Workplace experience

Office Space Planning Guidelines and Tips

Learn the basics of office space planning, including what to consider when setting up your workspace and how to make the most of your environment.
Reem Abouemera
Copy Writer / Content writer

When you're planning your office space, you'll ultimately have two goals: to create a functional and comfortable work environment and to do so efficiently so that you're not wasting valuable square footage. That's quite a balancing act!

Because we know how important (and tricky) office space planning can be, we've put together a guide with all the basics you need to consider before getting started. Read on for our top tips and tricks for efficient and effective office space planning.

General Tips for Office Design

Let's start with some general tips that will be relevant no matter what kind of office space you're working with.

1. Pay Attention to Light

Lighting is one of the most important things to consider when setting up your office space. Poor lighting is associated with a whole host of problems, from migraines and eye strain to fatigue and even depression.

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Try to take advantage of natural light whenever possible by setting up workstations near windows. If you don't have that option or need supplemental lighting, make sure to choose light bulbs that mimic natural sunlight as closely as possible.

Pro Tip: Having adjustable lighting is also important so that employees can control the amount of light depending on their needs, given that different people have different lighting preferences.

2. Bring the Outdoors Inside

Next, think about how you can bring the outdoors inside. Studies have shown that being in nature, or even just looking at images of nature, can boost employee productivity, creativity, and morale.

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So if you can, incorporate elements of nature into your office design. This could mean anything from bringing potted plants and using natural accents in your décor to installing a living wall or incorporating biophilic design principles.

3. Prioritize Comfort

Comfort= employee productivity. It's really that simple. If your employees are constantly shifting in their seats, fidgeting, or getting up to walk around, it's a sign that their chairs and workstations aren't properly adjusted, which can lead to discomfort and pain.

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To avoid this, go for ergonomic furniture that can be easily adjusted to fit each employee. This includes things like office chairs, computer monitors, and keyboards. Standing desks should also be available for employees who prefer them since they've been shown to improve posture and reduce back pain.

4. Include Space for Relaxation

Many business owners don't see the need for relaxation areas in the office, but they can actually be a great way to increase employee productivity. When employees have a place to take a break, they can come back to their work refreshed and with a clear head.

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So consider adding a lounge area with comfortable seating or even just a couple of bean bag chairs. You could also set up a dedicated space for employees to take quick power naps or install some game tables for employees to use during their break time.

Remember that the ROI for investing in employee wellbeing is approximately 5 to 1, so it's definitely worth your while to create a comfortable and relaxing work environment.

Guidelines for Office Space Planning: Factors to Consider

Now, let's look at some specific office space planning guidelines. Here's what you need to consider.

Square Meters Per Employee

Over the past few years, with the rise of remote work and the popularity of open-plan offices, there's been a significant decrease in the average amount of space each employee needs. While at the beginning of the 21st century, workplaces allocated an average of 227 square feet per employee, that number has now decreased to 200 square feet.

Workspaces Per Employee

Workspaces per employee refers to the number of workspaces (i.e., desks, private offices, etc.) available for each employee. In traditional offices, this number was usually around 1:1, but with the rise of remote work and flexible work arrangements, 2:1 employee-to-desk ratios have become more common.

The Right Combination of Meeting Rooms

The average office worker attends around 62 meetings each month, so it's important to have enough meeting rooms to accommodate everyone. What's even more important, though, is having the right meeting room combination. Here are the main types of meeting rooms you'll need to include in your office space planning:

  • Private One-on-One Rooms/Focus Rooms: Ideal for confidential or sensitive meetings, these rooms provide a space for employees to have private conversations without being disturbed. They're also suitable for employees who need to focus on a specific task and don't want to be distracted by office chatter.
  • Huddle Rooms/Small Meeting Rooms: Perfect for quick, informal meetings of 2-6 people, huddle rooms are typically smaller than traditional meeting rooms and are ideal for brainstorming and problem-solving sessions.
  • Large/Traditional Meeting Rooms: Large meeting rooms are perfect for department-wide presentations, training sessions, client meetings, and other events that require a lot of space. 

Sizing of Meeting Rooms

When it comes to meeting room size, there are a few factors you need to take into account, such as the type of meetings that will be held in the room, the average number of attendees, and the amount of technology that will be used. Based on that, you can determine the ideal square footage for each meeting room.

An Example of Office Planning in Action

Now that we've gone over the basics of office space planning, let's look at an example to see how it all comes together. Imagine you're planning the office layout for a distributed workplace. Here's what an ideal number of spaces per 100 employees would look like:

  • 10 assigned spaces
  • 45 reservable open area desks (desk hoteling)
  • 5 private 1:1 rooms
  • 4 focus booths
  • 4 huddle rooms
  • 4 small meeting rooms
  • 2 large meeting rooms
  • 4 common areas

As you see, this is an example of an agile workplace design that allows for both private and collaborative work. There's a mix of assigned spaces, open area desks, and meeting rooms of different sizes and types to accommodate the needs of all employees. That way, everyone can find a space that suits their specific needs and requirements.

Ready to Start Planning Your Office Space?

Today's office space planning process is a far cry from the traditional approach of simply cramming as many people and desks into a space as possible. With the rise of remote work and flexible work arrangements, businesses now need to create office layouts that accommodate a variety of working styles and needs (a.k.a., an agile workplace environment).

By taking the time to plan your office space, you can create a layout that promotes collaboration and creativity while also providing employees with the privacy and focus they need to do their best work. And best of all, you're preparing a future-ready workspace that can adapt to the ever-changing demands of the modern workplace. 

Remember, the key to successful office space planning is to start with a clear understanding of your business's needs and objectives. From there, you can create a plan that considers your employees' specific requirements. And finally, don't forget to leave room for change and flexibility in your design—after all, the workplace is always evolving! 


Reem Abouemera

As a content writer who has tried it all when it comes to working models– from the traditional 9-5 in an office to fully working remotely and everything in between. Reem now puts her experience with the various working style into words at Tribeloo, ultimately helping others make more informed decisions about their own work lives.

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