If your company is preparing a move to a new address, or if you’ve been tasked with redesigning your office’s current layout, keep in mind the issues listed below.
The nuts and bolts
Deciding how you’ll set up the individual employee workstations depends first on whether or not you’ll have them working in a cubicle farm. If you’re going the cubicle route, many of your considerations regarding space will already be taken care of. Most cubicle plans allocate a comfortable amount of space for employees, their work, and personal belongings.
- Desks. If you’ll be employing a non-traditional, cubicle-less layout, the first thing you need to do is measure the circumference of the office space, then measure the length and width of each workstation you plan to erect in the space. Obviously, the number of workstations you’re able to set up will depend on the size of the space. Once you’ve got it figured out, determine how many workstations can comfortably fit in the space. For instance, make sure employees have enough room when pushing away from their workstations in their chairs without backing into a filing cabinet.
- Storage. If there’s a lack of storage space in your office for items like paper and writing supplies, copiers, fax machines, and water coolers, be sure such items are arranged on the main office floor in an orderly, space-conscious way, preferably against a wall or in a well-organized cluster. Definitely be sure they’re not blocking an emergency exit, doorway, or path through the office. Also make sure heavy items (say, boxes of paper for the copier, or a replacement jug of water for the cooler) are placed in storage areas that provide easy access for both tall and short people. Aim to place filing cabinets in areas that aren’t too close to walkways, and if filing cabinets must be placed in a walkway, make sure that the cabinet drawers can open fully.
- Wires. Make absolutely certain that all wires and electrical cords are properly stored out of the way of footpaths where employees might trip over them. Place wires and electrical cords in streamlined organizers or caddies.
- Temperature. If a heating or cooling vent is above a workstation or cluster of workstations, make sure the office thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature. If possible, position the slats in the vent so that the heat or air is distributed upward — this allows the heat or air to fan out evenly through the office. Cold office temperatures have been proven to worsen the onset of computer-use-related afflictions like repetitive strain injury (RSI).
- Noise levels. If you have an employee that spends a lot of time on the telephone, place that employee in a quiet part of the office. This goes for anyone who needs a lot of quiet to get the job done; obviously you don’t want him or her sitting near team-oriented departments that require frequent face-to-face interaction.
- Lights. Adequate lighting is integral in creating a suitable workplace for employees. In addition to the fluorescent lights that are probably installed in your office’s ceiling, make sure that each employee has a lamp at their workstation.