When opening your first business, you might not have much, if any, experience in how to effectively set up an office. There is no right or wrong answer as the best layout will vary for each individual business. Sometimes it simply takes some trial and error to find a combination that works for you, but here are some important factors to consider.
Don’t Underestimate Natural Light
Unless you are building your office you will likely not have control over the types of windows installed and where they are located, but you can arrange your office to take advantage of them. Utilizing natural light in your office helps prevent eye strain, saves electricity and even boosts performance. In fact, some surveys have found that access to views of the outdoors and natural light outrank other common office perks in desirability. If you are building your office or looking to replace the windows soon, consider styles and locations that offer a lot of natural light.
Plan Out Seating
Most offices use office workstations cubicles, and for good reason. They allow employees privacy while working on their daily tasks and there are some very utilitarian modern designs. Many offices are experimenting with more open office floor plans, which are also an option. Proponents proclaim these make employees feel more comfortable and increase collaboration. You can consider either option or use both. For example, you might have cubicles in one area while leaving another room more open. This gives employees more of a say in where they want to work and when. Be sure to consider which employees commonly work together and keep them seated near one another as well, such as assistants near their managers or team members in groups.
Locate Equipment Strategically
You will need to consider where large, communal equipment will go. This includes copy machines, postage machines, printers and more. It’s important that these machines are located in communal areas that are easy to access for everyone. A central location, or a specific room, is usually a good idea. Consider electrical outlet availability when planning on where these items will go. If your office is large enough, you may have to plan for having multiples of certain kinds of equipment, especially if the office consists of more than one floor. Also, consider noise and whether constant use of these machines will disrupt any employees who are seated close to them.
Ensure Your Network Is Set Up
A reliable, fast network is a necessity for any modern business. For this reason, you want to ensure it is set up and working before your office begins operations. If you have IT employees, have them go in and get things set up as the office is taking shape. This should make things go smoother when your other employees come in and begin hooking up their devices to get to work. You may need to designate a small, specific room as being for network equipment and even keep it locked off. If you do not have IT employees or employ an IT service, you will have to ask your service provider to come in and get things set up. Be sure to perform tests on your devices to ensure everything is working correctly.
Plan On Changes
The way you set up your office at the beginning is unlikely to remain that way forever. Needs will change, such as accommodating more employees as your business grows. You may wish to try a different arrangement to see if it works better, or even just for a change of pace to revitalize your office. Whatever the reason, you must be prepared to change how your office is initially set up. Perhaps it will become apparent that it isn’t working as well as you thought it would and that a different arrangement would be preferred by your employees. Perhaps some employees will not like sitting close to one another and the seating arrangement will have to change. Be open to ideas.
There are any number of ways you can choose to set up your office. Consider your needs and try and envision how any proposed layout will function in practice. Most important, try different arrangements to find the one that works best for your company and your employees. The space in which your employee’s work is an important part of your company’s work environment and deserves due consideration.