by Colby Fisher, lead cubicle specialist and marketing director for Skutchi Designs
I’m sure you’ve read plenty of articles by now about the ongoing debate between the open-plan office and cubicles and which is better, more efficient, and preferred by both business owners, managers, and employees. However, when starting a new business, deciding between the two floor plans can be stressful and nerve wracking. You have to take into consideration the number of employees you’ll have, a large or small office or building, how much and how fast you expect your startup to grow, and what type of work your employees will be doing. There are also more than just those two floor plans to consider. You cold also create a flexible office space; a layout which most companies fail to consider. So, how do you know which office layout is best for your startup?
You invest so much money into creating your office space; you want to make sure you choose the best option. When starting your own company, you can’t afford to redesign your entire office space every year. Let’s go into a little more detail of each layout and which business characteristics these layouts would work best for:
Everyone is familiar with the dreaded office cubicle. You may be under the impression that your employees will not be happy working everyday in a small, crowded cubicle. However, a large percentage of employees actually prefer this quiet, focused, distraction-free work environment. You should also consider the different types of cubicles there are. You can choose your panel heights and bright panel colors instead of those boring, gray, fabric-wrapped walls. There are L-shape cubicles, U-shape cubicles, call center cubicles, teaming cubicles, and executive cubicles to choose from, plus multiple dimensions. So, your choices are not as limited as you may think.
It’s obvious that if you’re creating a call center, the call center cubicles are your best option. But, other than that, your choice may not be as clear. If your employees each have their own individual departments or expertise and spend a lot of time on a computer, office cubicles are probably the best layout for your business. You should also choose office cubicles if you are working with a smaller office space. You will be able to fit more workstations in your space without your employees feeling crowded. They will each still have their own individual work space. If you have only two or three employees in each department or want to promote some collaboration while still allowing for privacy in your small space, teaming cubicles are a great choice. If you expect your business to grow quickly, modular office furniture allows you to add to and alter your cubicles and offices, as well as their layout, without investing in an entirely new cubicle system.
You’re probably already leaning towards this layout after reading all the rave about the glorious open-plan office. However, the open office is slightly overrated. Especially if you have a small office space. Employees feel crammed, distracted, unfocused, and have no sense of privacy. Mostly because companies are applying this open office plan in an ineffective and inefficient way.
If you have a larger office space and are starting a tech company or a business that requires your employees to work together and collaborate on projects, then this could be a great layout for you. Even if you have a small office space but only a few employees who all collaborate on projects, this could still be an ideal floor-plan for your business. If you’re worried about employees not having their own workspace, use a desking system to give your office that open and connected feel while still providing each employee with their own workstation. However, if you choose this layout, say goodbye to the luxury of privacy. Adding privacy panels and room dividers could aid slightly with acoustics and privacy without drastically altering your open-plan layout.
A flexible office is the most preferred layout; however, it can be the most expensive and requires a much larger space. With this office layout you will provide both private workstations and an open and group working area. You’ll supply the best of both worlds. Which is why you’ll need a large amount of office space.
This layout is ideal for just about any business. Employees who spend majority of their day on a computer and work independently and privately can make use of the private work areas or cubicles while the employees who work on projects in teams or constantly collaborate with other in their department can work in a separate, open area. However, because this floor-plan is so large and has multiple options for workstations, this layout would be best implemented in a larger business with rapid growth that also has employees that would use both types of work areas. It would be a waste of valuable money that could be used to jumpstart your business to invest in such a large, flexible office space if all your employees only use the cubicles or private work areas.
An efficient office layout is extremely important for any startup company. The money that you have is valuable, you want to be sure you’re making smart investments into your business. You want a layout that will save you money now as well as in the future and encourage maximum productivity from your employees and improve their satisfaction in the workplace. Consider all factors that go into choosing the proper layout for your startup or small business. Once you’ve done that, you’re on the right track for success and growth.
Colby Fisher is the lead cubicle specialist and sometimes marketing director for Skutchi Designs. Colby frequently writes about topics around this niche for architecture blogs, interior design firms and construction companies.