Boston Architectural Design

Deanne McGuinness Studio

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Office layouts are arranged so that staff can work together in departmental and team groupings, providing the best opportunity for efficient work flow, communication and supervision.

In many organizations, office layouts are subject to frequent changes. This process is referred to as churn rate, expressed as the percentage of the staff moved during a year.

Statutory requirements

related to office layouts will vary in different countries but examples may include: the minimum amount of space to be provided per staff member; fire safety arrangements; lighting levels; signage; ventilation; temperature control and welfare arrangements.

Business needs

Office layout designs should provide an environment suitable for the business needs of the organisation. For example: call centres undertake their business ‘on screen’ and require small desk areas per staff member,
minimum document storage, and may have limited requirements for photocopying facilities and printing. In contrast, companies handling paper based documentation will require larger desks for their staff, storage for
records, archive facilities, photocopying and printing facilities close to hand.

Accommodation standards

Organizations often have a policy on the minimum standards of accommodation for each staff grade. Administration staff may work in open plan offices whereas managers may have individual offices, sized on a seniority  basis. In open plan offices screens are sometimes used between desks to reduce noise and provide an element of privacy.

Planning tools – CAD

Modern office layouts are frequently planned using CAD (Computer-aided design) drawing software.


Each desk in an office may require a telephone and computer. In large offices the power and data cables may be run under a raised floor to the desk. Another alternative in smaller offices is to use dado trunking around the wall.  Other alternatives are to use ceiling power poles which can assist space planning of desks away from perimeter walls

Office Partitions

Open plan offices are often divided up into smaller offices for managers, meeting rooms, etc. When this happens the designer has to take into account several factors  including:

Heating/cooling zoning
Lighting and light switches[9]
Emergency lighting
Small power
Voice and data cabling
Fire alarms
Fire stopping
Fire escape routes

Staff welfare facilities

Office staff require access to basic welfare facilities in an office such as toilets and drinking water. Consideration may also be given to vending, catering or a place where staff can make a drink and take a break from their desk.