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7 Office Layout Ideas for Enterprises 

How you arrange your office directly affects the way people feel about where and how they work—and the type of work they’ll find easiest to accomplish. You have to account for both functionality and aesthetics, aligning your space with your business objectives  while empowering employees to be productive and happy.

The right office layout motivates employees to come into work by making that work easier and more enjoyable. They have space to collaborate, to be inspired, and get things done. They have convenient access to the people and equipment they need to be effective. The wrong layout creates constant friction, discouraging employees from coming in and making their time in the office less valuable—to them and to you.

While traditional office layouts tended to go all-in on cramped cubicles, lonely lanes of private offices, or a sea of desks in an open floor plan, modern enterprises have far more options for arranging their space. Your office layout can certainly draw inspiration from other leading organizations, but the best choice for your office will likely be a unique combination of spaces that stems from your goals, your industry, your facilities, and your employees.

In this article, we’ll look at ways to arrange your office space to optimize for particular work or business goals. Note that these aren’t distinct office layouts or types of offices, but concepts you should consider incorporating into your own layout based on what you intend your office to facilitate and accomplish.

1. Team-based neighborhoods

Good for: Collaboration, flexibility, morale

Neighborhoods are a fixture of modern office layouts. These collections of workstations allow team members to work together in close quarters with their own dedicated space. They’re designed for collaboration, which is often one of the most cited benefits of in-office work. Neighborhoods can be assigned or reservable, and they can take a range of forms depending on how you expect teams to work together, and how you want them to feel when they do.

For example, neighborhoods can be as basic as a cluster of desks or tables, or they can have lounge chairs, couches, coffee tables, and other furniture to facilitate working side by side, across from each other, or independently. You may want whiteboards or monitors nearby as well.

When your neighborhoods are reservable, you can see which are most desirable—so you can replicate the features and arrangements your employees care about most. While you can’t guarantee that every neighborhood will have plenty of windows and other structural features that improve desirability, you can apply similar design, style, capacity, and furniture arrangements to your less popular neighborhoods.

The important thing is that you don’t rely on assumptions about what your employees prefer, but react to how they actually interact with your neighborhoods, optimizing your office layout to improve utilization and employee satisfaction.

2. Informal meeting areas

Good for: Collaboration, flexibility, spontaneity

While meeting rooms ensure employees can find dedicated space to brainstorm, present, and plan, it’s important to recognize the value of spontaneous meetings as well. In fact, Microsoft’s research into COVID-era remote work suggested that these impromptu interactions are crucial to innovation and creativity. So your office layout should include space to accommodate or even encourage spontaneity.

Reservable meeting rooms aren’t always available at a moment’s notice. And neighborhoods, private offices, or individual workstations often aren’t conducive to unplanned meetings. But if your layout has designated first-come, first-served spaces intended for group conversations, employees will feel empowered to meet the moment an idea strikes.

Informal meeting spaces can be just about anywhere, but you may want to consider placing them in locations with high visibility, away from quieter workspaces, and perhaps even next to more popular meeting rooms. This does several things:

  • It makes it easy for people to see if the space is available
  • It prevents impromptu meetings from disrupting work that requires concentration
  • It associates the informal meeting space with its intended activity
  • It allows the space to serve as an overflow or waiting area before meetings begin

Whatever your intent for these spaces, you can’t expect employees to naturally follow that intent—you’ll have to communicate and enforce it via policy and proactive monitoring. You’ll need to establish guidelines such as the number of people that can use the space, how many groups can use it simultaneously, how long a group can use it, and what kinds of meetings the space is intended for. You’ll also need to track how the space is being used, rather than waiting for employees to complain that it’s not being used properly.

3. Solitude zones

Good for: Productivity, focus

While networking and collaboration are two main benefits of working in the office, many employees still need dedicated, distraction-free spaces to work independently. Remote and hybrid work have been a boon for productivity by empowering employees to decide where they work best, but it’s worth remembering that not everyone has a quiet, comfortable workspace outside of the office. For some, the office is still the place they expect to get things done. And if it’s where you expect them to be most productive, your office layout should include plenty of space for them to focus.

Ideally, these workstations should be isolated from each other and other spaces, making them into a sort of “do not disturb” zone where people can trust they won’t be interrupted. Depending on your space, culture, and preferences, these workstations may simply be separated by partitions or cubicles, or they might be more like miniature private offices. These spaces will be extremely important to some employees and unimportant to others, so it’s worth surveying employees about the types of independent workspaces they’d prefer, and/or experimenting with a few different options and testing which sees greater adoption.

4. Outdoor meeting spaces

Good for: Collaboration, morale

As you plan your office layout, it’s easy to focus on the interior—that’s where all your rentable square footage (RSF) is, after all. But it would be a mistake to overlook the possibilities of your outdoor space. Many modern organizations are using outdoor meeting areas to make their corporate offices more appealing, particularly to hybrid workers who may be resistant to working in-person.

The appeal of these spaces is highly dependent on your local climate, and certainly not everyone enjoys being outdoors, but there will likely be situations where holding meetings outside can dramatically improve how people feel about work.

The main things you’ll want to consider are the degree to which you’ll make this outdoor space usable, and whether this space should be a formal, reservable meeting space. How covered will it be? Will there be powered outlets? A usable monitor and/or whiteboard? What kind of seating?

Some office buildings are better suited for outdoor meeting spaces than others. But if you have balconies, decks, patios, or other areas that could be modified to accommodate work meetings, it’s worth considering what purpose these spaces could serve and how they might improve employee satisfaction.

5. Thoughtful department placements

Good for: Synergy, alignment, productivity

Most office layouts are organized by department. It’s the most natural, logical arrangement because most employee interaction is intradepartment. They perform the same types of work and spend time on the same projects. But as you consider where to place each department and how to fit your employees into your office layout, it’s worth thinking about how proximity impacts synergy.

Sales, marketing, customer service, and software development departments perform very different types of work, but their decisions can significantly affect one another, and disconnects between these departments can completely disrupt the customer experience and your performance.

If a marketing director has to leave the building or change floors to interact face-to-face with a sales director, they’ll do it less often. But if these departments occupy space next to each other or even have some shared spaces, that convenience naturally encourages more frequent interactions and greater synergy. Placing departments together to foster collaboration can also reduce the disruption they cause to less related departments. If dev and customer service frequently interact, you don’t want them constantly passing through accounting to meet up.

You want your office layout to create an environment where employees from different departments have easy access to one another’s expertise and still have the separate space they need.

Right now, you may have specific departments that frequently disrupt one another due to lack of synergy. Perhaps IT is limiting Dev, or Dev is demanding too much of IT’s time. Maybe customer service is constantly dealing with the fallout of expectations sales or marketing have been setting for prospects, or they’re spending all their time answering questions that should’ve come up before the sale. Some disputes and workplace issues can be resolved through asynchronous communication. But your office layout can also help foster better relationships between departments and promote more in-person interactions.

6. Activity-based workspaces

Good for: Flexibility, productivity

Activity based working (ABW) is a modern workplace model in which different spaces are designed and intended for different types of work. Instead of expecting employees to stay at a single workstation throughout the day, your office layout includes a variety of settings that have been optimized for specific kinds of tasks. Generally, in this model, workstations are unassigned, so every workspace belongs to a shared pool of office resources.

You might have flexible seating areas or lounges with low tables and whiteboards for collaboration and brainstorming. Partitions dividing desks for independent “heads down” work—or perhaps a study for those who need quiet space. Treadmill desks or private booths for taking calls or doing research. Smaller meeting rooms for group projects.

7. A cozy or lively cafe

Good for: Morale

You want employees to feel ready and motivated to work the moment they set foot in your office. The space that’s waiting for them inside can completely change how people feel—so why not welcome workers to the office with a comfortable recreational space? Cafes serve as an excellent transition to work, a breakroom, and even an informal meeting area.

Just as your favorite local coffee shops can have totally different atmospheres, you can control the energy of your office’s cafe to change the feelings you want to invoke. Is this a cozy, quiet space where people can expect to decompress, think, and relax? Or is it a lively social area where people should expect to chat and spend time with coworkers? The music, decor, seating, capacity, and policies will shape the ambience of your space.

Where and how you incorporate a cafe into your office layout can determine whether it’s everyone’s favorite way to start the day, a treat to earn after being productive, or a constant nuisance while people are trying to work. Ideally, it should be an extension of your entryway, part of a foyer, or in a secluded area away from meeting rooms and quiet workspaces—unless you intend it to be a quiet space as well.

Whatever types of space you bring to your office layout, consider how these spaces function in relation to each other, how different people will feel and think about them, and what kind of experience you want workers to have when they come to the office.

Plan and manage your office layout with Tango

There are countless ways to configure your office. But the best layout for your organization depends on your space goals. An optimal office layout starts with clear objectives and thorough, thoughtful planning. And that takes more than tinkering with a floor plan and performing some calculations. That’s why leading enterprises around the world turn to Tango and our suite of integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) software.

Tango Space gives enterprises, nonprofits, and government agencies the tools they need to plan and manage their office space across their entire portfolio. Use stack planning to optimize department arrangements and consolidate excess space. Leverage scenario planning tools to input parameters and let our artificial intelligence show you the full range of possibilities and the office layouts that best meet your goals. Then, track space utilization with Tango Space’s intuitive dashboards, so you can see how your intent aligns with the way workers use your office.

Manage shared resources with Tango Reserve, our highly configurable desk booking software. Your employees get simple access to their reservations through systems they already use, and you get the complexity you need to track how space and equipment are being used across your organization.

Want to see what Tango can do for you?

Request a demo today.


Tango 2023 Sustainability Report

We have released our first Sustainability Report for 2023, marking an important step in our sustainability journey. In the report, we announce our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, setting us apart as a pioneer in the larger ecosystem of real estate technology providers.