Altering your office layout is a great way to inject some new life into your business. It can aid productivity and a little refresh of furniture or a more wholesale change can improve staff morale and impress visitors. Here's the full brief on cellular office layouts and how to use them to your advantage. (Title Image Credit)
Cellular Layout: What Is It, Is It Easy To Implement?
What Is It?
A cellular office layout is one in which the overall floor space is divided up into smaller or individual spaces. It is the antithesis to a fully open plan office and gives workers their own private space.
This can be done by creating individual rooms, by installing floor to ceiling stud partitions, a door, a window and so on, with each room's occupant being able to control the temperature and lighting.
It can also be done by using half-height dividing partitions to create cubicles within the larger floor space. These smaller cubicles can be created to house single individual workers or small teams.
Is It Easy To Implement?
If you're looking to create separate rooms to use as offices within the full office building, then there is some simple construction work involved, but it needs proper Project Management in order to run smoothly. Not taking into account the design decisions and know-how, there will be a lot of trades to coordinate during what is essentially a mini-office refurbishment: dry line partitioners, electricians, mechanical engineers, flooring fitters, joiners, decorators and ICT experts.
That is because each room that you create will be its own little office. Each user will need to control their own environment so the services need to be properly installed to facilitate this.
Creating cubicles is certainly easier in comparison. All that is needed for a simple cubicle based office layout is the right number of dividing partitions, a few tools and perhaps a slight tweak to your lighting layout. This is because the wider floor space is still "open plan" above the dividing partition height.
If your office has more than a handful of employees, is in a shared building or is rented from a commercial landlord, there will be some checks that you need to go through, whichever method you use. Make sure you check fire regulations and suppression systems, access routes and landlord permissions before starting any work.
These half height dividing partitions are a great way to blend cubicle working with open plan layouts. Image Credit.
How Much Do Cellular Layouts Cost?
The costs vary massively on how many cubicles or private office rooms you are creating and what services (lighting, heating, communication) need moving or commissioning.
Simply altering the layout of your open plan office by moving desks slightly and installing some dividing partitions between banks of desks is cheap and easy.
Configuring the entire office layout, moving walls and creating new ones, installing additional fire suppression and detection, moving lights and heating systems is a more considerable task. But the change and potential benefits are a lot more plentiful.
Advantages Of Cellular Office Layouts
The greater level of privacy shows your staff that they're trusted to manage their own time and workload. This increased feeling of responsibility is great for employee morale. It also lets staff work on confidential items more readily and also encourages highly focused, concentrated working.
The system gives employees a greater sense of ownership about their workspace. They should be encouraged to organise it how they see fit, include personal decorations and effects. This can help create a positive atmosphere.
Also, in lots of ways, cellular layouts can make staff interaction more meaningful and productive because when a person enters a colleague's cubicle or office, they consciously try to work more productively as it takes more time and effort than chatting across an open plan bank of desks.
An example of a now infamous "cubicle farm" is pictured above. Whilst this photo is from a page titled "I Love Cubicles", the fact is that most office workers hate them. But open plan offices are to blame for distraction and low morale too.
Disadvantages Of Cellular Office Layouts
Whilst the conversation which takes place when an employee has made the effort to visit a colleague's cubicle or office might end up being more productive and meaningful, these conversations are likely to be less common than in an open plan layout. People might become reliant on email messages instead - which is a very un-productive way to conduct communication amongst colleagues.
Cellular office layouts also tend to hinder ad-hoc inter-team discussion and collaboration. Ad-hoc conversations and brainstorms are less common.
Finally, some personalities start to feel isolated and lonely when working solely in private offices or cubicles. The natural off-topic conversation, sights and sounds of the open plan setting are removed. This is great when working on intense, high focus tasks; but is detrimental to employee morale and well being in the long run.
The best thing to do is offer your staff choice throughout the day in where they want to work; quiet, private space in a cubicle or room for some tasks, and an open plan area with a busy hum for other tasks. That's what workers want in order to feel happy at work and be able to complete tasks productively.
Read More About Cellular Office Layouts & What Your Office Needs In 2017
Besides offering staff choice, your office needs to include the latest tech and furniture trends in order to keep your workforce happy and working productively.
We've analysed some key studies and attended the leading design fairs and trade shows to put together our guide to what your office needs. Get some in-depth knowledge and some inspirational ideas all in one free document. Press the button below to download it now.