The best office layout – linear v radial v organic

Companies are always looking at the most effective way to organise their office interiors. We take a look at three approaches to this challenge: linear, radial and organic office layouts.

Linear office layout

A traditional structure with areas and departments arranged in sequence, often in straight lines.

A linear office layout if often favoured by those with many established departments. Savills’ global headquarters at 33 Margaret Street is a good example of this with 800 staff seated in a linear, open plan layout across seven floors totalling almost 100,000 sq ft.

Radial office layout

A modern structure with areas and departments arranged in a circle from a central point of focus. For example, publishers may choose to organise their office in this way so the editor or editors are the nucleus of the layout.

Shoreditch advertising agency Mother adopts this style of office design. Each member of staff uses a 250ft concrete desk that is at the heart of their space in the Tea Building, which was originally built as a bacon factory in the 1930s.

Stephen Ledger-Thomas from Mother explains: “The great thing about the way the office works is that there’s not a spatial hierarchy in terms of where people sit. Every two months or so everyone switches tables including all the partners. You can only have as much stuff as you carry. This idea of people shifting around is really important, everyone should be aware of what is going on with everyone else at all times, nothing is broken down into silos.”

Organic office layout

A fluid and more flexible structure that reflects the people who use the space and how they use it as opposed to the building itself or a company structure.

One company who has implemented an organic office layout is The Barbarian Group, a digital advertising agency in New York. “The project is one huge table going through a big room.” says Clive Wilkinson, the architect behind it. “They [The Barbarian Group] were looking to achieve a cohesive single community in one space. The only thing you needed was a place to put your lap top and other devices.” The idea of a single table that snakes around the entire office was born with Wilkinson seeing the table as being “like an electrical wire, connecting everyone together.”

So which office layout is best? “It really does depend on your unique needs.” explains K2 Space design manager Chris Alldred. “Office design and layout should be influenced by your ways of working and company culture. Coupled with this, your building will often dictate the right layout for you.”

Crossover – a flexible bench by Senator

Alldred is quick to point out that a new office layout is realistic and affordable for any company. “There are conventional furniture products available to buy that encourage flexible, collaborative working, with Crossover from Senator being a really good example.”

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