your office is to begin with an accurate plan of the office as it is currently. This will allow you to know exactly what you have currently (a furniture inventory), the dimensions of each item of furniture, and the size, shape and any obstructions within your office space. Once you have an “as existing” plan you can quickly see where there is wasted space to allow you to produce a much more effective office design. If your office is already bulging at the seams then it would be worth using space planning layouts to try out different furniture sizes or shapes, and this allows you to quickly establish the overall capacity of your office and ensure the most effective design.

An efficient office design has to include space for the minimum required fire escape routes, wheelchair accessibility  and there is also a requirement for a minimum of 11 cubic metres of air space per person (the height is not counted if the ceiling height is over 3m). For most offices this equates to at least 4 square metres per person, but this figure is the total space including corridors etc.

For most offices there is usually something that can be done to improve the efficiency of the layout without the need for removing partition walls. We usually produce a series of space plans starting with the minimal cost option, going through to options that change the furniture and finally options that change the partitioning. The layouts can then be costed up to give you a clear cost versus output figure, allowing you to factor office design in to your future business costs.

So you’ve been asked to sort out your office – part 2

Here is part 2 in our guide to improving your office.

Headcount – establishing your how many staff actually work in your office may seem a quick and easy task of just counting how many employees you have, however with so many different ways of working in the modern workplace it is worth investing a little time. First, do you have any job sharers, or part time workers? Do you have staff that work from home some or all of the time? Do you have staff that could hotdesk, or that are on the road / out on site a lot of the time? It may be worth investing in a time and motion study; this is an exercise whereby your office is monitored over a typical day or week, and at set times every day each desk is checked to see if it is being used. The results of these are often surprising – with absences, meetings, training, holidays, lunches etc desks are often in use less than 50% of the time. However this doesn’t mean you can get rid of half your desks, as there are always peak hours (the 9am sign in for example). A time and motion study will help you to understand what your requirements are and for when, and efficient space planning will make the most of the office space you have helping you to keep costs low and plan for the future.

Next week we’ll be discussing how you establish what your current requirements actually are and how to ensure your office design is future proof.

So, you’ve been asked to sort out the office layout –where do you begin?

Well a good place to start is our checklist -

1.     Existing drawings

2.     Headcount

3.     Current requirements & Future Proofing

4.     Efficiency of your furniture

5.      Space Planning

      We’ll run through each item in the next few blog posts, starting here with existing drawings -

   Existing drawings – to be able to improve your office layout you need to start with a space plan of your existing layout. Unless you know what you have and where it is you won’t be able to make effective improvements. Ideally you need a space plan that is measured and drawn up accurately, preferably within a CAD (Computer Aided Design) package. The usual standard is a piece of software called AutoCAD, although there are various other drafting packages. A CAD program lets you draw up your plan as an architect would showing every measured detail including walls, windows doors, power and data sockets etc. The key thing with using a CAD program over pen and paper is that it is instantly and infinitely editable – for space planning this is a must, as there are often many alternative solutions and revisions that can be planned. Measuring your accommodation can be tricky if using just a tape measure; we use a laser measuring device, which gives millimetre accurate dimensions between any two points. It is important to include anything that takes up space within the plans; particularly columns as these will have a major impact on your layout. Finally if you are looking to re-use any of your existing furniture this must also be measured up. Once this has all been drawn up within a CAD package you are able to analyse and see where you have wasted space, or try out alternative furniture to make your space planning more efficient.