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The Other Strategic Planning: Office Floor Plans

by Margot Carmichael Lester, Staples® Contributing Writer

Have you ever faced an office scenario like this? In my first job out of college, I worked in an avant-garde style building with slanted walls. As low woman on the totem poll, I was relegated to a less-than-optimal space in the office floor plan. I was forced to slide my 6-foot self into a cube against one of the inward tilting glass walls. Did I mention the cubicle setup had the opening next to the wall? I think there’s still a bump on my head where I conked it on the exposed trusses every time I was in a hurry — which was a lot.

Poor planning and lousy layouts make working hard even harder. So for small business owners, a workspace that’s conducive to getting things done is crucial to everyone’s success. Luckily, with a little time and attention, you can choose the best office floor plan for your enterprise.

Getting Started with Office Floor Plans

HGTV host and professional designer Genevieve Gorder starts every project by asking and answering the following questions:

  1. How would I like this space to function?
  2. How would I like to feel when I spend time in this space?
  3. What message would I like to convey to other people who enter this space?

But, she cautions, “Don't overthink it or you'll be paralyzed and do nothing with the space.”

Instead, be strategic. “Consider what you are going to be doing and how,” suggests Steve Meagher, a physical therapist and ergonomics expert in Orinda, CA, who holds regular ergonomics seminars in the Staples Newark, CA, store. His company, Site Solutions, helps individuals and companies design better workspaces. “Will you be using a laptop or a desktop? Will you need a printer, phone, tablet, etc.? The equipment you need will determine the amount of space you need.” Then measure the area you plan to use before buying or moving anything. “Remember, everything looks small on the showroom floor,” he says.

Forgetting to plan for storage is a huge mistake, cautions Heather Higgins, principal of Higgins Design Studio in New York. “Not enough or the wrong kind of storage is the chief cause of a cluttered office space,” she says. “Adequate storage keeps a space looking organized and professional.” If your space doesn’t come with built-in storage, leave enough room in your office floor plans to accommodate the fixtures you’ll need like storage cabinets, shelving and bookcases.

Accommodating Work Style in Office Floor Plans

Consider what arrangement best suits your company’s work style. For some ventures, such as technology companies, open bullpen-style setups may be the best office floor plans. “The idea is to increase collaboration,” Meagher explains. “But many companies have moved away from this because employees get distracted and the work area can become very noisy.” And that can negatively affect productivity and stress levels — you need to do what is right for your business.

If you want an open workspace, or can’t afford private spaces, make room for noise-dampening panels in the floor plans. When possible, try to create a secluded area for important calls and meetings.

Considering these factors will help you choose the best plan to meet your office’s needs. And you won’t bang your head against the wall because of poor design!

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