Angie Bailey Office Design July 20th, 2018 - 13:26:59
Legal minimum office space per person. There is no prescribed minimum occupancy level for a modern office design. Within the UK Building Regulations the section dealing with Fire Hazards (Part B of the Building Regs.) advises a minimum area of 6 square metres (64 sq feet) for each person in an office premises. This figure can be achieved by equating the total headcount against the overall net internal area (NIA) and so doesnt necessarily limit the space for a single person with a desk. In practice offices will have a number of factors - mostly relating to Fire Escape but also the provisions of WCs amount of fresh air available through a ducted system etc. - that have an impact on the legal maximum number of people accommodated within an office building. The Means of Escape is the key criteria for density of occupation. Once a workstation office design layout is defined the Building Control advisor can determine if there are sufficient escape routes for the staff numbers.
When a city is planned well the communication channels are well-designed and accessible so that people feel a sense of community and togetherness. In the same way an office layout will dictate the sense of community that the employees feel. The office layout influences the manner in which the staff communicate with each other the length and quality of their interactions how they socialize and ultimately how they learn from each other in both formal and informal ways. When planning the office design a balance needs to be struck between the ability to interact in open spaces and the ability to work in privacy. This means it is critical to take into consideration the specific job requirements of all of the staff members when planning an office layout.
Depending on an individuals tasks some employees will need a higher level of privacy to allow for deeper concentration while others will need to be in communication at all times. For example a tight corner cubicle with high panels would not be suitable for people in a creative role who need to be in constant communication with their team. Sales people on the other hand may need to be in quieter enclosed spaces so that they can carry on confidential phone conversations or conduct meetings in private. Either way whether the office space is more open-concept or has more private offices it is always a good idea to designate rooms for coffee breaks and office equipment to an area away from the main workstations. In this way the noise level will not bother other staff members.
Employees have difficulty working productively in noisy environments since stress levels increase and concentration is lowered. There are many design tricks architects can employ to deal with poor acoustics. Using the correct materials in the correct location is key to achieving the proper level of sound absorption. For example ceiling tiles should generally be applied at a low ceiling height. If the ceiling is very high then other methods need to be applied such as lining the walls with fabric banners or acoustical wall panels to avoid the sound bouncing off of drywall or other non-absorbent materials. To keep voices from traveling too far it is useful to places highly-absorbent materials at mouth level throughout the office. Another effective technique in limiting a noisy environment is to create a monotone background sound known as white noise. This can be achieved in a variety of ways such as through the strategic placement of fans and air conditioners the use of water fountains or by installing a sound masking audio system.