9 Office Space Planning Ideas & Tips to Help Boost Productivity

Change up your office space plan and reduce tenant turnover

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of employees to shift to working from home, more companies are making moves back to the office. A recent survey showed 43% of employers will increase return-to-office (RTO) mandates in 2023.

And heading back to the office in some capacity seems to suit many workers just fine. One survey found that approximately two-thirds of workers whose jobs can be performed remotely prefer to spend at least some time in an office (60% preferred a hybrid work model, and 6% prefer to work fully on-site), so the shift to hybrid work and flexible models is a welcomed step toward normalcy.

As a result, more offices have to accommodate the changing needs of hybrid workers and return-to-office (RTO) mandates. So, office managers and commercial real estate pros will need to create compelling spaces worth the commute.

But how can you rise to this challenge and curb tenant turnover? Simple: Change up your office space plan. That’s right—it’s time to roll up those sleeves and revamp your available space. More employees returning to an office are requesting features like dedicated collaboration areas and separated quiet zones, access to office building amenities, and more sustainable features. 

The importance of office space planning

You might have a stunning space with plenty of square footage, ample natural light, and all the bells and whistles—but if it’s planned out poorly, you still might have trouble keeping tenants and employees happy. That’s just one of the many reasons thoughtful office space planning is so crucial. Below, you’ll find some of the additional benefits of planning out your commercial office space.

Redefining the office space

Needs and trends change when it comes to how people use office space. But when revamping an office, don’t start from scratch.  

Simply changing up the layout can redefine how you use the space. For example, a more traditional space with individual offices encourages employees to work solo. Privacy is also handy when employees regularly handle confidential information and data. 

However, if you shift to an open floor plan, this design fosters more employee collaboration and has long been the preferred design for tech companies.

Office Space Planning blog image 1

A more traditional individual office layout. Source.

Office Space Planning blog image 2

An example of an open-concept office. Source.

Improved use of space and productivity

As we alluded to, a thoughtfully planned office can determine how well workers use the space. When the layout matches the goals of the organization and its employees, everyone can get more done.

Recent research showed the majority (65%) of employees said if their office looked more like their ideal workspace, it’d help productivity. Another 21% quoted design as the top thing they’d change about their workplace.

Your office’s influence goes far beyond a basic layout. According to commercial design firm Interaction, everything from color to lighting to textures and fabric can impact productivity in one way or another. 

A little intentional planning with the employees’ unique needs in mind can go a long way to increasing productivity.

Potential for future growth

Not only does office space planning improve productivity, but it can also help companies grow.

Think about it this way: A spike in productivity often translates to a better bottom line since employees are getting more work done in the same amount of time. Whether that means finishing projects on time (and on budget), more collaboration between cross-functional teams, or productive brainstorming sessions leading to better products, better productivity means better results. And companies can get these results without shelling out extra cash for overtime or hiring new employees.

Thoughtful office space planning also helps companies as they scale. Making the most out of your current space means that, as you grow and hire, you don’t immediately have to move to a bigger office. The right layout will help you maximize your square footage to accommodate more workers as you grow. And that saves on future office costs. The bottom line is that investing in office move management from the get-go helps save on future office costs.

What to consider when planning your office design

Before diving into a new office design, do a little bit of homework to make sure you set yourself up for success. While creating your new office space plan, consider a few factors.

Your budget

You’ll have a finite amount of cash to invest in a new plan for your office space. So, before sitting down to dream up your floor plan, you’ll need to determine how much you can realistically spend.

Create a full budget for your space that includes allocations for any new furniture, equipment or technology, ongoing maintenance, and the cost of the renovations themselves.

But how much should you set aside for this kind of project? The Small Business Chronicle estimates the average price for renovations is around $200 per square foot. That could fluctuate depending on the size of your office, the extent of any construction required, and your location. 

Square footage and occupancy capacity

In addition to a finite budget, you’ll also have limited space when creating your plan. You’ll only have so much square footage to work with—so, you’ll need to choose a layout that makes sense for the space and size of your workforce.

For example: If you have a small space and an equally small headcount, it may not make sense to install cubicles. Cubicles could make a small office appear even smaller and isolate team members who need to work in more open, collaborative spaces.

It’s also crucial to understand the size of your workforce and project future growth. With that forecast in hand, you can select a layout to accommodate new hires down the line. Consider factors such as employee headcount, departmental needs, and any anticipated changes in staffing levels.

Office space layout and traffic flow

Consider the flow of people and activities within your office space. Look at how each layout can minimize congestion and create efficient pathways for employees to move around. 

Ensure essential areas such as workstations, meeting rooms, and common areas are easily accessible.

Permanent features

Every office space has a few things you won’t be able to change during a renovation. Think about exits, staircases, and washrooms. 

You’ll have to work around these elements to create a plan that works for your unique space.   

Compliance with regulations and ordinances

Wherever your office is located, you’ll have to stick to a series of state and federal regulations when planning your space. That list includes ordinances for safety, health, and accessibility.

So, when putting together your design, consider:

  • Building codes. Look up your local building codes, fire safety regulations, and accessibility requirements to ensure your redesigned space will comply. So, take a moment to look up your building codes by state.

  • Health and wellness standards. While many of these regulations work hand-in-hand with building codes, you’ll also need to follow required health ordinances in your office space planning. That’ll include proper ventilation, access to natural light, and ergonomic furniture. Also, consider cleaning protocols and touchless tech that helps everyone maintain a safe and hygienic workplace.

  • Emergency preparedness. Your office space design will also impact issues like how tenants and employees deal with emergencies. Create response plans that detail evacuation protocol, outline emergency exits, and point out specific assembly points.

9 more tips for creating an effective office space

Now that you know how to sidestep common challenges and have a list of factors to consider in your planning, you’re almost ready to get started.

With these additional office space planning guidelines, you can build a modern office space plan that meets employees’ needs while cutting down on tenant turnover.

Upgrade your layout to include hybrid-friendly spaces

Many businesses have incorporated hybrid and flexible work models into their RTO mandates. And with more employees than ever working remotely or adopting flexible schedules, it’s wise to adapt your office space to meet their needs.

As mentioned earlier, hybrid employees want different things out of their workspace. Some of the common hybrid-friendly features in high demand are:

1. Hot desks. Consider moving to a “hot desk” model, which means no single employee has their own assigned desk. Instead, everyone shares a limited number of workstations.

2. Activity-based workspaces. Set up specified areas in the office dedicated to quiet, head-down work and separate spaces that make it easier for teams to work together. Allow employees to choose a workstation based on their tasks and preferences. 

3. Meeting rooms that cater to both in-person and virtual meetings. Set up video conferencing systems, high-quality audio equipment, and interactive displays to facilitate seamless communication and collaboration whether employees are at home or in the office.

4. Informal gathering spaces. Don’t fill up every nook and cranny with furniture or desks. Maintain some open space to avoid overwhelm and add a few informal gathering spaces like lounge areas, coffee bars, or outdoor seating. These spaces encourage employees to socialize and build relationships. 

Lean into sustainable and energy-efficient features

If you’re changing up your office space, use the opportunity to roll out some eco-friendly features. Yes, “going green” shrinks your environmental footprint, but going all in on sustainability can also slash your energy bills and overall operational costs in the long run.

So, think about implementing these green initiatives in your new office space management plan:

5. Energy-efficient lighting and HVAC system. Smart lighting uses motion sensors to cut energy consumption, and newer HVAC systems automatically adjust temperature settings based on the number of workers in the office and the weather outdoors.

6. Waste management and recycling. This is a great time to roll out a recycling program and make bins accessible throughout the office. To go a step further, you can go paperless with digital documents and paperless workflows.

7. Sustainable materials and design. Select sustainable materials for furniture, finishings, and office supplies. Choose products with low volatile organic compounds (VOCS) emissions and consider using natural and recycled building materials.

8. Green building certifications. Obtain green building certifications, such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability. These certifications recognize buildings that meet strict environmental requirements.

Lean into sustainable and energy-efficient features

If you’re changing up your office space, use the opportunity to roll out some eco-friendly features. Yes, “going green” shrinks your environmental footprint, but going all in on sustainability can also slash your energy bills and overall operational costs in the long run.

So, think about implementing these green initiatives in your new office space management plan:

Go green (yes, literally)

Adding a touch of green with plants in your office might just feel like a nice touch of decor. However, having foliage around a workspace positively impacts employees in a variety of ways.

Research showed the presence of plants boosted productivity by 12%. Employees also reported a 19% improvement in concentration, and 88% said natural, indoor elements increased their well-being.

For example, when designing its new Bristol flagship office, law firm Osborne Clarke worked with designers to create relaxation areas with floor-to-ceiling plant walls and indoor gardens.

Office Space Planning blog image 3
Office Space Planning blog image 4


Use digital twins to support your next corporate space planning project

For a little extra help planning out your office space, you can lean on some high-tech tools to make the process far easier. That’s where Matterport can help.

The first step in redesigning your office is to assess and document your existing space, so you have a clear base to work from. 

Matterport’s Capture Services make this initial step a breeze as certified technicians come out to your office space to record all the details of your property using Pro 3 cameras, resulting in a photorealistic digital twin of your space that will set the stage for better collaboration. You can also improve the collaboration process by using these features:

  • the Measurement Tool to provide context on the dimensions of a space

  • the Notes feature to tag and add useful context for collaborators, just like adding comments in shared documents

  • current floor plans, which can be a source of project delays if the original plans are not readily available or don’t reflect the current design

  • BIM files, which can jumpstart remodeling or renovation work with architects or general contractors

Armed with this spatial data, you and your team are free to try out different layouts, test furniture configurations, and better plan your office redesign.

For companies with one property, assessing your office with Capture Services can shave hours or days off the process. And for CREs and office managers with multiple properties, digital twins can save weeks' worth of tedious evaluations and streamline communication and collaboration.

That’s precisely why CRE retrofit firm, Canoa, uses Matterport’s Capture Services. Canoa calls on Matterport to create digital twins of client spaces, which cuts their site survey costs by 70%.


  • Tips & Tricks
  • Operate
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Office space planning FAQs