Alejandra Puckett Office Design April 18th, 2018 - 13:23:37
Updating an office fitout or provisioning a completely new office design is often both difficult and costly. We discuss within this article rudimentary design tips & expertise from the design & fitout industry that might assist in choosing an approach that induces the effective delivery of an office fitout project in accordance with agreed duration and budget demands: Planning - possibly the most crucial task of any successful office design & fitout project. Dont hesitate to set aside enough time on planning as the more insight available the less time will be wasted during more time & cost critical stages.
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.
Having access to good artificial lighting or daylight is known to increase productivity. When people work under bad lighting conditions they can develop eyestrain headaches and general irritability. Particularly dark spaces can have a pronounced psychological effect and depress the brain. Employees should have access to their own lighting so that they can make the necessary lighting adjustments depending on the task they are carrying out. Well-designed artificial lighting will increase functionality however there is no comparison to natural daylight and this should be maximized wherever possible. Windows provide a connection to the outside world and should be used whenever the building design allows for it. Open plan layouts that employ low cubicle panels or glass panels can maximize the entry of natural light into the office. Skylights are also a good alternative when windows are not an option.
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.