How to make an office seating plan

Whether you’re in need of an office shake-up, are downsizing or relocating, you will 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.

How to make the perfect office seating plan

We have a few tips and tricks for you to follow to ensure the perfect office seating arrangement is put in place. So, let’s begin.

1. Organise departments and 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 seating plan, or on the computer or tablet (whatever the design method you use), and start to test it out. 

2. Get to know 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.

3. Consider 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.

4. Eliminate ‘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, that’s one lucky employee! Whether you like it or not, you will probably have quite a few green-eyed staff members who covet a particular spot. One solution to help create a fairer office seating arrangement is to remove your so-called ‘luxury’ seat. 

When producing an office seating plan, don’t alienate staff through favouritism. And whether you mean to or not, placing certain employees in certain spots can do this. That’s why it’s always a good idea to keep everyone equal when deciding who sits where.

5. Choosing an office layout

Of course, what is an office seating plan without a layout? Deciding the positioning of desks can make or break your seating arrangement. 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 even a touchdown area. Do you want an open-plan layout, something with closer quarters, or maybe it’s time for a complete makeover? These are all factors to think about. 

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 sitting there should not be interrupted, as they have a long task that needs their undivided attention.

6. Get staff involved in the office seating chart

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 go a long way. Having your staff get involved could also save you a lot of time, as some may even know a handy office seating plan software you could use. Or, they may even draw one up for you. 

7. Hot desking is always an option

With the rise of hybrid working, you may find that not every member of staff is in the office throughout the week. Using your office seating plan to reflect this can help to free up space and create an open plan look. Implementing a hot desking scheme is a great way around assigning desks to members of staff. Instead, they can reserve a spot if and when they need it. You may even find that downsizing to a smaller office is a better, and cheaper option. 
Want to learn more about hot desking? Check out our blog ‘How to hot desk properly’ for more information on this trend.

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 utilise office seating plan software, or stick to 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 working environment. 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.