CHAPTER FIVE Office premises and environment

CHAPTER FIVE

Office premises and environment

Securing office building or space

The office building should not only be located at a suitable site, it also should be of the proper size and shape. Its design and arrangement should be such as to adequately serve the particular requirement of the enterprise

Owned office

Fully owned office has the following

Advantages

  • Can be planned and designed to the exact requirements of the organization
  • Can be constructed in a suitable location to desire all the accidental advantages
  • The surplus space can be rented out
  • An attractive office building will enhance the prestige of the business with its staff, customers and the public

Buying an existing building

  • It saves time spent on construction or if its available at a bargain price
  • It may also be the only option in a specific location where all building space has already been occupied
  • But the plan and design of such buildings may not fit the exact requirements’
  • And the location may not be a suitable one
  • It’s of course possible to adapt or alter the design to suit the requirement but it will mean additional cost

Renting or leasing

  • This may be convenient
  • Arrangement for medium and small offices and newly started firms
  • Suitable where the requirements of space is limited or the business isn’t stable or permanent character
  • The cost of owning office accommodation is beyond the capacity of the firm

Disadvantages

  • Its rarely possible to get the accommodation exactly suited to the requirements
  • To get it in the most suited location
  • Leased rented space can’t be adopted or altered suit the requirements or even possible to sub-lease surplus space

But

It gives management freedom to select the office space in keeping with financial capacity and the flexibility to shift the office to a better location as and when necessary

It also frees the management from maintenance costs and worries

Other aspects

  1. Size-
  2. –The size of the office building or the amount of the office space must be adequate not only for the present requirement but also for possible future expansion. The guiding principle regarding size is that it should provide adequate space for the staff and equipment to allow the most efficient performance of both.
  • Shape large
  1. A square or a rectangular shape is better than n a narrow one as the latter will obviously necessitate much working back and forth by the office staff and may not allow the most profitable utilization of  the space.
  2. Lighting and/ventilation
  3. Good lighting and ventilation is essential for ensuring a comfortable environment and for enhancing the morale and efficiency of the staff. The office should have adequate number of large windows, skylights etc. to allow entry of maximum light and free circulation of natural air.
  • Staff and customer convenience
  • –Careful attention should be given to arrangement for convenience and amenities of the staff and customers. The arrangement of the rooms should be such that customers can have easy access to the department requiring frequent visits from them eg cash department, sales department etc. Adequate provision of lifts and elevators(if necessary) cloak rooms, washrooms water fountains ,canteens for the convenience of the staff.
  1. Cost of office accommodation
  2. The cost factor will be ultimately determining the final location and selection of accommodation for the office. The cost of the office not only depends on the location of the office building or space but also depends on factors like size of space, internal arrangement etc. The aim should to strike a balance between the requirement and the capacity to bear the cost.

 

  1. Size

Size of the office building must be adequate for current and future possible expansion

-Interior decoration

It has been found from the experience that a pleasant coloring and tasteful furnishings produce a cheerful effect on the minds of workers .On the other hand a drab and groom physical surrounding depresses the mind and ultimately  affects the workers will to work. The office rooms should therefore be painted with pleasing colors and tastefully decorated to produce the desired effect.

  1. Shape

The shape may be square, rectangular long and narrow

Square or rectangular space is better than a long and narrow one as the latter will obviously necessitate much walking back and forth by office staff

  • Lighting and ventilation

Good lighting and ventilation is essential for ensuring a comfortable environment and for enhancing the morale and efficiency of the staff

The room/building should have maximum natural light and free circulation of natural air

Facilities of office organization and layout

  • Its essential that the internal arrangement of the office building fit on with the overall structure of organization and system of operation
  • The number, size and shape of rooms, the, location of the gangway’s or stairways and other arrangements should fit in with the location of departments and lay out of the staff and equipment
  • Sanitation and cleanliness-Dirty or insanity conditions not only creates an creates unpleasant depressing environment for the works but also affects their health as they have to spend a large part of the in the office.
  • Temperature and humidity. The temperature and humidity of the office rooms should be maintained at the proper level at too or cold or humid atmosphere induces physical discomfort and affects the efficiency of the clerks.

Staff and customer conveniences

The arrangement of the rooms should be such that customers can have easy access to the departments requiring frequent visits from them eg cash, sales.

There should also be provision for adequate number of cloak rooms, wash rooms, water fountains, and canteens for the convenience of the staff

Cost of office accommodation

The cost factor will dictate the final selection of accommodation for the office

The cost should not be uneconomical but at the same time efficiency shouldn’t be sacrificed merely for the sake of the economy in cost

Location of departments

  • Departments dealing with public like reception and mail office must be close to the entrance
  • Those requiring some concentration and much thinking like planning or M.D’s office should be kept a bit far to allow them to work in quieter atmosphere
  • The department with heavy machinery and equipment should be kept on ground floor
  • Those which serve other department should be kept centrally eg typing pool
  • Department should be located in such that toilets, wash basins and other facilities are within the reach of all
  • Some departments require natural light e.g. drawing department. They should be located accordingly
  • Some departments have very close relationship regarding their activities, and thus should be close to each other e.g. sales and credit

Sanitation and cleanliness

Dirty or insanitary conditions not only creates an unpleasant and depressing environment for the workers but also affects their health as they have to spend a large part of the day in office, thus the office should always be kept neat and clean

Temperature and humidity

The temperature and humidity of the office rooms should be maintained at the proper level as too hot and cold humid atmosphere induces physical discomfort and affects the efficiency of the clerks

Noise affects the efficiency of office staff to a great extent .Its important to control noise that may be external or internal

External noise may be caused by traffic movements on the street, noise from neighboring premises, factories etc.

Causes of internal noise

  • Machines movements
  • Movement and conversation of clerks, visitors
  • Creaking doors
  • Calling bells, telephones
  • Shifting of furniture from one place to another

Measures to prevent internal noise

  • Carpets or rubber mats spread on the floor will reduce the sounds caused by the movements of the clerks and other people
  • Felt pads should be placed below office machines which create noise in operation
  • Calling bells can be replaced with buzzers
  • Telephone may be kept in sound -proof booths to reduce the sound
  • Clerks must be instructed to maintain calmness
  • Workers must be engaged fully during the office hours so that they don’t waste time over idle gossip
  • Banging or creaking doors should be fitted with rubber or felt steps to reduce sound

Measures to prevent external noise   

  • Choosing the site of office away from noisy area
  • Affixing double glazing windows and doors

Office safety

Accidents can do happen to office employees, serious accidents may cause permanent disability and at least prolonged hospitalization

Nature of accidents

Accidents in offices may be caused by

  • Exposed electric wire in loose connection
  • Slippery floors or loose carpeting
  • Open drawers of desks or filing cabinets
  • Tilting backwards in reclining chairs
  • Sharp edges of office equipment, broken glass etc.
  • Unguarded moving parts of office machines
  • Pencils, sharpeners, pins etc.
  • Running or rapid walking along stairways or through doorways
  • Reading while walking along passages
  • Inadequate lighting or worn out tread on stairways

Causes of accidents

  1. Mechanical causes
  2. Physiological causes
  3. Psychological causes

Measures for ensuring safety

  • Provision of safe working place
  • Safeguarding hazardous machines and equipment
  • Provision of safety clothing
  • Maintenance of orderliness and cleanliness
  • Provision of first aid service
  • Provision of fire lighting equipment
  • Safety education and training of employees
  • Promoting safety consciousness

Office security

In large organizations, office security is a major problem for office managers

Everyday risks pilferage or theft of cash and materials by staff or public have to be faced by almost all organization

To protect confidentiality of office secrets as well as the assets and employees against such risks, an adequate security arrangement for the office is essential

Causes of security hazards

  • No check on unauthorized and undesirable visitors
  • Unguarded entrances and exits of the office building and compound
  • Leaving windows and skylight opens
  • Access of all and sundry to confidential documents of all kinds
  • Copying of confidential documents by unauthorized persons
  • No checking of visitors brief-cases
  • Access to cash and safes by too many people and keeping of too much cash on the premises
  • No control over keys of safes and doors
  • No check on taking of files and documents out of the office by staff
  • Staff talking freely of confidential matters inside and outside the office
  • Cars and good vehicle left unguarded in places where these can be tampered with
  • No system of checking in and out of the staff and outsiders leaving open chances of pilferage of stationery, office equipment etc.
  • No security vetting of newly recruited staff

Security measures likely to be effective

Safeguarding the premises

Closing all doors, windows and sky lights

A fool proof burglar alarm system should be installed to alert security staff

Compound should be regularly patrolled by security staff

Regulating the entry of visitors

  • Entry of all visitors should be checked
  • There should preferably be only entrance of visitors
  • Preferably each visitor should be provided with a pass
  • Unless well known to the office a visitor should be allowed to visit the department he has business with
  • Brief cases of visitors should be checked at the entry point

Security regulations for the staff

Each member of the staff should be vetted for security during recruitment

  • Security regulation for the staff should be trained carefully in consultation with the representatives
  • Each employee should be issued with an identity card with photograph and signature of the person
  • Each employee irrespective of seniority should be asked to identify himself
  • Regulation should provide for checking of briefcases and package of staff at the same time of entry and exist
  • Protecting confidentiality of mail and communication systems

 

TYPES OF OFFICE PLANS

This refer to how the office premises are to be divided up for the purpose of carrying out the different functions of an office

Open office

Consists of a large hall, or room wherein the entire clerical staff seat and work

Advantages of open office

  • Better space utilization is possible because space has not been lost by partitions
  • The supervisors feel easy to watch the office
  • Its possible to reduce the number of supervisors
  • The layout of the office can be altered or changed easily
  • There is more economy in arrangement of light
  • It reduces the movement of staff
  • Better working conditions possible
  • Decoration ,cleaning and maintenance can be done inexpensively

Disadvantages

  • Work will be affected by visitors and movement of the office staff themselves
  • There is internal noise, because conversation and talk in the office
  • Infections and diseases may spread quickly
  • Secrecy can’t be maintained
  • The office will appear to be a crowded place
  • Top executives may not feel comfortable in an open office
  • A big hall may not be efficiently supervised

Partitioned or private offices

These offices are small rooms occupied by departments. Each department will be placed in each  room. Such rooms are allotted by considering the nature of confidential matter to be dealt in or for top official etc.

 

Office landscaping

Office landscaping means to make efforts to bring nature to an office by  natural things on size of office staff. The introduction of the office staff landscaping increases efficiency of the staff and helps to reduce strain. The following can be taken to achieve this purpose.

  • Some flowers can be kept in the office in pots.
  • Some natural scenery can be painted on the walls of office.
  • Sometimes office equates having the shape of wild animals or birds can be used.
  • Low volume music.

 

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