In offices, where you seat your employees matters. Open floor plans can allow for increased teamwork and more sharing of ideas, while cubicles are important when your employees need more privacy due to confidentiality concerns. Which employees get seated at windows and who is nearest the door is something that requires a lot of consideration. That's why laying out the floor plan of a new company or department (or even one you just want to rearrange) is so important to do before you actually move a single piece of furniture.
A floor plan is a drawing, designed to scale, that shows the relationship between rooms, spaces, furniture and other physical features as they would be viewed from up above. This helps you get a better idea of how things like desks and cubicles can best be arranged in the office, where to sit certain employees or whole departments, and how people will move throughout the space. You never want to start putting out cubicles only to realize you have to pack them all back out again in order to make sure there are enough for everyone in your company.
Small business floor plans can even be useful to consider before signing a lease on a building to ensure the space will actually suit your needs. If you need to make sure you have space for all of your employees, two offices for upper management, an office for the HR department, a conference room, a breakroom and a smaller room for client consultations, a floor plan can help ensure all of this will fit in your potential property. If you're having a property constructed for your business, a floor plan can help ensure you have it built in a way that will be most beneficial for your needs.
You need to consider what kind of office layout to use for your company before arranging the furniture. While you could do a different floor plan for each possible layout, it is usually more beneficial to learn about the benefits of each type of office floor plan and have an idea of what you want first. You can find business floor plans examples online that show just about every possible option for office layouts based on different room dimensions. This can help you choose the right business layout for your floor plan.
A few of the most common office layouts these days are cellular, open, co-working and combination. Cellular office layouts are those that use cubicles. Many enjoy these layouts because they allow for more privacy, but they also can reduce communication and leave people feeling shut off and isolated from their co-workers. Open layouts require everyone to share a workspace together with low or no partitions, which results in less privacy and more noise but increased communication.
Co-working layouts are relatively new options that are similar to open layouts only workers generally do not have an assigned workspace, allowing them to choose a space that suits their needs for the moment as needed. Most co-working layouts offer a few private rooms that can be used for privacy purposes when necessary. Combination offices are also a new idea, consisting of small offices or cubicle clusters laid out in smaller spaces than they would be in a cellular layout. These also offer ample communal spaces, offering employees the benefits of a cellular office and an open office at the same time.
When making a business floor plan, it's easy to focus solely on making sure you find a way to organize all of your employees using the office layout you have chosen, but don't forget your other needs as well. Do you expect to have a lot of business meetings? Then you'll need plenty of conference rooms. If you expect people to be on their feet a lot in the office, you need to make sure workspaces aren't too closely cramped together.
Don't forget to leave space for printers, copiers, file cabinets, plants, artwork, office supply cabinets, water coolers, coffee stations, etc. because it can be easy to forget about these things when laying out your floor plan.
Even recreational activities and amenities you plan on offering might need consideration. If you want a TV in the breakroom, you need to include it in your plan. If you want to be able to do potluck lunches for the whole team periodically, then you need to make sure you plan on having enough table and counter space for everyone to be able to bring their own dishes. Finally, be sure your walkways and other spaces are wide enough to be navigated by a wheelchair in order to ensure your office is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
While you're considering what you need to include in your floor plan, be sure to write down all of your requirements including both features, like wide walkways, and furniture and other large objects. Next, make measurements of your space, including:
- The walls from side to side and floor to ceiling
- Where each door, window and entryway sits on the walls
- The location of electrical outlets, switches and other necessary controls
- Any built-in architectural features including shelves, benches, counters, fireplaces, etc.
- All objects that will be located inside your space
You can make a floor plan with a pen or pencil and a piece of paper (graph paper will make drawing to scale easier), or with a free online floor plan designer, which many people find to be easier. If you draw your floor plan manually, you'll have to do more math and pay more attention to ensure everything is drafted to scale (most people prefer a scale of 1/4 inch to 1 foot), whereas online tools can handle all the scaling for you so you just have to enter your measurements. It can also be easier to make changes with an online tool than when working manually.
While you can move furniture and building features easily when working with an online tool, it can be hard to move these if you draw them in. This is why people working manually should draw these features on a second piece of paper and then cut them out so they can be moved around on the building page until you're totally happy with your layout. Be sure to work somewhere where there's no wind or fan and where your floor plan won't be disturbed. It can also help to take a picture of your floor plan when you're done working on it for a time just in case something does get knocked off the building drawing.
Whether you work online or on paper, take time to be sure you've met all the requirements you set before you began the floor plan. When you think you're done, be sure to review your requirements list and make sure you like the spatial arrangement, the flow of traffic, the ease of communication, the amount of privacy and the general accessibility of the space. After you're totally content with your floor plan layout, show it to someone else (preferably someone familiar with your company) and ask them to give you feedback on your design – they may notice something important you never would have considered before.