Office Space Planning for Small Vs. Large Offices

Office space planning is the process of organizing your office furniture in such a way that allows you to maximize space and improve productivity. High-quality office areas can help motivate and retain staff, and improve efficiency. In this article, we will focus on some of the main factors to take into account when designing an office space, and how these can change depending on the size of the space available.

3D rendering of a large corporate office layout including bench desks, breakout spaces, and collaborative seating areasStaff Wellbeing and Business Requirements

In principle, you should consider the same criteria when designing an office of any size. Big or small, the main considerations for any corporate office layout are staff well-being and your business requirements.

Firstly, you’ll need to take the size of your team into account. Is everyone in the office every day? Will some have flexible working arrangements? The recent increase in hybrid working naturally affects the amount and type of furniture required in an office. A small office that previously contained six desks for six full-time workers, for example, may now only need to have three shared desks. This frees up space, allowing for a high collaboration table with stools, or perhaps a soft seating area.

Your office space design may also change due to the type of equipment used in your business. The recent increase in cloud storage and integrated technologies has released staff from working solely at their desks. While less desk and floor space is being taken up with bulky computers and hard drives, more space can be dedicated to creating a positive environment for your team.

Detailed 3D render image of the interior of an office space with long bench desks in the foreground and collaborative tables and chairs in the background

Square Footage and Capacity

Another major concern we see when completing office furniture fit outs is available space and capacity. Capacity is the number of people your space comfortably accommodates. You will need to take into account the total square footage and how your business currently allocates it before considering what is best going forward. For example, if you want an open-plan office with rows of desks, a good guideline is to allocate 100 square feet per person. On the other hand, if you’d like a mixture of open desk space and private offices, 150–250 square feet per employee is a good starting point. If you’re working with a much smaller space and a larger team, it may be time to start thinking outside the box.

3D render using office space planning technology of an office space with long bench desks and several desks with divider spaces

Room Size

When planning a new office space design, minimum requirements for room height, room size and circulation areas must be observed. This applies to both small and large, open-plan offices. Special attention must be paid to offices located in more unusual spaces, such as conversions, basements, or attics. Although sloping ceilings often have a cosy effect, there are no natural circulation routes in these spaces. Therefore these must be relocated in order to allow employees to continue to move comfortably throughout the premises.

3D rendered image of a small office room with a large soft seated area in the middle

Collaborative Areas (Even for Small Offices)

A big part of the way your business operates successfully depends on collaboration. Wherever possible, we recommend keeping open areas where team members can gather and talk. Open spaces like this also mean that staff can easily access other parts of the office. Even in small offices and with small teams, collaboration spaces should always be considered in your corporate office layout.

3D rendered image of a collaborative seating area in an office with sofas, high-back chairs and table

Breakout Spaces

When space is tight, it’s very important to create areas that are practical and can be used in a range of different ways. When it comes to office design, one of the latest trends is to use breakout furniture. Breakout spaces are small, informal areas where employees can take a break from their workstations and enjoy some downtime. By using specifically-designed breakout furniture, you’re signalling to your team that this area is for relaxing. This can help relieve pressure and separate spaces in the office for different purposes.

Rendered image of two breakout furniture spaces in an office, one high-backed soft-seating area with two chairs and one soft seated office booth

Meeting Rooms

Having a dedicated meeting room is important. The availability of meeting rooms allows your team to focus and be productive without worrying about distractions. That’s why having the ideal meeting room furniture for your particular space (whether big or small) can help create a professional, productive environment. If your office is very small, however, you could consider a Privacy Pod where employees can take calls or video conferences.

From boardroom tables to media walls, our selection of dedicated meeting room furniture can be specifically chosen and arranged for your preference.

Interior of an office space with meeting room furniture including long boardroom table and chairs and TV on the back wall

Acoustic & Quiet Areas

A common concern with open–plan office spaces is the potential for noise. However, this can be resolved easily with the right acoustic office furniture. Good acoustics are a must, and they have been directly linked with employee wellbeing. Acoustic Office Pods and Booths, Floor Standing Screens, Suspended Panels, Wall Mounted Panels and High Back Seating are just some examples of acoustic furniture that should be considered when completing a large-scale office furniture fit out.

Having quiet zones is also an important factor when arranging larger corporate office layouts. Even in offices with an open floorplan, each employee should still have enough space to work. For concentrated work, creating acoustic and spatial barriers is a must. Specially-designed quiet zones can enable more focused work.

3D rendered image of a quiet office space with high leg chairs and table and soft seated booth to create acoustic working space

Lighting and Temperature

For optimal work in both small and large offices, direct and indirect light should be used. During the office space design process, it is important to ensure that rooms offer an ideal indoor climate (usually around 21°C), regardless of the outside temperature. Exposure to light also improves productivity and mood. Whatever the size of your office, make sure there is plenty of natural light being let in. This may be difficult with smaller offices where every inch of available space is needed, however with proper office space planning, a solution can always be found.


3D render of interior of an office space with two sets of office desk tables with acoustic dividers between areas and two whiteboards

BT Office Furniture

Regardless of your office size, successful office space planning is key to a happy and healthy workplace. At BT Office, we’re here to help. Get in touch with our expert space specialists today by calling 0800 298 7033 or email mailto:[email protected]. From meeting room furniture to office acoustics, we’re here to help you take the first step in bringing your office space to life.