Modern Office Space Planning and Layout Ideas
The average employee will spend 90,000 hours of their life working. That figure translates to nearly a third of your entire life spent in the office, sitting in its chairs, walking down its aisles and using its equipment.
All that time begs the question — is the modern office layout helping or hindering employee productivity? Can new trends in office layouts and furniture designs make those hours better spent, boosting employee performance and comfort while also better using your current space? At IFR, we believe so.
What Is a Modern Office Layout?
Today’s modern office space balances more demands than ever. Increasingly, offices are prioritizing functional yet aesthetic environments to bring out the best in their employees, elevating their moods and increasing energy levels while still maximizing work outputs and avoiding burnout.
To do this, modern office space planning emphasizes a few core tenets.
Gone are the days of linear cubicles. Row after row of these isolating, monochrome boxes can have a detrimental effect on the spirit of employees, leading them to feel social isolation, boredom and even anxiousness at work.
Modern office furniture still provides employees with dedicated desk space. However, it doesn’t trap them in these spaces that are innately designed to divide and separate. Taking inspiration from the best of open-concept floor plans, offices today eschew the endless cubicle aisle for collaborative work zones chunked around functional work tasks, teams or departments. Grouping collaborative zones has become one of the defining movements in contemporary office layouts, with little sign of fading away.
Creativity in the workplace takes many forms. It can be seen through a streamlined workflow, a creative new campaign idea, an improvement in customer service communications — even a fun twist on the company’s annual holiday party.
However it’s expressed, workplaces are promoting creativity more than ever. As advancements in technology liberate employees from repetitive, menial tasks, workers can instead prioritize value-adding innovations across their own daily responsibilities. Office space planning that fosters creativity encourages employees to experiment, communicate openly and quickly access the resources necessary to be creative, with sensible usage of private and collaborative workspaces.
3. Environmental Branding
An office’s aesthetics can reveal that company’s culture and personality, often within a few seconds of entering the space. Environmental branding seeks to capture an organization’s culture and values often quoted in board rooms, then translate it into layout and decor.
Incorporating environmental branding is one of the key characteristics in designing a modern, attractive office. It’s often achieved by highlighting the following:
- Walls, flooring and furniture in current company color schemes
- On-brand office decorations, wall murals, artwork, plants and accents
- Flexible office desks, tables and seating
- Versatile storage and filing systems
- Furniture arrangements balancing privacy and noise reduction with open collaboration and flexibility
4. Seamless Technology Integration
Commercial technology is constantly evolving. Today’s organizations rely on advanced suites of hardware and software for each department to perform at its peak, from HR and sales to accounting and everything in between.
Whether your office is 5,000 square feet or five stories high, employees need easy access to the full ecosystem of technology relevant to their roles. Contemporary offices must design work stations around that ease-of-access, increasing employee performance and minimizing workflow headaches.
5. Personalized Privacy
While offices today are rejecting the isolating confines of the traditional cubicle, they’re encountering a new problem — too much open space.
In fact, a lack of functional privacy is one of the top-cited concerns for today’s office workers. That privacy problem spins off into several related issues. From noise pollution to the quicker spread of germs, it behooves designers and commercial architects alike to create floor plans with the best of both worlds — an airy, welcoming layout sprinkled with plenty of private group and private individual workstations.
6. Natural Light
In a survey of more than 1,500 office-based employees, Forbes Magazine discovered natural lighting and outdoor views as the top attribute people look for in an office environment.
Natural lighting has been shown to provide a range of benefits. From increasing employee mood and energy levels to boosted job engagement and performance, it pays to let in the light. Workplaces can experience similar benefits with outdoor access for employees, as well. Outdoor work, dining or social spaces has been shown to raise employee happiness levels as well as improve health outcomes, such as reducing headaches and fatigue.
Effectively Using Your Office Space
There are a variety of ways your office can better use the space it already has. Inspired by modern office design hacks and layouts, these tips keep clients, employees and your wallet happy.
1. Measure Effectiveness Based on Space Usage, Not Square Footage
Traditionally, office layouts have been designated in a top-down planning process where higher-ranking people received the most space. Floor plans revolved around ensuring C-suite executives and other top managers had plenty of room for their airy private offices, followed by impressive board and meeting rooms. Whatever was left went to identically sized, corner-to-corner cubicles for remaining employees.
This office space methodology triggered commercial maxims you’ve likely heard, such as every employee should receive at least 100 square feet of desk space. While straightforward, these planning principles don’t take into account the vast variety of roles, responsibilities and ergonomic demands necessary for a high-functioning workplace.
Today, the most productive offices don’t plan around rote square footage. They plan around actual spatial usage. In other words, effective office spatial management means tracking and measuring people’s real workplace behaviors, then setting an adequate layout, rather than designating desks and plugging people into them.
2. Reimagine Meeting Rooms
Just as employee workspaces should be evaluated based on usage, meeting room shapes and sizes are ripe for reanalysis.
Consider the traditional office floor plan. For most organizations, one or two meeting rooms tend to be favored. These rooms get booked at high rates for a myriad of collaborative needs while the rest sit idle, taking up precious and pricey square footage.
Effective offices use employee surveys plus real room booking data to determine which meeting spaces are popular and why. They look to recreate those ideal conditions in other rooms or decide to repurpose less-used spaces altogether.
3. Maximize Natural Light Passage
The benefits of an office filled with natural light are too significant to overlook. Luckily, offices don’t need to undergo major window renovations to amplify light and reap the rewards in the workspace:
- Install mirrors: Mirrors naturally reflect and spread sunlight. As a bonus, mirrors also make small spaces appear larger.
- Add glossy surfaces: Compared to matte finishes, glossy office furniture and surfaces catch and reflect light to brighten your space instantly.
- Use light or white color schemes: Light color schemes help reflect rather than soak in light, uplifting an office’s ambiance.
- Use tinted glass as partitions: Tinted glass still allows sunlight to pass through, whereas regular solid partitions would not.
4. Break Away From Conventional Cubicles
Opt for activity-based work instead. Activity-based office layouts are one of the hottest trends in commercial spaces. Rather than assigning one specific cubicle for each employee to perform the bulk of their work, activity-based layouts say employees can choose their best work setting depending on the day’s tasks.
It’s an intuitive and cost-effective way to use your square footage more effectively. Offices employing activity-based layouts tend to do so according to ideal conditions for performing a certain task. For example, quiet solo work is best achieved in remote office corners with noise-reducing decor and ergonomic furniture. Important sales calls are best handled in private work phone booths, and collaborative meetings are most productive in spacious areas with mobile furniture and plenty of electronic hook-ups.
5. Rent Out Unused Areas
Utilization analytics can give a clear sense of what wings, rooms or desk rows are your most trafficked — and which go relatively unused. In particularly low-usage cases, companies are turning to a profitable solution — renting out meeting rooms and desks. For particularly large offices or organizations experiencing scale flux, subleasing office space is especially prudent, ensuring all space has useful purpose.
6. Unassign Seats
Hot desking and desk hoteling are two flexible options for offices seeking better space management.
With hot desking, organizations rotate employee desk assignments, giving workers a desk certain days of the week or during certain hours of the day. Similarly, desk hoteling allows employees to reserve a desk only when they need it.
Both systems require up-front analytics and dedicated organization to set the best seating schedules. Yet when managed successfully, hot desking and hoteling are two of the most efficient ways to manage limited office space.
7. Coordinate Remote Work Policies
Sensible remote work policies are one of the most effective tools for spatial management in today’s modern office. They’re also immensely popular. Two in every five employees (43%) today work remotely at least once a week — and sometimes as much as half the week. Another half of workers (53%) say they crave a better work-life balance offered by flex and remote work options.
By offering generous telecommuting policies, organizations free up office space while simultaneously granting employees a benefit they crave. Remote work also improves other office dynamics, such as reducing noise pollution, lowering overhead costs and boosting productivity.
Modern Office Design Ideas and Inspiration
What are the new trends in office layouts? Get inspired by the latest in contemporary office space planning with these trending styles.
1. Biophilic Design
Biophilic design seeks to incorporate as many architectural, spatial and decor elements from the natural world into an indoor space. Designers and architects creating a biophilic design capture those outdoor elements in numerous ways:
- Lush indoor plants and gardens
- Water features
- Use of natural materials or natural replicates, such as soft woods, bamboo and stone
- Subtle organic color schemes
- Ample natural lighting
- Natural-appearing patterns and prints
- Circular rather than geometric spatial and furniture shapes
Human-made designs mimicking nature court a range of office benefits. From reducing stress levels to increasing creativity, focus, productivity and employee energy, there’s a reason biophilia is here to stay.
2. Indoor-Outdoor Convergence
Direct access to the outdoors is a tenet similar to biophilic design. Outdoor office spaces let employees enjoy sunlight, fresh air and a sense of openness that can’t be mirrored inside an artificial indoor environment.
Modern office designs find ways to create organic flows from the building interior into the outdoors. Think courtyard, balconies and employee patios, but also canopied seating areas, office gardens, outdoor dining options, rooftop access and more. Plants amplify the calming ambiance, with many offices using hard and softscaping to build the ultimate outdoor reprieve for employees to recharge.
3. The “Home” Office
Home-like furniture touches add warmth, personality and purpose to traditionally bland, even stark, office spaces. Many organizations have begun adopting these decor and furniture additions to curate a far more open and approachable environment, one where employees want to spend time. Home furnishings are particularly great in office meeting rooms, lounges and collaborative workrooms where the cozier setting can boost engagement, creativity and camaraderie.
- Couches, lounge chairs
- Throw pillows and blankets
- Coffee tables, cocktail tables and end tables
- Rugs and carpets
- Potted and hanging plants
- Ample decorations, including paintings, pottery, picture frames and more
- Table lamps, standing lamps and other spotlighting
4. Multi-Functional Furniture
Particularly small offices benefit from flexible office furniture. That means pieces that serve dual purposes simultaneously, such as bookshelves working as storage and office partitions, as well as pieces that are mobile or adaptable.
There are many examples of ways offices can use common furniture for more than one stationary purpose:
- Bookshelves as partitions
- Mobile chairs and seating
- Sit-stand desks
- Collaborative workbenches
- Commercial work pods or office phone booths
- And more
Using multi-functional furniture in the office saves money, space and time. It also asserts a more dynamic office layout, a layout more employees have say over. In fact, the money saved from incorporating multi-functional or mobile pieces into your workspace can be reallocated to employees themselves, most often via a stipend to design their own ideal desk station.
5. Activity-Based Office Organization
Activity-based office layouts ditch the standard desk assignments for something far more revolutionary — letting employees pick where they sit every day they come in.
Inspired in part by startup culture, activity-based offices aim to eliminate the hierarchies often imbued in the traditional, cubicle-lined workplace. These hierarchies and seating assignments can discourage collaboration between colleagues, creating a too-formal, too-regimented environment working against innovation.
An activity-based office still has seats, desks and workstations. However, employees aren’t relegated to one spot in the entire office. They’re free to pick where they work, who they work amongst and why — unencumbered by traditional notions of productivity.
Contact Interior Furniture Resources for Office Furniture Today
A modern office is in your grasp — without sacrificing the quality, comfort and luxury furniture fitting your reputation.
IFR offers turnkey office furniture up to 70% off retail pricing. Whether renting or buying, IFR offers free quotes, space-planning design services and even furniture consultations tailoring our commercial catalog to your exact space. Once you’re confident in your pieces, IFR can coordinate on-site delivery in as little as 48 hours.