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A guide to different types of office spaces

Posted on: 15th November 2022

Reading time:  8 mins

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There are many different types of office spaces, all of which can benefit both employees, freelancers and employers in different ways. Typically, when we think of an ‘office space’ our minds may lead us to a serviced office space packed with nine-to-five workers.

While that type of office is very much alive today, there are now many more workspace options for companies to choose from. It's all about picking the one that suits your business goals, the makeup of your team and what kind of company culture you're aiming for.

What is an office space?

An office space is often considered a permanent HQ for a business. However, as the world of work is changing - with many adopting hybrid working -  the term ‘office space’ is also evolving. Put simply, an office space is a self-contained space that has the sole purpose of accommodating people doing desk-based work. No matter the industry, workers come together to share a workspace with all the essentials, such as WiFi, printing facilities, and other amenities. These office spaces are usually privately owned by a single company or shared between multiple users.

Different types of office spaces

Once you've decided that you want office space (as opposed to, say, working from home), you now need to work out what type to choose. Do you need a flexible workspace or something more traditional? Or maybe a hybrid of the two? Here's our guide to the most popular types.

Traditional office space

The traditional office is really any workplace used by a single company, where each employee has a dedicated desk that they use every day. If an employee is on annual leave, is off sick or is away on business, their desk will be empty. This model often also dictates that each person has their own desktop PC, with all their local files contained on it, and their own cupboard with things they need for work.

Large corporates usually have this model, as it has traditionally been difficult to share digital resources and personal storage in an accessible way, but cloud storage or keeping data on a local server can offer flexibility, which can open up other workspace options and bring more efficiency. Traditional offices are moving with the times, especially since Covid-19 struck, and can form a base camp for a business that works on a hybrid model, mixing with coworking, hot desking and staff working from home.

Creative office space

Creative office spaces are like traditional spaces, but are built with collaboration in mind rather than privacy and quietness. They are usually more open plan and don't have the separators, and will feature communal areas, breakout spaces, meeting rooms and other features to encourage collaboration and productivity.

Hybrid office space

A hybrid office consists of employees who have the flexibility to work both remotely and in-office, allowing for more freedom over when and where work is completed.

Contiguous office space

As the name suggests, a contiguous office is two or more office spaces used by a single company, but which are adjacent to each other. Each space usually has its own workforce, department or purpose, but it could simply be dictated by the available layout of the building. If a company has a contract a whole floor of a tower block, it's probably contiguous.

Private office space

Privacy is important in business, especially when working on confidential plans, discussing personal information or viewing and storing sensitive files or paperwork. Private offices tend to be smaller, with lockable doors, blinds on windows, soundproof walls and buzzer access. Of course, some managers just like to have their own office because it's quiet or more prestigious, and that's their choice. Either way, a private office is exactly as it sounds.

Customisable offices

Most of the time, the property owner determines on the furniture arrangement and décor of a leased office, but with a customisable office, the tenant has a little more flexibility. It means they can rearrange desks and seating, create break-out spaces, and perhaps even change some semi-permanent features, like having their branding on the walls. Sometimes tenants can pick the furniture from the owner's collection; other times they provide their own.

Shared offices

When it comes to the flexible workspace, there's nothing that quite matches the shared office. In this arrangement, workers are sharing the space with other people who may or may not work for their own company. Often called coworking spaces, they are the ultimate flexible office space, and are popular with the creatives, freelancers, digital nomads, startups and entrepreneurs who pop in and out all day. Nowadays, large companies also rent a few desks in shared offices and offer employees access to coworking as part of a flexible employment package.

Shared offices frequently occupy prestigious parts of city centres and are beautiful, trendy buildings, whether that's refurbished classic buildings or a brand new office space built for the job. There are many fashionable shared offices that feature pods, sofas, breakfast bars, beanbags, standing desks and other places to sit (or stand). They'll have their own reception and concierge services, and often come attached to meeting rooms, conference rooms, showers and canteens, and sometimes even bars and games rooms. With so many types of coworking space to choose from, it's always good to shop around and get a feel for the vibe.

Day office

The day office is a really flexible place to do work, as you can hire it for just a day – and some providers let you hire it by the hour. Unlike a coworking space, this has the benefits of a private office or perhaps a small traditional office. It can be useful to rent an office for a day if you're working out of town, or if you're only working one day a week. Under these circumstances, it can be a very cost-effective workplace.

Serviced office space

A serviced office is one that is managed by a third party, which takes care of furnishings, connectivity, services, shared spaces such as receptions and corridors, cleaning, maintenance and all other amenities. It's often thought of as a landlord and tenant arrangement, with the company taking out a long-term lease on the real estate. In practice, most types of office in this list are also serviced. The alternative is a company-owned property, where they have to deal with every aspect of its day to day running, even if they contract much of it out to third parties.

How to choose an office space which is right for you

As this guide illustrates, whether you choose a traditional or a flexible office space will depend on how much flexibility you and your workforce need. If you want all your team in the same place so it's easier to communicate, share resources and break out for meetings, there's nothing wrong with a traditional office space. You can still combine it with hot desk facilities and hybrid working if you choose.

If you need to be more flexible, or if your typical workforce expects flexibility, then a blend of the office types above can work. Many businesses get by perfectly well with a small head office housing two or three people, and a large, global workforce using coworking spaces or working from home. There's no right or wrong office space, but some types just make the whole process of running a particular business that much easier. Take a look at all our office space options for more information.

Topics in this article

  • Productivity


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