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Common Office Layouts: How To Choose the Best One for Your Business

The way you set up your office and seat employees says a lot about your organizational functions and team interactions. It’s important to consider your goals and the overall mood you want to set as you create an effective layout for your workspace. Learn more about what an office layout is, view the common types of office layouts to choose from and read tips to help you decide which layout works best for your organization.

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What is an office layout?

An office layout refers to the specific way you organize your employees’ chairs and desks in the office. It’s best to create an office layout that reflects how you prefer your employees to interact with each other. For instance, if you’d like to maintain a highly collaborative environment with employees working on several group projects, you’d want an open office layout with little to no cubicles. If your office emphasizes the importance of privacy and independent working, a cubicle layout may be an effective option.

Types of office layouts

There are several different ways for you to organize the desks in your office according to your company’s policies, employee interactions and team-building goals. Common types of office layouts to consider for you and your team include:

Cubicle layout

A cubicle layout contains partitions walls around each desk that are three sides and create a box shape around the employee. Many offices that prefer this layout find it to be cost-efficient. It’s also used by most companies that have many confidential files that need to be hidden from certain employees who aren’t granted certain access levels to view them.

Similar to a traditional office style, the cubicle layout isn’t usually efficient for offices that want to focus on team-building and group projects, as the high partition makes it difficult for people to communicate with one another.

Low partition layout

For those who believe the cubicle layout to be too restricting and non-inclusive, the low partition layout is a better option for them. This is a more modernized version of the cubicle layout. The partitions’ heights are lower to allow employees to more easily interact with each other while still keeping their information secure and protected. It also brings in more light for employees to help brighten their mood and area.

Though this allows for employees to have semi-open communication with each other, it’s often distracting for those who work individually and need to focus on their tasks. Since the partitions are lower, they aren’t effective at keeping sound out. This means employees will hear conversations from across the office, which is ineffective for most employees who don’t work on teams.

Team-based layout

This is a modern layout type that involves grouping workers by teams. Typically, employees who work in the same department or collaborate on several group projects together will work in this type of layout. All employees will typically have their own team collaboration spaces, so traditional meeting rooms usually aren’t needed.

Many offices enjoy this layout because it encourages an inclusive environment where all employees can work on group projects together and submit valuable work. This is mainly effective for companies where team-based projects are regularly used across the organization. It’s not necessarily beneficial for those who work independently on their own projects or for employees who hold confidential meetings with clients or other team members, as there are little to no meeting rooms available.

Open-plan layout

This plan also encourages a collaborative, team-based atmosphere. All partitions and office walls are eliminated in this space, and employees are instead seated at tables or desks right next to each other. Some offices also place furniture around the office to encourage employees to feel more comfortable and change up their work area. Couches and other larger furniture pieces are also used for employees to sit in as they hold open meetings or brainstorm sessions with each other.

Many employees enjoy this layout because it allows them to feel comfortable at the office. An increase in comfort in the work area makes employees enjoy coming to work, which increases their motivation and excitement to complete tasks. It also encourages everyone to share ideas and feel heard. Some senior-level team members don’t prefer this layout, as they aren’t able to have a secluded space of their own due to the lack of offices, meeting spaces or cubicles.

Tips on deciding which office layout is best for your business

Follow these tips to help you effectively decide which office layout works best for your organization:

Consider how many group projects your employees participate in

Think about the departments your employees work in and the projects they typically complete. If your employees are regularly working together on group projects and need to constantly communicate and interact to create and submit their projects, then an open office layout could be more productive for your team.

Think about the importance of noise control

For teams with employees who need quiet areas to focus closely on their work, a more traditional or cubicle office setting could be the best option for your team. If you have a mix of both independent and group employees, consider a combination of both a team-based and cubicle layout. Place your independent employees in one area and the collaborators in another. This allows your independent employees to be away from noisy environments that could distract them from their work.

Address any privacy concerns

Some offices need privacy, especially if the business has many confidential documents with the company clients’ personal details listed on them. It’s important that you ensure certain information and details stay hidden. This means your employees should be in a cubicle layout or you can place employees with private information in an office with desk drawers and doors that lock to keep important details secure.

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Frequently asked questions about office layouts

How do you plan an office layout?

Here are steps to help you effectively plan an office layout:

  1. Consider the number of employees on your team and which need private offices.
  2. Examine the overall space and available room your potential office area provides.
  3. Draw or use a space management tool to draft a floor plan with your lobby, conference rooms, bathroom, kitchens and desk areas featured.
  4. Map out where you’ll be placing your furniture.
  5. Order furniture and experiment with your new layout.

What are the trends in office layouts?

Common trends in office design include:

  • Team-building and collaboration areas
  • Little to no private offices
  • Private enclaves shared with others
  • Touchdown spaces for workers
  • New, innovative technologies for employees and clients to use

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