Office Space Planning: Guidelines & Standards

Instructor: Amy Jackson

Amy has a BFA in Interior Design as well as 19 years teaching experience and a doctorate in education.

Office space planning is more than just arranging furniture. Good space planning allows a business's employees to work together in the most efficient way.

Office Space Planning

Space planning needs to be specialized for each individual business in an effort to allow that business to run the most efficiently for the least amount of money. In the business world, retail or office space is rented or purchased by the square foot. This means businesses are very conscious of getting the most efficient space for the money. There are factors to consider when space planning: statutory requirements, that is local, state, and federal building code requirements, and business requirements, open plan vs. closed plan, paper-based business or digital.

Statutory Requirements

Statutory requirements are defined by local, state, and federal building codes. These codes primarily pertain to safety and accessibility but may also affect lighting, signage, plumbing, and electrical issues. Safety issues relate to anything that could cause a hazard to the employees and include such things as fire codes and building codes. Accessibility requirements guarantee that all people regardless of ability or disability can access the business. Building and fire codes may vary from county to county and state to state but handicapped accessibility issues are federally mandated.

Handicapped accessibility requirements are outlined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. These requirements cover everything from corridor and door widths to cabinet heights and placement of electrical outlets. For example, corridors should be unobstructed and a minimum of 36 inches wide. Doors must be a minimum of 32 inches wide.

Business Needs

The type of business that is being planned will determine many of the space needs. A business that produces a lot of hard copy or paper documents will need more storage space than a business that works digitally. Call center businesses may use open plans with few individual offices, while a business that handles private information such as a bank or a lawyer, would have a closed plan with more private, individual offices. The number of employees will also determine space needs. Larger numbers of employees require larger spaces.

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