Feng shui has brought to the attention of office designers the idea that objects themselves--their edges, sharp corners, knife-like protrusions, proximity to entrances--and the direction of people and objects within spaces, for example, whether you have your back or face toward the door, affect the psychology of workers, the effectiveness of work and the attainment of individual and company goals. Therefore, feng shui space arrangement is one factor to be considered in choosing a suitable office layout.
Office feng shui is an important consideration assuming you create and operate your income streams from your workplace.
Asian businessmen have been successfully utilizing workplace feng shui for centuries and in recent years their counterparts around the world have taken up the practice with enthusiasm. ("Office Feng Shui Guidelines," hidden-wealth-keys.com)
For instance, feng shui advocates the placement of multiple workspace desks in diagonal positions facing toward the entry. Workers should not face the wall and should not have their work areas lined up school room fashion, face-to-face, or back-to-back. For the best psychological affect, feng shui requires a combination of yin and yang elements for a balance between "light and dark colors, hard and soft surfaces, and smooth and rough textures" in window coverings, floors and rugs, and furniture.
Jessica Stillman of Inc.com offers some images that perfectly illustrate some of the concepts put forth by feng shui. Note the various colors of the soft window coverings and the diagonal arrangement of furniture in many of the spaces and of some individual work desks. Even the desks that are lined up and face-to-face allow for unobstructed space and soften the space with plants ... and a doggie. Note how the construction of curved structures off-sets some unavoidable sharp lines and edges of other structures. Compare these images of comfortable office workspaces to mainstream spaces shown by InteriorConcepts.com.
Another factor to consider are multiple kinds and sizes of spaces for contemplative work, for collaborative work, for less detailed work; for breaks and rests, for meals, for relaxing. Another factor to consider, which is also part of feng shui, is the inclusion of natural (as opposed to synthetic) surfaces. While modern surfaces help cut costs (unless they are toxic, gassing off formaldehyde, phthalates, dioxins, VOCs and POPs and PFCs, then they indirectly increase costs through deterioration of health and occurrences of absenteeism), natural surfaces add to psychological comfort and aid productivity. Some such surfaces are area rugs with traditional, soft Persian rug fibers and patterns (whether really Persian rugs or otherwise); natural wood desks or add-on desk tops; cotton, hemp, linen or bamboo window coverings and furniture upholstery.
A final factor to emphasize, touched on as parenthetical above, is that while cost-cutting makes office furnishings and worktops made of synthetic materials attractive, they are among the biggest contributors to toxic indoor air quality because synthetic materials are unstable to varying degrees and gas-off toxins that induce respiratory, neurological and cognitive symptoms and disorders, including asthma, migraine, neurological pain, nausea, fatigue and mental fatigue.
There are a number of factors to be considered while deciding the layout of an office:
- Privacy of employee: closed cabins with doors may be preferred to provide some privacy to the employees and also to reduce the amount of ambient noise.
- Openness: if, on the other hand, openness is the company policy, cubicles can be provided to all.
- Meeting space: depending on the amount of teamwork or group-based work, meeting spaces may be provided, where the entire team sits together to brainstorm issues.
- Client meeting space: If the business requires frequent client meetings, a separate meeting space needs to be provided.
- Personalized space: many companies these days are providing customization options to the employees. Enough space is provided to each employee along with basic amenities and the employee is free to decorate the space (with a bean bag, toys, a dart board, etc.). In this case, more space than cubicles is needed.
- Employee area: space for cafeteria, pantry, kitchen, coffee machine, vending machine, etc. also needs to be provided as per the needs of the employees.
This is a very interesting question, as many companies (mostly technology ones) are putting a lot of emphasis on this question. Here are some considerations.
First, some companies want to create little nooks in their office layout, so that people can feel a sense of privacy, a place to call their own. This fosters creativity and feeling of comfort.
Second, some companies want free form office layouts, where there is a lot of flexibility. The aim for this is, again, to promotes creativity.
Third, many offices are creating a place where people can get together, when they want to. This is a public space where collaboration can take place.
Also a lot of companies are also creating place for "fun." For example, Zappos, the online shoe store is a prime example. The goal here is to create morale in the work place.