When a management decides to establish an office, it has to carefully define its plan for systematic and scientific segmentation of various departments and equipment for the office.
The reason is that the systematic arrangement of office equipment leads to availing of maximum benefit from the space available. The office layout is based on the principle of division of labor. If the principle of division of labor is applied, every job of an office can be divided into many sections. All the sections may not be possible to accommodate in one room or on the same floor. Hence, office layout ensures fully utilization of office space and the efficiency of operation is high.
Meaning of Office Layout
Office layout means the systematic arrangement of office equipment, machines and furniture and providing adequate space to office personnel for regular performance of work with efficiency.
Definition of Office Layout
According to Littlefield,
“Office layout is the arrangement of equipment within the available floor space”.
According to Hicks and Place,
“The problem of layout relates to the arrangement in the space involved so that all the equipment, supplies, procedures and personnel can function at maximum efficiency”.
Therefore, the main task of office manager is the proper allocation of space to each section by considering the interlinking of other sections, so that the activities of different sections can be coordinated and controlled easily. Faulty or improper arrangement of furniture, equipment and space for employees leads to unnecessary wastage of time and energy and increase in the cost of office operations.
Objectives of Office Layout
The main objectives of office layout are as follows
1. Effective utilization of available floor space and smooth flow of work.
2. Both power and telephone service is made available whenever necessary.
3. Office supervision is made more easy and convenient.
4. Good working conditions should be provided to each employee
5. The reception room should be very near to the main gate or entrance so that the visitors may feel easy and convenient.
6. A sense of belonging and loyalty should be made in the minds of office employees.
7. Employee’s satisfaction should be the outcome of proper office layout.
8. There should be a free flow of communication among employees.
9. All the sections can not work independently. Hence, the office layout ensues the interlinking of each sections according to their needs.
10. There must be an adequate space between desks, tables and chairs for free movement of employees.
11. Noise and disturbing operations should be segregated within the office.
12. Some sections require privacy. The sections may be interview section and inquiry section. Interview section is dealing with recruitment of staff and inquiry section is dealing with progress and performance of the existing staff.
13. Frequent mutual consultation and interference between clerks should be avoided.
14. The room of the manager should be arranged in such a manner that he can easily observe the activities of staff for exercising control on them.
15. The external noise and disturbance should be avoided by fixing double glazed windows and doors.
16. Changes may be made in the office layout if the volume of work is increased in future and requires facilities.
17. Staff doing confidential work should be provided adequate privacy.
18. There must be sufficient, natural or artificial light.
19. Adequate safety of valuable documents and records should be ensured.
How to design an efficient office layout?
An efficient layout of an office can be designed only by the manager. When, the office manager should consider the following matters.
Number of workers.
Volume of work.
Nature of work.
Number of workers in designation wise.
Types of machine and equipment used.
Flow of work.
The shape of an office is an important consideration. The building or office space may be square, rectangular, long and narrow or L or U shaped. Generally, square or rectangular space is better than long or narrow space. The reason is that the latter requires much floor crossing.
Advantages of an Efficient office Layout
The following advantages can be derived by having planned layout.
No waste of time and energy of office personnel.
Promotes efficiency of staff.
Proper utilization of floor space.
Speed in inter – communication.
Better use of office machines and equipment.
Types of Office Layout
Office layout may be classified into two categories, They are
1. Process Layout: In process layout, both equipment and employees are arranged according to the sequence of operations. For example, the filing section may be located next to the despatch section and so on.
2. Group Layout: In group layout, employees are placed in a separate partition where similar activities are carried on and office machines are fitted with another section. For example, all computers are fitted in separate room i.e, computer room.