The Business Forum

"It is impossible for ideas to compete in the marketplace if no forum for
  their presentation is provided or available."           Thomas Mann, 1896

Office Planning & Design 

Author:  John Hathaway-Bates with Lawrence Lerner
Commissioned and written for:
The American Management Association



Office planning has a direct effect on the productivity of the employees who use a business environment and, if done properly, can bring benefits to all sectors of an organization. Personnel Executives will find that the management of human resources is made much easier if the environment is geared to the needs and productivity of the individuals the organization employs. Similarly, Administration Executives will find that accuracy and productivity increase in a direct relationship to the efficiency of communications, both within and between departments.

Business can thrive with change - by either growing or contracting, within departments, divisions, or the total organization - and the application of professional office planning techniques provides the tools to allow this change to occur with the minimum of interference of day-to-day activities, without sporadic budget demands to accommodate capital investment needed for expansion. Space Planning is an economic necessity, as it enables the organization to employ its resources in space totally and in a functionally efficient manner. Good office design is a combination of function, logistics, economics, and aesthetics. No administrative complex can be planned from one single point of view. Office planning is a science that employs many disciplines, brought together to serve business needs in today's technological world. Executives who are responsible for office planning or facilities management have one of the most important tasks in any organization, and much of their success or failure will depend to a great extent on their ability to keep up with the technological advances in this area. Also important is the strength of the advice and assistance that they can call upon to develop solutions to ever-changing needs.  

This course will not train managers to be office planners or interior designers. Rather, it is formulated to assist executives in efficient management of their company's space resources and to introduce them to the terminology, systems, and techniques of the office planning profession. Such information will enable executives not only to understand but also to implement the benefits of good facilities, planning, and management.


Chapter One: Office Planning & Design

Evaluating Organizational Factors: The Criteria for Location Selection

The first lesson any executive involved with office planning must learn is that an organization, whether it employs 50,000 or only five, is a growing entity. It has its own life, its own patterns. As the company experiences its daily life, the organization develops as the joint response to the daily situations experienced by all members of the organization. In the words of Shakespeare, "All Past is Prologue" and this probably applies more to an organization of many individuals than it does to a single individual who can impose arbitrary personal decisions upon change. 

An executive involved in office planning is providing a working and living environment for other human beings. The executive must, therefore, bear in mind that, for many people, the workplace occupies as much of their time as does their home, and they relate to it in a similar manner. Before any reorganization, relocation, or juggling of the people in an office space can be undertaken, the executive involved should have a thorough knowledge of the organization. This knowledge cannot be based on a few months' or even a few years' data; it must instead reflect the total history of the organization. 

Just as a person cannot be evaluated adequately on the basis of a five-minute conversation or short friendship, so too is it impossible to judge an organization based on a short acquaintanceship. The procedures used for obtaining in-depth information about the organization are described in this chapter. How these procedures fit into the overall planning process can be seen by studying the "Space Planning and Design Procedures Outline" presented in the Appendix (part I, in particular).  

There are many formulas for evaluating the growth patterns and life cycle of an organization. The simplest is to establish a basic history pattern in graph form. Let us assume that Henry Smith, a manager of ABC Corporation, would like to develop just such a graph. First he would have to obtain and analyze certain information normally held within personnel or accounting departments, according to the following procedures: 

  1. Obtain the annual reports of the organization as far back as possible.

  2. Analyze the personnel files, listing numbers of people employed per department and the quality of their expertise, through the life of the organization, year by year.

  3. Plot the turnover figures of the company and the growth of the company by means of management accounts. From these data, Smith will be able to plot simple graphs based on particular material extracted from his research. For example, for every year, he can plot the total sales volume figures. He can then plot a graph showing numbers em­ployed per department to achieve these sales figures, and a further graph showing capital expenditure required. 

In other words, Smith can build up in simplified form the growth and history of his organization. Onto this graph, he can also enter relevant highlights, such as the opening of a new subsidiary company or branch office, or the introduction of new products. Developing such a graph is not as difficult a task as it sounds, and it presents the manager with a historical pattern that provides a meaningful context for today's experience and situations and enables the manager to evaluate possible future trends. Having established the basic history pattern of the organization, an executive then needs to know why the organization is where it is at present; that is, why the company decided to locate in the present building, town, state, and country. 

The reasons behind any organization's choice of location at any time are directly related to one or more of the following possibilities: 

  1. The company was established in the area owing to the presence of its founder or the raw materials necessary for it to come into being.

  2. The company is engaged in a particular activity that, by tradition, is located in a given area. 

  3. The company was located in the area because of financial benefits. 

  4. The specialists, craftspeople, or staff required are more available at the present location than they were in any other location at the time of the company's establishment. 

Obviously, the reasons behind the location of any administration of any organization are "of the moment". They can change for a myriad of reasons with the passage of time; therefore, just because a company is now established in a particular area or city does not necessarily mean that it will always need to be located there. In fact, studies have shown that, quite often, organizations remain in an area long after the reasons for their being there have disappeared. 

Once the reasons why a company is located where it is at present are established, the executive will realize that there are many contributing factors, seemingly minor when viewed out of context, which, in fact, could cause great upheaval if the company were relocated. If, however, no more space is available on the present site and the company needs to expand, or if the staff required are no longer available at the current location, then the executive has little choice but to look for other premises. However, before doing this or suggesting this to the powers that be, the executive should evaluate the present location against all other possibilities. 

There are eight main reasons for either staying at the present site or moving to another site, and thorough investigation of these factors must be given first priority before any reorganization or office planning is undertaken. Otherwise, the executive runs the risk of spending capital on these activities without dissipating the overall problems the organization faces. The eight main criteria for determining whether a company should remain in a given area or move to another location are the following: 

  1. The availability of competent staff. 

  2. The political stability of the area in relation to the business being conducted.

  3. The benefits or lack of benefits of the tax system in the area. 

  4. The availability of necessary raw materials. 

  5. The convenience and economics of transporting the products of the company to the areas of demand for those same products. 

  6. The ability of the company to expand or contract in any given situation. 

  7. The energy costs in the area relative to productivity. 

  8. The image for the company and its products that is associated with a particular area. 

All these points should be considered carefully at regular intervals to evaluate whether the organization is in the right place at the right time. If the answers to the given criteria are more negative than positive, then sooner or later relocation may be necessary. In any event, the subject of the location of any organization should be considered at regular intervals in comparison to other available locations. 

When evaluating any new site with respect to an existing site, the manager must always consider the cost and the scale of removing an administration to another location. Although a proposed relocation appears to be beneficial in the long run, the problems that a company can face in changing locations are often numerous in the short term. Such difficulties include loss of staff owing to human reaction against moving away from the familiar; loss of local contacts that "oil" day-to-day operations; and the disruption caused by trying to conduct a continuing business while organizing a new base of operations. However, if the financial situation can be balanced and the proper planning employed, there is no reason why the removal of a company into another city, state, or country cannot be undertaken with beneficial consequences. 

Quite often, reorganization on an existing site rather than relocation can be a satisfactory solution for an organization considering a move. The chances are that most organizations, unless pressed, will stay where they are for the sake of stability. Accepting this fact means that the executive in charge of office management or office planning is dealing with arbitrary spaces and arbitrary facts that he or she can do little to change except by reorganization. Therefore, the executive needs to evaluate the existing potential of the present site in relation to the proposed development of the organization over a specific period of time.  


Anyone involved in office planning must recognize at all times that an office exists only to house the administrative staff who service the organization. It is all too easy to forget to pay enough attention to the needs of people when dealing with numbers, equipment, and buildings. To engage in any serious consideration of office planning without employing a knowledge of behavioral psychology is a fundamental mistake and could lead to irreparable consequences.

Those who are in business recognize that an organization is only as efficient as the people within it can make it. If the people employed to operate an office, be it one room or a multi-floor building, are unhappy or feel that they have been stripped of their individuality, then productivity will suffer.

Compiling Staff Dossiers

The first task, therefore, of any executive involved in office planning is to ensure that a complete and detailed staff dossier exists for every person involved in the complex. No employee is too low in the structure of an organization to be ignored, for discontent can be sowed as easily by a part-time cleaner as it can by a long-term executive in middle management. Over the years, behavioral psychologists have developed a general format for evaluating individual profiles, one that allows executives involved in office planning to carry out their tasks efficiently. 

First the data detailed in Exhibit 1-1 must be obtained for every member of the staff who will be involved in a change in the organization's environment. This applies even to the reorganization of a small department. Governments, institutions, and associations have established certain protective legislation for employees; therefore, in some cases, the answers required can only be an executive evaluation. 

After the facts outlined in Exhibit 1-1 have been ascertained, the manager should receive from each employee's immediate superior an estimate of how that employee will respond to any proposed change. The response should fall into one of four categories: 

1. unqualified acceptance; 

2. compliance from necessity; 

3. dissatisfaction; or 

4. indifference. 

Obviously, the needs of the organization always override the needs of individuals within it. Thus, individual employee needs should be evaluated in terms of the company's ability to recruit equal or better staff should such recruitment be necessary. Thus, if the company exists because of the creativity of one man, then that man must be provided for; however, in the normal state of affairs, few employees are truly indispensable. 

Recruiting Staff 

In addition to the financial reward system, a satisfying working environment attracts potential staff and retains present employees. Quite often, recruitment of staff is a major reason for the reorganization or redesign of office premises. The executive involved in office planning must bear this in mind and create efficient communication with the human resources director and personnel department to ensure that the benefits available can be communicated to existing and potential staff. 

Most companies rely on four main recruitment techniques: 

1. advertising in newspapers and professional publications; 

2. direct mailing to potential employees; 

3. recruiting with the assistance of specialist agencies; and 

4. obtaining recommendations from existing staff about potential employees. 

In all these areas, well-documented data regarding the office environment and conditions can only assist in the recruitment of staff. This applies to both positive and negative reactions that can be expected from potential employees. If applicants are fully aware of existing conditions and plans for the future, they will enter their prospective workplace equipped to evaluate their own future without first having to come to a conclusion about the decor, equipment and conditions.

A manager involved in office planning should also establish, to whatever extent is possible, what role the current office environment played in the successful recruitment of the present company staff. Such knowledge should be taken into account in future decisions so that staff acceptance of the environment is maintained or enhanced. The executive can also obtain from the present staff reasoning and advice on what changes need to be made to increase recruitment opportunities. 

It is important in any design or office planning decision to realize that staff are the raw material of the business, and their reaction both initially, when they first enter the facility, and daily, with their continual use of it is paramount to both their work enjoyment and their continued employment. It is logical, therefore, to locate the site of recruitment interviews of potential staff as near as possible to the entrance of the building, which is normally the most impressive area. When considering the location of interview rooms, the executive involved in office planning must always bear in mind what image of the company is being presented to potential employees. Sending them along endless corridors, past cleaning cupboards, or through busy offices is no way to overcome their initial uneasiness about the interview. 

Quite often, the extent of the personnel or human resources manager's involvement in office planning is that he or she is merely abreast of company decisions. This is unfortunate because, in fact the personnel director can provide great assistance to the office manager and office planner. The human resources director can, for example, establish what conditions prevail at the nearest competitors, these being the companies most likely to lure away better employees. He or she can also keep a record of the most productive staff's equipment relative to the least productive staff's equipment. 

The personnel manager can also convey to the office planner any problems that occur more often than should be expected. If certain segments of the company staff are continually complaining, it can be expected that they are comparing their lot to that of employees working for competing companies. Complaints are normally directed to the personnel manager and, unless a system of communication of these facts is established, the office planner will not learn about them. It is much easier to know what is necessary before reorganizing a department than to learn the facts afterwards, when it is too late to implement changes that could have solved the problem.

In conclusion, office planners and/or office managers should at all times realize that they are working with two separate entities: 

1.  the equipment and environment on which they can have some effect; and 

2.  the personnel employed to operate with that equipment and within that environment. 

Any office planning decision directly affects these entities. Therefore, the executive should be acquainted with the needs of people in the organization long before he or she makes even the most basic design or planning decision.  

EXHIBIT 1-1     Data Necessary for Compiling Staff Dossiers for All Employees

. Identification Data

1. Name.
2. Immediate superior.
3. Department of employment.
4. Place of work.

. Employment Data

1. Period of years with company.
2. Salary range.
3. Duties and responsibilities.
4. Age range.
5. Communication ability:
(a) Appearance.
(b) Speech.
(c) Disposition.

. General Circumstances

1.  Previous employers (giving period of employment and position).
2.  Academic achievements and qualifications.
3.  Membership in professional or social institutions.
4.  Occupational and educational attainments.

. Analysis of Present Working Conditions

1.  Personal furniture and equipment.
2.  Personal space allocation.
3.  Immediate working group (four names).
4.  Non-financial incentives.
5.  Nearest window with vision (in feet).
6.  Nearest rest room (in feet).
7.  Communication equipment.
8.  Keys held.

. Activities Outside of Work

1. Involvement with organization's social activities.
2. Leisure interests.
3. Marital status.
4. Number of children (with ages).
5. Other dependents (with ages).

Education Needs

Executives involved in office planning may be surprised to learn that they need to consider the educational facilities required by the staff employed in the office complex. It is also important from the recruitment director's point of view, to know the educational facilities available to staff for their children in the area where the office is located. Obviously, the office manager normally does not become too involved in this aspect of business; however, when planning offices,  whether new facilities or simply upgrading existing offices that will recruit extra staff, the manager must realize the importance of this factor. Therefore, he or she should, obtain and analyze all available in-house information on this subject from either: the personnel director or recruitment manager (or some appropriate source) and should understand its bearing on the location or growth of the office.

This subject can be divided into two basic sections dealing with the actual staff employed. The first concerns relocating an office to another site; the second involves increasing the capabilities of the staff employed within an existing facility. A further factor, which relates to the need of staff to find educational facilities for their children, will also be considered in this section.


When relocating an office or moving a department to another location, the office planner must establish that any educational needs the company may require for its staff can be fulfilled in that new location. As has been stated before, location of any office facility is, to a large extent, dependent upon the availability of professionally qualified staff in that location. For example, an organization that needs computer analysts but is located several hundred miles away from the nearest college that trains computer analysts will have difficulty in attracting these people at the same cost as another organization within walking distance of the college.

The growing recognition that educational qualifications are an asset has lead to ever-increasing enrollment of employees in adult training classes. Therefore, before relocating an office, the planner must make sure that key staff being removed to a new area will be able to continue in classes similar to those in which they are already enrolled, if at all possible, and that new staff will have the facility to increase their qualifications.

More and more companies are finding it necessary to institute their own training programs. To avoid setting up inappropriate training facilities, the office planner needs to be advised by each and every department of its training requirements. The establishment, for example, of a huge lecture theater when, in fact, only six people will be present at the majority of training sessions would be economic nonsense. Closing down and reorganizing any room within an office complex whenever the organization needs to run training sessions would also be inefficient. Therefore, establishing realistic data regarding training needs should be high on the priority list of any executive involved in planning.

Furthermore, the planner should determine what types of training programs can be implemented in the building. Professional advice should be sought on the specification of appropriate audiovisual equipment, if necessary. In addition, access to any training area should be independent of the everyday business of the organization and should be acoustically segregated from the normal activity of the building.

The simplest method of approaching the establishment of training facilities within a building is to isolate them visually, acoustically, and physically from the rest of the building. At the same time, the organization's image and standards should be maintained within the training area.

Updating an Existing Facility  

The most common need for office planning skills arises when an organization decides to update its facilities, either in total or by department. Accompanying such changes are alterations in the required skills of the staff that will use these facilities.

In the past, most employees were expected to obtain their educational qualifications before they were recruited, and any necessary additional training was conducted during the course of normal business activities. Over the last two or three decades, however, the technological skill needed by even the most junior member of the clerical staff has led to the implementation of in-house training programs. It has also been found that morale increases if employees feel that they are learning new techniques that will equip them for a more secure or more rewarding future. Therefore, today most companies make allowances for in-house training. Many major corporations maintain separate facilities for this purpose alone, in the form of training centers that are completely isolated from the normal everyday run of business and are operated as an individual department within the organization. However, for the smaller company, this approach is too expensive and impractical. Therefore, the planner should consider whether training facilities are a necessary component of the updating program. If they are, he or she should follow the procedures discussed in the previous section to isolate an area of the proper size and in the proper position within the overall matrix of the plan.

The executive involved in planning must always remember that, unless employees are properly trained and educated in the techniques that are essential to the proper functioning of the organization, then business must suffer. Therefore, it is up to the executive to investigate and discover the needs for training and then to implement them within the plans.


When considering a new location for an office or using new work schedules or time periods within an organization, the executive involved in office planning must consider the transportation requirements of the people, equipment, and products travelling to and from the office. In fact, one does not even need to relocate an organization or change work schedules or time periods to become involved in the problems concerning efficiency of transportation. A company, simply by increasing the size of a single department, will increase the number of employees needing transportation to the office. Therefore, before beginning the actual office plan, the planner should determine what difficulties employees will encounter in getting to the workplace.

It is generally, though perhaps mistakenly, believed that most employees prefer to drive to work in their own vehicles. This is based on the fact that many employees do have their own transportation; however, with rising energy costs, this situation is probably going to change.

Unfortunately, public transportation does not always supply a comparable alternative, and, in metropolitan areas where staff come in from many different places, the arrival times can vary by as much as an hour on trains and buses used by staff in the same department. As a non-financial incentive from their employees, many large companies now operate their own fleets of vehicles, which transport employees to and from various train and bus stations. 

Although, implementation of such programs is initially expensive, they will probably become more common as energy costs rise. Therefore, office planners have several conflicting facts to evaluate and analyze. They must:

1. Ensure that sufficient car parking is available for those employees who wish to use their own vehicles; 

2. Ensure that a "dropping off point" is established for those members of the staff who use car pools or shared transportation;

3. Evaluate the local transportation system upon which the company must rely to deliver staff and equipment to the premises.

In addition to considering the transportation systems that deliver people, the planner must also evaluate how everyday supplies required for the proper functioning of the office complex are to be delivered. There must be definite delivery "trails" within the plan to allow movement of materials from the reception point to the place of usage or storage.

The office must be seen as a center that controls many external supply lines of people, materials, equipment, supplies, and communications. Great care must be taken to ensure that the "perfect" office is able to function, not only in theory, but in actual daily use.

Relocation Costs

To isolate the individual relocation costs, it is essential to obtain a true picture of the costs involved in relocating either a department in an existing office lay­out or a complete complex to a new location. Costs should be divided under the following headings:  

1. Social relocation costs of moving key personnel for example, transportation of household goods, airfares, and reimbursement for general expenses.

2. Packaging and transportation costs of materials, files, and equipment.

3. Cost of productive working hours lost.

Obviously, productivity must fall if employees are involved in moving rather than in fulfilling their normal function. Therefore, relocation to new offices is best carried out over a holiday period (or, if this is impossible, employees are asked to take whatever days are owed to them from their vacation allowance at this time). When reorganization within an existing layout is undertaken, all major work should be carried out either over a weekend or outside normal working hours. Obviously, these are logical assumptions that cannot always be implemented, but the executive involved in office planning should always try to consume as few productive hours of the staff involved as possible.

The major relocation costs of any project will normally be evaluated by the accounting department; therefore, periodic consultation between the accounting department and the executives involved in office planning should be a regular responsibility of both parties involved. Such meetings should be scheduled in addition to all other financial meetings regarding the project. They need not be long, but they should deal specifically with the costs of relocation and the hidden costs of lost productivity during the transition period.

Telecommunication Systems & Mail Service

Companies today rely more and more on fast and efficient oral communication. As world trade becomes more necessary to the survival of companies, so telecommunications become increasingly important. Executives concerned with office planning must, therefore, consider the telecommunication needs of their organization and of every individual within it. Even before planning begins, these needs must be evaluated, based on the criteria provided by the heads of all departments within the organization.

The quickest, simplest, and most efficient method of obtaining input on telecommunication needs is to circulate a questionnaire to each department head requesting that he or she analyze departmental needs both now and in the foreseeable future to allow for their consideration in the overall plan.

Telephone Systems

The following facts need to be ascertained from each department head:               

1. How many phones are presently in use?

2. How many phones will be needed after reorganization?

3. How many phones will be needed in 12 month's time?

4. Which members of the department will require individual extensions, and how many?

5. How many shared extensions will be necessary (for multi-individual communication with an incoming call)?

6. How many phones will need loudspeaker facilities?

7. How many phones will need recording facilities?

8. How many phones will need 24 hour answering and recording facilities?

9. How many multi-digit numbers will be dialed direct (to evaluate whether memory dialing feature sets are required)?

10. How many phones need the ability to transfer calls?

11. How many individual/private lines are required?

12. What is the maximum number of calls the department receives at one time (to evaluate lines required)?

Internal Telephone Communication.  

Internal communication between individuals or departments is a separate need to that of external communication and, for security as well as efficiency, it is usually best to isolate one from the other. Clients or suppliers will soon become aggravated if they are unable to contact the particular extension they require because that extension is in constant use for internal communication.

Incoming calls must always have priority and, therefore, should be directed to independent receivers. This is not to say that internal communication is not also important. Obviously, it is. Therefore, each department head must provide the office planners with accurate information so that systems that allow efficient interdepartmental communication are installed.

All department heads should, therefore, answer as accurately as possible the following questions with respect to their department:

1. With which departments do you most regularly communicate? (If possible, give the number of calls on an average day to each individual department.)

2. Will any of these calls be shared (are they conference calls needing speaker or multi-extension connection)?

3. How many internal communications units are needed in your department?

4. Which members of your staff are authorized to make interdepartmental calls?

Telephone System Computer Units. 

Memory units have been developed that plug into a telephone system and retain individual numbers that can be automatically dialed by punching in the proper code. The planner must evaluate the time costs of the executives involved and the efficiency gained by keyboard operators to decide if these advanced machines will be useful to the organization.

Most telephone companies will give a presentation to the department heads to explain the systems that are available. It is in the interests of efficiency that such a seminar is set up before any decisions about possible systems are made. The executive involved in office planning should always bear in mind that the majority of department heads, although up to date with current information about their own discipline, are probably years behind in their knowledge of systems they do not use daily. Therefore, by calling in outside experts, the planner can avoid many hours of debate and argument about which system is most beneficial.

Telex Systems

Many companies throughout the world have telex and/or FAX transmitters. The planner should locate receivers for these services in the areas where they are most often used. Normally, the accounting department should have its own individual receiver/transmitter to ensure confidentiality of information communicated. The sales department should also have its own receiver/transmitter to ensure that inquiries and orders are dealt with promptly and efficiently. It is necessary, therefore, that the needs of the company, by department, are identified and examined in depth prior to starting any office planning.

Computer Systems

With the increase in computer usage, it is now common for companies, even the smaller ones, to require landlines and computer input/receiving terminals. These terminals can be located efficiently only if the following considerations are taken into account: the company's need for the terminals, how they will be used, and the classification of the information they will receive or transmit. The executive involved in office planning must work with either the IT Director, or consultants, or both to determine how many of these units will be required, where they will be located, what power sources are required and what allowances must be made for future needs.

Postal Service

Initially, when either an increase in the activity of the organization is being contemplated or relocation to another area is under consideration, the planner should make sure that the postal service in the potential or current location, whichever is appropriate, will be able to cope with the increase in volume this action will generate. Members of the Post Office's customer service division can be very useful in such evaluations. They can arrange to send a representative to the company to discuss the plans and to suggest methods by which the increase can be handled.

Relocation or reorganization also presents the opportunity to bring your company up to date in its postal operations, and the executive must always bear in mind that services vary from area to area in efficiency and availability. If the company uses independent courier or delivery services, the ability of these services to cover the proposed expansion or relocation needs must also be fully explored to allow the planner to implement systems that ensure continued or improved efficiency.

Client Service Areas

When considering the office complex in terms of what image the company will project to visiting clients, the planner will find that identifying the areas that will be seen by visitors is extremely useful. All too often, the reception area is counterproductive to a company's image, in that the impression of luxury, cleanliness, and efficiency to which clients are introduced immediately upon entering the building is counteracted as they proceed through less impressive areas. Potential clients must gain from their visit the belief that the organization is efficient, functional, and humanly satisfying.

The reception area must be created with the understanding that it is in competition with every other building the potential client has ever entered. Perhaps this is why so many reception areas in buildings owned by major corporations resemble more closely luxurious hotel foyers or art galleries than they do commercial offices (see Exhibits 1-2 and 1-3).

Employees who work in areas where clients will be received should be instructed in the importance of the company's image, even to the point of their appearance and speech. Since most in-house employees rarely, if ever, visit competitors' buildings, they may be unaware of the importance a company's environment can play in the sales efforts their organization. 

Corridors through which clients will walk should not be allowed to become meeting places for junior staff on coffee breaks. These areas should be cleaned more often than any other part of the building and maintained with greater attention to detail; they should also be decorated in relation to the entrance area.

The office planner should also take into account the condition in which most visitors will arrive at the building. They may have traveled long distances; therefore, rest room facilities and refreshment should be considered. Providing a visitor with the opportunity to freshen up before an interview can have a very positive effect on a company's interaction with its clients. The company that greets its guests with a hot drink in tasteful china, served with a smile, stands far more chance of gaining the assistance of that visitor or of receiving an order than the company that asks visitors to search around back passageways for a vending machine that will serve them (if they have the proper change) a lukewarm cup of indistinguishable liquid in a polyurethane cup.

Another point often forgotten by executives planning a building is that, although they and the staff have the time to discover where various departments are located, the visitor arrives without any knowledge of the building at all. Quite often, a visitor may not even speak the language of the workers in the building. Signs, therefore, are very important for putting the visitor at ease. Many companies operating international businesses today issue to visitors a small booklet that contains a map of where they will find various departments and individuals. Unfortunately, a smiling company representative who greets foreign clients (who do not understand the language) by pressing a booklet into their hands is more likely to lose the order than to obtain it.

Clearly, executives involved in office planning must continually remind themselves that the most important people in the building at any time are those people whose financial investments enable the organization to be there - that is, the clients.

EXHIBIT 1-2    Client Service Area - The Lobby


Employees of any business need to be able to relate to that business. More than anything else, they need to be able to relate to the environment in which they work. Executives contemplating any action in the field of office planning must realize that they will need the assistance of a consultant in behavioral psychology. Even before a behavioral psychologist is retained, however, certain basic steps will ease any changes within the company brought about by reorganization.

Whether a single department is being reorganized or the entire company is being relocated to another town, the employees involved should be kept fully informed; otherwise, they will be forced to rely on rumors. Up-to-date information can most easily be conveyed in a newsletter format. If the company already has a regular newsletter, the necessity for the move or reorganization should be gently fed into the content of the newsletter over a period of time, culminating in a full explanation of how the move or reorganization will benefit the staff.

If the company does not have a newsletter, a brochure can be produced in association with the companies and consultants the firm is retaining, to explain in detail exactly what will happen to the employee's environment. In addition to this brochure, follow-up information should be conveyed by regular memorandum or letters, either directed to the individuals concerned or posted on the notice board, and, in association with this introduction, general meetings should be arranged at which the staff can learn what is happening and pose personal questions. The executive involved in planning should also conduct regular meetings with the heads of departments to gain insight into the reaction of their employees to proposed changes. These insights can then be fed back to the designers and decision makers to ensure a minimum of discontent.

Public Relations   

The reorganization of an office and, more especially, the relocation of an organization is news that can be used to the benefit of any company. It can place the company's name before potential clients, as well as potential employees presently working for competitors. It is good sense, therefore, that the public relations department or consultant is kept well informed of what is happening and that photographs are made available as soon as possible.

Keeping a diary of events from the original decision to move to completion of the project is also extremely useful. Such a diary can be used at a later date to create a summary, either in audiovisual or brochure form, that will become a tool for the personnel department when recruiting new staff. Many companies make the mistake of photographing only the finished job. This has far less impact than a complete program that presents photographs taken before, during, and after the project's implementation.

The public relations value of an office planning scheme can exceed 50 percent of any company's advertising budget, if information about the plans is released to the media with skill. Trade and professional magazines, covering the industry to which the company belongs, will normally accept, with pleasure, details of any major office change. In addition, local newspapers, design magazines, and similar general circulation media can usually be expected to recognize a public interest in interior changes within any organization.

Instructional Programming - Chapter One

Instructions: Here is the first segment of instructional programming in this course. Answering the questions following each chapter will give you a chance to check your comprehension of the concepts as they are presented and will reinforce your understanding of them.

As you can see below, the answers to each numbered question are printed to the side of the question. Before beginning, you should conceal the answers in some way, either by folding the page vertically or by placing a sheet of paper over the answers. Then, read and answer each question. Compare your answers with those given. For any question you answer incorrectly, make an effort to understand why the answer given is the correct one. You may find it helpful to turn back to the appropriate section of the chapter and review the material you were unsure of. At any rate, be sure you understand all the questions in each segment of instructional programming before going on to the next chapter

1. An organization is only as efficient as:

(a) the president of the company.
(b) the equipment housed within the company.
(c) the professionals and staff employed within the company.
(d) the communication that exists between management and employees.

2. No organization needs to have its own training facilities when it can rely on outside consultants and colleges.

(   )  True
(   )  False

3. A company should not consider relocation unless it is sure that workers required to suit its needs live where the company will be relocated.

(   )  True
(   )  False

4. Most organizations will tend to remain where they are primarily because of the difficulty in trying to conduct their business while organizing a new base of operations.

(   )  True
(   )  False

5. Executives involved in office planning should consider the means of transport used by staff to commute to the office: 

(a) as a number one priority.
(b) as a matter of little consequence. 
(c) as it relates to efficiency, work, and productivity. 
(d) as a duty of the company.

6. For reasons of efficiency, every member of the staff should have access to telephones and internal communications.

(   )  True
(   )  False

7. Staff should be _______________ to be seen in public areas.

(a) encouraged
(b) not encouraged
(c) expected
(d) banned

8.   Reception areas should be:

(a) no more impressive than the rest of the offices. 
(b) luxurious. 
(c) reflective of the image that the company wishes to project. 
(d) all of the above.  

9. Reorganization or relocation of a company's offices is generally ___________ for public relations.  

(a) bad 
(b) good 
(c) unimportant 
(d) essential

10. Investigating the company's postal needs is the responsibility of: 

(a) the company. 
(b) the post office. 
(c) the government. 
(d) all of the above.

11.  When relocating an organization's offices to another site, the planner need not consider residential real estate availability.

(   ) True  
(   )  False  

12.  Implementation of a training program can best be achieved by closing down the operation and organizing the proper space. 

(   ) True 
(   ) False 

13. During the reorganization or relocation, productivity will:  

(a) rise. 
(b) remain about normal. 
(c) drop. 
(d) first rise, then drop. 

14. With respect to communications planning, incoming calls must always have priority over internal communications.

(   ) True 
(   ) False 

 15. The sales department should have separate receiver/trans­mitter systems for processing orders. 

(  ) True 
(  ) False

16. In recognition of the fact that employees with enhanced technical skills and educational qualifications are an asset on the job, more and more companies are finding it necessary to institute their own in-house ______________ programs. 


Chapter Two: Office Planning & Design

Preliminary Preparation


Facility planning is exciting, it gives those involved a power, and it provides physical results to their actions and decisions. The real goal of such undertakings, however, must never be allowed to disappear: Commercial facilities must serve the actual needs of the organization for which they are created. However glamorous the results, they must first and foremost be good design.

What is good design? Ask a cross section of office workers, and most of their definitions will be 90 percent aesthetic. An office planner's or facilities manager's definition is more realistic: Good design is the combination of efficiency, economics, function, logistics, and aesthetics. Therefore, before anyone can judge good design, all the needs it was created to serve must be considered.

This chapter is designed to show the executive involved in planning exactly what information must be collected or considered before any specific layout or design decisions are contemplated. Because the material covered herein is essential to a thorough understanding of the rules behind the discipline of office planning, this chapter will require more study than any other part of this course. How the procedures described in this chapter fit into the overall planning pro­cess can be further clarified by studying the "Space Planning and Design Procedures Outline" presented in the Appendix (part 1, in particular). 

Some Planning Realities  

Logically, an organization can be expected to function most effectively if the space in which it is housed has been designed according to the most efficient layout possible for its operation. Most office functions, however, are assigned to arbitrarily shaped spaces that have been "adapted" to those functions.

This situation results from the fact that most buildings are designed and constructed according to the lowest common denominator - that is, to fulfill the facility requirements of as many different tenants as possible - to ensure the financial return on the investment of the developer or owner.

Ideally, every building should be designed "from the inside out," so that the shell is merely the covering of a purposefully designed layout custom fitted to the needs of the occupant. But since this rarely happens, the executive in charge of locating office facilities must learn to adapt existing buildings to the individual needs of the company.

The provision of office facilities is one of the most important decisions any organization ever makes. Therefore, such a decision should be based on the best input of advice and experience available. Since changes in major facilities are normally made only once in a decade, if that often, most organizations do not possess the knowledge and experience required; if this is the case, outside help should be sought.

The old adage, "There is nothing new under the sun," may be a little over­stated, but many administrational problems would indeed never arise if the solutions employed by other organizations were thoroughly investigated beforehand. This is doubly true in today's world of accelerating technology and business systems. A study into what organizations operating in the same, or similar, fields are doing to solve the same problems will always be useful and, in some cases, may suggest ways in which even the latest methods and systems can be improved.

Each organization should also evaluate how its needs differ from those of other organizations. The solutions to one firm's problems may be aesthetically desirable but completely impractical when applied to those of another company. Possibly one of the greatest mistakes in office planning was made in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, when thousands of individual organizations adopted "open plan" solutions as a way to cut construction costs and reduce the square footage needs of their staff. Although the idea was perfect for some commercial situations, it failed miserably in others. The current trend to employ system furniture may also be similarly viewed in the future as a fashion that was indiscriminately used by facilities executives. Indeed, many of the present day technological advances are better served by custom-made and individually designed work units. Therefore, careful evaluation of what an organization does and what would best serve its needs is essential to effective office planning.  

Analyzing The Existing Administrative Organization  

Before making a decision, whether about a change in layout or a relocation of the organization's office facilities, the planner should first obtain certain working information. The data assembled at this stage will allow the planner to make the right decisions as the job proceeds. The following data should be compiled:

1.   A profile of existing facilities within the organization for the divisions and departments concerned. This should contain such information as:

(a) square footage used per job function ;
(b) interaction between personalities within the unit concerned; 
(c) equipment presently employed.

2. If possible, comparisons of space and layouts employed by other organizations similar to the planner's own should be established.

3. In-house or commissioned reports that have been prepared in the past concerning the unit involved should be analyzed and collated.

4. Expansion or contraction expectations of space requirements should be established.

5. Company policy statements relative to similar or comparable past actions regarding facilities for the organization that might have a bearing on the new facility and its operation should be analyzed and collated.

6. A human resources profile on the individuals involved, outlining their potential contribution or obstruction to possible changes through expansion or relocation, should be produced by department heads.  

With these facts and viewpoints collated, the planner should be able to evaluate all available options and to apply this knowledge to choosing space without making major policy or administrational mistakes.  

Evaluating Space Options

To evaluate all the available space options or to reorganize existing space, using the established data base, the planner and the other decision makers involved should consider the following questions:

1. Do the areas provided by the available room shapes and structures increase potential efficiency and personnel satisfaction?

2. Can the space under consideration absorb expected expansion? And can it be redesigned at minimum cost to accommodate contraction, if necessary, without affecting efficiency?

3. Can easy communication links be established with other departments and locations?

4. What is the relative cost of adapting the space to the established requirements?

5. Does the space offer greater efficiency potential than either the existing space or other available options?

6. Will it serve a permanent, a long-term, or a short-term solution to the organization's present problems or needs?

7. Does the proposed location fit the time schedule requirements with respect to acquisition, furnishing, and moving in?

8. Will the property add to, or detract from, the image and status of the organization?  

The organization's responses to these questions should be organized in a preliminary listing before any preliminary decision is made to acquire property or to issue a statement of intent. In addition, the planners should consult the most experienced and qualified help their organization can provide or can afford to hire before any binding decision is made, if only to save remedial costs at a later date.  

Establishing Organizational Type

To evaluate how well any available space options will fulfill organizational requirements, the planner must categorize the firm according to organizational type or combination of types. Input from department heads with respect to the following questions provides invaluable information for these preparations:

1. How many structural layers, in terms of authority and/or function, are there in each department of the organization (for example, managers, foremen, or supervisors; skilled staff; clerical staff; operators; unskilled workers)?

2. How do these functions interact with each other?

3. Is the department or unit a multifunctional group with total internal communication and interdependent activity (for example, a buying office or a mailroom)?

4. Within the department or unit, are these several layers of autonomous authority that are not privy to the same depth of information (for example, an accounting department)?

This information is essential for deciding about layouts and the amount of visual and acoustical privacy required throughout the facility.

The planner must also establish, by department, division, and unit in the organization, such factors as the size of working groups in any business function; the need for face-to-face communication; the need for client consultation in privacy; the amount of interaction between organizational units; the need for intradepartmental communication and control; and the appropriate image required for the status levels of the executive staff so that the image projected coincides with the expectations of clients, suppliers, and the staff with whom the executives have regular contact. In brief, a very clear picture of the organization must be established - how it is structured, and why; how it functions; and how it compares with competitors and associated organizations.

Categories Of Facilities Space  

There are many types of facilities space, but basically they fall into the following five (5) categories:  

1. Open plan: All functions of the administration of either a total organization or a department are housed in a single area or room (see Exhibit 2-1).

2. Landscaped: This system modifies the open plan format. Some functions are housed in separate rooms that feed into the main area (for example, executive offices, conference rooms, and so on), and screens and large planters are used to separate functions and units of the organization (see Exhibit 2-2).

3. Departmental: This system is based on the theory that each department is an individual unit. Each department of the organization is treated separately and given its own reception, conference, accounting, and human facilities (see Exhibit 2-3). This system provides individual security for each department, as necessary. Within each department, the open plan, landscaped, or cellular approach can be employed.

4. Cellular: This system is still the most common in small and medium sized companies. Under this system, many secure separate rooms, each devoted to one aspect of the organization's operation, are usually linked by a corridor system or a central reception area (see Exhibit 2-4).

5. Group function: This system creates many medium to large areas that are semi-independent of all other areas. The theory behind this approach is that each area should be dedicated to the use of a group of workers who need to interact with each other without distraction from other groups (see Exhibit 2-5).

EXHIBIT 2-1    Open Plan Office

EXHIBIT 2-2    Landscaped Office Plan

EXHIBIT 2-3    Departmental Office Plan

EXHIBIT 2-4    Cellular Office Plan

EXHIBIT 2-5    Group Function Office Plan  

No matter which of the five systems of office planning - or permutation of these systems - is chosen, many factors other than the layout will have a bearing on the success or failure of the planning program. All too often facilities planning is undertaken without a full in-depth knowledge of the needs of the total organization. While an individual department's facilities may be a success, these very same facilities can in fact at times detract from the overall efficiency of the total organization. The application of the facilities plan to the total needs of the organization should, therefore, be carefully analyzed and considered.

Corporate image, group buying, and interactive needs also have a strong bearing on many planning and design decisions, as detailed below.

Corporate Image. A corporate image is established through the standardization of all design decisions. This affects everything that can be considered a design factor, thereby producing standardized (1) letterheads, logos, type styles, and sizes of all company stationery; (2) company liveries (including signs, vans, nameplates, and so on); (3) styles and types of furnishings and furniture; and (4) uniforms, company magazines, and even office layouts. Because of such standardization - that is, because of the corporate image projected - every property, business activity, and product of the company is immediately identifiable as part of that organization.  

Group Buying.  This method of purchasing anything from raw materials to typewriters is controlled at the corporate headquarters, or buying division, and allows the company to benefit from bulk order discounts. Sometimes, group-buying plans are employed simply to control capital expenditures and supplier relationships. With respect to facilities planning, group buying can limit the choice of possible supply points.  

Interactive Needs.  Possibly the greatest problem area for the facilities planner who is making supply or design decisions concerns the interactive needs of facilities located at different sites. In a multi-location facilities application, the planner must take into account that paperwork produced in one office should be applicable to the systems employed elsewhere; that equipment at one location must be able to use the output of equipment in other locations; that systems of filing and accounting must be standardized; and that communication systems must be uniform, or at least usable, throughout the organization.

Categories of Facilities Applications

Facilities applications introduce the various outside factors that have a bearing on the success of any given office-planning program. The most common facilities applications are:

1. Multi-location.

2. Multi-purpose.

3. Stratified.

4. Estate or campus. 

5. Interactive (controlled).

6. Interactive (non-controlled). 

7. Single-level simple. 

8. Tradition based.

9. Acceptance controlled.  

10. International.

Let us examine these applications in depth and show how they can control many of the decisions made in the initial stages of facilities provision. In fact, many of these factors are built into a corporate design brief before the facilities executives become involved with the project.  

Multi-location Application

One hundred years ago, it was common for most organizations to be located in one place, and any other geographic locations that were under their control were not regarded as part of a total corporate image. Thus, in the past, office managers involved in facilities decisions had to consider only the requirements of a single, protected locale and needed little knowledge of what was done 200 miles away, in another state or another country.

Today, however, economic limitations, the need to transfer people and functions to other locations, and the awareness of the value of a corporate image have created in many cases a standardization of facilities throughout many organizations. Therefore, it is almost impossible to undertake the provision of office facilities without reference to existing off ice facilities in use by the same organization in other locations. Similarly, if an innovation that increases efficiency or staff satisfaction is introduced at one location, then that innovation may have to be introduced at other offices within the organization, as well. Company policy regarding group buying of equipment and furniture can also limit the actions of the office planner for economic reasons. Therefore, in a multi-location organization, the planner should undertake a comparative analysis of all facilities and should try to determine how actions in one location may affect all other facilities in the future. 

Multi-purpose Application

Today, many organizations are involved in a myriad of commercial undertakings, all of which have differing operational needs and varying degrees of dependence on the mother company. To ensure efficiency, the office facilities of the mother company, or the corporate headquarters of such an organization, must accommodate all these various needs. In some cases, one office facility located in one building may have to serve several disciplines or commercial undertakings. In such a situation, the planner must investigate each of these operations independently before making any planning or design decisions.

Stratified Application

Because of the rising costs of land and the need for more and more companies to obtain center-city premises, the construction and use of multistory buildings has become common during the twentieth century. Yet many planning decisions are made without full consideration of this development. Behavioral psychologists have established that few employees perceive the multistory context of their work environment - that is, they rarely, if ever, consider the fact that business is being conducted above and below them in parallel to their own activities. Furthermore, many people fail to realize that the population of many office buildings is larger than that of entire towns of the past. The technological advances of building and city operations have left most of us far behind in terms of comprehending the complexity of our environment, yet the facilities planner must strive to include these factors in every decision if he or she is to design a plan that will produce maximum efficiency.

Estate or Campus Application

It is not uncommon for an organization to occupy several buildings on the same site, especially in the case of academic, government, or institutional facilities. The executive in charge of facilities management in this case must build up a knowledge of these various buildings and remember that actions taken in any one of these buildings will affect the efficiency of communications with, or staff morale, in the others.

Interactive (Controlled) Application

Some office facilities are created to administer rather than to direct. This is particularly so in the case of government offices or institutional branch locations, where the activity of the organization exists to carry out the directives of an absent executive council or director. The business of such facilities would normally be described as "passing on" directives or assistance to non-organization people.  

In such cases, the office facility must be created to serve this administrative function and is usually planned according to an existing set of systems and opera­tions. A local post office is a perfect example of this situation. The local facility has a manager and a staff, but the operational systems are developed elsewhere, and all executive directives are issued from the national headquarters.  

In these cases, the planner/designer must create a facility that will be totally compatible with other such facilities - it must be able to operate with the same equipment and forms and in the same situations as all other such units. Within such parameters, the planner can use his or her ability only to improve upon the basic facility and the designer can only affect its aesthetics.  

Interactive (Non-controlled) Application

In an interactive (non-controlled) application, as much as two-thirds of the area being planned will be used for client occupation or goods display; and the office facility, although operating as part of the facility, will be located in the remaining space, separated by some form of "people barrier."  Banks, customer offices, sales offices, stores, and the like often require such arrangements. The planner, therefore, must determine not only the requirements of the organization but also those of visitors, clients, customers, and so on.

Single-Level Simple Application  

This application needs little description except to say that, in this situation, the facility operates on one floor, in one location, and fulfills the total administrational needs of the organization.

Tradition-Based Application

A tradition-based application is not necessarily a single application. In fact, in most cases, it will be an addition to one or more applications. This situation exists when an organization is obliged to place several restrictions on, or give definite guidelines to, planners and designers alike, based on state-of-the-business functions. For example, architects need drawing boards and prefer to work near a window; doctors wish to interview their patients in a private room rather than in a common reception area; and lawyers demand privacy when dealing with clients. No matter how much capital expenditure might be saved or how much efficiency of the overall operations might be improved if tradition-based rules were ignored, the possible (or probable) loss of income or staff would not permit such innovations to be implemented without a great deal of righteous argument.

Acceptance-Controlled Application

Just as tradition-based applications refer to what the employees of an organization will accept, acceptance-controlled applications are dependent upon what people outside the organization (most often, clients) will accept. Most clients of any organization come to the firm because they choose to; therefore, too great a change in that organization may drive away some clients. If Mr. Anderson, for example, has always discussed business with his account executive in a private and comfortable room over a cup of coffee, he may well disappear if he is made to wait in a communal area and then conduct his business in competition with several other concurrent conversations. Therefore, planners should take great care in discerning why the company's clients prefer the company to its competitors, and, once these factors are established, they should be amplified or perfected. Certainly, the planner should not eliminate or replace them without giving very careful thought to the outcome.

International Application

If the main activity of any office facility is to do business with foreign countries or clients, everything must be considered in this light. Provision must be made to make the foreign visitors welcome and comfortable. Communications equipment, and so on, must be compatible with the equipment in other countries, where necessary.

Selecting the Building or Space  

Once the planning executives have established the type of organization they are trying to accommodate and have determined what the most efficient system of planning is in relation to the facilities they wish to provide, their next step is to select the building or to adapt the building that is available. The building (or buildings) available for consideration should be examined to see if they can be adapted to serve the needs of the organization.

At this stage, planning executives will require the input and advice of an architect and a structural engineer in addition to that of an office planning expert. The most perfect situation would be to continue through the design and space-planning process until an interior layout is established and then to commission a shell to be constructed around this "perfect office." This approach, however, is rarely adopted, although in the last decade or so many organizations are concluding that this is, indeed, the best way to provide an office facility, whatever size the project.

If, however, an existing building must be used, or if a choice among several available buildings or sites must be made, then the planner must investigate the following:  

1.  Commuter status: How accessible is the building to the staff (regularity of public transport, density of road traffic at the time the staff will be arriving or departing)?  

2. Updating costs: If the building is not new, there may be heavy costs in­volved in bringing the building up to standard and in complying with building regulations and conservancy laws not in effect when the building was built.

3. Area image: Will the reputation of the organization benefit from being in the building under consideration, in terms of the image the location projects to both the organization's staff and its clients.

4. Communications value: The value of the building must be established in terms of whether it moves the organization into or away from the organization's sphere of business activity (for example, a newsstand outside a cemetery will do less business than one outside a busy railroad station). The building chosen must be accessible to the organization's everyday business activity, or it must be chosen for more reasons than that "it is a good building."

5. Running costs: The planner must take into account every cost that will be incurred, by the organization and its staff, once the facility is in use. How much will it cost to reimburse staff for travel costs? What maintenance costs are probable? What will be the cost of light, heat, air conditioning, and so on? How long will the building serve the organization's needs relative to the necessary investment costs?  

The planner should also establish what the organization's present needs for storage spaces are, and what future needs may be (the possibilities of microfilm and other storage methods should be investigated). Does everything need "secure" storage? It is wise to classify everything that needs to be stored within the building into levels of required security, as follows: class 7 = storage vault; class 2 = fireproof storage cabinets; class 3 = locked filing cabinets; class 4 = classified information kept in locked drawers in executives' desks, and the like; and class 5 = non-classified material.

An important consideration, often not examined until the actual interior design begins, is the weight load of the floors of the space involved. All buildings have a recommended dead weight loading for floors. In the case of some buildings, these figures may have been forgotten or lost with the passage of time. Detailed information about what equipment can or cannot be used because of its weight is something that must be established before any space planning can begin.

Judging the appropriateness of available buildings, spaces, and sites is a complicated matter. Many more factors need to be taken into account than those that are normally voiced in the general board meetings that decide that new facilities are required.  An organization's space needs fall into four categories:

1. Work areas.

2. Public areas.

3. Service areas (rest rooms, elevators, and so on).

4. Storage areas.

The planner, having established how the organization currently uses its spaces, will be able to apply this knowledge in determining the appropriateness of the building under consideration and in planning how to use the new space efficiently. Any available data regarding the organization's expansion needs over a predetermined period of time must also be taken into account.

Quite often, office buildings classify available space according to only two categories: service areas (elevators, rest rooms, entrance lobbies, and soon) and huge work areas (airplane-hangar type rooms). The costs of creating a working environment that satisfies the organization's needs (partitions, cost of setting up these partitions) must be carefully evaluated before any building can be deemed suitable for the company's needs.

Analyzing Departmental Needs

It is usually very difficult to establish in detail what the norm is for off ice facilities for any given area or business activity. Obviously, firm A's competitors are not likely to open their operations to a planner from firm A.  While members of firm A's staff who have worked for competitors may be able to supply some useful information in general terms, they most likely will offer only vague criticisms and comparisons. Few people in any organization ever actually take a tape measure to their own work station, let alone know the technical details of equipment and furniture. For this reason, the planning executive may need to consult a professional office planner. The professional has probably worked on similar projects and will know what to analyze to achieve the best results.

In general, the executive involved in office planning should evaluate departmental equipment, systems, and general space requirements according to the procedures detailed in Exhibits 2-6 and 2-7. (Actual space standards are discussed later in this chapter, as are staff preferences.)  

EXHIBIT 2-6    Procedures for Analyzing Present Facilities

For each department, list the following data, subdivided into sections within the department, where possible:  

1. Determine the total number of people employed in the area.  

2. Computer average space per person in square feet in the existing facility.  

3. Determine actual territory per person.  

4. Compare answers to questions 2 and 3 and ask department heads to evaluate (generally) the performance of individuals relative to the space they use. You may find that space has no effect on individual productivity; or you may find the opposite, which will help you assess space standards and furniture requirements later.  

5. Draw up lists of existing furniture and equipment.  

6. Evaluate, with department heads, requirements for extra furniture and equipment in the new facility.  

7. Evaluate conference facilities (including interview rooms and training facilities) that will be required.  

8. Establish number of rest rooms, personal lockers, and clothes closets that will be needed.  

9. Evaluate refreshment facilities - that is, restaurants, lounges, vending areas, and so on - in terms of the total space required.  

10. Add space requirements for filing and storage.  

11. Calculate square footage of existing corridors and passages.  

12.  Calculate square footage of existing reception areas.

13. Calculate capacity of present car-parking areas.  

14.  Establish the space standards that existed when the existing premises were first occupied.  

EXHIBIT 2-7    Procedures for Analyzing Staff Space Requirements  

Evaluate every member of the proposed staff according to the following checklist:  

1.    Visual privacy is:

(a)        absolutely essential.
(b)        important.
(c)        useful.
(d)        not required.

2.    Acoustic privacy is:

(a)        absolutely essential.
(b)        important.
(c)        useful.
(d)        not required.

3.    Contact with clients or visitors is:

(a)        on a regular basis.
(b)        occasional.
(c)        not often.

4.    Contact with other staff in conference is:

(a)        on a regular basis.
(b)        occasional.
(c)        not often.

5.    Job or equipment used requires:

(a)        privacy.
(b)        noise control.
(c)        visual control.

6.    Use of phone or audio equipment is:

(a)        full-time.
(b)        on a regular basis.
(c)        occasional.
(d)        rare.

7.    Creative or concentration input is:

(a)        total.
(b)        important.
(c)        occasional.
(d)                rare.  

Try to build up a data bank of what every employee needs to be efficient, productive, and happy; and try to use this information throughout the planning and decision-making processes.  

Space Standards

Space standards are the number of square feet needed for any given task or level of responsibility. The planner should try to obtain the average figure for the particular geographic area or industry involved. (Generally, for a total office facility of a medium-sized company, an area of approximately 100-120 square feet per employee will act as a guide to the size of building required to house an administration, excluding public areas, service areas, and corridors.) The system of office planning chosen will affect the space standards needed for individuals - the open-plan system makes the most economical use of space, and the cellular system gives the most privacy, but is the least economical.

The basic grades of space standards are categorized as follows:

1. Chairperson (President).

2. Executives.

3. Managers.

4. Administrators/Supervisors.

5. Executive Secretaries.

6. Secretaries.

7. Clerical staff.*

* Occupations involving computers or bookkeeping are special cases.

The system used for arriving at selected space standards collates the space needed for equipment and working area with the standardized space for job functions or status. The total number of such functions is then calculated at the space standard size involved for each employee and yields a total work area required figure. Special areas, such as reception, mailroom, rest rooms, corridors, and so on, are then added. The sizes of these special areas depend on the size, in square footage, of the department(s) they serve or link together.  

Expansion Forecasting

Every business is either growing or contracting at any given time. Successful organizations experience periods of true growth far more often than contraction periods. Since an organization will often create new facilities to increase the likelihood of success, new facilities should be viewed as a means of "boosting" growth rather than as a response to past success. Therefore, the planner must incorporate this growth factor into the plans by making sure that the new facilities can house the anticipated growth over a predetermined period of time.

Since most leases are signed for between five and ten years, possible future growth within that time frame should be considered in the plans. All officers of the company should be involved in this exercise, and all predictions should be verified, or at least given credence, by the accounting department and the senior management.

Using the company's records, the planning executive should produce the following growth patterns for the previous ten years, in graphic form:  

1. Staff numbers at grade levels.

2. Staff numbers per department.

3. Sales or work gross turnover figures.

4. Number of visitors received.

Some companies are wise enough to keep records of the number of visitors they entertain, through the use of a visitors' book in the main reception area or by issuing visitor badges at the main gate. A company that does this thereby obtains valuable data about the number of guests the facilities have to serve. Many top executives, in fact, have no idea how many visitors their facilities entertain every day. Imagine the difficulties that might arise when 50 guests arrive at a facility geared to receive only 20. Clearly, such a situation does not present an image of efficiency to prospective clients. If some sort of visitor check system does not exist in the company, the planning executive should institute one as soon as possible to obtain data on the numbers of visitors and on the client-supplier mix that the facilities will have to accommodate.

By calculating the mean growth factor of the graphic data listed above, the planner can predict an expected growth rate for the period in question. Each department head should be asked to predict the growth rate of his or her area of responsibility. Department heads probably know better than anyone what their needs are, but the planner should have every figure verified, as before, to prevent any "empire building." Each department head should be asked to supply the following data, as applicable to his or her department:  

1. Classify the staff levels (for example, managers, secretaries, supervisors, professional staff, clerks, and so on) in the department. Give the number of workers employed at these levels for each of the preceding five years and predict the department's needs for the future period under consideration.

2. Classify workload by job types: give historical levels, present levels, and predicted levels for the future.

3. Identify outside factors (such as market changes) and technological facts (such as new equipment, computers, and so on) that may affect staff levels, and indicate what those effects will be. (Reduce or increase staffing requirements? By how much?)  

By including these additional facts in the graphic outlines, the planner is more likely to develop a relatively accurate prediction of future needs. Corporate plans for expansion, as well as marketing reports and purchasing and supply plans for the future, should also be collated to back up these expansion forecasts.

By this stage in the operation, planners will have ascertained the exact requirements of their organization. 

1. They will know what type of organization they are dealing with and how it is likely to develop. They will also have investigated alternative methods of administration. 

2. They will have chosen the system of office planning that best suits their organization's needs. 

3. They will have predicted the future possible growth of the operation. 

4. They will have obtained the input of all the department heads of the organization. At this point, a planner should be in a position to judge new or existing facilities or buildings in relation to the organization's needs.

Instructional Programming - Chapter Two

1.       If office workers were asked to define "good design," the majority would define it in __________ terms.  

2.   Comparisons of space and layouts employed by other organizations similar to the planner's own should be made before planning begins.

(   ) True
(   ) False  

3.   The planner should examine the structural layers of the organization.

(   ) True
(   ) False  

4.   Departmental office planning assumes that each department is an individual unit and should be planned as such.

(   ) True
(   ) False  

5.       What are the ten most common facilities applications?  

6.   For a multi-location organization, the planner should conduct a ___________ analysis of all facilities.

7.   In essence, a corporate image consists of the standardization of all design decisions.

(   ) True
(   ) False  

8.   Most people comprehend the impact of technological advances in building and city operations on their lives.

(   ) True
(   ) False

9.    Interactive (non-controlled) application in facilities planning describes offices created to administer rather than to direct.

(   ) True
(   ) False

10.  Define the "single-level simple" application.

11.   Acceptance-controlled applications, as applied to facilities planning, are:

(a)  Dependent upon what employees will accept.
(b) Controlled by executive directives.
(c) Controlled by legal statutes.
(d) Dependent upon what people outside the organization will accept.

12.   What are the four basic categories of facilities space?

13.   Few people know the measurement details of the space in which they work.

(   ) True
(   ) False  

14. Space _________ are the number of square feet needed for any given task or level of responsibility.


Chapter Three: Office Planning & Design

Office Planning and Design


The decision to reassess office accommodation, and the ensuing actual organizational changes that are instituted, can change the whole future of both the company and its employees. Usually, this decision is brought about by a crisis, of one sort or another, concerning the efficiency of the office function. Since the causes of such crises are rarely singular, once the decision is made, a sense of urgency often takes over. This in turn intensifies the problems, and, in some cases, can lead to administrative anarchy, which provides managers with an excuse for inefficiency and for management by appeasement.  

Most managers experience very few major company reorganizations or relocations during their careers. They are, therefore, apt to be confronted with situations they are not equipped to handle, situations that can be both frustrating and bewildering in their complexity. Underlying all these problems is the fact that the company must continue to operate throughout the planning stage and the transfer of business to the new premises (or during the relocation of a department in the same building). At such a time, everyone, from the corporate director right down to the security person on the gate, needs all his or her expertise simply to handle day-to-day functions. Many organizations reduce their managers' efficiency by involving them far too deeply in the office planning function.  

Planning and Equipping Office Space

The philosophy behind space planning and office design is to seek perfection in the working environment and total efficiency in corporate activity. However, no two projects are ever the same, nor can the requirements of individual clients be met by a standard set of design answers. Each case needs individual tailoring not only to meet present problems but also to allow for probable changes in the future (for some predetermined period of time). Space planning must, therefore, combine experience, computer analysis, technical library resources, knowledge of legal and employee-negotiated standards, and true designer creativity, linked with economic feasibility and comparative analysis. Twenty years ago, perhaps an organization might have been able to equip its own offices with little help from outside expertise. Today, however, technological advances in equipment and the ever present threat of international competition and high operating costs make it illogical for any company to contemplate office planning without assistance from a professional office planning organization. Therefore, once a decision has been made to reorganize an office or to create new office facilities, the first objective must be to hire an office planning organization. There are many to choose from, and much of the glossy literature available suggests that choosing the office planner will be the easiest and most obvious step taken during the entire planning process. There are, however, certain factor that must be evaluated before an office planning consultant is appointed: Does the office planner under consideration have expertise in the organization's field? In other words, does the planner understand the organization's problems because of experience with similar companies? And is the planning organization financially secure to last the period of the contract?  

Furthermore, modern office planning demands that the selected office planning organization possess certain capabilities - for example, does the planner have in-house or working long-term alliances with management consultants, systems analysts, and cost control and budget analysts? In addition, the manager should make sure that the selected consultant will be able to provide the sophisticated services necessary to take the program from conception to completion.

Therefore, when evaluating consulting firms, the manager should ask the following questions:  

1. Are they merely furnishers or do they possess total design capabilities?  

2. Do they have in-house computer facilities? (Today's office planning depends heavily on computers.)  

3. Are they able to manage the manager's organization's purchasing requirements, expedite its orders, and ensure that quality checks are made during production?  

4. Do they have a construction management division that will be able to take the drawings and actually create the project to both legal and technical standards?

Apart from evaluating all these qualities, the executive also needs to establish that the selected consultant is suited to the project. This does not merely mean determining whether the project is too large for the consulting firm. There are, in fact, some companies that, although experienced with large contracts, would find it difficult to adjust their production to smaller projects. Clearly, appointing an office planning organization to act as consultant to the company is possibly one of the most important long-term decisions the planning executive will ever make, for the company will have to rely on the planner's expertise (or lack of it) and its effects for years to come.  

Once an organization has established that its existing premises are inefficient, out of date, or just plain uninspiring to those who work within them, then a decision will normally be made if the company wishes to progress, to either revamp the existing premises or to move into a new and up-to-date facility. There are several concepts and systems that the organization must then employ to achieve its goal. These can be used as checklists by the executive who is responsible for overseeing this function of the company. The procedures outlined below, and the planning executive's responsibilities throughout the process, are discussed in detail later in this chapter. How these procedures fit into the overall planning process can be further clarified by studying the "Space Planning and Design Procedures Outline" in the Appendix (part III, in particular).  

Design Concept and Preliminary Budgets.

To evaluate the criteria that will affect design and capital expenditure, the following steps must be taken:

1. The image that the company or organization wishes to promote to the world must be established.

2. The budget that the company is willing to expend to achieve this image and the efficiency that the firm requires must be evaluated and decided upon, with minimum and maximum levels set.

3. It must be decided if flexibility is a criterion or if the requirements of the new facility will be predictable and unchanging.  

4. It should be established whether existing furniture, equipment, and furnishings are to be used in the new facility, or to be augmented with new equipment, or to be sold off and dispensed with entirely.

5. The type of planning systems required must be evaluated.  

6. Any facilities within the organization that will require extra expenditure must be identified and standards for these established.  

7. Any special utility that might be expensive (acoustics, heating and ventilation, air conditioning, and so on) should be discussed and acceptable levels of expenditure and quality agreed upon.  

8. The extent to which the image of the company will be promoted by using art objects or decoration (for example, plants, paintings, sculptures, landscaping, and so on) should be established.  

The office planning consultants will present a description of their design concept composed of the following units:  

1. A block study - that is, a set of drawings, describing their advice on location of departments.

2. A study of the layout system, which will show traffic lanes and communication channels within the building (the emphasis of this study is on circulation throughout the space).  

3. An explanation of the size and layout of work stations they propose to use in the space.  

4. Sketches of possible solutions to the problems that important special facilities may present.  

5. Sample boards that present possible color schemes.

6. Photographs and sample upholsteries, relating to possible furniture lines that may meet the client's design criteria.  

Having established the client's preferences, the office planning consultants will next evaluate the costs of the chosen items and their alternatives and scope budget. Included in this evaluation will be:

1. Furniture (including custom-made choices).  

2. Decorative items, such as carpets, draperies, wall coverings, desk accessories, etc.

3. Sculptures, paintings, graphics, and signs.  

4. Telephone equipment and in-house communication products.  

5. Electronic data processing equipment.  

6. Audiovisual equipment.  

7. Special utility requirements.  

8. Costs related to relocation or reorganization.  

9. Costs related to security. 

10. Office landscaping (plants, containers, and so on).  

Once the background information has been obtained, and the design concept and the scope budget have been presented, the office planning consultants will require management approval of the design concept and of the finalized scope budget.  

Space Study.

After the design concept and the scope budget have been approved, the office planning consultants will begin to study the overall space standard requirements of the client organization. This study will include the following:  

1. Final stacking plan.  

2. Final block plan and its approval.  

3. Circulation patterns.  

4. Preliminary space study.  

(a) Unit and department boundaries.  
(b) All constructed partition and door locations.  
(c) Location of all open work stations identified by title and/or position.  
(d) Location of all special facilities.  
(e) Location of major elements of open spaces, such as file groupings, reception, and copy and supply centers.  
(f)  Possible furniture arrangements for typical work stations - for example, for each size of private office and each type of open work station.  

5. Approval and revision of preliminary space study:

(a) by management; 
(b) by unit and department heads; 
(c) by management after suggested revisions.  

Final Layout.

Once the client's decisions relative to the space study findings have been made, the office planners will prepare a final layout. This will include:  

1. Final version of preliminary space study.  

2. Types of partitions.  

3. All furniture.  

4. Location of telephones and electrical wiring.  

5. Location of equipment requiring special electrical service, special ventilation, or special construction.  

6. Names and titles (optional).  

7. Approval of final layout by:

(a) unit and department heads
(b) man

Final Design and Budget.

Using the management approved findings from the space study and final layout, the office planner's next phase will be to present the final design and final budget. These will include:  

1. Detailed layouts and/or sketches of important special facilities.  

2. Colored drawings of important design facilities.  

3. Models or photographs of models.  

4. Full size mock ups of workstations.  

5. Color sample boards of materials.  

6. Photographs or catalog pages of all furniture and furnishings.  

7. Exhibit of selected art.  

8. Sign program.  

9. Detailed budget of all costs, including allowances for delivery, storage, taxes, and contingencies.

10. Management approval of the final design and budget.  

Establishing the Design Brief 

To gain the most from the creative abilities of a designer and the skills of an office planner, the executive must make sure that they are briefed fully and in depth. They must know exactly what the organization wishes its image to be and within what financial parameters it wishes to operate. Most professional office planning organizations will organize a design orientation meeting once they have completed their fact finding and presented their space analysis. At this design orientation meeting, they will present a library of past designs they have executed, from which the planning executive can identify appropriate styles, alternatives, and solutions, and, at the same time, indicate those things that should not be included. The executive must make certain that the designer understands the company's requirements. During the design orientation meeting, the designer should gain an accurate understanding of the image the company wishes to create for the future.  

As part of the planning process, the organization must identify those employees of an executive status who will be involved in decision-making during the office planning project. Separate categories for input and decision making should be established and a decision making hierarchy developed so that prob­lems and conflicts do not arise, requiring some sort of arbitrary management decision. A simple example of just such a problem is the following: Suppose that both the head of the accounting department and the head of research and development wish to have their offices located on the same floor in the same area. If no method of making the choice without aggravating the parties involved has been predetermined, then any management decision is apt to appear arbitrary and preferential, thereby upsetting the administration of the organization.  

For large organizations that are planning the relocation of offices to a new site, the most common form of decision making structure is three-tiered. The lowest tier is composed of the department heads, who form the basis of an advisory committee Immediately above them comes the new facilities committee, which is established by the Board of Directors or Chief Executive Officer. This structure allows the department heads to make suggestions and recommendations, the office planning committee to establish alternatives, and corporate management to make the final decision. As this course continues, the specific personnel who will participate on the advisory committee will become apparent.  

In summary, before beginning, the planning executive presents the design brief to the office planning consultants and the following items should be firmly established:  

1. The maximum financial expenditure acceptable to the organization.  

2. A time schedule to cover the entire program, from instructing the designers through the "move in."  

3. The executives who will form the advisory committee.  

4. The executives who will form the new facilities committee.  

5. A list of suggested consultants or contractors that the organization prefers the designers to employ on this project.  

6. A staged program that schedules the various steps of the project at definite times. (The executive should be prepared to adjust this, if necessary, giving written notice to everyone involved.)  

Collecting Information

To design a successful commercial facility, the designers first must acquire in-depth knowledge of the organization. Office planning is completely dependent on the existence of accurate data. This includes the history of how the organization has operated up to the present; a detailed account of each department's responsibilities, methods, and systems; and a complete agenda of its plans and ambitions for the future. To obtain such data, the planning consultants will assign project analysts to the company to collect the information the planners will need. Systems for this fact finding differ according to the professional status of the consultants; however, in general, the following aspects of the organization will be examined:  

1. The location of departments.  

2. The number of employees in each department and their responsibilities.  

3. The equipment each person needs to conduct his or her task.  

4. The space each person occupies at the present time.  

5. The interdepartmental communication and the flow of paperwork within each department.  

6. The intradepartmental communication between departments, what form it takes, and whether it is totally efficient.  

7. The existing employee facilities, such as rest rooms, restaurants, and lounges.  

8. The methods the organization uses to communicate with the outside world, both clients and suppliers, and the equipment employed in those actions.  

To obtain such information, the analysts will need the cooperation of all department heads (clearly, cooperation of those involved is essential to any office planning exercise). All department heads must be brought together before the fact- finding stage begins so that the reasoning behind it and the methods it will employ can be fully explained to them by the office planning consultants.  

Tabulating Data

Most professional office planning firms employ computers to tabulate the findings of the initial investigations. This compilation presents a complete picture of the organization as it presently exists and covers such things as an inventory of existing furniture and equipment; the number of people employed in each department and their ability to operate within the present situation; and the volume and regularity of inter- and intra-departmental communication. The data picture will, in general, isolate all the facts that are needed to proceed with the office planning program. The tabulations should be checked and understood by the department heads who form the advisory committee and by the new office facilities committee. No matter how professional and efficient the office planning firm, without the full cooperation and assistance of its client, it will be unable to produce the best answer to the client's existing and potential problems. Discovering errors or unverified conclusions in this tabulation of data is only to be expected, and revisions will have to be made. Once the office planning consultants and the organization's executives concur on a revised tabulation of data, the planning stage can begin.  

Initial Design Decisions

Using the organization's design brief, the general design concept, and the information compiled in the data tabulation, the office planning consultants are able to bring their experience and expertise into play on behalf of the organization. They will present alternative answers and proposals that will provide the client with offices that will be functional, efficient, economical, and aesthetically pleasing. They can produce recommendations for special space requirements, such as public areas, data processing, eating and rest facilities, filing and storage areas, and conference rooms. They can also organize relative needs and determine the best means of catering to each of them within the matrix of the total design.  

Many office planning firms today employ both behavioral psychologists and management experts. Therefore, initial design decisions can be based not only on the tabulation of physical data but also on the results of a behavioral psychology report and the advice of management experts. Suggestions from these sources are obtained during the collection of information stage.  

To gather pertinent information, the behavioral psychologist can conduct a questionnaire program among the employees. The benefits of this approach are twofold: (1) valuable information is obtained; and, (2) the potential for greater productivity is enhanced because the talent, experience, and individual requirements of the staff are taken into consideration.  

The planning experts are able, using the results of their information collection, to compare the client's present or proposed methods and systems with those used by other organizations in the same field and make recommendations accordingly. Or they may suggest implementing the latest developments available in equipment or systems. The consultants will also make recommendations relative to proposed and possible expansion programs within an organization. Furthermore, they will deal with ways of increasing the efficiency of communications within the organization and with its clients and suppliers.  

Establishing Space Standards  

Space standards are, for each job, the square footage of floor area that will be allowed for occupation by any person performing that job. The standard is established by considering the needs of each individual occupation or responsibility. Space standards are also developed for communal and multi-occupancy areas, such as corridors, conference rooms, rest rooms, and lounges.

Space planning consultants develop alternative sets of figures for every job grade. For example, every grade 1 Executive Secretary is calculated into the floor plan as occupying an area of, say, 120, 125, or 130 square feet (10 feet by 12, 12.5, and 13 feet, respectively). These figures are then multiplied by the number of persons employed as grade 7 Executive Secretaries to give a range of total space allocations for this classification. When every individual's special area requirements have thus been calculated, the total square footage needed by the organization to operate efficiently will have been established (within a certain range).  

The new office facilities committee is presented with a choice of several possible space standard options for each category of employee existing in the organization. If the total area available or permitted is a set or arbitrary figure, then a permutation of the possible options must be chosen to fit into that area. If the organization is in the process of finding new premises or of commissioning a "built-to-suit" property to house its administration services, the space standards tabulation will be extremely useful for evaluating all the possible options. The organization, of course, must take into consideration several factors that will have a bearing on the acceptability of its decisions by its employees:  

1. In an open plan office system, individual area requirements will be smaller than if a system is implemented that creates individual acoustical and visual privacy through the use of floor-to-ceiling partitions.  

2. The alternatives available to the employees should they find the company's space decisions unattractive will also affect employee response. For example, if other organizations competing for the same skilled staff as organization A are offering areas 20 feet by 12 feet for a grade 1 Executive Secretary and organization A is offering areas that are 8 feet by 8 feet, and if salaries are comparable, then organization A is tempting its employees to look elsewhere.  

3. The firm's expansion plans will affect the overall space allotment of any given area. For example, if the office planners have allowed for the doubling of staff employed in one area, allotting 120 square feet to both those presently employed and to those yet to be recruited, then it will appear to the present employees on move in that they each possess 240 square feet of space. Space decisions must always take into account not only the physical environment at move in but also the effects of expansion plans on that environment.  

4. A final important factor concerns technological innovations, which are occurring far more rapidly than most of us can accept or understand. The firm's needs for sophisticated equipment will change as time progresses. The equipment needed may be larger or smaller, louder or softer, than that which is presently in use or contemplated. The executive planner, must, therefore, ensure that these future possibilities are taken into account. The predictions of department heads or equipment suppliers should be sought, and their advice passed onto the office planner.  

Finally, the evaluation of space standards must take into account every detail that could affect productivity. Such factors as the following should be considered:  

1. Will the space provided for an individual be shared? If so, for what percentage of that individual's working time?  

2. Will non-employees (clients, visiting executives, or consultants) have to work in this space?  

3. Will the individual have adequate visual and acoustical privacy to carry out his or her duties efficiently?  

In conclusion, therefore, we see that the establishment of space standards is important, not just in terms of aesthetics or effective office management techniques, but also with respect to recruitment, productivity, and staff contentment in the workplace. A compatible balance between high expenditure and adequate provision of working space is the ideal solution.

Block Layout  

When the office planners have established with their client an acceptable set of space standards, they will assemble the facts and isolate the needs of each department within the organization. Taking into account the present staff levels and plans for future expansion, they will establish a relative amount of space needed for each department. They will then begin the block layout phase of the planning process. "Block studies" evaluate the possible location of each depart­ment and unit within an organization in relation to every other department. Location decisions are based on interdepartmental accessibility and communications requirements with respect to the flow of people and paperwork. For example, suppose two departments need to communicate with each other con­stantly and must interact to be efficient. Placing these departments at opposite ends of a building or several stories apart would simply be illogical. In other words, it is necessary first to determine who should be next to whom, and then try to implement this within the overall plan. At this stage, the designer or planner will find that block studies are useful for explaining to the client the reasoning behind location decisions.  

Obviously, departmental functions and the efficiency of communication between departments must be viewed in conjunction with the economics of layout. Using the space standards established for each position to determine the space requirements of each department, the planner can "block out" in different colors the areas required for each department and fit them into the overall building layout. Preliminary space study plans are produced in this manner to analyze and validate suggested solutions, showing the proposed locations of all the organizational components - from reception areas, departmental offices, and service areas to the executive suite - thereby illustrating the recommended workflow pattern. Placing every department in its ideal location is, of course, rarely possible.  

Determining the appropriate locations for all departments with respect to their needs to communicate and operate is a task that should only be undertaken by a qualified office planner. An amateur, for instance, any executive could, through trial and error, establish how and whereto position departments, but in most instances the organization will find that consulting a professional planner is, in the end, the least expensive and most efficient approach to this task.  

When the block studies are discussed, proposed departmental locations must be evaluated in terms of their potential costs relative to the organization's overall financial plans for the project. Cost control is always an important factor to bear in mind. Simply because a particular department head would like to have his or her department on the ground floor facing the garden does not necessarily justify locating the department there. Therefore, block studies (and decisions about them) must be explained diplomatically to department heads, whose requests, opinions, and advice, although useful, must not be binding if maximum efficiency of the facility is to be achieved.  


Block studies refer to horizontal layouts, that is, to the layout of each individual floor. These days, however, when high-rise office buildings are the norm and few offices occupy a single floor or single-story building, stratification studies are also necessary. To ensure the efficiency of the total building in question, space planners produce cutaway elevations of the building, indicating where each depart­ment should be located - in relation to all others in terms of the vertical and horizontal layout of the building - to achieve the highest degree of efficiency. A stratification study is, in simple terms, the analysis of proximity required to place departments in their relative positions throughout the building.  

The building shape ideally suited to each set of circumstances - that is, the shape in which various departments can be arranged in proximity to each other in such a way as to produce the most efficient workplace - will rarely be available. Therefore, the space planner needs to locate departments - not merely on one floor but throughout the height of the building - in the best possible arrangements, taking into account the proximity requirements of all departments. Clearly, compromises and sacrifices will always have to be made. They can be minimal, or they can involve a complete and detailed innovation of communications to allow the departments involved to function. Once, it was considered normal to place reception on the ground floor and the executive offices on the top floor of a building. However, because of changes in building technology and the cost of land, several major companies may now be located in one tall building. Therefore, where once elevators, stairways, and corridors were contained within an organization, they are now very often the main form of transport to an organization. Quite simply, new needs produce new rules. Therefore, traditional ideas sometimes must be sacrificed in establishing the stratification of departments within a building.

Simply because two departments were located next to each other 20 years ago does not mean that they have to be located next to each other today. The communication systems and the technology employed will undoubtedly have changed during that period of time. Such changes affect the decisions and suggestions of the space planners, and their recommended arrangements are apt to differ radically from previous layouts. Information about such changes, and the reasons behind them, should be communicated to the employees of the company affected by such changes. Do not expect an employee to accept without question the fact that today he or she is separated by several floors from a colleague whose office was next door in a previous organizational layout. To operate happily and efficiently within the new layout, the employee should understand why the change was viewed as beneficial to the organization.  

Presentation Criteria  

Management often adopts a worried and negative approach to the task of reorganizing an existing office layout or of planning an entirely new facility. This is understandable because the majority of executives involved will have had little or no experience in such major undertakings; yet the reorganization need not be traumatic if the proper input and cooperation are forthcoming from those within the organization who are involved in the planning process.  

In any planning program, the presentations made by the office planning consultants to the organization are very important events.  

For the executive responsible for office planning on behalf of any organization, the basic rules for making sure that these presentations are as useful and informative as possible are to ensure that all designated executives (1) attend the presentations they are expected to attend; and (2) understand fully the reason for the presentation and the relevant points presented, as well as their need and cost implications. Furthermore, all executives should know that they will be allowed sufficient time for raising pertinent questions; that they should be satisfied with the answers they receive or else pursue the matter further; that they must follow through later on the points raised during the presentation; and that the office planning consultants must receive constructive comments and leave each presentation fully briefed about the organization's reactions and directives. If these rules are employed, every executive involved will find the presentations to be informative and interesting, and the full benefits of such active involvement will usually follow as a matter of course.  

Committee Procedure  

Within an organization, most facilities planning is the work of committees. Probably the greatest problem in committee work is general misunderstanding between members; therefore, certain rules concerning procedures should be employed:  

1. All meetings must be minuted, and these minutes should be circulated to all members of the committee and to the consultants and other members of the organization involved in the decisions that are made.  

2. Although it is not always possible to determine ahead of time the length of any committee meeting, meetings should always begin at a scheduled time, and all members should be present. When a member is not present, this fact must be noted in the minutes.  

3. Every committee should have a chairperson who is responsible for keeping the other members informed of progress to date and of any factors that have a bearing on their decision making. As stated before, when the committee is, in fact, the decision making machine of a planning project, its decisions must be based on facts. Circulation of decisions will sometimes result in the necessity to make changes. This must be accepted, and information about such changes should be circulated to all concerned.  

The formation of a committee - and the delegation of decision making powers to it - is usually a matter of contention somewhere in the organization. However, a committee that has no power can only hinder the efficiency of the project. Therefore, each committee must have a defined set of parameters within which it is to work. It must be assigned certain defined powers, and it must receive pertinent information from sources, within and outside the organization, to whatever extent possible and/or necessary. To blame a committee after the fact, when no provision was made to obtain the necessary information, is useless and wrong.  

Selecting the executives to serve on any committee in an office planning project is always difficult, as there are always (or so it seems) far more names for consideration than there are places on any given committee. Generally, one should include the heads of the departments involved in the particular area of planning under discussion, the human resources or personnel director, the office manager, the maintenance manager, and, if necessary, staff representatives.  

A committee should always work within a timetable established by management. If a committee is unable to reach a decision in the individual stages of an office planning project, then control of the project is likely to falter and ultimately to succumb to confusion. Any matter that a committee wishes to investigate further should be assigned a date by which time a decision about that matter is required. On that date, the committee should meet again and produce a decision. It is also necessary - whether several units within a single committee or several committees are involved - that each unit is aware of every other unit's or committee's decisions so that an interplay of information and decisions occurs in the overall planning process.  

Working Drawings  

Once the initial stages of fact finding, design, and selection have been completed, the office planning consultants will prepare construction documents and working drawings from which the project will be constructed. They consist (in most cases) of the following:  

1. Furniture plans showing the layout of the furniture and equipment within the space or proposed space.  

2. Construction plans: These include:

(a)  final layout drawing;  
  demolition plans;  
  construction plans;
(d)  electrical and telephone plans;  
  re­flected ceiling plan;  
    door and hardware schedules;  
  finish plans and color schemes and schedules;  
  sections, elevations, and details;
    special requirements for communications and computer cables, and soon.  

3. Cabinet and custom-made furniture details and specifications.  

4. Special plans and specifications decided during the design stages.  

5. Graphics specifications, consisting of:

(a)    plans and details indicating where each piece will be displayed.
  complete specifications.  

These plans will be explained in detail below. Clearly, an understanding of them is essential. The decision to accept them should not be made without that understanding. After all, these plans, once accepted, will become the new office complex. It is necessary that the planning executive understand every detail and specification on the documents because, once the physical appearance takes shape, changes are difficult, if not impossible, to make. For example, something that should have been excluded is, by that time, imprisoned in thousands of tons of concrete.  

The best of today's space planners use computer graphics to provide drawings. These have the benefits of extra clarity, reliability, and legibility that can only be gained from this sophisticated method of producing working drawings. In addition, these drawings can be retained in the computer's memory (if requested by the client), available for later use in a maintenance and inventory program. If, for some reason or another, the plans are produced without the aid of computer graphics, a complete set of drawings should be retained by the client for his or her own records; otherwise, future maintenance and inventory control will be that much harder, should the drawings have to be physically produced each and every time they are necessary.  

We shall now discuss in some detail the specific working drawings. 

The final layout is, in effect, developed from the block studies. It shows traffic lanes and indicates each department and its territory within the total matrix.  

The demolition plan shows (where necessary) those parts of the building, partitions, floors, and so on, that must be removed before construction of the new organizational matrix can begin. In some cases, all that is needed is the closing off of an existing door space and the opening of another, but, whatever is involved, these specifications must be checked thoroughly.  

The construction managers use the construction plans to direct the installation and construction of the project. Each and every drawing must, therefore, be thoroughly checked and agreed upon.  

The electrical and telephone plans indicate the location of every electrical point and telephone socket. It is necessary to note the passage of wires, cables, and ducts for future maintenance requirements.  

The reflected ceiling plan indicates each lighting unit, its position in the ceiling, and the wiring that feeds it. This plan also shows the modular format (where used) of the ceiling itself and suspension points.  

The door and hardware schedules are self explanatory. They indicate the design finishes and hardware used throughout the building on doors, hatchways, and so on.  

The finish plan and the color scheme and schedule indicate the materials that will be used throughout the space for wall coverings, carpets, ceramics, and the like. These can be checked with the sample boards that have been previously supplied to the client to determine the exact color and texture of the materials employed.  

Sections, elevations, and details are large scale drawings of specific points of interest throughout the space, showing window fittings, drapery tracks, fixing points, and so on.

Specifications include data that supply complete information about the materials to be used in the project.  

The furniture plans confirm the space studies conducted previously and are detailed enough to be used to explain the facilities proposed to the department heads and other executives involved. These plans show the location of all furniture, storage units, wall units, and other equipment, including those pieces that will have to be specially manufactured. These plans can be invaluable in later inventory control and should be checked by each designated department head.  

In essence, the construction documents and working drawings are the reference book from which the facility will emerge. The ability to read them - to comprehend them - is an essential skill for the executive involved in office planning.  

Furnishing Schedules

The furnishing schedules, which allow purchasing to take place, are usually extracted from the furniture plans and, therefore, should be used in conjunction with those plans. Most office planners and interior designers employ expeditors or purchasing management experts to assist the client's buyers in obtaining and managing the purchase of necessary equipment, furniture, and furnishings. Both the timing of delivery and quality control are most important, and the terminology used in these areas is sometimes unfamiliar to even the most professional buyer employed by the client's organization. Professional buyers are, by nature, forced to specialize. Therefore, to expect buyers who spend their working lives dealing with engineering components, for example, to transfer their expertise to the field of furnishing and office equipment is not sound judgment.  

The furniture schedules consist of specification documents, which include each and every item and the number required, with full details of the finishes. Purchasing management professionals also produce instructions to bidders so that the relevant craftspeople and subcontractors who will be needed will be fully aware of what is expected of them.  

Purchase orders are the key to a successful timetable for equipping office space. They outline what is required, when it is required, and what quantity, quality, and condition is expected. These data should be checked by a professional, either in the client's company or in the office planner's organization, before orders are placed with the suppliers.  


In conclusion, interior architecture is a professional discipline requiring input from many disciplines. The office planner is able to coordinate all the expertise required. This ability requires experience and systems (methods, paperwork, and follow-up), and the executive responsible for office planning will need to rely heavily on a professional office planning consultant for larger projects. The executive may well be able to organize smaller projects alone; even in such instances, however, ready access to a professional consultant is always a wise precaution.  

Possibly the greatest misunderstanding in the business community concerns the differences among the three professions that together or separately serve as consultants on office facilities. These three professions are (1) office planning consultants; (2) interior design consultants; and (3) contract furnishers. Therefore, let us discuss briefly what each of these three professions normally entails.  

The office planning profession has only been established, in the true meaning of the term, since the late 1940s and early 1950s. The role of the off ice planning consultant is to determine how to use space available to the client (usually an arbitrary space) most efficiently and economically. The office planner, therefore, needs to employ the skills of a designer and a management consultant equally. The profession is, by necessity, one of analysis and learning, tempered by expe­rience. Office planning embraces all the disciplines that contribute to a full understanding of management in an administrative sense, and the office planner uses this understanding to make the most efficient use of the space designated for office use. The office planner is normally a team leader, drawing together the skills of many other disciplines to bring about a functional interior. Office planners will normally coordinate the total project from conception to moving in, and they assume the task on the understanding that they possess the experts necessary to carry it out.  

The conflict between interior designers and architects that seems to have arisen in recent years is most probably based on misunderstanding and egotism. Ideally, architects should be able to design the interior of the building with the same efficiency they give to the shell. However, laws, building standards and materials, to say nothing of communication technology, have developed so fast in the last few decades that, today, the architect often uses all available time to specialize on the exteriors and to keep up to date with current changes. Precisely this situation has brought the interior designer into prominence. Designers strive mainly to achieve an aesthetic blend of colors, shapes, and forms. They are, so to speak, colorists - that is, they fill in the "colors" in someone else's drawings. Designers choose the fabrics, the textures, the colors, and the shapes that are appropriate to the office planner's requirements. Their relationship with structural and service engineers is at least as important as their relationship with the architect. Designers will, for example, make demands on the air-conditioning engineers to place ducts in an aesthetically pleasing position, and they will tinker with lighting until they achieve the required effect. However, interior designers of commercial space are, in fact, an extension of the old fashioned decorator. Their expertise is with color, shape, and form, not with logistics, economics, or function.  

Since the beginning of this century, contract furnishing has developed into an industry in its own right. In fact, there are associations in most countries to which contract furnishers belong. This growing industry has developed the business of supplying mass-produced furniture into a semi wholesaling operation. The office equipment industry is probably the largest of all contract furnishing operations.  

Contract furnishers normally offer a total programmed operation with an extensive knowledge of the office equipment industry and its many sources of supply. Using their expertise, they combine various components to produce a total scheme. In the main, they can be seen in the role of purchasing and installation managers.  

To obtain the right environment, an organization needs to employ a firm that combines all three professions or to employ consultants from each of them. All too often, even large organizations make the mistake of choosing one or the other, and the resulting facilities fall short of the standards set by the organization when beginning the project. The contract furnisher is not an interior designer, and the interior designer is not an office planner. What is needed is a blend of all three areas of expertise to achieve the best working environment.  

Designing the Office Space - Color, Texture & Style

The aesthetics of any environment depend entirely on form, color, and the inter­play of physical shapes and light. The office designer is constricted to developing forms and three-dimensional space within the dictates of the environmental structure that has been established by the office planner. Obviously, before the designer can begin work, the office planner must formulate a matrix that is functional, logical, and economical, thereby creating an efficient working environment.  

The designer's job is to take this skeleton and create an aesthetically pleasing environment, through the use of color, texture, and style. But these elements must not interfere with, and in fact should enhance, the efficient functioning of the office space.  

The positioning of light sources must first cater to the work needs of the employees of an office. The reflected ceiling plan prepared by the office planner indicates the lighting layout of the space. Working within the confines of this plan, the designer integrates certain elements of lighting design, including accent lighting, visual shields, and reflective and non-reflective surfaces, to create an aesthetically pleasing result.  

Color and Light.  

The final product of a designer's plans depends heavily on the kind and amount of light the designer has to work with. In most cases, offices rely heavily on artificial light. Conservation requirements (many of which are now legal enforcements) have reduced the use of glass in traditional window arrangements, thereby reducing the amount of natural light entering the building. In addition, tinted glass is now commonplace; thus all natural light is altered upon entry to the building. (These factors should be considered when sample boards are judged and materials and colors are chosen.)  

Artificial lighting changes colors. Quite often, color decisions are made in a presentation room where lighting is restricted to "artificial daylight" - that is, high-powered floodlights - and the colors are as true as man-made lighting technology can make them. Most probably, the same colors will appear different in hue and tone, under the lighting used throughout the rest of the office space, since such lighting is not usually of the same intensity or quality as that used in the presentation room. This is not a trick sales technique. The best way to judge a color scheme is to see those colors in daylight or artificial daylight conditions. One must be aware, however, that changes will take place under different lighting conditions, and this fact should be communicated to all decision makers within the organization who are involved with color selection. For example, tungsten lighting (the type most of us use in our home) will yellow all colors that reflect it, whereas low-cost fluorescent lighting will introduce a blue-green cast. Thus, what is seen as a high-gloss white in daylight will become a sickly shade of green or blue under fluorescent lighting and a dirty yellow under tungsten lights.  

The sudden change in color that occurs when artificial lighting is switched on in an office that has been illuminated all day by natural light can have a drastic affect on the productivity of staff. The psychological reasoning behind this is that the change announces the end of the day. In the summer, the lights may be turned on as late as 5:30 p.m. or not at all; during the winter, in northern climates, they may be turned on as early as 2:00 in the afternoon. The brain links the "5:30 feeling" to the switching on of lights; therefore, in the winter months, it becomes harder for the workers to adjust to the several hours of additional work that must be done after the lights have been turned on.  

Another color consideration concerns many of the chemical dyes used today in the manufacture of man-made fibers. These dyes, which can become completely different colors under natural and artificial light, are used in everything from draperies to carpets, from upholstery to wall finishes. Thus all elements in the color scheme of an office design can be affected by such color changes.  

It is important, therefore, that the decision makers on any selection com­mittee are made aware of these factors. Normally, most professional designers will do this, but they may occasionally forget because they deal with these factors everyday.  

Color Standards.  

Another problem that is becoming more acute, as production costs rise and materials buying becomes more international, is that color standards vary from country to country and even from manufacturer to manufacturer. The most common standard color reference throughout the world is the Munsel system1, and anyone involved with color decisions will find it useful to base his or her work on this system. Never choose colors on the basis of a trade name. What one manufacturer calls tangerine can be as many as seven shades different from what 100 other manufacturers call tangerine.  

Another problem that must be considered is that no two-production runs of any color will be exactly the same. Therefore, the decision maker should always insist that all production of any material he or she is buying should be from one production batch.  

Color, Texture and Light. 

We have established that color is entirely dependent on the light source to which it is subject. Having evaluated the light source to be used, one then has to determine the reflective value of the colors and materials under consideration. Texture will have great bearing on the light distribution in the office. Designers arrive at their final choices through careful calculation of reflective values, textures, light sources, and density evaluations. It is, therefore, unwise to change a decision on color or product at the last moment. If the de­signer is required to substitute a material or color without the opportunity to evaluate its light-reflective qualities, then he or she can in no way be held re­sponsible for the effect of the change on the design.  


Apart from the need to consider surfaces, textures, and other materials in relation to their light reflectance, the designer must also consider the requirements of the acoustical engineers. Excess noise levels are a major contributor to reduced productivity and decreased morale among office employees. The acoustics of the office space are, therefore, very important.  

The easiest way to explain the transfer of sound from its transmittal point to its reception point is to liken sound waves to liquid. Imagine a noise source sending forth "liquid" sounds (which are unaffected by gravity): Porous surf aces absorb sound; reflective surfaces (such as glass or steel) reflect sound just as they would reflect jets of water. Thus, a profusion of reflective objects of various heights in a room will increase the irritation of a sudden or loud noise. Sound dissipates in travel. Therefore, the task of the acoustical engineer is to provide sound barriers or absorption panels near to each noise source to prevent its contribution to the irritation levels elsewhere. Then the designer must work within the limitations set up by the acoustical engineer.  


More and more, commercial interiors are using solid colors rather than patterns. Contrary to the common belief that this has been dictated by fashion or style developments, it has, in fact, been influenced to a greater extent by economic factors. The larger the pattern employed in a wall covering, for example, the higher the waste, and therefore the costs, involved in matching one length to the previous length. In upholstery, the more items to be covered in an identical manner, the higher the cost of ensuring pattern matches. In addition, the maintenance cost of patterned materials is obviously higher than it is for solid colors. Therefore, the executive planner must remember that any insistence on the use of a pattern will generally increase the overall costs. Also, since patterns are often the product of current fashions, it will be necessary for the firm to buy in excess of initial needs to ensure that materials are available for maintenance requirements and repair needs in the future.  


Texture is a tool that the designer can use for many purposes. It has several built-in advantages and disadvantages. For example, horizontally grained textured materials are more likely to catch airborne dust and therefore to increase maintenance costs than are vertically grained textured materials. Similarly, soft surfaces are more likely to suffer damage than hard surfaces. The designer must bear in mind, however, that if hard surfaces are installed in areas where heavy traffic is expected, then the added measure of safety obtained with the use of soft surfaces may be sacrificed. (An employee who trips and falls against a rough granite-chip panel is more likely to suffer abrasions than if he or she falls against a normal wall covering; likewise, missing a stair and falling on a polished marble floor is far more dangerous than falling on carpeted floors.) As a final example, loose-weave fabrics are more liable to catch and tear, and fabric upholstery is less likely than vinyl upholstery to bring "a shine" to the clothes of employees. Texture, therefore, can be graded into six categories:  

1. Minimal texture: Normally of one color, appearing flat to the eye from a distance of a few feet (for example, grained vinyl wall coverings or smooth fabrics).  

2. Implied texture: A relatively non-textured surface that appears to be heavily textured (this effect is achieved through printing techniques and by combining colors, for example, printed wood grain, wallpaper, or multi-weave low-density fabric).  

3. Light texture: All products that have a differential in depth from surface to base of between 1 and 2 millimeters (for example, hessians or pressed PVC products).  

4. Medium texture: Products that have a depth differential between 2 and 5 millimeters (for example, granulated cork tiles, wood bark, or grass-weave fabrics).  

5. High texture: Products that have a depth differential from 5 to 10 millimeters (for example, pebble dash panels, wood paneling, filigree metal work, and brick work).  

6. Heavy texture: Products that have a sculptural appearance (such as rough stone walling and applied sculptural woodwork).  

Texture is used by the designer to fulfill the functional, logical, and economical requirements of other disciplines, to satisfy the aesthetic needs of a human environment, and/or to provide interesting highlights within an otherwise utilitarian scheme.  

Clearly, designers are limited in their choices of colors, materials, and styles by the restrictions introduced by the office planner and others involved in the project. The designer's decisions depend largely on the size of the office and its operations. The designer must devise aesthetically pleasing solutions that take into account:  

1.     the demands of the office planner;  

2.     economic factors relating to materials purchased;

3.     the requirements of the many consulting engineers.  

The designer is the only person upon whom the client can rely to bring together the needs of many disciplines and to create from their findings a human environment. The executive who must make decisions about material specifications and design factors will need to lean heavily on the designer's advice to make sure that these decisions take into account all the critical factors that are involved.  

Instructional Programming: Chapter Three

1. Since most office managers possess the experience necessary for reorganizing or relocating a company, no outside expertise is needed.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  

2. Computers are used by most professional office planners to gain a complete picture of an organization.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  

3. _________ layout plans are used for deciding the relative positions of different departments with respect to their communication and operating needs.  

4. When a company is reorganized, a particular department should be placed:  

(a) where the department head requests it be located.  
(b) where it was previously located in relation to other departments.  
(c) where maximum efficiency can be achieved.  
(d) in the most pleasing environment.

5. In order for a committee to be efficient, it must be assigned defined ______and given relevant _______  

6. One of the advantages of using computer graphics is that the firm will not have to retain working drawings for its records.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  

7. The reflected ceiling plan shows the type of material to be used for reflecting or absorbing sounds.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  

8.   To allow the company's buyer to order furnishings and office equipment is:  

(a)  sound judgment.  
(b)  detrimental to the company's finances.  
(c)  necessary because that is his or her job.  
(d)  too much to expect from the buyer.

9.   The office planner is a ______ leader who draws together skills from many other disciplines.  

10.     Before the designer can begin work, the office planner must present a plan that is ______ , ______ , and _______.  

11.   When locating light sources, the designer will consider, above all, the aesthetics of their arrangement.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  

12.   The best way to decide on a color scheme is to choose it:  

(a)   under tungsten lighting.  
(b)   under fluorescent lighting.  
(c)   under artificial daylight conditions.  
(d)      none of the above.     

13.   At dusk, switching on artificial light in an office illuminated all day by natural light can have a drastic effect on the ___________ of the staff.  

14.   As manufacturers use common color standards, one can choose color on the basis of its trade name.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  

15.    In deciding whether to use soft or hard surfaces, the designer must always consider ________ standards, as well as the durability of materials involved.  

16.   Texture is used by the designer only to provide interesting highlights.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  


Chapter Four: Office Planning & Design

Construction Management  

Creating an office facility, or renovating or reorganizing existing office space, requires a logical and organized approach. Once the planning and design stages have been completed, then purchasing of materials and construction can begin. Construction management, which oversees the complicated business of turning working drawings and design sketches into physical reality, must be competent and thorough. Timetables and schedules, along with attention to detail and the ability to coordinate many trades and professions, are probably the most important tools of construction management. The actual procedures that should be followed are examined in detail in this chapter. How these procedures fit into the overall project can be further clarified by studying the "Space Planning and Design Procedures Outline" in the Appendix (parts IV and V, in particular).  

Construction Survey

Construction and purchasing management go hand in hand. The first step must be to check every drawing, schedule, and piece of paperwork relevant to the project. Once the working drawings and schedules are completed and accepted, the next priority is to compile a final site survey to check that the drawings and specifications are correct and applicable to the building involved. Obvious points that need to be checked are the following:  

1. Check that all measurements and dimensions are accurate on the docu­ments relative to the building.  

2. Check that power sources and outlets correspond to equipment and that positions are correct, thereby ensuring that relative voltage requirements for special equipment are properly supplied.  

3. Where scale drawings are used, check them by calculating the actual site measurements from the scale drawings and then comparing these figures with actual on-site measurements.  

4. Check all the following plans (sometimes several, or all, will be combined on one plan) according to instructions in items 1,2, and 3 (if applicable):  

(a) Final layout (showing layout of furniture, planters, and so on).  
(b) Demolition plans (showing areas of structural or nonstructural alteration - for example, removal of walls or provision for extra doors, and so on).  
(c) Construction plan.  
(d) Electrical and telephone plans (showing wiring layouts, switch outlets, telephones, etc.).  
(e)  Reflected ceiling and lighting plans (showing layout of ceiling panels, tiles, and so on, and positioning of lighting units, air-conditioning grills and outlets, and so on).  
(f)  Door and hardware schedules.  
(g) Finish plan and schedule (showing floor and wall finishes).  
(h) Partition plans (showing layout of rooms, positions of doors, windows, and so on).  
(i)  Mechanical engineering plans (showing heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning provisions, plumbing, sprinkler systems, and so on).  
(j)   Special construction detail plans (showing details of custom furniture, and so on).  

5. Check that all purchase orders agree in numbers and specifications with the working drawings, layout plans, and other design documents.  

This last item is important since mistakes at this beginning stage can lead to over ordering or shortages at a later stage. Details such as colors and catalog numbers need to be carefully checked and initialed to prove they agree with data on the drawings and purchase orders.  

Building Permission:

The law demands that certain agreements be obtained for building work, and plans and documents must be submitted to and approved by the relevant bodies before orders are placed or construction begins. Professional assistance at this stage is a wise investment. Almost without exception, plans need to be approved by and permits obtained from: 

1. the building department; 

2. the safety and health administration;

3. the relevant zoning authority.  

Managing Construction Work:

Once all drawings and related construction documents have been approved, the firm can proceed with the project, adopting one of the three following approaches:  

1. Establish a procedure, or employ the organization's existing supply procedures, to manage the project within the organization.  

2. Employ a general contractor to manage the project.  

3. Employ a construction management company to coordinate the operation. (Some of the major offices planning organizations have a construction management division. This can be a very satisfactory arrangement because one firm is therefore responsible for the whole project, and much confusion can thereby be avoided. Furthermore, since their work on this stage reflects on the quality of the total design service they offer to clients, they are apt to be conscientious and thorough throughout the project.  

Obtaining Bids:

Whether a construction management company or the organization itself obtains bids, several important considerations should be observed in the process:  

1. Be certain to obtain references on both the quality of past work and the financial stability of any contractors or trades people who are asked to bid.  

2. Ensure that all bidding contractors include, within their prices, the provision of adequate insurance coverage, such as: 

(a) workers' compensation insurance; 
(b) general liability insurance; 
(c) adequate
insurance for goods and materials they will be storing or installing on behalf of the client.

3. Ensure that all manufacturers' warranties or guarantees, as to methods of installation, workmanship, and materials, are contained in construction contracts and subcontracts.  

4. Always obtain a quantifiable number of bids (normally three or more) and cross-check them for additions, omissions, and clauses of liability.  

5. Where possible, include time limits and completion dates within both bids and contracts, with compensation clauses for late completion. This will enable more control in planning schedules.  

Expediting Orders:

Obtaining materials and services is a management technique that requires discipline on the part of both the buyer and the supplier. The following procedures will help both parties avoid trouble. The party placing the order should:  

1. Always make sure to allow as much time as possible between placing the order and the delivery data. Ordering anything at the last minute is just asking for trouble.  

2. Give as much information and detail as possible. Include all catalog numbers and codes and a full description of what is being ordered.

3. Obtain the expected delivery date as soon as possible and have the manufacturer or suppliers confirm this detail in writing.  

4. Check every potential delivery problem in advance and make arrangements to overcome them (for example, book elevator time in advance, check dimensions to make sure that the goods can actually be gotten into the building, hire cranes and any required machinery well in advance, and plan delivery routes for bulky items). Always ask the manufacturer or supplier for advice regarding potential delivery problems. Where possible, have the supplier send a technical representative to check out site conditions well in advance and, where applicable, to advise on storage requirements and so on. Most manufacturers will supply a technical representative to be present during installation of expensive items (such as carpets, equipment, and so on). Inquire about this service when placing the order and include it in the purchase order or contract.  

5. Make quality checks prior to delivery. It is wise to visit the factory or warehouse prior to taking delivery to check specifications and quality of goods before they are shipped, especially when the items are custom made or a large expenditure is involved.  

6. Maintain a system of regular checks on developments after placing the order. Do not just order and forget it. Constant and regular checking should be made to ensure that delays do not occur and that deliveries take place on the day and time agreed.  

7. Include a "change order" clause in the contract. If, during construction, changes in layout or materials occur, they can cause serious problems. Therefore, no changes should ever be made without documentation and relevant rescheduling. A clause in all contracts and purchase orders should be inserted to cover this. The following is an example of such a clause: "Any changes in specifications, delivery, or numbers involved must be covered by an official 'change order."  Any changes in layout, drawings, or materials that cause changes in construction costs must be handled by a change order." No change of work will be accomplished without written approval."  

Construction Schedules:

Obviously, construction must be scheduled so that the work of one trade is not damaged by the work of others. For this reason, the construction manager should ascertain, while obtaining the bids, the requirements of the contractors and suppliers, including (but not limited to) the following information:  

1. Will the work be "wet" (messy and dirty - for example, plastering) or "dry" (clean and tidy - for example, fitting carpets)?  

2. What site provisions will be needed (for example, electricity, storage, access to water, and so on)?  

3. What special delivery provisions are required (such as cranes, special machinery, specific access points)?  

4. What is the time frame involved? (If two trades - such as painting and fitting the carpets - overlap, the results could be disastrous.)  

Before construction commences, a spreadsheet or contract procedure form will have to be prepared, upon which the activities of the trades people and the deliveries of materials and furniture can be planned (see Exhibit 4-1). Basically, trades follow a traditional schedule; however, each project differs in one aspect or another. A good basic guide for scheduling work and deliveries of associated materials is the following:  

1. Demolition of old unwanted structures (such as walls) and making building alterations (such as replacing windows or making openings for new doorways or blocking up unwanted ones).  

2. Structural and building work (such as building new walls, installing plumbing, or creating openings in floors for stairways).  

3. Ducting and electrical work (such as rewiring and installing new ducting for air conditioning).  

4. Building finishes (for example, plastering, installing partitions or heavy wall finishes, such as tile, etc.).  

5. Wet trade flooring (for example, laying new floors or screeds, marble tile floors, etc. 

6. Painting.  

7. Dry flooring (for example, wood floors that require sanding).  

8. Custom cabinet work (such as custom desks and so on).  

9. Door hanging (including hardware).  

10. Glasswork (interior glass walls, screens, and so on).  

11. Wall coverings (such as wallpaper, cork, hessian, and so on).  

12. Laying carpet.  

13. Furniture layout.

14. Planter layout.  

15. Artwork and signs.  

16. Finishing, remedial work, and cleaning.  

Final Survey:

When construction and the installation of furniture and equipment are com­plete, the total space needs to be checked once more against all the original plans, drawings, schedules, and documentation (including change orders) to ensure that nothing has been overlooked or forgotten. Items that are outstanding or have been delayed should then be listed on a checklist for follow-up.  


Once the follow-up work is done, the facility is complete. At this time, if every­thing has gone well, the facility is at its best. It's as new and as perfect as the client, the executive planner, the office planner, the designers, and the contractors have been able to make it. Once the photographs have been taken and the executives of the company have had their tour of inspection, the space is ready for habitation - that is, it is ready to receive the people who will make it work.  

The following steps to ensure a successful move-in need careful attention but are well worth the effort:

1. A pre-move meeting, or series of meetings, should be arranged with department heads and key personnel to organize the transfer of files, records, and other effects from the old space to the new one. Careful labeling and loading of these materials are, of course, essential; and, for a large-scale move, it is wise to color code labels or boxes to identify departments.  

2. Staff meetings should be arranged to explain the move and its consequences. If possible, pre-move tours of the new facility should be arranged for every employee (in department or status groups).  

3. A brochure describing the new facilities (with maps) should be produced for staff use.

4. Department heads should tour their areas several days before the move-in to give last minute advice and final briefings to those overseeing the move and to their staffs.  

5. Details of transport, parking, and such information should be circulated to all staff.  

6. A system should be organized to receive and deal with complaints and suggestions during the immediate post move period.  

The move should never be hurried, but it should be a disciplined operation. It heralds the beginning of a new era for the organization, so its success is important for reinforcing a positive outlook among all members of the firm. As a final note, on the first day in the new facility, holding a celebration, however small, can be very rewarding to all concerned.

Furthermore, photographs of the event will be useful to the public relations and for use by the personnel department.

Instructional Programming: Chapter Four

1.       ___________and _________are the most important tools of construction management (in addition to the working drawings and specifications received from the planners and designers).  

2. The person in charge of construction management can assume that all working drawings are correct when received from the planners and designers.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  

3.   Colors and catalog numbers need to be ___________ and then ____________ to prove they agree with the numbers indicated on drawings and purchase orders.

4.   Plans normally need to be approved by, and permits for building obtained from, the ____________ department, the safety and ____________ administration, and the relevant ____________ authority.  

5.   What are three approaches a firm can adopt to organize the management of construction work? 

6.   When obtaining bids for work, the construction manager should obtain references on the ____________ of past work and ____________ stability of all contractors and trades people.

7.   Construction trades can be divided into what two descriptive types?  

8.   The purpose of a spread sheet or a contract procedure form is to:  

(a) plan trade activities and deliveries of materials and furniture.  
(b) organize legal and contractual details.  
(c) act as a map for access to various areas and departments.  
(d) describe methods of installation and manufacturers' advice on construction.  

9.   Wet trade flooring (for example, laying new floors or screeds) should always be completed before electrical work begins.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  

10.   When construction and the installation of furniture and equipment are complete, a ____________ survey should be conducted to check the total completed space once more against the original plans, drawings, schedules, and documentation.  

11.   For a large-scale move, it is wise to ____________ labels and boxes to help identify the departments to which they should be delivered.

12.   Prior to the move-in, a ________ describing the new facilities should be produced for staff use  

13.   Every employee should be given a chance to tour the new facility prior to move-in.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  


Chapter Five: Office Planning & Design



Throughout this course, we have stated again and again that the efficiency of the administration of the organization is the prime objective of all office planning. The appearance of the facility is, of course, important to staff, clients, visitors, and the directors of the company, but the actual ability of the organization to function should never be sacrificed for the sake of aesthetics.  

The purpose of this chapter is to remind planning executives of their prime responsibility and to highlight the points that need to remain at the fore in every decision-making situation. Specifically, this chapter is designed to give the executive involved in office planning an insight into the general problems faced by the office manager, who will operate the facility provided. The most common problems faced in any office facility are outlined. 

Included in these brief discussions are explanations of:

1. the relevant terminology;

2. the reasons why the most common situations arise;

3. the most satisfactory means of dealing with these situations.  

In many instances, the roles of office planner and office manager overlap, and it is necessary, therefore, to have some basis for communicating about their two sets of needs. This section, through generalization and short description, will round off the knowledge gained thus far in the course and will, in particular, deal with the specific day-to-day office situations that must be considered by the executive planner. Essentially, the office manager needs to be given a facility that can be managed. Above all, the systems that are a daily part of the organization must be able to function smoothly.  

The facilities management department (or, in smaller concerns, the individual office manager) will always be an investment - that is, it can never be a profit center, although, if the facilities management systems are well thought out, they will have a significant effect on long-term running costs.  

In many organizations, the office management or "facilities" department is viewed as a "service center" at the call of every department and individual to solve problems. In actuality, the position of office manager or Facilities Director should be regarded as a high-level executive position; and the manager, through the use of intimate knowledge, careful research, and experience, should be expected to prevent problems from ever happening. To do this, facilities managers should be accorded a status often denied to them in small to medium-sized companies. If they do not enjoy this status in the organization, then the executive in charge of office planning should make the necessary allowances and contributions during the planning and design stages.  

Stratification of Services

As we discussed previously, stratification is the process of locating departments and business functions throughout a building on a succession of floors. The services that these departments or functions will require also need to be located so that they efficiently serve those who most need them.

The needs of each department are gathered, analyzed, and assessed during the fact-finding phase of the collection and tabulation of data (see Chapter 3). Information about numbers of photocopies needed, interdepartmental communications, filing and record-keeping requirements, and so on, must be broken down into usable data to determine the most efficient way of setting up service areas to accommodate these needs. For example, perhaps a central filing room should be established, in which historical and infrequently used reference infor­mation can be stored (see Exhibit 5-1). On the other hand, it may be that each department will require its own filing unit, thereby reducing the total general working space on each floor. Similarly, secretarial needs might prove to be so uniform that a centralized typing department could be established to serve all but executive needs (see Exhibit 5-2). Or perhaps the typing department could be established as an entity with workrooms located in several parts of the building under central control.  

The planning executive must consider the needs of each unit of the organization, without trying to adopt traditional solutions just because they are traditional. The best time to introduce innovations, new systems, equipment, and so on is during the planning of a new facility. The example given above - the centralization of typing - need not be the only cost-effective innovation. Why not centralize messages, appointment liaison, and soon? With today's electronic technology, these traditionally personal services can now be handled far more efficiently by other methods.  

However, stratification of services needs constant checking and reappraisal. Although a centralization program may appear more functional, it will network if, for example, the print room is only open certain times a day and, because of the limited hours, individuals stop using it. Nor is a central stationery store efficient if workers have to spend time finding the key holder.  

In addition, equipment requirements also need to be reappraised on a regular basis. In today's race for technological efficiency, much equipment is already outdated on the very day it is installed. Furthermore, during the choice of equipment stage of planning, just because an executive involved in the decision does not know of a technological answer to a certain problem, this does not mean that one does not exist. Department heads should be asked to outline their needs in detail rather than to suggest a system or machine because they know of it.  

EXHIBIT 5-1    Central Filing Area

EXHIBIT 5-2    Central Typing Area

Remember, office planning is a discipline that brings together many experts, whose individual expertise is combined to create the facility. No one knows everything about office planning; rather, success in the discipline depends on the ability to obtain and then to use expertly the right advice about all component parts.  

Records and Filing Systems

Few executives have any knowledge of how the most important tool of business-information is stored. Ask any executive in a medium-to-large organization how records are stored, and the answer will be, at best, mystifying, and at worst it can be terrifying if you own shares in the operation.  

Before considering any record-keeping and filing system, the planning executive must know the following information:  

1. What will the stored records and files be used for?  

2. How many people need, or have access to, records (or selected parts of them)?  

3. What are the individual, departmental, and total volumes of records involved?  

4. How long must records be kept?  

5. How fast must records be retrieved?  

6. What materials constitute records?  

7. Who is responsible for assessing their value?  

At this point, the planning executive should take a sheet of paper and try to answer the questions above, based on what he or she knows about the company's present filing system. This should be done (before continuing with the material below) to see what will be involved in obtaining this information from others. We will now examine each of these questions. First, what will the stored records and files actually be used for? 

There are seven main types of records:  

1. Work function records: Information needed by an individual to carry out daily tasks; sometimes duplicated to be available to others working at the same task; must be kept at hand.  

2. Group work function records: Records and information shared by a relatively small group of people who all need and have access to this material; must be kept within 40 feet of each individual using this information (or, in a very large group, it would be held by a central filing clerk serving that group alone).  

3. Departmental records: Records and information covering the function of a whole department; should be centrally kept to reduce duplication; should be accessible but controlled.  

4. Departmental classified records: Records needed by designated executives for regular use.  

5. Management records: Collated digest of information condensed for use in management meetings; also available to travelling executives for use outside of facility.  

6. Corporate records: Collated information from all departments, consul­tants, and so on for use by top management, company accounts, and so on.  

7. Archival records: Records of a historical nature, necessary for general information, but not regular use.  

How many people need, or have access to, records (or selected parts of them)?  Industrial espionage is no longer soap opera television material; it costs corporations millions of dollars every year. Yet many organizations allow new and junior (therefore, relatively underpaid) members of their staff access to valuable information through the lack of supervisory measures. As stated in Chapter 2, records should be classified into five classes of security, and access should be refused anyone without suitable clearance. The simplest method is to color code classifications of security to ensure visibility of movement of even the smallest item. These colors should also be used to identify files or areas in the facility (see the section on security precautions later in this chapter).  

What are the individual, departmental, and total volumes of records involved?  Most organizations underestimate, by as much as 50 percent, the total volume of their records. The opportunity to reorganize and update the company's record-keeping system, as part of any office-planning project, should not be ignored. First, however, the planning executive must know what to consider. There is no substitute for hiring a professional organization to analyze the com­pany's present system and needs; but, if this is impossible, then the planning executive can do a great deal by analyzing and coding the company's existing records. Each department head should be asked to classify every file and record according to use, employing a two-digit system, as follows:  

1:        Work function records.  

2:        Group work function records.  

3:        Departmental records.  

4:        Departmental classified records.  

5:        Management records.  

6:        Corporate records.  

7:        Archival records.  

Then the department heads should identify the records by department numbers (these, without doubt, already exist in the accounting systems); thus, 04-012 identifies departmental records of the sales department, for example. The next sequence identifies "individual responsibility" and consists of two initials and a number (if possible, the telephone extension) so that a file kept on John Doe, the sales manager, would include his initials and his telephone extension, as follows: 01-012-JD-264-2.1.80 (dated the day file was opened). Other information can be added on, if required. The length of the code is not important. Group or departmental files can also be coded according to the individual or individuals who are responsible for them. If all file covers and code labels are then colored according to their security listing, the chances of a file being removed accidentally or lost or of just lying about for curious hands to open is greatly reduced.  

A central register of records, files, and documents can be established so that required information and data can be located quickly and easily. Imagine that a file is found in a conference room after a meeting has ended. By scanning the identification code, one could simply ring the extension number in the code to get that file back where it belongs immediately. Or a department head walking through an office would be able to see at a glance the classification of a file lying on a desk. (Each file would, of course, also have a title listed beneath the classification number.) A central listing of files within the company or department would allow executives access to the total "memory" of the organization.  

How long must records be kept? Many records are kept active longer than necessary, thereby overfilling filing cabinets used for day-to-day materials. A system should be established so that every three months an inventory is taken, and files no longer in regular use should be transferred to the archives. Filing cabinets and record storage, if managed improperly, can take up more expensive prime office space than is necessary. Records not in regular use can be housed in otherwise unusable or secondary space, thereby freeing floor area for extra "up-front" work.  

How fast must records be retrieved? Some records need to be at hand for use in answering telephone inquiries, for example. Others can be stored away from work areas. The classification system described above will give the office planner the needed information for determining how best to design efficient and useful storage areas.  

What materials constitute records? And who is responsible for assessing their value? The answers to these questions must be decided by each department head, and the office planner must work to accommodate the answers.  


Office planning is the art of designing a space that allows people to work, create, and communicate effectively. Communication is, without doubt, the most neglected of the three; yet many organizations have proved it can be done effec­tively, efficiently, and to the far-ranging benefit of all concerned. For the foreseeable future, communications are going to be the growth industry in business activity, at least as far as the facilities planner is concerned. Communications in business can be divided into the following functions of individual need:  

1. Intra-departmental communication.  

2. Inter-departmental communication.  

3. Communication to subordinate staff.  

4. Communication with suppliers. 

5. Communication with clients. 

6. Information gathering.  

7. Educational communication.  

The forms these communications can take are as varied as the users' creativity can invent, but, for the purposes of this section, we will deal only with the mechanical and physical aspects of communication.  

The office planner must develop systems and provide equipment to allow the office manager to direct efficient communication throughout the organization (both within the firm itself and between the firm and the outside world). In any but the smallest company, retaining a communications consultant is a wise investment, and the best office planning organizations will support such services within their own structure.  

The office planner must consider as part of communications planning the need of those who use the systems to be able to understand them and to use them to their greatest efficiency. A sufficient number of employees should be trained to use the various pieces of equipment to ensure that they are fully utilized. The names of those employees trained to operate special equipment should be available near or on the machines involved.  

A procedures manual should be produced to instruct everyone involved in how to use the systems provided (including relative costs to ensure economic usage). This manual should list officers and operators responsible for the systems and equipment employed. The manual is more useful if it includes an in-house directory, listing extension numbers of all employees, both by department an in alphabetical order. This directory should be updated as often as necessary. Incorporating these suggestions into a communications system will speed up connections, reduce frustration and costs, and impress clients with the fast service they receive when they call.  


The most used communication tool, the telephone system, is an important factor of any business. Today, it can incorporate internal communication systems, thereby saving both installation costs and space taken upon the desk. This factor is often forgotten, and some workers lose half their desk working area to machines. Consider mounting the telephones off the work surface, if possible.  

Telephone Answering Systems:

The logic behind the growth of telephone-answering systems is based on an increase in long distance trade, international management, and decentralized production. Too few senior managers recognize the benefits of a comprehensive answering and recording system. Since most offices work an eight-hour day, five days a week, only 40 of a total of 168 hours (less than 25 percent) are available for communication needs. Allowing for differences in time zones in America, this could actually be as little as 13 percent of the hours in a week.  

Facsimile Transmission:

Where graphics or originals need to be circulated, a facsimile transmission system is indispensable for fast distribution. 

Computer Communication:

The increased use of computers in business and the speed and volume computers can bring to analysis and information dissemination mean that computer terminal communication systems are bound to increase. The office manager needs to introduce a system whereby data or materials received are delivered quickly to the person involved and materials or requests to be transmitted are collected and collated efficiently.  

Postal Services:

Dealing with postal and courier services is one of the largest organizational problems for the office planner and later the office manager. The services available from the post office and private couriers can only be used efficiently if the facility has an efficient collection and dispatch system for outgoing mail and a reliable collection, sorting, and delivery system for incoming mail (see Exhibit 5-3). Some years ago, at a business conference in Denmark, a famous speaker described office buildings as self-contained "villages of commerce." Therefore, he suggested solving the collection and distribution or dispatch of outgoing mail by installing letter boxes in all rooms and hiring an experienced postman, uniform and all, to make regular rounds. The analogy is, in fact, quite sensible. Placing collection boxes in strategic places and organizing regular collections could benefit many companies.  

The U.S. postal service offers booklets and advice manuals describing its services (see Exhibit 5-4), which vary in some areas. The executive planner should be aware of what is available and useful before making organizational decisions in this area.

EXHIBIT 5-3    Mail Room


Communications need special consideration from a variety of executives within the organization. These needs should be analyzed with respect to cost, and the resulting decisions should be included in all planning considerations.  

Security Precautions:

If more attention were generally given to security during the planning stages of a facility, not only would there be less risk, there would also be economic savings in the long term on both insurance premiums and subsequent allowances to secure the space. 

The most likely problems to foresee are:

1.  Industrial espionage
2.  Theft (minor or major). 

The United States has yet to deal with the problems of terrorism to the extent experienced by other countries in the world; but since terrorist activities could occur in the future, considering such possibilities during the planning stages would also be a good precautionary measure. Obviously, a security consultant with experience should be engaged, if only to check the firm's precautionary planning.  

General Security Considerations:

Listed below are security factors that should be considered:  

1. The reception workers should also be able to act as security guards, in that the entrance and exit should always be within their vision and control.  

2. Security can be increased by putting push-button combination locks on the doors to sensitive areas or by making such doors open only from the inside.  

3. The use of closed-circuit television can help control traffic throughout the facility and reduce the number of security personnel required.  

4. Today, it is not uncommon for important offices and boardrooms to be lined with materials that stop vibration and prevent radio transmission. The gadgets available to the determined spy are now so advanced that preventing their use is a profession in itself. A much-overlooked fact regarding industrial espionage is the use of lip reading, which has increased no doubt because of the increased use of glass in office design.

5. In many offices, office doors have expensive locks that are really not necessary, especially since these doors are usually left open at night to allow the cleaners in. The important offices - for example, the offices of the president, the vice-president of finance, and so on - should be fitted with deadlock bolts, and even cleaning personnel should be supervised when inside.  

6. Keyboards should be held in secure storage, and only specified individuals should be allowed access. It is also wise to have locks changed from time to time (in rotation around the building). This is essential, should a key ever be reported missing. Re-programmable combination locks, once installed, make this possible at negligible cost.  

7. Offices where cash is stored should have solid, strengthened walk and should be generally secure. It can help to locate the accounting department as far from the entrance of the facility as is workable.  

8. There are three types of activity to guard against: 

(a) inside actions, petty pilfering, vandalism, industrial espionage, and so on, by a member of the staff; 
(b) outside actions during working hours; 
(c) actions outside working hours. 

In a large organization, morale can be destroyed by the actions of one petty thief at work, who is also a member of the staff. On the other hand, the employee with ready access to confidential information is ripe for industrial espionage offers from the outside. The answer is to remove temptation as much as possible and to deny general access to private information or secret data.  

9. Every employee should be issued a secure (lockable) locker near his or her work space. Keys tend to be little or no deterrent to the confirmed thief, so a combination lock should be provided (the master list of numbers should themselves be locked in a safe). Better still are "card locks," which are now widely used in banks and other security areas. Never advertise a locker by putting the owner's name on it.  

10. The color identification system and classification code for files is a sure way to frustrate the actions of the part-time spy.  

11. Employees' desks should contain a lockable drawer where they can store their handbags and personal possessions. In any typing pool, the temptation offered to a sneak thief - with purses on desks, under them, or slung over a chair is abundantly clear.  

12. Theft by outsiders during office hours is on the increase and there are few office workers who would question the passage of a man in overalls pushing a truck loaded with an expensive typewriter. The larger the organization, the stronger the case for identification badges (with photographs), magnetic information strips, color-coded to indicate the wearer's department. With this system, every stranger becomes obvious. Since guests would be issued badges at reception (color coded for the department they are visiting), a thief would not get far. In addition, access should be controlled. Exits other than through the main reception area should be exits only, not hidden entrances for the potential thief.  

Alarm Systems:

Alarm systems should also be planned for the facility during the early stages, with the cooperation and advice of the manufacturers of the selected system(s). There are, of course, many types of alarm systems, but, in the majority of cases, one of the three following types is used:  

1.   Quiet alarm or secret alarm:  This type of system gives no indication to intruders that they have been discovered. An alarm signal is directed to either the firm's own security officers or to an outside point.  

2.   Local bells and flashing lights:  These rely on two reaction factors. They may scare off the intruder, or they can alert the guard, passersby, or neighbors.  

3.   Total alarm:  Both methods 1 and 2 can be used in this system, which operates electronically to follow whatever measures are designed into the system (for example, it could trip all locks in the building, close security areas, turn on the lights, and so on).  

These alarms can be used in tandem (for example, different systems could be used for different areas, such as the perimeter fence; entry windows and doors; sensitive areas, such as the president's office and the accounting department; and so on).  

General Security Precautions:

The following general security precautions should be included in the security program:  

1. Paper shredders: All discarded classified material should be routinely shredded.  

2. End-of-work security tour: 

(a) An executive, or security employee, should check every window, door, and other access point to ensure that they are closed at the end of the working day (and sign a standard form or log); 
all ashtrays should be collected and emptied by a designated cleaner
as soon as the working day ends, checking wastepaper baskets for smoldering potential fires.
(c) all taps and electrical connections should be
checked and signed off as safe.  

3. Every facility should have a staff record book in the reception, for everyone to sign in and out of the building. Visitors should always sign in and out and should be met in reception and guided to the staff member responsible for inviting them.  

4. The names of key holders should always be known to the local police and fire authorities.  

5. Employees should be encouraged to give suggestions to improve security.  

6. Alarms and safety drills should be tested at intervals to ensure their efficiency.  

Fire Precautions:

Fire is among the greatest dangers that can threaten any office facility. Yet the majority of fires that occur could be prevented by proper precautionary measures. This section deals with some of the most obvious points that the executive responsible for office planning should consider. In the planning stage, the executive should also consult the local fire prevention officer (details are available from the nearest fire department) and an inspector from the firm's fire insurance company. All regulations, codes, standards, and local recommendations should be carefully followed (taking into account economic considerations as much as possible) to satisfy any federal, state, or local laws and to ensure that the project complies with the requirements of the firm's insurance company.  

Causes of Fire:

Electrical Fires. 

1. Electrical wiring should be checked at designated regular periods (at least every five years), and the system should be regularly checked to ensure it is not overloaded by the addition of new equipment. 

2. Wires to machines from power outlets and junction boxes should be tidy and protected from wear. Frayed leads or broken plugs should be replaced immediately and a system for reporting such items should be instituted. 

3. Machines should (where applicable) be turned off when not in use, and regular cleaning should be arranged. Dust buildup in machines often causes fires. 

4. Power points should never be allowed to be overloaded. Workers have a habit of accumulating clocks, lamps, and so on, and bringing in their own multi-plug adaptors. 

5. Adaptors and transformers should be checked frequently.  

Carelessness by Staff.

Smokers contribute greatly to the fire risk of any building; therefore, adequate provision should be made, even in rooms where smoking is prohibited, for disposal of cigarettes. Every room should have at least one large ashtray with a separate litter compartment. Sweet eaters contribute to fires by depositing wrappers in ashtrays. Ashtrays should be emptied by cleaners only, several times a day. Many office fires are started by the tidy employee who dumps the contents of an ashtray into a wastepaper basket. In short, more ash­trays and regular maintenance of them equals fewer fires.  

Trash Fires.

Fires do not occur unless there is something to burn; they do not spread unless something else to burn is nearby; and they cannot burn without oxygen. Therefore, all inflammable trash should be stored well away from the building or in fireproof rooms; large, air-tight, metal containers should be provided for all wastepaper (and other inflammables); and extra extinguishers should be provided in trash areas, paper storage areas, and so on.  

Precautionary Equipment:

Fire extinguishers (of types appropriate to the purposes they serve) need to be provided. Few buildings provide sufficient quantities to ensure relative safety should a fire occur.  

Water Extinguishers.  

Advances in technology have in many ways outdated this equipment, which cannot be used effectively in electrical, liquid, or plastic fires. I n facts, in some cases, water extinguishers are positively dangerous: for example, in electrical fires, they create the danger of shorts; and in plastic and liquid fires, water can spread the burning material. However, they are perfectly adequate in fires where furniture is solid wood and walls and floors are covered with natural materials.  

Carbon Dioxide and Powder Extinguishers.  

These are, without doubt, the most effective extinguishers in today's offices. They can be used without risk on electrical fires, even when the current is still on, and can be successfully used on plastics and liquid fires. Small hand versions should be near every electrical machine, and larger canister models should be strategically hung on the walls throughout the facility.  


Corridors, stairwells, and other avenues of escape should be pro­tected to allow for fast exit. Fire lighting, independent of main power, should be installed wherever a light failure could lead to confusion, panic, or accident. Doors into fire exit routes should have self-closing devices, should be kept closed as a matter of practice, and should be able to check the spread of fire into the fire exit route for at least one hour. Glass that is part of an escape route should be wired to prevent shattering and spread of the fire. Beneath each door into the fire exit route a metal saddle should be fitted to prevent spread of fire by way of the carpet. Doors should always open into the route of escape (so that the person escaping can push door open rather than pull it), and fire exit doors should never be locked. (A push-bar installation provides exterior security without limiting escape.)  

Alarm Systems.  

Smoke detectors are almost a basic precaution these days, but they should be checked regularly. Furthermore, they should be installed, not only in main areas and corridors, but also in storerooms, rest rooms, and locker rooms, which are more likely places for a fire to start. In larger offices or buildings, a glass-break electrical alarm system is probably the most effective. Workers understand them, and there is less chance of false alarms. All alarm systems should be tested at regular intervals.  

Specification of Furnishings.  

There are specific and detailed tests for most materials used in office construction today. Basically, the planner should always check the fire rating of the furnishings being specified and follow the federal codes in effect for each product range.  

Fire Drills.  

Every member of the staff should have training in what to do in case of emergency. The local fire department will be pleased to advise the firm about procedures. Floor plans clearly defining escape routes should be posted on every notice board. Fire drills should be conducted at irregular intervals, and new employees should be walked through the escape procedures.  

Building Maintenance:

Office facilities must be able to function efficiently and economically for a pre­determined period of time. Although this is obvious, unless it is considered carefully and with insight from the first step in the creation of the facility, it is not likely to happen. Unless steps are taken to ensure that maintenance can fulfill its part of the equation, no office facility can be judged acceptable.  

Exterior of the Building:

In consultation with the architects or landlord, the firm must develop a main­tenance program that covers all aspects of the shell that contains the facility. The questions that should be answered include (but are not limited to):  

1. How often should the roof be checked and/or renewed?  

2. How often should painted areas be repainted?  

3. What materials need special treatment, and how often ( wood paneling, window frames, and so on)?  

Interior Maintenance

A good interior maintenance program is essential to any commercial facility, and a maintenance program should be planned during office planning stages. Good maintenance makes good economic sense because it:

1. prolongs the life of the equipment, furnishings, and ultimately the facility as a whole; 

2. improves the company's image;

3. keeps the employees comfortable, happy, and productive.  

Developing a Maintenance Program:

To help develop an effective maintenance program, the planning executive should do the following during the office planning stages:  

1. Make sure that maintenance and cleaning recommendations are obtained from every manufacturer for every product and item of equipment before any specifications are made.  

2. Make sure that supplies and spare parts for repairs and other needs will be available for everything that is purchased. If custom colors or custom- made equipment are bought, obtain full specification details and working drawings or purchase extra (for example, carpet, fabric, and so on) to make sure that sufficient quantities are available for repairs and replacement.  

3. Check all layout suggestions from the point of view of cleaning and maintenance. Evaluate the specified surfaces, shapes, and so on, in terms of whether they tend to accumulate dust, are scuff resistant, and so on. Judge the ability of colors to hide signs of soiling.  

4. Make sure that sufficient power outlets to operate cleaning machinery and adequate storage lockers for cleaning material sand tools are provided.  

Special Considerations :

Flooring. Almost one-half of all cleaning time is spent on floors; therefore, a controlled program is important. Since most floors are soiled by dirt carried in from the outside, dirt traps at entrances are a wise investment. Scraper grills over catchments pits (which should be cleaned every day) will help remove heavy mud. Carpet runners inside the reception area along main traffic lanes will absorb water and remove dry or light dust and soil. All flooring carries the manufacturer's specifications and advice for cleaning procedures, which should be followed. Floor cleaning during working hours should be avoided, since it is dangerous and irritating to workers and visitors alike. Heavy cleaning (floor polishing, re-sanding wood floors, or carpet shampooing) should be restricted to weekends.  

Walls. Walls suffer greatly from airborne dust, cigarette smoke, and warm, damp air currents. Precautions can be integrated into design decisions, limiting the use of heavy horizontal textures and porous wall coverings. Colors should also be carefully chosen - the lighter the color, the higher the maintenance costs. White walls reflect light and, therefore, reduce lighting costs, but they discolor quickly and raise the maintenance and replacement costs. Some wall coverings shrink; therefore, where seams occur, care should be taken to "back treat" in the same color as the covering to lessen the effect. (For example, when dark brown Hessian covers a white plaster wall, shrinkage seams are emphasized if the white walls show through; painting a 6-inch wide strip of dark brown paint on the plaster behind the seam would prevent this.) For maintenance purposes, vinyl wall coverings, as well as ceramic tiles, mirrors, laminated boards, and vinyl paint, are ideal in that they can be cleaned.  

Ceilings. The general use of suspended ceilings presents its own problems in maintaining high standards of cleanliness. Most ceiling tiles are rough textured, and air conditioning outlets and ventilation extractors pull smoke-laden, hot dusty air across the tiles, thereby depositing dirt and pollution. The areas most affected are the tiles nearest the extractors. A regular program of removing these tiles, cleaning them, and painting them with a fire-resistant paint is required.  

Curtains and Fabrics. Drapes and upholstery are very expensive, yet they are often specified without due consideration to the cleaning costs or requirements. Fine nets and loose-weave fabrics, which are beautiful in the showroom, may be completely inappropriate for city offices, where exhaust fumes and dirty air will ruin them in a matter of days. Some fabrics shrink, while others stretch; therefore, fabric selection, whether for drapes or upholstery, should be made with full knowledge of the maintenance required and the costs involved.  

Furniture. Much furniture today is plastic, enameled steel, or laminated particleboard. Scratches can damage this furniture and leave it looking second-hand in no time at all; heat can discolor or warp it. Therefore, once again, repair and maintenance procedures should be thoroughly investigated before any specifications are approved.  

Checklist of Maintenance Considerations :

In conclusion, with respect to maintenance, the following questions should be answered, during the specification stage, about any material or furnishing under consideration: 

1. Can it be repaired?  

2. Can it be replaced?  

3. What special maintenance requirements exist?  

4. How long will it last?  

5. Will it retain its appearance?  

6. How much will it cost to maintain the item's "as new" properties?  

Alterations to Layout:

There are two main ways in which layouts are altered. The first is by reorganization or expansion leading to re-planning, the second is by "stealthy acquisition" by employees. Surprisingly, the latter method is the most common. Official re­organization is covered by the office-planning lessons discussed in this course. On the other hand, "stealthy acquisition" is the office planner's nightmare, and every organization should work to prevent it as it leads to demands the organization can never satisfy and to loss of control. Office workers habitually move furniture around or spread into more space. First, a plant appears, then another chair, then more and more items pile into what was an orderly office, until the original organization of the space disappears.  

Furniture plans should be compared to reality at regular intervals (preferably outside work hours) and the original layout reaffirmed. Furniture inventories should be checked to ensure that all equipment remains where it is supposed to be. Where planned expansion in an area has been allowed for, standards and lay­out should be enforced to ensure that space exists when it is needed. The space protectors (see Exhibit 5-5) are useful tools in this regard. Occupying floor area reserved for future equipment, they can be removed when required, and no one loses anything in the way of territory when new equipment is installed. Independent decorating by members of the staff should also be discouraged. The only pictures on walls should be those included in the art or graphics of the design scheme. When executives have plaques or certificates they wish to hang on the wall, the designers should be so informed and a uniform method or format for the entire facility should be established.  

                      EXHIBIT 5-5    Space Protector

Organization of Office Services:

Office services can be broken down into three basic types: 

1.  Services provided in house;
2.  In-house services provided by outside sources; 
3.  Services pro
vided by outside sources.  

These include:  

1.  Central secretarial services.  

2.  Reproduction (photocopying and so on).  

3.  Printing.  

4.  Telecommunications.  

5.  Postal distribution and collection.  

6.  Reception of visitors.

7.  Training.   

8.  Staff activities.  

9.   Equipment maintenance.  

10. Building maintenance.  

11. Office supplies.  

12. Purchasing (in-house needs).  

13. Security.  

14. Time keeping and shift-work control.  

These are all the responsibility of the office manager, in full or in part, and his or her needs in managing them must be an integral factor in all office planning. The office manager (and his or her staff) will act as the controller of most, if not all, of these systems. The executive in charge of office planning must therefore, work closely with the office manager on all factors affecting the function of office services, taking advice and passing on facts throughout the reorganization of the facilities.  

Personnel Requirements:

The personal needs of the employees of an organization, as those needs relate to facilities planning, can be overestimated, but providing an economical answer to the most important employee requests will maintain high morale and job satisfaction. Since employees devote a substantial portion of their lives to the organization, certain provisions for their comfort and happiness are only right. Some provisions will, in fact, be of material help to the commercial functioning of the organization.  

To begin with, the planning executive must establish exactly what improvements or facilities the employees actually want. To determine this, a system that will provide measurable answers must be designed. The more professional office planning organizations will prepare a behavioral psychology questionnaire that will provide useful answers that the firm can analyze. Some sample questions used in such programs are shown in Exhibit 5-6. Answers to such questions can be compared and collated to establish a majority opinion. As stressed often before, a firm's facilities should attain a standard that will encourage key staff to remain rather than to leave to join another firm. The personnel director will be able to assist the executive planner in establishing the norm in the area.  

Sample Questionnaire to Establish Personnel Needs to be used
during Facilities Planning

Work Environment:

1.  Does your present environment encourage people to behave in ways that interfere with getting work done?

2.  Does your work area provide an organized location for the things you work with?  

3.  Does your equipment/furniture meet your needs?  

4.  Are you proud of your work area?   

5.  Would you be proud to show your work area to your family/friends?  

6.  Does you work area enhance your feelings about your own image?  

7.  Does your work area enhance your feelings about the image of the company?  

8.  Does the work environment make your job more meaningful?  

9.  Are you satisfied with your job?  

10.  Are you satisfied with your status at work?    

Physical Environment:

For your tasks, the lighting in your area is:

? adequate.  
? too bright.  
? too dim.  

The temperature maintained in your area is:

? comfortable  
? too warm.  
? too cool.  
? variable.  

The level of noise in your area is:

? acceptable.  
? too noisy.  
? not noisy enough.  

Do you like the colors in the office?

? Yes                         ? No

The colors within your field of view are:

? bright.
? soft.
? neutral.  

Your color preference is: 

? bright.  
? soft.  
? neutral.  

If you were given the task of creating a better work environment, what one aspect would be most important to you?

? Lighting
? Noise
? Temperature  
? Aesthetics  

The colors within your field of view are: [check the appropriate color(s)] :

? White              ? Black              ? Blue.

? Red                 ? Green             ? Yellow

? Brown              ? Orange           ? Tan

? Grey   The colors you would prefer to see are:_________  

Social Environment :   Do you get job assistance from peers when needed at work?   

? Yes                         ? No

Staff Involvement:

Any change in office facilities will have a great effect on every member of the company's staff, from the highest to the lowest. Both negative and positive reac­tions will be stronger and of shorter duration during this period than at almost any other time. Much of the dissent among staff is caused by two factors: 

1.  Lack of information about what is happening;
2.  A feeling of isolation
workers feel they have not been involved in the changes. 

Both these, problems can be overcome early, and the solutions can provide benefits far out­weighing the costs involved.  

The following actions should be organized or encouraged whenever possible:  

1. Invite suggestions and opinions (in writing) from all employees that might contribute to efficiency, economic savings, or better morale.  

2. Organize after-hours explanation sessions for small groups to outline developments and keep the staff up to date about what is happening.  

3. Install notice boards in canteens, lounges, and so on, and post current information about the project, including weekly bulletins, plans, and photographs, if possible.  

4. Make sure the whole project is featured in your in-house magazine.  

5. Display plans and models of the new facility where all the staff can take the time to view them without interrupting business.  

6. Construct a sample full-sized mock-up (if possible) of a typical area so that workers can walk around it, touch it, and make comments.  

7. Have the workers elect a representative in each department to analyze and relay worker suggestions to the planners and relay information about weekly developments in the project back to the workers.  

Staff involvement in any new planning program is well worth the time and effort it demands, and it can successfully reduce the problems employees experience in major change situations.  

Heating & Ventilation:

In any facility employing more than six people, the knowledge required for creating a controlled environment becomes a science. Therefore, this section will deal only with generalities and explanations. The planning executive will need professional advice, and the new energy-conservation laws make it almost impossible for the inexperienced to cope with the technicalities.  

The location of the building affects its internal environment greatly; therefore, specific advice given to a facilities planner in the countryside of California would be of little use to one planning a complex in Chicago. Nevertheless, certain basic rules do apply; however, it cannot be stressed enough that professional advice should always be sought for heating and ventilation specifications. (Professionally, the initials HVAC are used to indicate Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning). In leased space, especially in multi-story buildings, HVAC is normally the responsibility of the landlord.  

The facilities planner should keep the following points in mind when making decisions about HVAC:  

1. Central heating used alone will dry out the atmosphere by reducing the relative humidity in a building. This promotes static electricity buildup and can be harmful to general health. If no ventilation or air conditioning system is used to re-humidify the atmosphere, then humidifiers will be required.  

2. Large-scale use of plants will assist in keeping the air acceptable in other­wise dry offices.  

3. Areas within the facility that demand special, but nearly identical, envi­ronmental controls should be grouped together during the block layout and stratification stages of planning.  

4. During the working day, there is a buildup effect of heat from people, light, and machinery. This factor should be considered, and countermeasures should be taken.  

5. Carbon monoxide tends to build up during the working day, and the lack of fresh air (oxygen) can restrict activity and productivity. It is now accepted that extractors set low in walls are useful in combating this effect. One extractor per room is good sense.  

6. Open plan offices almost always require air conditioning.  

7. The position of the sun can add as much as 20 degrees to the internal heat of a building on the sun side compared to the side in shadow. Placement of thermostats should compensate for this heat differential.  

8. Heaters should be beneath windows for maximum efficiency.  

9. The amount of space required for the plant to run the HVAC operations of a building can be as much as 8 to 12 percent of the total space. Therefore, the system should be evaluated and the plant size calculated accordingly. Furthermore, the plant should be housed where the noise will not create problems.  

10. All thermostats, fans, motors, ducts, and grills should be checked, serviced, and cleaned on a regular schedule, and a reporting system for faults should be made known to all employees.  

11. The addition or demolition of partitions or walls will affect the efficiency of a previously adequate system. Therefore, any changes should be accompanied by reassessment of the HVAC provisions.  

12. In high-ceilinged rooms, workers often complain that the air conditioning is not working because they are unable to see or hear it. This common complaint can be solved by attaching small ribbons or streamers to the grills.  

13. Color can have a great effect on employee reaction to heat or cold. Experiments have shown that reds, browns, and yellows increase temperature guesses, and light blues, greens, and, of course, whites decrease the temperature evaluations of employees.    

Use of Plants:

Plants have entered offices in increasing variety and number over the past 20 years, and yet the costs and maintenance of this living internal forest have often been neglected. Plants serve several purposes, all of which are beneficial:  

1. They help maintain good air quality.  

2. They act as noise and visual barriers.  

3. They add a natural touch to an office, in large and small areas alike.  

4. They give a dimension of nature to an otherwise man-made environment.  

5. They are basically liked and enjoyed by most people.  

The office planner, however, must always remember that plants (1) grow and some shed their leaves; (2) need regular attention and care; and (3) are expensive. Therefore, anyone who is going to have a part in specifying plants should take the trouble to learn a little about their characteristics and needs. Reading one of the many reference books on houseplants is well worth the effort.  

A schedule should be established for the day-to-day maintenance of all plants either owned or hired by an organization, and someone should be given ultimate responsibility for their upkeep. Management should also try to educate all employees that plant pots are not ashtrays, and that plants do not like excessive quantities of coffee with milk and sugar. In addition, the person responsible for plant upkeep should make sure that when the soil in a pot has been eaten by the plant, replacement soil is a potting compost, not soil taken from a parking lot (with weeds and other foreign bodies). Workers also need to be reminded that plants should be pruned by a professional with proper tools and not decapitated by a passing swipe with a ruler. If employees know there is a set maintenance schedule for plants throughout the building, most will accept the fact and leave the plants alone.  

Noise Control:

For workers to be able to concentrate, they need acoustical privacy, but absolute silence can unnerve even the best worker. Acoustical engineering, therefore, has to accommodate several needs, each varying with the individual or the job involved. The engineer must consider:  

1. Occupational noise: Sounds made within the office by other workers and office machines.  

2. External noise:  Sounds emanating from outside the area concerned (for example, traffic noise, aircraft noise, noise from machinery not in the area, noise from adjoining rooms, and so on).  

3. Interruptive and occasional noise:  Unusual or unexpected sounds (for example, paging systems, slamming doors, objects being dropped, and so on).  

The last source of noise will always exist, but good design and proper material specifications can eliminate most. Doors can be fitted with self-closing pneumatic devices; paging messages can be programmed so that every message is preceded by a soft bell-like tone, thereby preparing the occupants of a room; carpets will deaden the noise of tools dropped on the floor; and so on.  

External noise prevention is impossible, but architectural means to reduce it do exist. Double-glazing, acoustic panels in or on walls, and so on, all help.  

The office planner can be most effective in reducing and controlling occupational noise. Professional acoustical advice is always desirable, but the following points should be known:  

1. The object of acoustical design is to reduce distracting noise.  

2. Noise levels should never interfere with the daily communication needed to carry out one's job function.  

3. The more people in an office, the harder it is to provide acoustic privacy or lower communication levels.  

4. As a rule of thumb, background noise should not prevent two people from communicating at a distance of 9 to 12 feet without raising their voices.

5. Hard surfaces increase reflective noise and, therefore, increase the noise level.  

6. Textured or soft surfaces (carpets, drapes, and so on) reduce reflected sound and, therefore, the overall noise level.  

7. Noise flows like liquid. Put something in its way, and it is reflected or deflected; over a distance, it dissipates.  

8. Loud individuals impinge more on acoustic privacy than machinery noise of the same level. (The reason for this is that people tend to listen to words, which are always changing, and to ignore or accommodate regular "uninteresting" noise.)  

9. Machines can be masked by installing hoods or acoustic screens.  

10. Regular service tends to reduce machine noise.  

11. Muted phones equipped with flashing lights cause less intrusion on acoustic balance than standard phones with ringing bells.  

12. Acoustic baffles hung from the ceiling (see Exhibit 5-8) or acoustic screens will reduce noise according to their sound absorbency and size.  

           EXHIBIT 5-7    Use of Plants in Office Space

EXHIBIT 5-8  Noise Control in the Office Space - Note Acoustic Baffles Hung from Ceiling


The most common area for error in office planning involves some aspect of lighting. Clearly, this situation should concern office planners because almost everything that office workers undertake requires that they use their eyesight, and proper vision requires lighting appropriate to the task.  

Lighting and Productivity :

A great deal is made of the correlation between lighting levels and energy con­servation and costs. In actuality, the energy consumption of lighting is far lower than most people would suspect. If one considers the losses in productivity and the health costs involved with eye strain, headaches, and damaged vision, the United States as a whole would probably save money by increasing lighting levels. Furthermore, there is not necessarily a direct correlation between the quantity of light generated in a building and the quality of lighting. Several elements are important: the light source, the area to be illuminated, and the quality of light at working level all must be considered. Glare that disables the worker is instantly recognized and, therefore, avoided or changed. More dangerous is sub-critical, long-term, reflective glare, which creates discomfort over a period of time. Another difficulty for the planner is that the lighting must supply a usable level for many individuals, all of whom have differing needs. What is too dim for one person may well be satisfactory for another.  

Inside a building, there are five ways of providing light to work by: (see Exhibit 5-9):  

1. Large windows, which give natural, light when available.  

2. General lighting which normally employs banks of fluorescent tubes mounted on the ceiling, providing even lighting to a total room; however, this is inefficient.

3. Diffused lighting  which is sometimes known as "hidden lighting," where light sources are masked by pelmets or baffles.

4. Spot lighting  which is usually ceiling mounted ;this system employs lamps to highlight a small area.

5. Work station lighting, which is fast becoming the most popular system of lighting commercial office space. This method employs a light source immediate to a work area, built into the workstation itself. With a dimmer control, workers can adjust their own light supplies. This system is more energy efficient than other types of lighting and allows individual control.

EXHIBIT5-9    Example Showing General, Diffused, Spot, and Workstation Lighting  

Energy Conservation :

Although, relatively speaking, lighting is not among the highest expenders of energy, there is no reason to waste energy and every reason to conserve unnecessary costs in this area. There are two main sources of waste in lighting: (1) block wiring of light fixtures on the same switching system; and (2) needless use of lighting.  

Block Wiring. Quite often, all the lights in one room, or entire blocks of light fixtures, are activated by the same switch. This means that, although workers near the windows may not need extra artificial light, they get it because their lighting is linked to that of workers deeper in the room who need additional light. The areas farthest from the window should be lit independently.

Needless Use of Lighting. The following measures should be taken to decrease unnecessary use of lighting:  

1. All employees should be encouraged to conserve energy, especially by turning off lights in unoccupied rooms.  

2. Plans should include a security circuit of lights so that night lighting patrols, or the first employees to arrive, do not have to use the total lighting capacity when it is not required.  

3. Standard-light-level controls should also be considered. In this system, light-sensitive dimmers are wired into the lighting circuitry to ensure that a constant level of lighting is maintained. As daylight decreases, power is increased and the artificial lighting keeps light at proper levels.  


There are many laws that deal specifically with hygiene standards. These laws change and are regularly amended, and it is important for planners to try to keep abreast of developments. Basically, the office planner must provide for the human needs and welfare of all employees.  

Rest Rooms and Toilet Facilities :

In multistory buildings, rest rooms and toilet facilities will normally be located in the core of the building and will have an effect on the layout of the areas they serve. The planner, therefore, needs to know the following information to provide rest room facilities:  

1. The number of persons expected to use each rest room unit.  

2. The breakdown of staff and visitor numbers by sex. (The planner also needs to know if changes in the ratio of men to women are expected in the near future.)  

3. Whether executive or suite arrangements will be needed.  

4. The length of the route from each department or workstation to the nearest rest room.

5. Visitor requirements for rest rooms.  

6. Laws or codes relating to rest rooms in the geographical location of the facility.  

Maintenance of rest rooms is important for reasons of hygiene and for staff morale. Cleanliness is necessary at all times, of course, but so is maintenance of the supply of component items, such as towels, soap, and so on. Checking to make sure that taps do not leak, bowls are not blocked, and everything else relative to the equipment is working efficiently should be a daily routine.  

First Aid Rooms:

First aid rooms (see Exhibit 5-11) are an important part of any office facility, and the planner should attempt to plan such rooms at strategic points through­out the complex. Access for paramedics using stretchers should also be consid­ered. All employees should know the locations of the first aid rooms and whom to inform in an emergency (to obtain assistance and to record the accident).  

Exhibit 5-11 First Aid Room  

Catering Requirements:

Provision of catering facilities depends almost entirely on the size of the organization; in some cases, however, outside influences (such as the loss of time travelling to outside restaurants, the costs of adequate food for workers, and staggered lunch breaks) can prompt an organization to provide such facilities. Before planning can begin, one must answer the following questions:  

1. Does the company wish or need to provide catering facilities?  

2. What numbers are involved in each of the following categories:   

(a) executive staff; 
(b) managerial staff; 
(c) general employees; 
(d) visitors; 
(e) clients;  
(f) visitors from associated offices or suppliers?

3. What times would meals be required, and could the numbers be staggered into shifts?  

4. How many employees will prefer to return home or visit restaurants to eat?  

Whatever decision is made about the complexity of services to be offered to employees, the catering facility will be expensive. In space and furniture alone, the company must subsidize the operation; and, if the quality of the food served is to compete with outside restaurants, the company will probably have to subsidize the food program as well. The various possible facilities should be considered within the context of whether the organization will hire an outside catering operation or run the whole system itself (in house).  

Self-Preparation Facilities :  A kitchen, especially for use in executive and reception suites, is essential for preparation of "off schedule" drinks and snacks. Its size will depend on the number of people it must serve. (An executive kitchenette is shown in Exhibit 5-12.)  

Vending Machines If vending machines are installed, then special areas must be provided to ensure that their use does not lead to blocked corridors or cause general disruption (see Exhibit 5-13). Many types of machines and services are available, and it is often wise to contract out their maintenance and operation. However, someone in the firm should be responsible for making sure that the machines are operating and are properly maintained. Empty machines cause staff problems in morale, and a less-than-perfect cleaning program is dangerous to health. It is also wise to make sure that shelf-life limits are observed. A rough guide for beverage machines is to install one machine for every 40 people it will serve.  

Canteen Services In general, a staff canteen is most efficient when set up as a self-service facility (see Exhibit 5-14). However, where business discussions occupy the lunch hour and clients or suppliers are entertained, waiter service is not only desirable but also efficient. When necessary, diners should be able to concentrate on business (instead of standing in line). Rule-of-thumb space allowances for waiter service areas (per hour for tables of four) are between 15 and 20 square feet per person. In self-service canteens, the average space required is between 18 and 25 square feet per person (the larger area is needed for traffic and circulation). In self-service canteens, table clearance and cleaning will require staff at a ratio of approximately one attendant per 25 people eating. Self-service canteens must also be planned to reduce waiting time and to utilize table space to maximum efficiency. Small tables, which can be used for two people or combined to seat up to ten, are a sensible module, but table moving and arrangement should only be done by canteen staff. The most important factor is circulation, and adequate thought must be given to table layout and widths of passageways.  

EXHIBIT 5-12    An Executive Kitchenette

EXHIBIT 5-13    Vending Machines Area  

Three Basic Design Factors for Dining Areas:

Dining areas, be they lounges supplied by vending machines, self-service cafeterias, or executive dining rooms, should always follow three basic design factors; that is, they should be:  

1. Inviting and comfortable: Always strive to provide an oasis of peace within the busy efficiency of the general office. Use of music and landscaping can work wonders.  

2. Clean and hygienic:  Design should allow for the fact that drinks and food are often spilled. Therefore, materials must be capable of withstanding regular cleaning.  

3. Efficient and orderly:  Circulation and areas for standing in line should be separated from seating areas to whatever extent possible, so that diners can relax. Long lines can be eliminated by good management and planning.  

Kitchen design is something that should always be left to competent professionals in that field. The planner should provide them with the firm's requirements (numbers to be served, design and style desired, and type of catering required) and accept that industrial or large-scale kitchens should be designed and planned by experts.  

EXHIBIT 5-14    Self-Service Dining

Instructional Programming: Chapter Five

1.The facilities management department should always be a profit center.

(   ) True
(   ) False  

2. ______ is the process of locating departments and business functions throughout a building on a succession of floors.

3.  For the foreseeable future, communications are going to be the growth industry in business activity.

(   ) True
(   ) False  

4. The services available from the post office and private courier services can only be used efficiently if the facility being served has an efficient collection and ____________ system for outgoing mail and a reliable collection, sorting, and ___________ system for incoming mail.  

5.   A __________ or ____________ alarm system gives no indication to intruders that they have been discovered. An alarm signal is directed either to the firm's security officers or to an outside point.  

6.  Electrical wiring should be checked at least every how many years?

(a)   5  
(b)   7  
(c)   8  
(d)  10  

7.  On electrical fires, one should use:  

(a)   carbon dioxide extinguishers.  
(b)   foam extinguishers.  
(c)   water extinguishers.  
      no extinguishers at all.

8.   A good maintenance program prolongs the life of the equipment, furnishings, and the ________ as a whole; improves the company's image; and keeps the ________ comfortable, happy, and productive.

9. Floor cleaning has been estimated to take up "what" percent of all cleaning time in office facilities.

(a)  25%
(b)  33%
(c)  50%  
(d)  60%  

10.  When designing a ____________ program, the planner should ask the following questions about equipment and furnishings:  Can it be repaired and/or replaced?  What special ____________ requirements exist? How long will it last? Will it retain its appearance? What will be the ____________ of retaining "as new" properties of the equipment?  

11. The initials HVAC stand for __________ , ___________ and ____________.  

12.  Plants help to maintain good air quality.

(   ) True
(   ) False  

13.  Noise should not prevent two people from carrying on a conversation at a distance of ___ feet.  

(a)  5  
(b) 10  
(c) 15  
(d) 20  

14.  Different people need different lighting levels.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  

15.  General lighting, which employs banks of fluorescent tubes mounted on the ceiling to distribute even (uniform) lighting to an entire room, is a highly efficient approach to office lighting.  

(   ) True
(   ) False  


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