A Guide to Different Office Layout Types

Creating a bespoke environment for employees to work in is no longer considered something of a luxury that only the trendy new start-ups do in order to build their brand image.


Designing and fitting out an office (or retail) space in a considered and sustainable way has become not only desirable, but in fact extremely important in the effective operations of a business. It’s now not only widely accepted, but proven, that satisfied, fulfilled, healthy and happy staff are more productive – leading to not just more streamlined day-to-day operations but also a subsequently healthier bottom line.


However, good office interior design is not simply a case of throwing in some bouncy ball seats and a coffee machine – although, both can be a great idea in the appropriate circumstances! While it’s vital that the environment is functional, of course, the more existential aspects like being inspirational and enriching to staff well-being are just as important. Staff retainment and productivity are both huge issues in today’s corporate world, and providing a comfortable – and, beyond that, inspiring – working environment should be one of the cornerstones of your business.


If you’re charged with overseeing the design and construction of a working space, the first thing you should understand is that this is a highly specialised field, so you can’t be expected to know everything. Engaging a professional and reputable design and build company (that’s us!) will take away the lion’s share of the stress of the project – simply because our team of experts has been doing this for many years.


By taking an integrated approach from conception to design, construction and even furnishings, everything is able to work in tandem and the various components of the project can organically enhance each other rather than each contractor, builder and designer working blindly on their own part. As we like to say, it means we can provide the perfect blend of creativity and efficiency.


Bespoke is Best

Every business is inherently different, which is why the ‘one size fits all approach’ doesn’t work for successful office interior design. Deciding on the best solution for your particular project needs to be a collaborative process, taking in not only the creative and aesthetic aspects but also your business’s individual goals and requirements.


Here at buildgen we sit down with members of your team to discover your expectations, identify your needs and come up with a concept based on design, functionality and brand ethos.


So, all that being said, what are your choices? It may seem quite daunting at first when you begin researching the different types of office interior design, but to simplify, it can really come down to five basic kinds of layout:


  • Open plan

  • Private

  • Desk layouts

  • Creative

  • Cellular offices


Understanding which one is right for you is where the all-important consultation process comes in – we know exactly the questions to ask in order to determine exactly what will work best for you.


Below are five of the most common types of design that are on-trend at the moment and, more importantly, have proven their benefits. However, as always, all have their own pros and cons so we offer a balanced precis on each.


Open Plan

The open plan office is fantastic for nurturing a collaborative environment for a business that thrives on communication between staff. The floor area is divided by half-height (or no) partition walls and each staff member has their own designated space, which may be their own desk or shared with others. It’s excellent for maintaining high visibility and, therefore, discipline, and another benefit of this kind of design is the issue of being able to maximise natural light, something that has been proven to reduce fatigue and other health problems for staff.


We used this kind of concept in our Mayfair project, which was for a financial client and encompasses 16,500 sq ft of space. We completely revamped the working space (post-pandemic) taking over vacant floor space and basically doubling the size.


For Chemchina, a petrochemical company, we established a strong corporate identity for their front of house areas, while developing a hi-tech open plan back office space designed to cater for future expansion.


Open plan layouts are brilliant for making the most of available space and natural light, but there are other considerations that need to be taken on board, such as excessive noise and lack of privacy – both of which can affect staff concentration.


Pros:

  • Can be very cost effective due to the nature of lighting, air-conditioning and physical construction.

  • Provides opportunity for more effective supervision of staff, therefore can help with maintaining productivity and simplifying operational and administrative procedures.

  • Great for fostering communication and creativity between staff.

  • Excellent for making the most of natural light (essential for staff well-being).

Cons:

  • Lack of privacy, which can be a problem for some employees. Can also lead to challenges when making phone calls and conducting meetings with clients or teams.

  • Can lead to distractions for staff, creating issues with productivity.


Private Offices

Some businesses, by their nature, require high levels of privacy because they deal with confidential information, or conduct face-to-face client meetings and/or high-level managerial meetings. In that case a private office interior design is often a priority. This is the most expensive option in terms of physical construction as well as heating, cooling, technology and lighting.


For many businesses the option of providing staff with private offices is appealing in terms of maximising concentration and productivity, although it should be noted it can often be counter-intuitive in this aspect. On a separate note, in today’s Covid-conscious times, private offices are the safest in terms of staff health.


We utilised this kind of concept when we took on a project for Alaco, a private investment and securities firm. They were expanding and relocating to a larger 8,000 sq ft space and wanted a flexible, contemporary design that encompassed open plan areas, meeting rooms, communal spaces and private offices.


Pros:

  • Quiet environment, so can increase concentration and productivity.

  • Provides a private space for client and managerial meetings.

  • Safest in terms of health considerations.


Cons:

  • The most expensive option in terms of construction, technology and lighting costs.

  • Lack of visibility can lead to reduced productivity in some cases.


Creative

For creative industries, an aesthetically inspiring working environment is every bit as essential as its functionality. As well as building and instilling brand recognition for clients, providing an attractive, on-brand environment with strong contemporary design elements can help a business attract quality potential employees and foster a strong collaborative culture.


The sky’s the limit when it comes to this kind of design and it can utilise any number of elements, including open plan, transparent partitions and casual communal areas with tables, couches or chairs.



We used a creative design for our client Busuu, a leading language education tech provider. The newly-acquired 15,000 sq ft space was not fit for their needs and we provided a working design that maximises the space in terms of aesthetics, collaboration and creativity – including the inclusion of a fantastic outdoor terrace deck for staff use.


Pros:

  • Provides an inspiring and positive environment to foster creativity.

  • Allows free creative rein.

  • Allows for strong brand communication for both clients and staff.

  • Can assist in attracting high-quality employees.

  • Facilitates communication.


Cons:

  • Can be distracting in terms of its casual nature.

  • Harder to implement a systemised operation.


Desk Layouts

In this kind of office interior design multiple desk layouts are implemented to best suit the various requirements of a business. It makes optimal use of space and may allow for the assignment of particular desks for different roles, rather than for an individual staff member. It encourages staff to work where they feel comfortable and creative and allows for interaction and communication between teams.


The flexibility of this kind of non-partitioned layout can enhance workflow and productivity, while allowing for relaxed and informal collaboration. How desks are arranged is up to the requirements of the business, and can include a linear layout for more autonomous working environments, a central block, around which teams can communicate easily, or a checkerboard configuration which is a combination of the two.



We used this kind of design in our RHI Magnesita project for a client in the refractory sector, to provide an understated and agile 2,500 sq ft working space, which included the provision of standing desks, permanent and hot desks.


Pros:

Cost efficient, saves on both construction and design costs.

Allows for enhanced collaboration and communication between individuals and teams


Cons:

Lack of privacy for meetings and phone calls.

Can be distracting in terms of staff productivity.


Cellular Offices

The cellular layout is having somewhat of a renaissance in office interior design, and it’s now one of the more popular options. The floor space is divided up into a series/formation of separate cubicles (with stud walls, partitions or windows), which creates a private space for one or multiple employees. There are aisles between the cells/cubicles to walk through and this kind of design is very effective in being able to organise separate teams within an organisation in a systemised way.


It is much more cost-effective than creating multiple private office spaces for individual staff, and provides the flexibility of an open plan design with a higher degree of privacy and a reduction in noise.



We used a cellular office interior design in our Sister Pictures project, for a media and film client. We were briefed to redesign the existing 1,000 sq ft space to elevate the standard and enhance the practical use, with the inclusion of a meeting room and contemporary cellular offices to suit the kind of confidential work the company undertakes. We also added some inviting collaborative communal spaces.


Pros:

  • Enhanced privacy.

  • Provides the ability to systemise teams within an organisation.

  • Creates an environment for improved focus for individuals.

  • Encourages an autonomous working environment.


Cons:

  • Can hinder communication within teams and individuals.

  • Requires more space.


Buildgen: get in touch

If you’re looking for the services of a professional specialist design company with many years of experience to take on your renovation or bespoke office design, please get in touch with us at buildgen. We have a proven reputation for our integrated approach to design and construction, delivering high-quality, bespoke concepts in the London area. Our innovative office interior designs are created to promote productivity, profitability and wellbeing of your staff, while being functional and aesthetic.