Dec 07, 2015

It Isn't The Size... Space Planning for Productivity

By Don Catalano



Space planning experts know that the old rule that size isn't what matters, it's what you do with it is all about offices. Adding more square footage isn't the key to making an underperforming space into a highly effective office. Instead, it's using your square footage in a productive way.


Beyond Open and Closed

The most basic distinction in space planning is between closed and open office space. Closed office space is typified by a warren of built-in private offices. An open space is a trading floor. Cubicles allow for open build outs with a bit of the feel of a closed space.


However, the way you build your space isn't what really matters for your office's productivity. Instead, the best spaces are designed to follow the way that people actually work in them. Very few jobs are always correlated to a certain specific type of space. The private office that is excellent when an employee needs quiet to concentrate can hurt that same employee's ability to collaborate with mid-sized groups of people.


Space planning and architecture firm Gensler has identified four different types of work. Your workers need to produce, but they also need spaces where they can collaborate, learn and socialize. Ultimately, offices support the former, while cubicles and trading floor-type open spaces support the latter three types of work.


The Four Styles, Efficiency and Effectiveness

Spaces that support all four types of work don't have to be gigantic. In fact, they are usually smaller than more traditionally configured spaces.


This makes sense when you think about it. In a traditional office, you need to build a cubicle, carrel or private office for every worker. At the same time, you also need to have conference rooms, training rooms and break spaces -- and this probably isn't enough to truly build a comprehensive space.


When workers in a traditional office are in the conference room, their cubes and private offices sit empty. And when they need to socialize, they might end up off site. This wastes time on travel while also leaving spaces in your office empty.


4 Tips to Get Your Commercial Office Space Planning Right


Smart space planning solves this problem. Your architect or planner will work with you to create a blend of spaces that serve all of your workers' needs. This makes them more productive. It also increases the utilization of your office space since workers can freely move from place to place based on their needs.


A good space planner can help you achieve greater productivity and efficiency by creating dual-use spaces. Glassed in offices with sliding doors can allow for quiet production with the door closed or for socializing with the door open. Break spaces with quiet alcoves can turn into collaborative spaces, while a quiet learning center could also be a place for production and introspection. The right design can make this happen.


Ultimately, whether you are looking at new office space or trying to extend the life of your current location, the key to productivity and managing cost is space planning. The right planner can assess what your workers really need and create an integrated space that meets all of those requirements and desires.


Other great Commercial Office articles:

The Benefits of Open Office Space

Six Amenities to Look for in Office Space

3 Great Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Office Space


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Don Catalano

Don Catalano