Office Layout: Meaning, Importance And Types

Table Of Contents

  • Definition Of Office Layout
  • The Importance Of Office Layout
  • The Principles Of Office Layout
  • Types Of Office Layout
  • Advantages And Disadvantages Of Open Office
  • Advantages And Disadvantages Of Closed Office

Layout Of The Office

Definition Of Office Layout

Office layout may be defined as the arrangement of furniture and equipment and placing of staff inside a single office floor space, so that the best use could be made of the space involved in attaining maximum efficiency.

The layout of an office is determined by the nature of the business activities of the office, the size and nature of the rooms or buildings available.

Importance Of Office Layout

Office layout is important to the general office organziation because:

1. It makes for better use of office equipment and machinery.

2. It makes supervision and control of workers easy.

3. It ensures efficiency in getting work done by effective use of equipment and machinery.

4. It facilitates communication and coordination.

5. It ensures the best possible use of available office space.

6. It could lead to comfort or staff and high morale especially if the layout is well planned.

7. It gives good impression to visitors coming to office. A well planned office layout adds to the corporate image of the organization.

8. A well planned office layout makes cleaning of the office easy and quick evacuation in the event of fire outbreak.

Principles Of Office Layout

The following are the guiding principles in planning suitable office layout:

1. Office equipment and service facilitates, should be placed within easy reach of clerks and supervisors.

2. The available floor space should be fully used as far as possible. It is a waste if the rented floor space is not being fully utilized.

3. Arrangement of furniture should be such that makes for ease of supervision. Straight lines or U-shaped arrangements make for easy supervision.

4. The layout should be arranged to ensure a steady and uninterrupted flow of work. Documents passing from one section of the office to another should travel in the same direction, without unnecessary backward motion, and have the shortest possible distance to travel.

5. Each clerk should be allotted the minimum working space to allow for convenience and free movement in the course of work.

6. Separate offices should be provided for department heads or executives whose duties require a high degree of concentration or are of confidential nature such as interview. An open office should be preferred where there is a continual flow of documents and communication between clerks and close supervision is necessary.

7. Adequate safety arrangement should be provided for secret or valuable records.

8. Layout should ensure the maintenance of healthy working conditions i.e. the provision of proper lighting, good ventilation, and suitable equipment.

9. Layout should be easily adjustable and provision made for future expansion of office activities and the need for bringing in additional staff and equipment.

Types Of Office Layout

There are basically two broad categories of office layout; open office and closed office. The third category> Panoramic or Landscaped office is a larger and aesthetically improved version of the open office.

1. Open Office

This is also referred to as open-plan office or general office. Open plan office is a large open floor space used as an office to accomodate many personnel from all the sections of a particular department or several departments.

In the open office many departments or sections carry out their separate functions. The open office is not partitioned and everyonr working in the office can be seen easily.

A common example of an open office is a banking hall where staff from different departments such as Savings, Currents Accounts, Loans, Foreigne Exchange etc may be found in the large open hall in commercial banks.

Advantages Of Open Office

They are cheap to construct since no partitions are made or light-weight partitions replace walls, and most installations are used in common and need no duplication.

Disadvantages Of Open Office

1. There is lack of privacy for confidential discussions or classified documents which require secrecy.

2. Communal noise is the chief problem of an open office. The telephone ringing, the clatter of the typewritter keys and the noise of conversation from workers and visitors to the open office are very distracting.

3. There is problem of overcrowding, especially if no adequate arrangement exists for expansion.

4. There is the problem of interruption by staff and visitors in the office. Senior staff members may be easily disturbed by wandering staff members and visitors.

5. Overcrowded office can give rise to easy spreading of infectious diseases. For example catarrh and cough can be more easily contracted in an open office.

6. There is apparent loss of prestige for the senior staff in the open plan office.

2. The Panoramic Or Landscaped Office

This is a kind of larger open office layout with aesthetically improved and pleasant atmosphere. It originated around the 1950 in West Germany. The German name for it is burolandschaft.

In a Panora,ic office, there is somewhat random but careful layout of the furniture and other equipmet grouped according to work function.
The use of indoor plants between sections, air conditioning, fitted carpets and soft lighting create pleasant and relaxing office atmosphere.

The whole concept of panoramic office is to remove the harsh factory-like system inherent in the normal open office by making the office environment as pleasant and relaxing as possible.

It retains the advantage of higher staff morale and spaciousness. It also retains the disadvantages of noise problem and it is more expensive.

3. The Closed Office

This is also referred to as private office or cubicle. Closed office layout consists of small rooms which accomodate from one to six or seven people. The closed office is separated from similar other rooms or open-plan office by partitions.

Closed or private offices are usually alloted to senior members of staff for prestige reasons and to other staff whose work require high degree of thought and concentration as well as confidentiality. The Rector’s office in the Polytechnic is an example of a closed or private office.

Advantages Of Closed Office

1. It provides privacy for senior staff. Senior members of staff stay in private offices and so can discuss private and confidential matters with colleagues and outsiders.

2. Concentration is easier for staff because of absence of noise and distractions. Such work like statistical work, accounting, computations, secretarial work involving notes transcription and confidential nature are better donw in closed offices.

3. Better security for equipment and documents. Costly office equipment require adequate security and are better secured in private or closed office. There is better control of usage of such equipment as photocopiers when kept in a private office than in an open or general office. Also minoe equipment like stapling machines are not easily pilfered or misplaced in a private office.

4. It is more prestigious and can boost the morale of staff because of its privacy and exclusiveness.

5. It is more healthy and comparatively tidier depending on the occupant.

Disadvantages Of Closed Office

1. Supervision Of Staff Is Difficult because the supervisors lose personal contact with the staff. This is so because of the several partitions and separate rooms which the supervisor has to move from one to another to oversee the activities of workers in such rooms.

2. More Costly To Build And Maintain

It is costly to build closed office with partitions, doors, lighting and air conditioning provided in separate rooms. Also more supervisors are needed which increases the cost of runing the office. The cost of maintaining installation and office equipment in separate offices could be very high.

3. The smooth and uninterrupted flow of work which is possible in an open is hamered in a closed office. Members of staff may have to walk by corridors to reach office doors that have been locked or occupants are away for unknown reasons.

4. The partitions prevent free flow of natural light and air.

5. It is more difficult to alter the physical lay-out in order to accomodate needed changes. It is therefore less flexible.

6. It makes for duplication of office equipment.

7. Although it meets the needs of privacy and exclusiveness, it can lead to boredom and loneliness.