Office Layout or Space Planning | Importance, Objectives, Principles
Office Layout or Space Planning
Office layout or space planning refers to the arrangement and placing of men and equipment within each department or section of the office with a view to making the best possible utilization of the available space or accommodation.
In other words, office layout can be described as the arrangement of different departments, equipment and men within a given available floor space with a view to make optimum utilization of space and ensure maximum efficiency of the office.
Office Layout or Space Planning involves three steps such as
- Determining the correct amount of space for each employee along with machinery, furniture and equipment they use.
- Correct arrangement of furniture, equipment and machines.
- Providing of best possible environmental conditions.
Space planning has become a high priority factor now-a-days due to the huge cost involved in procuring the most desirable office space.
Importance of Office layout
A well-planned layout brings a number of benefits to the office, to the firm and to the employees. These benefits highlight it’s importance and layout process has become an important task of the office manager. The benefits derived from a proper layout are given below:
1. Office layout assists in the efficiency of getting the work done.
2. Economies arise from the proper utilization of floor space.
3. Supervision can-be facilitated with a well planned office layout.
4. Inter-communication can be speeded up with a good office layout.
5. Office machines and equipment can be used to their optimum capacity.
6. Office layout ensures better comfort and morale of the workers..
Objectives of Office Layout
We have studied the benefits that may be derived from an Ideal layout. To derive the benefits, the office manager while planning the layout should keep the following objectives in mind.
1. Effective Flow of Work
An office layout should ensure a steady and uninterrupted flow of work. If the work flow is effective, unnecessary movements of paper and personnel will be avoided and work will flow only in one direction i.e. forward direction. On the other hand, if the work flow is ineffective, the work will flow in all directions i.e. forward, backward and crisscrossing. Consequently, work will be delayed unnecessarily.
2. Optimum Utilization of Space
The available space should be utilized to its greatest advantage. It must be remembered that non-utilization of rented space is a loss to the firm.
3. Employee Comfort and Satisfaction
Each clerk should be allotted adequate space so that they can move freely in the course of work. Moreover, the work desks should be located within the easy reach of equipment and machines, which the working staff may need to use in course of performing the work.
4. Ease for Supervision
Office layout should provide maximum scope for supervision at minimum effort on the part of the supervisor. A large open office shall facilitate easy supervision than that of an office divided into small apartments.
5. Separate Accommodation
Some work should be performed secretly. Therefore, separate accommodation should also be provided for the staff doing such confidential work. Similarly, people doing work, which requires utmost silence should also be located in a suitable place where noise is altogether absent.
6. Favorable impression on the Customers
A favorable impression on the customers and the visitors is of great importance where outsiders see part or all of the office area. A well-designed layout shall impress the outsiders who visit the office. The layout designer should keep this factor always in mind.
7. Functional Departmentalization
It is also necessary to follow the principle of functional departmentalization. For instance, typists may be located together at one particular place, where the noise of typing does not affect other office work.
The layout should permit ready alteration whenever circumstances demand so. In other words, office layout must be flexible. Fluctuations in the volume of work, addition of new services etc. shall require alteration in the design of the layout. Thus, layout designing is a continuous process.
9. Proper Balance
The office manager should ensure that the capacity of the equipment and personnel assigned to each operation department is, as far as possible, the same or balanced.
Principles of Office layout
In practice, it is very difficult to obtain an ideal layout for an office. Moreover, layout designing is a continuous process. Therefore, a layout, which is considered to be ideal at a time, may not be ideal at another time. As such, no hard and fast rules are available for designing the layout.
However, authorities have evolved certain guiding principles for designing the office layout. They are as follows:
1. Straight Line Flow of Work
Work should flow continuously forward, as nearly as possible in a straight line. Back tracking and crisscrossing should be avoided.
2. Location of Departments
Each department should be provided with a convenient area. Departments that have similar functions or frequent contact with each other should be located nearer to the each other so as to reduce the travel time.
3. Provision of Services
Central service groups such as typing section etc. should be conveniently located nearer to the employees and departments who use them.
4. Space Requirements
Each employee should be allotted sufficient space to handle his work efficiently and comfortably. The machines and equipment, which he has to use, must be in the immediate vicinity.
5. Furniture and Equipment
The furniture and equipment used should be of uniform size and shape. Moreover, they should be arranged in a straight line. Employees should face in the same direction. A regular placement of desks and chairs should be reserved for supervisory personnel.
6. Number of Private Offices
These are separate rooms, cabins or cubicles, which are partitioned off from other parts of the office. These are generally provided to the important managerial personnel. But the number of such private offices should not be more in any case.
However, for confidential work provision of private office is necessary and inevitable. If the number of such offices is more, natural light and ventilation shall be affected. Even in unavoidable cases, it is preferable to use movable partitions because they provide secrecy and privacy without interrupting the flow of work or complicating ventilation and natural lighting.
7. Service Facilities
While designing the layout the provision of service facilities for the employees should also be made. These include communication systems like telephone, telex etc., and lifts, drinking water, wash rooms, clock rooms, canteens etc. These facilities are essential for the efficient performance of the office work as well as for the physical comfort of the office staff.
An ideal layout should avoid all sorts of office hazards. It should provide for an adequate number of exists. Open drawers, unguarded or unfenced machines may cause accidents. However, they can be avoided by properly locating them in places where frequent entry is prohibited.
9. Flexibility and Expansion
Office layout is a continuous process. Hence, the layout should be flexible to permit immediate alteration. Moreover, enough provision should be made for future expansion so that the additional staff and equipment can be accommodated in the existing space without much dislocation.