Three Principles for Effective Office Planning

One of the things that made McDonald’s such a revolutionary business is the concept of planning the work area. The original owners of the business were meticulous with the way they organized locations for the grill, fryer, shake makers and pass-thru.

They realized an important principle: Design influences productivity. That principle is one of the main reasons we emphasize planning as part of our business process. We work with companies to determine which layouts function best for their productivity and workflow objectives.

Knowing which type of design will work for you is much easier when there’s a basic understanding of how your office plan influences your daily life at work.

Good Planning Creates Convenience

If you’ve ever moved into a new home, figuring out how to configure your furniture and electronics can be tough. The goal is to organize everything in a way that makes movement and communication easy.

Offices aren’t that different; your planning needs to consider movement, communication and several other work-related factors like desk size, collaboration space and break rooms.

Business reporter Jill Leviticus highlighted additional considerations in a Houston Chronicle article about office planning:

“If you plan to redesign your office layout, make a list of key tasks employees perform, such as speaking to customers on the telephone, handling the mail or producing invoices. The list will serve as a convenient reference when you begin planning the new layout.”

Good Planning Considers Personalities

The days when all workers were considered drones with unilateral personalities are gone. Companies are devoting more time to understanding how their team members think and how each personality influences performance.

As a result, office planning has, in some circles, trended toward providing a workspace that meets the needs of extroverts and introvert.

In an interesting read from Fast Company, reporter Anjali Mullany talks about designing an office space that provides personality-soothing spaces for social butterflies and those who like to keep to themselves.

“Noise, interruptions, and lack of privacy are definitely a problem in open workspaces, and not everyone in an office works the same way or does the same work–which is why giving workers many options in a space is key to open office success,” Mullany wrote.


Good Planning Prioritizes Your Company Over Trends

The history of office workstations is an interesting one, to say the least. Cubicles have been around since the ‘60s and, while they have a poor reputation in popular culture, their emergence was actually pretty revolutionary.

They were first intended to provide the worker with a comfortable workstation that afforded them enough privacy to focus on their work and increase productivity without feeling trapped.

With the emergence of tech startups in the ‘90s and ‘00s, traditional “cubicle farms” were shunned for open-office concepts that, according to some, improved creativity and collaboration.

In recent years, though, research has been coming out proving that open offices may not be as effective in promoting creativity and productivity as once thought.

Another article from Fast Company illustrates this point well, if not with a little snark:

“Every workspace should contain nothing but offices. Offices for everyone. Offices for the junior associate and the assistant editor, and offices for the vice president and the editor-in-chief. Take those long tables, the ones currently lined with laptops at startups, and give them to an elementary school so children can eat lunch on them. We’ll have to do away with all those adorable communal spaces, but they were always a little demeaning, a little not-quite-Starbucks. We won’t need them now that we all have our own meeting place.”

The bottom line is that office planning should focus on who your company is and not trendy office design philosophy. Trends change faster than your company’s personality. Find the right fit for you; don’t fit your organization to cubicles or an open-office layout just because that’s what everyone’s pushing.

The Bottom Line: Office Planning Should Be Tailored to Your Team

One of the things we’ve learned as we’ve worked with hundreds of companies in Louisiana is that office planning isn’t a canned process where the planner pushes an agenda that’s divorced from the needs and nuances of the client.

Stop by our Space Planning page to learn more about what goes into our planning process and why, in the end, what we install in your workplace is appropriate for your expectations and needs.