What is Office Layout? Objectives, Principles, Types

  • Post last modified:4 July 2021
  • Reading time:17 mins read
  • Post category:Office Management

What is Office Layout?

Office layout may be defined as the arrangement of equipment within the available floor space. Office layout deals with design and set up of an office. It takes into account all the accessories and equipment needed in an office.

The details of the office work depend on the type of business involved and activities conducted. Features of an office such as people, space, equipment, furniture and the environment,must fit together well for workers to feel healthy and comfortable and to be able to work efficiently and productively.

Objectives of Office Layout

As mentioned earlier, the main objective of office layout is to secure economy and efficiency in office work. The more specific objectives of office layout are:

  • To provide maximum scope for supervision.
  • To ensure maximum utilization of space.
  • To provide adequate privacy and safety to persons with confidential work.
  • To leave sufficient space for movement of men and use of machines.
  • To permit smooth flow of work.
  • To keep operational cost at a minimum.

Certain principles of layout may be followed to achieve these objectives. The tendency of department to spread out to fill available space even at the cost of inconvenience needs to be prevented. Due attention should also be given to the orderly appearance of the work place as it helps in achieving better employee morale.

Principles of Office Layout

The following principles of office layout have been developed for the guidance of office manager designing the office layout:

  1. Principle of inter-departmental relationship
  2. Principle of flow of work
  3. Principle of maximum utilization
  4. Principle of flexibility
  5. Principle of service facilities
  6. Principle of good environment
  7. Principle of least cost

Principle of inter-departmental relationship

Activities performed in some of the departments of the office are closely interrelated. These departments must be placed adjacent to each other. The general office ought to be central placed so that common services may be provided conveniently to various departments.

Partitions and sound-proof walls should be put up to segregate departments using noisy machines like duplications, typewriters etc.

Public dealings which may involve attending to enquiries receipts and payments of cash, receiving mails, etc. should be near the entrance to the office. Individuals and departments concerned should be placed accordingly.

Principle of flow of work

Before preparing the layout plan, it is necessary to study the flow of work in the office. The systems and procedures established for various operations also need to be examined carefully. Whether the layout should be a straight-line arrangement or V-shaped depends on the flow of work. As far as possible flow of work should be continuous, smooth, straight, and without backward movement.

Principle of maximum utilization

Available space should be fully utilized. Adequate space should be provided for each individual staff. About 30 sq. feet space is required for each individual clerk in a department. Equipment and filing cabinets should be placed in such a way that the staff may be able to approach them without loss of time or inconvenience.

Principle of flexibility

Office layout should be so planned that additions to staff and equipment needed to cope with increased volume of work in future may be possible with little adjustment.

Principle of service facilities

While planning office layout adequate provision should be made for service facilities for employees like telephone, canteen, washrooms, lifts, drinking water, etc. These facilities are essential for the efficiency of work and are conducive to comfort and well-being of employees.

Principle of supervision

With a large number of clerical staff at work, the layout should be so designed as to facilitate effective supervision and control.

Principle of good environment

Proper lighting and ventilation play a significant role in office functioning. Interior decoration and external appearance adds to mental stability and morale.

Principle of least cost

Arrangement and re-arrangement of office layout should involve minimum expenditure. As good layout aims at making the most economic and effective use of available space, cost of office services is automatically reduced.

Types of Office Layout

Different types of office layout exist depending on the requirements of the office. There are basically two types of office i.e open office and private office. These two types of layout can be further segmented into three different types based on the recent trends in the office layout, which are discussed as follows:

  1. Open office
  2. Private Office

Open office

An open office refers to a large room where all the departments’ employee and equipment are housed under a single roof without partitions.

Advantages of open Office

  • Better space utilization is possible.

  • It enables people to communicate with one another easily within the office.

  • With no partition walls or separate rooms in a large hall, one can have better lighting and ventilation.

  • The layout of an office can be arranged and rearranged to suit the requirement of the time.

  • Effective supervision is possible by fewer supervisors as there are no physical barriers to observation of people at work.

Disadvantages of Open Office

  • Work will be affected by visitors and movement of the staff themselves.

  • There will be internal noise of conversation by the staff themselves or with the visitors.

  • Infection or diseases may spread quickly.

  • Growth and expansion of business, and addition of staff may result in overcrowding and congestion.

Private Office

Private offices are small rooms occupied by departments. Each department will be placed in each room. Such rooms are allotted by considering the nature of the confidential matter to be dealt in, or for top officials etc.

Advantages of Private Office

  • There is an increase in efficiency on account of the absence of noise.

  • Confidentiality can be maintained as greater privacy is possible.

  • It promotes a personal atmosphere.

Disadvantages of Private Office

  • Lot of space is wasted for partition.

  • It is more expensive to build separate offices.

  • Cleaning of the office becomes a tedious job.

In respect of the above, we may have some variations in the way the offices are organized. Some of them are indicated below.

  • Landscaped Office: A landscaped office is an open office that the arrangement of straight lines of desks. This type of structure is suitable for technical specialist, management information services etc.

  • Movable Partitions: This type of structure is used in private offices. Movable partitions of ceiling, partial or counter height made up of metal, wood, glass or plastic materials are used to segregate the office space.

  • Modular Units: They occupy less floor space; enhance work efficiency by eliminating unnecessary motions. The most popular type of modular desk is the L-pattern desk unit with a flat surface.

Advantages of Good Office Layout

A layout designed after carefully observing the steps mentioned above and with the principles and objectives in view, should provide the following advantages:

  • As the layout is designed after studying the nature of activities and flow charts of each department, efficiency of an individual member of the office staff is expected to be high. This in turn should improve the overall efficiency of the office.

  • Because -of the improved efficiency, the cost of office operations, should be lower with a corresponding increase in profits.

  • It is possible to have optimum use of machines and equipment in the office. The layout provides the joint use of machines and- equipment which reduces capital investment.

  • The orderly appearance of the workplace is important to the office employees. In fact, office workers are as proud of an impressive office as are the managers of the company. A tensionless and refreshing workplace increase morale of the employees in an office.

  • A well-designed office lay-out and the people who work then enhance the goodwill of the organisation. Visitors and customers feel proud to be associated with such an organization.

  • A good office layout makes supervision more effective. As the workflow takes the shortest route, actual supervision is reduced to the ·minimum. Effective supervision with minimum cost.is ensured.

Office Accommodation

Every office manager is concerned about getting office work performed with the maximum efficiency and at minimum cost. This would be possible only if he makes a proper selection of employees, gives them a proper training and guidance, and places them in appropriate jobs.

However, if the office staff is to work efficiently it must be properly accommodated, have a good working environment, and should be properly equipped with suitable accommodation. Modern equipment and proper working conditions are not in any way less important factor in improving efficiency and reducing costs.

The place of work and its surroundings are important factors which affect the efficiency of employees to a large extent. Since staff has to stay for long hours in the office, and since it mainly does brain work and concentrates on the repetitive and monotonous activities of filling, indexing, dispatching, reporting etc., it’s inefficiency would normally be greater in those offices where accommodation is sufficient and the environment and working conditions are congenial.

Principles of office accommodation

While deciding about office accommodation, the office manager should bear the following principles in mind

  • The office must be located at some convenient place so that it may serve the entire organization in the best possible manner.

  • Office space should be sufficient from the point of view the present and future needs of the organization.

  • Due provision should be made for the conveniences and amenities required for the comfort and well-being of the staff, e.g. washing room, restroom, water coolers, canteen, etc.

  • Service facilities like telephone, lift, internal communication, etc, should be available in the office, while other like banking, transport, market, post office, etc, should be available near the office premises.

Location of Office

Once the office is set up it is very difficult to move to other place. So, before starting the office proper location should be selected for the office, as per the requirements of the employees, visitors and customers.

The office manager has to consider wide range of factors like, markets, labor supply, local laws, power, taxes, trends in regional and local development, transportation facilities, and better infrastructural facility etc. before choosing a location.

The selection of location also depends on the cost factor. The best location is one which gives the maximum advantage at lowest possible cost.

While selecting the location, following aspects should be taken into consideration:

  • Convenience to Customers: The office location should be near to those parties with whom the business concern has almost daily contact.

  • Transportation, Postal and Banking Facilities: Office should be located at a place where there is good transportation, postal and banking facilities.

  • Availability of Sufficient Space: The place selected for location office should have sufficient accommodation and future expansion scope.

Choosing an Office Location

Since the main purpose of an office is to facilitate the conduct of the business, its proper location depends primarily upon where it can be ofmost benefit to the business. The office location can be either in urban place or in suburban place depending on the service they provide.

Basically there are five factors which affect the selection of location:

  • Proximity to Related Trade: It is desirable to have an office near other offices which are engaged in the same line of trade.

  • Proximity to Other Departments: When all the functions of a business are carried on at one location, the office should be located in the same location, so that it function in a more effective way.

  • Nearness to Service Facilities: The office should be located near such service facilities as banks, posts and telegraph offices, railway stations, markets, trade or stock exchanges etc.

  • Nearness to Transport Facilities: The locality in which an office is situated must be adequately served by transport services of all kinds.

  • Availability of Labour: Large offices where different types of employees are needed should consider this factor.

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