Business owners and executives are often guilty of neglecting office design. We focus on sales, marketing, HR and technology, but we often forget that office layout has an indirect impact on all of these – because it affects employee well-being.
While tinkering with office layout ideas won’t save a poorly run company, a well-run company will benefit from upgrading its office aesthetic.
Modern office design also helps entice talent back into the office.
1. The Cellular Office Space.
Heaven for introverts, the Cellular office layout places employees in small, private workstations.
This layout features:
- A cubicle office layout that promotes productivity.
- Individual spaces for employees to reduce interruptions.
- Task-focused spaces.
The cellular layout promotes individual work. It’s ideal for law firms, accounting practices and sales teams that want to boost individual employee performance by reducing distractions.
✔ Great for established professional services organisations.
✔ Provides privacy to sales teams.
✘ Poor choice for new startups.
(Related: Best Standing Desks For Your Office).
2. The Newsroom.
The Newsroom layout is characterised by ample open space and free-floating desks. A polar opposite to the Cellular office, this open-plan layout allows employees easy access to all parts of the office environment.
- Encourages communication between departments.
- Fosters collaboration and information sharing.
- Opens up floor space for people to move around the office.
Your company will benefit from a Newsroom office layout if you want to encourage spontaneous employee interaction.
We recommend implementing designated ‘quiet hours’ daily and adding private areas for concentrated individual work (see “the Library” below).
✔ Facilitates camaraderie and office friendships.
✔ Improves your organisation’s brand.
✘ Introverted team members struggle to be “always social”.
(Related: Best Ergnomic Chairs For Your Office).
3. The Library.
The Library layout uses sheltered cubes or privacy screens throughout the office to create breakout areas or offer spaces dedicated to quiet productivity.
- Splits work groups into 1-5 person workstations.
- Encourages employees to work with uninterrupted focus.
- Balances private and public spaces for employees.
Employees are encouraged to work autonomously or sprint in small teams.
✔ Ideal for individual productivity sessions.
✔ Compliments the Library office area.
✘ Gets very expensive very quickly.
4. The Co-Working Office Layout.
The Co-Working layout is our favourite. Like the Library, it’s an open, flexible space, usually with large windows and multiple zones.
It differs from the Library by adding more amenities, like:
- Kitchen area.
- Bar with beer and cider taps.
- Barista who serves on-demand coffee.
- Multiple soft areas with couches, armchairs or beanbags.
If you want your team to enjoy this type of environment, you’re better off renting a space in a real co-working space.
(Related: Best Coworking Spaces In Australia).
✔ Your employees will love the perks.
✔ Huge amount of flexibility.
✘ Expensive to self-manage.
5. The Innovation Lab.
The Innovation Lab places all team members in a relatively small, private space. The idea is to concentrate focus, brainstorm ideas and stir up – you guessed it – innovation.
- Includes inspiration boards, idea banks, screens or projectors.
- Encourages robust discussion among employees.
- Promotes both creative and tech-supported thinking.
- Helps employees communicate, mindmap, and brainstorm strategies.
The Innovation Lab layout is ideal for companies that want their employees to work closely with one another in a collaborative environment.
✔ Perfect for young, innovative teams.
✔ Puts individual team members’ strengths and weaknesses under the microscope.
✘ Not conducive to individual work.
6. The Artist Loft.
The artist’s loft layout is the perfect option for creative agencies, architecture firms and small magazine publishers.
- Leverages high-ceiling areas to create multiple floors.
- Features a mix of open-plan spaces and private rooms.
Companies that want to communicate their creative chops to clients and other stakeholders love this office layout.
✔ Screams “creativity” and “understated chic”
✔ Can be moulded to your organisation’s needs.
✘ You may need to buy and convert a terrace in Paddington.
7. The Tech Zone.
The tech zone is an excellent layout for housing dozens of developers, journalists or financial analysts.
The tech zone is perfect for established technology-centric businesses that require people to get down to business and ship code.
✔ Very cost-effective.
✔ Easy to design, build and maintain.
✘ The least inspiring office layout on this list.
3 Laws To Follow When Designing An Office Layout.
Break these rules at your own peril.
1. Assess Your People.
Start by doing a sober assessment of your people’s personalities:
- What is the ratio of extroverts to introverts? These groups have very different workplace needs, and your workplace design must satisfy their core needs while encouraging them to step outside of their comfort zone.
- Introverts, for example, will be happiest working in Cellular style offices without ever talking to anyone.
- If that’s your team, create a Cellular office space, but place all amenities, kitchen and toilets near a Co-Working style area, located at the opposite end of the floor. This will encourage movement and spontaneous interactions.
2. Don’t Overspend.
You may feel the pressure to have a funky office to keep up with that funded startup across the road. I get it.
But blowing money on Aeron chairs before you’ve nailed product-to-market fit is a classic mistake that has sunk many budding business owners.
If you’re in your first few years, stick to cheap and/or recycled office furniture. Spend all your money on product development and hiring people who don’t care about fancy office furniture.
Your office space must flex, expand (and possibly shrink) with your business.
Review your 5-10 year business roadmap and aim to create alignment between your office design plans and wider business goals.
When planning, you ask the following:
- Are we planning to make any new hires? In which teams? How many people?
- Will our remote working teams expand or decrease?
- What have our employees asked for?
Find The Right Office Layout For Your Organisation.
Your office layout is often part of your company’s employer brand. Getting it right requires balancing employee needs with business needs – both in the short and the medium term.
Early-stage startup employees pay the least attention to office layouts. They will (and should) work anywhere, any time. Scale-ups and established businesses, however, need to use office layout ideas like these to create welcoming work environments.