How to make an office seating plan

Workplace

How to make an office seating plan

Whether you’re in need of an office shake-up, are downsizing or relocating, you need an immaculate office seating plan behind you. And there are quite a few things to consider when creating one that will satisfy both a business and employee perspective. 

For instance, you need to start by considering that in a recent Savills report, around 32% of workers said their office design layout affected their productivity negatively. And 45% of workers also said that their productivity was harmed due to hot-desking.

That’s quite a lot of employees being directly affected by their work environments and office layouts and begs the question; how productive and thoughtful is your office seating arrangement as it is, or rather could be? Here are some things you should consider.

Organising departments and close-knit teams

You need to start by addressing your individual departments and understanding which ones work closely together. Maybe you have a social media team and content team who are always in each other’s areas working on tasks. Or, perhaps a new team is forming that needs the right place to work at their most productive level. With a regular department and team review, you can always be on the ball to maintain maximum productivity across the board, improving communications and workflow. Simply jot down names and teams on your office plan, or on the computer or tablet (whatever the design method you use), and start to test it out. 

Understand your employees

Whilst it may remind you of school when arranging a seating plan based on personalities, it’s actually an important thing to consider when putting together an effective office seating plan. If you’re all about office culture, it’s certainly something to think about. Arranging by personality is best done in a sensitive manner and through understanding each floor of the business. You can find this out by chatting with those who have good overseeing eyes. 

You may have some workers who work best in quieter areas with minimal disruption and some who need to bounce ideas off others. Make sure your seating plan takes into account different workers’ needs, as this can do so much good for your business and can keep workers happy.

Think about comfort

Concerning the physical and practical nature of your business, you should produce a seating plan that aims to make each and every staff member as comfortable as can be. Have standards slipped slightly in the daily hubbub of office life? Or, maybe you have never noticed there was a desk right near the air conditioning, or one directly next to a permanently-on radiator. This is why you should include equipment, features, systems, doorways and storage when making your plan, as it highlights areas that could cause discomfort, contain safety hazards or affect workers’ wellbeing. You should also monitor office lighting and workstation set-ups to make sure all of your employees are working safely and healthily. For instance, is a certain lamp causing screen glares? Even noticing office features like lighting can help you arrange comfortable layouts.

Rotations for the window seat or ‘luxury’ seats

You need to be aware of any preferred or ‘luxury’ seats in your workplace. For instance, you may have one window seat that overlooks a vista, lucky you! Or, rather, lucky employee! Whether you like it or not, you will probably have quite a few green-eyed staff members who covet this particular spot. One solution to help create a fairer seating arrangement is to offer a rotation where everyone gets a chance to work at the ‘golden desk’. 

It all depends on the office dynamic and your departments of course, but if each employee gets a day to work there, it could work and boost staff morale. Alternatively, you could reserve it for senior staff members and leave it at that, or maybe you could use it as a staff incentive – maybe the sales star of the week could win that seat for the following week.

Open plan or closed off?

Of course, you need to factor in how open-plan or segregated your current office layout is. Or maybe it’s time for a complete makeover! Here, you should work out what would suit your business and its employees. Maybe you need private spaces for executives or team leaders, or maybe you’re a business that needs a leader right there amongst all staff. 

With open-plan layouts, collaboration can excel, so you may want a more open office seating plan. You could still plan for quiet areas or have segregated office desks that are reserved for certain tasks. For instance, you could have a desk or area labelled ‘Plugged In’, meaning whoever is sat there should not be interrupted, as they have a long task that needs their undivided attention.

Get staff involved

Don’t forget about your staff’s insight and input. If you want your staff to be happy and productive, having individual talks with them to discuss your ideas could be a part of your plan. Plus, studies by the University of Exeter show that giving employees more control over their workspace layout improves health, happiness and productivity; so having that chat and asking for insight will probably go a long way. Having your staff get involved could also save you a lot of time, as some may even know a handy tool or software a seating plan could be designed on. They may even draw one up for you. 

What should a seating plan look like?

Now that you’ve got all the relevant information you need, you’re good to go. You can either choose helpful software or stick with drawing by hand. Whatever the method, a bird’s-eye view of your new or updated office seating and floor plan allows you to optimise space and to create the most productive, comfortable and happy environments for your workers. You can also use templates, or draft one up yourself on design software or on simple spreadsheets and word documents.

For instance, it could look like this one below, where it factors in departments, equipment, teams and space. Just make sure you note building features, outdoor areas and prepare to revisit and shift things around, as some things may not work or feedback might contain revisions.

Have we given you food for thought? Whatever your needs, you can create a unique office layout that works for your business and employees in no time with this guide. And if you need a helping hand with any office design and fit out projects or office supplies, we know a thing or two – just take a browse through our online office furniture catalogue, or contact us here.

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Lyndsay Carling
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