The Ultimate Guide To Office Space Planning

by Angela Burkett on April 1, 2023
Office Space Planning Guidelines

We spent the past few years reacting to the changes brought on by a global pandemic, and the past year reimagining new ways of working. Now in 2023 it’s time to start thinking strategically, especially about how space management and planning help growth.

As your facilities management leadership team shifts their thinking, it’s important to ask the right questions to guide your planning process toward the best long-term solutions, not just “good enough” temporary fixes. This checklist will help you ensure you hit every angle.

Office space planning considerations

Office occupancy needs

Before you can start a space planning strategy, you need an accurate estimate of your occupancy needs. That means you’ll need to answer some questions that may not be obvious, including:

  • What percentage of your workforce plans to return to the office?
  • What size groups of people need to meet at the same time?
  • What do you anticipate your peak occupancy will be during the week?
  • What about your average occupancy?

Employee surveys can be a good place to start, but you’ll need to continue monitoring occupancy trends after you’ve reopened. Occupancy sensors give you the most accurate picture of how many employees are actually in the office at a given time and how they’re using the space available. With this information at your fingertips, it’s easier to justify making changes to your space planning strategy.

You might find your office occupancy peaks during the early afternoon, when employees meet with clients but tapers off later in the day. Knowing this, you may want to consider scheduling internal team meetings earlier when there’s less demand to reserve conference rooms.

Work schedules

In a hybrid workplace, employees spend some of their time working in the office and some of their time working remotely. Your leadership team may choose to put guardrails around your hybrid policy — such as requiring employees to be present for certain types of meetings or on certain days — or leave it to employees to decide what works best for them this helps prevent quiet quitting.

In a flexible workplace, employees can choose not only where they work, but when they work. Again, your team may set parameters, but some employees may choose to start their day at 7:30 and end at 3:30 so they can be available to take their kids to school activities. Other employees may start their day later and choose to focus on heads-down work in the evenings when they are most productive.

Any space planning strategy should take these factors into consideration.

The Owl Labs State of Remote Work Survey in 2021 reported that almost 50% of workers would take a pay cut up to 5% of their salary in exchange for being able to work remotely at least part-time. Despite 39% of employers requiring employees to return to work in the office full-time in 2021, we anticipate remote work, hybrid work, and flexible schedules are here to stay.

Office hoteling is a simple solution to simplify space planning in a hybrid or flexible workplace. Reservable desks, office areas, and meeting spaces allow employees to use the same amount of space more efficiently.

As their needs change, technology also changes to accommodate reservation systems for all space types and sizes. That includes the ability to find and reserve space from a mobile app and help visitors easily navigate an unfamiliar office space.

Physical needs of your office space

The way your employees plan to use your office will also influence space planning considerations, including your floor plan and furniture.

This is a good time to rethink the purpose of your office. Do you plan to prioritize in-person training, team-building events, or conferences? Perhaps your client meetings will take place in the office, but larger events will be at an off-site conference center where you can accommodate more employees who will be traveling from out of town.

The way you physically plan your office space can lead to greater productivity and improve the bottom line.

Architectural Record discussed office design trends for innovative office space planning next year, and suggests paying attention to the type of materials you purchase to make the office space flexible. Flooring, for example, can be a key element in creating acoustics to aid, not detract, from work. Materials such as tiles with inherent acoustic properties or carpet with noise-reducing cushion can play a part in helping the functionality of a space filling multiple roles.

Another recommendation is to use the physical space design to give employees a feeling of empowerment. You can achieve this through unassigned desks, lounge-style seating in common areas rather than conference rooms, and rooms sectioned with flooring and furniture to create specific-use areas where employees can choose where they work based on the task.

This strategic use of furniture and physical elements can also support social distancing guidelines. Though official guidelines continue to be adjusted based on the current climate and new mandates may be coming, employers can still develop their own policies for protecting employees. Here are a few questions to consider as you think about your office design:

  • What percentage of your staff will need dedicated desks?
  • Who will be able to work productively by sharing or using a common meeting area?
  • Will you need to change the physical components of the space with furniture or mobile design elements?
  • What in-person activities are most important to your company in the next year?
  • What do your social distancing guidelines look like in the coming year?
  • What amenities or aesthetics do you need to consider to boost employee wellness and engagement?

Eptura offers solutions to make space planning easier, including intelligent software that instantly adjusts your floor plans based on social distancing parameters. Visitor management systems also simplify wellness checks and contact tracing.

As you plan your office space, it’s also important to consider how it contributes to employee health and wellness. Enhanced ventilation, ideal temperature and humidity, and access to natural light are all factors that can make the difference between employees feeling well throughout the day or going home with headaches or eye strain.

The World Green Building Council reported 69% of businesses that implemented healthy building features saw improvements in employee satisfaction and engagement.

Even the addition of plants and other natural elements can create a calm aesthetic that improves moods and mindsets for employees in the office.

Space forecasting data and technology

A good space planning strategy not only optimizes space utilization today; it also makes it easier to forecast future needs.

Think about your company’s long-term objectives and how your office will support them. For instance:

  • Are you planning to expand into new markets or lines of business?
  • How will those goals impact each department?
  • How will you keep your company culture strong as you grow?
  • What data do you need to develop an accurate forecast?
  • How do you plan to monitor space utilization?

Once you’ve outlined your goals, you’ll need to determine exactly how they will impact growth for each department or floor. iOFFICE + SpaceIQ’s space forecasting feature makes it easy to see how growth in specific departments will impact your future space needs.

Once you have determined your anticipated growth, you can plan and manage office moves using move management software.

Rather than rearranging desks through trial and error, you can create new floor plans and scenarios before you move a single piece of furniture.

Stay agile with intelligent space management software

iOFFICE + SpaceIQ combines intelligent space management, strategic planning, and forecasting in one user-friendly platform. Our space management software is the foundation for effective workplace management. You can manage seating or desk hoteling, update your floor plans with drag-and-drop functionality, and plan office moves all from the same place.

And with our intelligent space planning feature, Space-Right™, you can reconfigure floor plans instantly.

You can limit capacity in meeting rooms and common areas to prevent overcrowding, assign employees to alternating shifts, and more.

Ready for a closer look? Tour our space management software today.


Angela Burkett

As the Director of Product Engagement, Angela Burkett is dedicated to one thing: ensuring that every iOFFICE customer has a rewarding experience with the platform.

Capterra Ratings: ★★★★★ 4.5/5