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Open-plan working environment and consistent design

​There are eight principles that guide workplace design, implementation and management.

Standards

Design and environment

  • Overall Occupancy Density (total NLA divided by headcount) shall be no higher than 16m2. Lighting levels in open plan workspace shall be 400 lux maintained average luminance.
  • Indoor design conditions shall be:
    • heating 21°C +/- 1.5°C
    • cooling 22°C +/- 1.5 °C.
  • Comfortable acoustic environment:
    • open-plan area PNC (Preferred Noise Criterion) shall be maximum 37–40.
  • The base building (eg services and fire stairs) shall be capable of accommodating an occupancy density of at least 10m2 per person.

Guidelines

Space configuration

When planning new office space, seek out sites that offer large floor plates as this will help reduce the physical distance between teams as well as being more cost effective. Fewer but larger floors reduce the duplication of infrastructure that is characteristic of sites with multiple small floor plates. Preference should also be given to floors with minimal building core (eg lifts, fire stairs) and columns protruding into the usable workspace.

Open-plan work areas should feature as much natural light as possible by being situated around floor perimeters or close to atriums. Where possible, enclosed spaces, such as utility bays and meeting rooms, should be located in the core of the building, to maximise the use of those artificially lit areas.

Centralise facilities (large collaborative ‘hub’ spaces, utility areas, kitchens, meeting rooms) on each floor around the main entry, lifts or stairs to create opportunities for staff to have spontaneous interactions and ‘impromptu meetings’ and to reduce the disruption to individual work areas.

Design

  • Open-plan working environments should be designed to encourage individual high-concentration work areas, while creating communual activity areas and large collaboration 'hubs' for use by individuals or for group communication and socialisation. See illustration below.
  • Communal activity areas and collaborative ‘hub’ areas should be Wi-Fi enabled, non-bookable and able to accommodate multiple functions and purposes such as touch-down areas for individual work, telephone calls, meetings – including audio and visual presentations, short breaks.
  • To allow for future re-configuration and flexibility, use furniture or other non-permanent fittings, such as screens or plants, to divide space rather than more permanent fixtures such as conventional walls or partitions.
  • To reduce costs associated with internal moves, furniture should stay in place when people move or teams expand or contract.
  • Fit-out materials and finishes should be appropriate for government: modest, cost effective and durable.

Senior staff work settings

  • Ideally senior management should sit in the open-plan environment in the same configuration as other staff.
  • Where this is not practical, chief executives’ areas will need to be provisioned on an agency by agency basis. Refer to Leadership work settings for further information.

Office design scenario: open plan working environments

Open-plan office design

Open-plan office design
Open-plan office design

The area shaded green in the diagram above indicates office space for quiet, focussed individual work. The area shaded red indicates space for active, collaborative team work. 

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