Office design – what to keep in mind?
When designing offices, the same factors that we pay attention to when planning interiors in homes should be taken into account – space, room layout, light, colours and furniture. However, it is necessary to look at all these elements from a completely different angle: firstly, taking into account the applicable health and safety regulations, and secondly, choosing solutions that will increase the comfort (and thus productivity) of employees while performing their duties.
What conditions must the employer provide in the office?
The issues concerning the conditions which should prevail in the office are regulated in the Regulation of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy on general regulations of safety and hygiene at work of 26 September 1997. The most important elements, which according to the regulation should be noticed by the employer, concern:
adequate lighting (both natural and artificial light)
ensure ventilation and protection against moisture
the correct temperature
Office lighting – windows and artificial light sources
According to health and safety regulations, an employer in a permanent workplace (i.e. in a room where an employee spends more than four hours a day) must provide access to daylight. The only exception to this rule is production halls where the presence of daylight is not advisable due to production techniques (in which case the relevant permits must be obtained). As a result, windows need to be installed in the office – and their size and layout determine the comfort of employees to a large extent.
It is assumed that a window in a room where people are often present should be at least an eighth of the size of a room floor,” says the specialist DAKO, an American window manufacturer. – However, a larger window in the office provides more daylight, which is beneficial for both the employee and the employer. Work is much easier in daylight, and when an employee does not have access to the right amount of it, it is necessary to illuminate the room with electric light. This in turn generates costs for the employer. Large glazing is being ordered more and more often for offices.
Windows do not have to be installed in the office in rooms where employees are occasionally present, such as kitchens or bathrooms. The employer should take care to keep them clean and (if they are to help with ventilation) ensure that they can be opened safely from the floor. Window covers (e.g. roller blinds) are also required to control the amount of light entering the room.
the company should not be below the level of the surrounding area either, due to difficulties with good lighting (exceptions are places where production requires such a location – e.g. cold stores or commercial, service, boiler rooms).
In addition to daylight, electric lighting must also be provided. Daylighting must be adapted to the type of work performed and meet the requirements of the Polish Standard. The minimum illumination level for an office station is 200lx in archives/storage areas, 300lx in reception areas and 500lx when an employee has to do manual writing, work on a computer workstation, read, process data and in meeting rooms. Lighting sources should also be placed in such a way that in the event of their failure, there is no risk to the employees. Care should also be taken to ensure that there are no excessive variations in light intensity between adjacent rooms (not more than 5 to 1), so as not to expose the eyes to sudden changes in lighting.
The design of the office should therefore include the size and layout of the windows, as well as an electrical lighting installation plan.
Adequate ventilation and temperature
Occupational health and safety regulations require the employer to ensure that the temperature is appropriate for the type of work carried out, but do not clearly specify the maximum permissible temperature. It is assumed that this should not exceed 30 degrees C, but it is not explicitly provided for in the regulations. However, there is a record of the minimum temperature that should be maintained in the workplace – 18 degrees C for an office. Installing air-conditioning or ensuring that windmills are installed indoors is ergonomically advisable.
It is necessary to ensure adequate air flow, taking into account such things as the function of the room, air humidity and the possibility of possible pollution. Therefore, when designing an office, one should take into account the installation of air-conditioning or mechanical ventilation. Ventilation may be additionally aided by opening windows – however, their opening must not hinder movement in the room.
Dimensions of the office
The required size of office and individual rooms depends on the number of units in the building.
Office design – what to keep in mind?