Aug 26, 2016

What is the Best Office Layout for Productivity?

Last updated: May 14, 2018

If you are considering a redesign or rebuild of your company’s working space, you’ve probably been wondering:

  • What is the best layout for my physical space?
  • Can I use my layout to improve productivity?
  • How can my layout communicate my corporate culture and workflow?
  • What features should I be considering?

Westmark Construction has 30 years in commercial construction, and we have worked with some of the best space planners and interior designers. Along with our own knowledge, we’ve done some research and compiled a list of tips and considerations when dreaming of your perfect office!

Open or Closed Office?

One of the first major decisions you will want to make is whether your business would benefit more from an open office layout or more enclosed office spaces.

An open office is generally more conducive to collaboration, group work, and brainstorming. This type of layout is perfect for spirited discussions and generating creative ideas. But as with anything, it’s not perfect – all of the conversation can make it noisy and distracting when it’s necessary to put the nose to the grindstone. If you are leaning towards an open office, desk organization is key, and noise-cancelling headphones are helpful for shutting out ambient noise. You can also designate some spaces or work areas as “distraction-free zones,” so employees can opt to work with less interruption when they need to.

A closed office is better for uninterrupted workflow, which can be critical to certain types of businesses. Each person has their own designated space free of visual and auditory distractions so they can easily get in the zone. If you prefer closed or cubicle offices – you can’t avoid it due to the nature of your business – you can offer some common work areas to encourage collaboration and communication. Beyond a standard board or meeting room, you might want to also offer an informal space designed for comfort and creative thought.

Organization of People

No matter whether you choose an open or closed office, you will also need to think about how your team member’s workspaces are arranged in relation to one another. A common solution is to place important or “head offices” of upper management in one area of a building. However, recent research has shown that when team members are grouped based on who typically works on projects together, productivity and creativity of the team members, and the team as a whole, increases. The reason why is obvious – it improves communication, and working with others on the same goal will help members stay on task.


Commercial buildings have to follow construction code requirements for lighting levels, but that’s only the surface level of good lighting design. Natural light is a wonderful – and free! – mood booster, and can improve the energy efficiency of your office, so you should take advantage of it whenever possible. The level of lighting may even have an impact! It’s believed that brighter lighting suits analytical thought, and dim lighting encourages creativity. If your workspace needs to be able to offer both, install dimmers strategically throughout your lighting design, or make use of lamps to make your lighting levels more mobile and controllable.

For more ideas on lighting and light fixtures, check out our post The Best Light Fixtures for Offices & Residential Spaces


In order to keep your workspace looking clean and professional, you should incorporate plenty of storage spaces into your office layout.

Thoughtful, ample storage helps keep things organized and easy to find, decreasing frustration and wasted time searching for things. Along with standard file cabinets and desk drawers, you can also include larger storage units and shelving as part of your overall office design and layout. Units can even act as functional dividers between working spaces. From prebuilt to custom, modern to rustic, there’s a solution to fit every office setting and budget – you can hire a commercial construction contractor, space planner and interior designer to help you out!


You definitely want to invest in quality seating, for both your employees, clients, and guests.

Your employees are likely spending the majority of their time in their office chairs, so they should be comfortable and promote excellent posture. A rising trend recently is the introduction of sit and stand desks that can be raised or lowered on the fly to fit an individual’s workflow at any given time. It’s just as important to consider seating in boardrooms and reception areas – your seating choices are setting an important precedent. Unique colours or silhouettes will stand out and make a statement in your office!


For many of us, there’s nothing that compares being out in nature, getting energized and having our stresses melt away. You can help to simulate the aesthetic and invoke those same feelings in our workspace, too! Including spaces for plants and greenery within your office design can improve your office productivity. Research shows that plants in an office can lower stress levels, improve an employee’s recovery time from demanding activities, and are even believed to reduce office air pollution levels. Get creative, and include a plant wall or other main greenery feature within your office somewhere! Or keep it simple with potted plants placed tastefully throughout the office.


When selecting colours, reach beyond the standard white. Use company colours, or select your colours to evoke a desired mood. Cool colours are considered relaxing and can enhance performance on tasks requiring the generation of new ideas. Warm colours are believed to improve performance on tasks requiring attention to detail.


Decorate your walls with art and decals that have meaning to your business. Consider prominently displaying a quote or slogan that aligns with your company values, a creative display that incorporates your logo, or show off photos and images of your company’s work or community involvement.

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