1. OFFICE LAYOUTS
There are two main traditional types of Office Layouts:
Open plan offices: a large open space with no dividing walls designed to accommodate a large number of office workers.
Cellular/ Closed offices: a large floor space that is divided into a number of individual offices or by permanent walls.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Plan Offices
In choosing how to plan an office there are decisions that have to be made that is whether to have an open plan or separate offices.
- Open office plans are more economical as more work spaces can be provided to more employees than with a closed office plan. The company saves money as less money will be spent on air conditioning and electricity. One centralized area has to be heated, or cooled and lighted instead of a number of different offices or rooms each having to be heated or cooled separately.
- Communication is easier between work stations and departments. There is no time wasted between offices because everyone is in the same area.
- Things are easier for the supervisors, as everyone is in a centralized area. There is no need to track someone down from office to office.
- Managers and senior managers are in constant contact with the staff. This makes handling issues and problems go much faster. With the employees being in constant contact with managers and senior managers, they are able to reach management more quickly and deal with issues. This means that issues get resolved faster, and this leads to more productivity.
- Open space offices are noisier and can be more chaotic than closed plan offices. Employees are in one large area, and telephone conversations or conversations between employees will be overheard easily. When there are several conversations happening at one time, it can get quite noisy. This can lead to employees becoming distracted which may lessen productivity.
- People passing to and fro can also cause distraction of employees. In a closed office plan, disturbances like this wouldn’t happen as much.
- In an open office space, security is reduced. Each employee lacks a lockable door like they would have if each one had a separate office. This can lead to risks and issues that the company may not want to face.
- Privacy is difficult to obtain with an open office plan. If family members call, or if a confidential call needs to be made, it can be difficult. With individual offices, these things are more possible. Employees may feel uncomfortable being in such close quarters with their coworkers when confidential calls need to be made.
- Sicknesses and infections can spread like wildfire in an environment like an open office plan. When flu season hits, you can bet that most employees will catch it.
- Lighting, heating, and air conditioning to suit all of the employees’ tastes can be difficult to achieve. With a closed office plan, employees are able to keep their individual offices the way they like them.
- Senior staff or employees which have been with the company longer than most will most likely feel as if they are entitled to a private office. This can cause problems among the employees, which can damage productivity and employee relationships.
A relatively new type of office that exists is “The Virtual Office”;
Virtual Office: A virtual office is a combination of off-site live communication and address services that allow users to reduce traditional office costs while maintaining business professionalism. Frequently the term is confused with “office business centers” or “executive suites” which demand a conventional lease whereas a true virtual office does not require that expense.
Virtual Office Users:
A virtual office blends home and work to gain efficiencies in both. Office expenses are low, while the user’s professionalism retains the image of a traditional, high-cost office. A virtual office user can reduce their environmental impact, as well as the personal negatives of a daily commute. Virtual office clientele have the flexibility to match expenses with revenue fluctuations immediately, as the costs are usually variable. A virtual office can allow for low-cost expansion with no long-term commitments. Users taking advantage of virtual office receptionists eliminate the traditional burden of health care, records, payroll, insurance & rent. Also, traditional time-off (sick days, vacations, personal leaves, etc.…) does not apply to a virtual staff.
Common Virtual Office Users:
- Home-based entrepreneurs
- Law Firms
- Mobile salespeople
- Trades (Home service industry: roofers, electrical, plumb, landscape, construction, repair/remodel, etc.)
- Business consultants
- Mediators/conflict resolution
- Frequent travelers/foreign companies
- Chambers of Commerce
- Senior management
- Real estate
- Mortgage companies
- Stock brokers/financial planners
- Collections agencies
- Networking groups