Yesenia Butler Office Design July 24th, 2018 - 09:39:00
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.
What lies ahead for occupancy ratios? As mobile technology improves as home working becomes more viable with bandwidth increases and as part-time working becomes more widespread so the need for one desk per person diminishes. Increasingly modern office design is moving towards a ratio of 7 or 8 desks for every 10 staff. The next question is then about saving money by reducing the overall office space rental or to perhaps give some of the space over to social and team purposes? One of the leading adopters of modern office design incorporating flexible working and shared desk allocation CISCO Systems works on a ratio of 160 sq ft per person. Clearly they havent used unallocated desks and mobile working as a cost-cutting measure.
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.
How does this urban planning model play out in terms of office productivity? Office assistants for example are generally situated in spaces that are more public often close to the main passageways so that they are more accessible to their supervisors and other staff members. In contrast more senior management tend to have offices with doors so that they are able to hold private meetings or work in seclusion if their tasks require a deeper level of concentration. Of course the company culture will ultimately dictate where senior management put their offices. It is a trend among some types of companies for managers and CEOs to sit in open workstations along with their staff so as to appear more accessible.