Design How Tos

The Ultimate Guide to Planning a Productive Office


  1. Which file and storage solutions do offices need?

Keeping tidy records ensures nothing falls through the cracks. So it makes sense to have dedicated spaces to put important documents. Besides files, we’ll also need to store gear and other valuable items.

If you’ve ever seen the movie Office Space, you might recall when Peter Gibbons takes remodeling into his own hands and dismantles the cubicle wall blocking his view out the window. Anyone who has worked in a similar environment has thought about how nice it would be to switch things up. We can avoid impromptu employee repairs by planning a productive office environment.

What factors should you consider when making an office remodeling plan?

Before we go shopping, we have a variety of factors to consider. So let’s explore a handful of essential variables to have in mind for your next office design. 

  1. Seek ‌feedback from employees

Include employees in the planning process‌. They can offer guidance on prioritizing design choices. Let workers pick the products they’ll be working with every day. 

  1. Consider the number of people working at the same time

Make the most out of every room. First, estimate the maximum number of employees in the office simultaneously. Then figure out how many people can fit comfortably in each room. 

  1. Account for remote workers

The popularity of remote work has prompted the restructuring of offices everywhere. Some offices now have smaller work areas and plan on a percentage of their staff working remotely. If the team is remote, we may not need a desk for every employee.

  1. Plan for growth

Planning for growth will help you decide how much space and stuff you need. For example, we want to avoid situations where we don’t have enough chairs or have to change offices when business booms. So it makes sense to have some extra growing room.

  1. Make dedicated spaces

While smaller offices may rely on a modular approach, finding rooms dedicated to specific tasks is normal. Make unique spaces for collaboration, relaxation, and work.

What are the key components of a functional office space?

We must ensure we cover all the bases. We want to make sure our new office looks professional and fosters a productive environment. Below is a list of critical components to hitting a home run in creating a functional workspace.

  1. What types of seating do offices need?

We have several types of seating solutions to consider. The size and structure of our company will ultimately determine the importance of each type. Let’s look at the seating we’ll need to accommodate.

Desk chairs

Navigating the workday requires a proper captain’s seat. Every office desk needs a comfortable and ergonomic chair. Chairs see a lot of action, so they need to be high quality. Set workers up for success with comfortable, supportive, and durable chairs. They’ll sail through their shifts in comfort. 

Lounge seating
For companies working with clients in person, lounge seats are crucial. Every presentable lobby has at least a couple of chairs. People need a place where they can sit and wait.


Lounge seating is vital for improving relaxation in open workspaces. Adding plenty of comfortable seating to open areas makes collaboration possible.

Break areas

People need a place to eat that isn’t their desk. Break areas benefit from kitchen seating that is easy to clean. If there isn’t a lounge area, a few pieces of cozy furniture can make it easier for workers to recharge. 

  1. Which desks are important for offices?

Desks come in all shapes and sizes. The best idea is to pick desks that fit the space. Every office has different needs. Thankfully, we have plenty of options for creating any work center. Consider a combination of the following ‌desks:

  • Bench desks – Easy to line up in rows and against walls.
  • Corner desks – Maximize every square foot of space by adding desks to corners.
  • Standard desks – Pick traditional desks strong enough for the daily grind.
  • Laptop desks – Get things done in any room with portable and adjustable desks.
  • Height-adjustable desks – Use standing desks to switch from sitting to standing quickly.
  1. What kind of tables make sense for offices?

We use tables where desks don’t fit the bill. There is a different ‌table out there for every unique office need. Add these to your office planning checklist:

  • Conference tables – Large meeting rooms benefit from conference tables.
  • Shared workspace tables – Tables dedicated to shared workspaces can be more practical than lining up desks.
  • Coffee tables – The ‌ingredient to completing any lounge is a coffee table with magazines.
  • End tables – An end table is fantastic next to comfortable seating and when coffee tables are too big.
  • Dining tables – We must have a place to put the cake on cake day.

Tall supply storage cabinets
Tall storage cabinets are excellent for office supplies. They make them sturdy enough to support hundreds of pounds. We need cabinets for pens, paper clips, and reams of paper. Lockable options make it easy for one person to manage inventory. 

Filing cabinets

Paperwork finds its way into files, and files need cabinets. They make filing cabinets in all shapes and sizes; tall, wide, or on wheels. 

Bookcases
We use bookcases to store binders, paper, and educational materials. Anything that doesn’t need the security of a cabinet door can go in a bookcase.

Wall shelves

Use wall shelves in places where bookcases don’t fit. Shelves are modular versions of bookcases.

Cubbies

Storage cubes excel at holding files or supplies and look extra cool in cubbies. 

  1. Which office accessories are crucial?

After covering the fundamentals, it’s time to deck out the place with accessories. Of course, accessories are optional, but some choices offer a lot of functionality.

Desk accessories

It’s the little things in life that make all the difference. We have a lot of inventions that help us get through the day in the office. Remember to shop for the following desk accessories:

Coat racks

Most of us live somewhere that requires wearing a coat for some time throughout the year. Use a coat rack so workers and clients don’t have to carry their wet gear around. Place a heat source or fan near the rack to improve drying times. 

Space dividers

Dividing workspaces improves productivity and reduces distractions. Cubicles or space dividers create zones streamlined for productivity.

Whiteboards 

Working in offices is more wonderful with whiteboards. They’re great for tracking the progress of team projects. Whiteboards also make brainstorming sessions a breeze. You won’t find many offices without at least one whiteboard. 

  1. How important is decorating the outside of an office?

Don’t forget to deck out any outdoor spaces. It doesn’t take much to transform a boring old patio, balcony, or porch into a relaxing place.

People need a place outside for eating and phone calls. Plus, it’s always fun to bring a laptop outside for work on a nice day—as long as you have a comfortable place to sit. Workers will love seeing outdoor tables, chairs, and stools.

Put a few yard gnomes on display for good measure. We can never have enough yard art!

  1. Which office decor items should have priority?

After covering the important stuff, we can spruce up our office decor. The idea is to use anything leftover from our budget to upgrade the office’s appearance. Add some elegance with the following pieces:

  1. What about creating a flexible workspace?

We make flex spaces usable for a variety of purposes. Some folks might need to have an impromptu collaboration session. Others may appreciate the change in scenery from their usual station. We can use any unused areas for flex space. Flex spaces usually have a combination of the following items:

  • Mobile tables – Movable tables, laptop stands on wheels, and end tables.
  • Modular soft seating – Ottomans, sectionals, and comfy chairs.
  • Bench desking – Desks that can accommodate multiple workspaces
  • Personal storage lockers – Lockers are handy for shared offices.
  1. How much additional lighting do you need?

Guarantee a bright future with plenty of office lighting. Use desk, table, and floor lamps to brighten rooms. Wall sconces add flare to conference rooms, lounges, or hallways. Consider using lights that attach to walls for space-limited areas.

How do you make sure you’re staying within regulations and building codes?

Doing things the right way is important. Renovating offices requires knowing all the regulations and staying within building codes. For example, some remodeling tasks require permits, while other jobs do not.

We can use designers for things like paint without worrying about permits. However, we’ll still have to ensure we meet any applicable code requirements.

If you’re planning on putting up, moving, or removing walls, you’ll need an architect. Architects know the laws and get the permits for anything that requires a structural change. 

Choosing architects who use design apps to create estimates and invoices streamlines the process. Certified pros list their details in the corresponding directories to find new architect leads. Nowadays, all we do is download an app and choose an architect from the list.  

How will you coordinate with employees during the renovation?

Construction can be noisy, and office hours usually coincide with remodeling hours. The dust and debris can also be overwhelming. However, we can do a few things to cope with construction occurring in established offices.

Announce the remodeling plans

Give employees plenty of time to prepare by letting them know the construction dates in advance. Hold important client meetings offsite until the repairs are complete. 

Take home valuables and cover desks

Construction is dirty and hazardous. Take home anything valuable that might not withstand a mishap. Cover desks with sheets to keep the dust and debris off desks and computers. 

Encourage remote work

Ask workers to connect remotely to minimize hazards and expedite the process. Fewer distractions for workers and contractors equals faster project completion.

Final thoughts

We want to create a space that makes it easy to have meetings or work independently. It’s best if we can solicit input from employees to guide office design choices. Items that get the most use—chairs, desks, lighting—should have priority over decorative nice-to-haves. Empty offices are much easier to remodel than existing ones, so closing the office for renovation may be worth considering. Modular items make it easier to switch things up on the fly. 

Summary

Planning an office space is a lot of work. Make the process easier by assessing needs, surveying workers, and creating a checklist of fundamentals. We’ll set ourselves up for success by thinking about as much in advance as possible. This guide outlines important factors to consider, key components of offices, following regulations, and coordinating with employees during renovations. If we make the office nice enough initially, we won’t have to worry about workers taking down walls—like Peter Gibbons. 

This is an article written by Ryan Mahoney. He is a content creator with a degree in sociology. He enjoys writing about generational trends, technology, energy efficiency, and design.

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