Office Layout Options for Today’s Flexible Work Environment
This guest post about choosing an office layout for a flexible work environment comes from Rachel Howe. If you want to submit your own guest blog, first read the guidelines here.
In recent years there’s been a push to make office spaces more available to collaboration. For those who plan and design office layout and those who run businesses, it’s even more important. There has been a growing awareness of how collaborations can benefit business and how the office environment can support that. Creating an open floor plan with collaborative office spaces can nurture a sharing of ideas and help to develop a synergistic environment. Below are some office layout options for your flexible working environment.
Creating an Open Design
One of biggest ways to remove the walls that separate people is to literally remove the walls. It is easier to get excited about your work when you can feed on the energy of the people around you. When there are no walls, it is also easier to be aware of the projects that are going on around you. An open plan design fosters an environment where there is a greater exchange of ideas. A better flow can make it easier to find solutions to problems and to meet challenges. Open plan furniture that would support this sort of flow, for example, might include a long table with individual work stations rather than individual desks.
Spaces for Chance Encounters
Google has set up their work environment so that no employee is more than 150 feet from food. There are cafes, cafeterias and mini kitchens all throughout the building. That’s because these places are great for running into fellow co-workers that you may not have the opportunity to meet otherwise. The friendships that can be formed and conversations that can be started by such chance encounters can lead to some of the greatest ideas.
An open office layout admits a lot more of a transferal of ideas from team member to team member. But when a group of people are working on a project together, they sometimes need a space that they can go to specifically work on an idea together. Having informal meeting spaces can allow these groups to gather without disrupting the flow of the rest of the office environment. Having three or four chairs gathered around a small table in a corner or niche away from the bustle allows for team members to check in with each other and work on their collaborative project together.
Not only is an open environment important for fostering collaborations that inspire innovation, but private spaces can be important too. Some people prefer a quiet place to work and feel that they work better that way. Sometimes people just want to be alone with an idea for a little while to work on it before sharing. Whatever the reason, making room for some private spaces can improve your work environment, too. Incorporating private spaces into your office layout allows for varying work styles.
Plug and Play
In our ever-changing business landscape, technology rules. It creates one more pathway for collaboration. Having a lounge, where individuals can work with a laptop, can be a relaxing place to work while still being productive. Collaborative office furniture can take on a new meaning here. If furniture is modular, it can be taken apart and rearranged as suits the needs of the individual or individuals using it. Team members can recline on one piece while putting their feet up on another piece. They can gather two or three pieces together to form an impromptu gathering to discuss an idea. There should also be ports available for recharging electrical devices so that employees can work as long as they need to in that space.
When you are designing your office layout, keep in mind that having a variety of spaces is important. An open floor plan creates a synergistic flow for sharing ideas. Having informal meeting spaces allows for collaborative groups to meet when their schedules allow so that they can work on their shared project. Creating places for chance encounters can also be creating spaces where the most innovative ideas can be sparked. And having private spaces allows employees some quiet time for developing ideas that will eventually be shared with others. Incorporating these types of spaces into your design will help to foster an office environment that gives rise to amazing things.
Rachel Howe is the SEO & Social Media Specialist for OfficeFurniture.com and OfficeChairs.com. When not working, she can be found hanging out with her energetic Corgi, Gambit, or her two young nephews. Follow her on Twitter @officefurn.