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How to Design The Office

The office, where we spend the most significant portion of our working lives, should be aesthetically designed. This is the reason that one should always be very careful about the functionality décor of the working space. Our work space, where we spend at least half our walking time, six days a week, is as important a part of our lives as our homes. The working conditions and the environment in the offices directly affect the way people interact with the family and friends at the end of the day. These also have an influence on our productivity, mental well-being and general health.

Plan the office

To plan an office effectively, the designer should have a thorough understanding of the functional and aesthetic requirements of the client, followed by an in-depth evaluation of the possibilities and constraints of the given space.

An office should ideally have enough space not merely to seat its employees, but to locate ancillary and support services, from the stately boardroom to the humble pantry, as well as for circulation between these areas, with adequate access to stairs and fire escapes.

When planning a given space, it is important to conceive a long term master plan, keeping in mind planned growth and future requirements, even if the intention is only to implement part of the plan now and execute the rest as needs and funds arise.

The Reception

It is the reception area that makes the first impact on the visitor and which colors his expectation of the space ahead. If the business of the company calls for continuous interaction with guests who need to be suitably impressed, then it is important that the reception area be adequately dressed.
  • Office DesigningThe reception can be used to display the company’s product or operations with visuals or models.
  • Alternatively, paintings or aesthetic accessories in the room can be chosen to reflect the company’s taste and style.
  • The receptionist should have direct visual access to be able to keep an eye on office comings and goings.
The Conference

Conference room is the central area of any office and can give impressions to anyone new having meeting in that room

  • Conference should ideally be easily accessible from the entrance, so that the visitors do not have to travel all over the office.
  • The facility of a nearby toilet will be an advantage for the same reason.
  • The equipment necessary for presentations, such as a screen, TV, video monitor, black board, flip chart etc, needs to be provided
  • The furniture and ambience should be designed so that the participants can communicate with each other.
  • The design should provide a calm, neutral background for visual presentation and adequate lighting.
The Ceiling

It is well to remember that ceilings, like any other surface, reflect light and sound, and contribute significantly to the lighting and acoustic qualities of a space.

  • Suspended ceilings are available in different materials, and increasingly, acoustic tiles and panels are becoming standard, especially in open offices and where no special ceiling treatment is required. Usually made of non-combustible which prevents sound waves being reflected back into the room.
  • Holes for recessed lights can be cut out wherever required.
  • Plaster or gypsum board is harder and reflects more sounds then it absorbs.
  • Exposed structural ceiling are sometimes used to create a hi-tech image , as a stylistic alternative to the typical office interior.
The Lightning

Office LightingGood lighting is crucial for effective work, besides which, lighting accounts for a considerable part of the energy consumed in an office. Therefore, the cost effectiveness and the efficiency of lighting should be kept in the mind. On the other hand, it is lighting which makes design come alive and it should be explored accordingly. It can create a warm, inviting and dramatic interior, or result in a cold and monotonous office.

  • One effective use of the standard bulb is as a wall wash, which tends to imbue the whole space with incandescence and makes the room warm and friendly.
  • Incandescent downlights, halogens included, can complement fluorescents and can be used to highlight specific objects, such as desks, plants, paintings, objects, etc.
  • To reduce eye strain and fatigue, high contrasts should be avoided. Use of job oriented, task lights can be practical, if complemented by general lighting.
  • Suspended or pendant lights can serve a dual function in this regard, and while providing overall illumination, can be lowered to concentrate on a given space.
  • A system of selective switching and operational control areawise, or where possible even deskwise, can help restrict usage and operating costs of lighting to only as and when required.
The Flooring

Office flooring is subjected to more wear and tear than any other surface in the room, and it is therefore imperative that it be hardy and resilient.

  • Choice of flooring material will depend on the function of a given area and its requirements where durability, appearance, cost and maintenance are concerned.
  • Flooring materials vary greatly. Hard flooring such as stone, granite, marble, kota are best suited.
  • Wood, cement, terrazzo, ceramic tiles, are the other oprtion but they are usually noisier.
  • Soft coverings such as vinyl or carpeting, but they are hard to maintian.
  • Flooring can be used as a design tool not only in an obvious choice of material and color, but to demarcate departments, private/public areas and circulation paths, by a selective use of different hues and surfaces.
The Storage

While providing enough storage the emphasis today should be on eliminating unnecessary garbage.

  • The basic storage units such as the cupboards, filing cabinets, drawer unit, open shelf, are still as useful as ever, whether they are free standing or built into walls, or used in lieu of the partitions to save space.
  • In addition we have certain new innovations such as filing shelves which move on tracks, and which completely fill a given space.
  • Furniture too can be designed to save space, using the space above and below work tops.
The Pantry

For offices that can afford the space, a clean well designed and pleasant looking cafeteria or canteen will help employees relax.

  • The basic storage units such as the cupboards, filing cabinets, drawer unit, open shelf, are still as useful as ever, whether they are free standing or built into walls, or used in lieu of the partitions to save space.
  • A storage cupboard, shelves or hooks can hold the cups and saucers, plates, cutlery, tea, coffee, sugar, etc. A small compact refrigerator is useful for storing milk, cold drinks, preserving food items, etc.
  • A good garbage storage system will help circumvent the inevitable mass of tea dregs, papers etc.
  • Disposable plastic cups, plates, if economically viable can save on maintenance and cleaning.
The Toilets

Coming to the toilets, which perhaps more than any other room, reveals the true class of a company, its attitude to cleanliness and the activity of its employees and visitors.

  • Bathrooms don’t have to be exotic, but they do have to be adequate in number for the staff employed and they have to be clean.
  • They should have tiled surface, preferably in light plain shades which are not overpowering and which cannot be scrubbed down easily.
  • Separate toilets for men and women are statutory to a given number of employees. The traps, the Indian and the western WC with the urinals to accommodate all the users.
  • If ventilation is less than ideal, an exhaust or ceiling fan may help, for there are few things as off-putting as a smelly toilet.
  • Facilities for dispensing toilet paper, towel, hand dryer etc, should be provided.
Thus , planning the ideal offices large and small, opulent and spartan, the professionals can help make the complicated thing, simple to understand and to work out.
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