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Office Design

Designing the layout of your office is essential in order to make the best possible use of the space you have. This page aims to explain how you can do this. It covers:

Drawings and plans

You should be able to get hold of a scale plan of the office or building. Alternatively, you can visit the building and create one yourself. Alternatively you can pay for professional plans. Professional scale drawings will cost between £400-£500. Using this plan, you can design an office layout to optimise your use of the available space.

Measure your furniture to ensure your office layout is realistic. This will help when designing your layout. You may think that 4 desks will fit in an office, but they might be inches too big!

For more complex layouts, you might want to consider purchasing space planning software. There are a few on the market, though many require knowledge of CAD software to make the best use of them - and it can be difficult to use it well without proper training. Microsoft Visio (an add-on to Microsoft Office) is a good, cheap option. (As it is a Microsoft product, you may qualify for a charity discount on the price.)

If you would prefer to pay a professional to ensure that your new office is well designed, there are organisations who specialise in office layout and design. They may also combine this with moving assistance. Follow this link to find out about our Register of Property Professionals, which includes professionals who will work at a reduced rate for charities. 

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When designing your space, you need to think about the following:

Arrangement of desks

  • do you want to use the move as a way to rearrange the way you work? Could you reduce the number of desks you need by using ‘hot desks’ for part-time members of staff? (this is where a desk is shared by any number of staff, rather than belonging solely to one)
  • do staff want to face each other? Although this can make communication easier, some people find it distracting
  • are you allowing enough space for chairs behind desks? If they are too close to the wall you can create dents/marks, which you will have to rectify when you leave the office
  • are you creating a healthy working environment for your staff? Consider how much desk space is needed and the best positions for chairs, desks and computers
  • are you using spaces with natural light for your desks whenever possible? Try and put shelving and storage in darker corners
  • have you thought carefully about the cabling and electric points? Get hold of a plan of electrical and IT sockets. You can then ensure that desks are adjacent to sockets, and assess if you need to have any moved or added. There is no point positioning desks where you cannot plug in a computer

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Location of IT equipment

  • servers can be noisy, so they should be located as far from desks as possible
  • computer equipment can get very hot. Try and make sure that it has enough space around it for adequate ventilation
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Noise reduction strategies

  • staff can be distracted in a noisy office. Noise tolerance thresholds vary from person to person. Try to design your office to minimise the impact of noise from phone conversations, meetings and IT equipment
  • use furniture (for example, moveable partitions or bookshelves) to separate areas from each other can reduce the flow of noise
  • locate desks at different angles or away from each other
  • place frequently accessed furniture and equipment out of the way of workstations (for example, photocopiers, stationery cupboards etc)

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  • if your long term plan is to expand your staff/resources, you should think about designing the office so that more desks can be added easily in future. You do not want to have to rearrange the whole office each time a new member of staff joins!

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Once you have a clear idea of your ideal layout, you should assess whether you can use your existing office furniture and fittings to create this. You may need

Think about all of the furniture and fittings you need:
  • desks
  • cupboards
  • drawer units
  • tables
  • chairs
  • shelving
  • blinds
  • partitions

There are many providers of good quality second hand furniture, including The London Re-Use Network, a group of charities, social enterprises and non-profit organisations working together to promote re-use across London. Alternatively, an internet search for ‘Second Hand Office Furniture’ will bring up many companies offering discounted goods.

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Do you need to install or alter the cabling to suit your IT needs?

External fit out

You may also need to consider your external fit-out needs:
  • do you need to set up cycle storage/security for staff?
  • do you need to organise parking facilities for staff?
  • are there any alterations which need to be made for security, such as exterior lighting?

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