I work at a small, scrappy startup that makes accounting software for small businesses. We’re growing fast, which is wonderful but also painful. Right now we spend a large chunk of our time screening and interviewing people. Once we manage to hire the right person, we’re tasked with figuring out a suitable place to put him or her.
To save on overhead we take the Aladdin’s genie approach to office space—phenomenal cosmic power, in an itty bitty living space.
When we hire someone new, we want to make sure that they are comfortable while still making the best use of our space. Often, adding just a couple more people requires us to rearrange completely.
Unfortunately, hiring a space planner at our level of operation is a non-starter. That said, I’ve found Lucidchart to be an effective floor planning alternative that allows me to do all the space planning myself.
Here are three tips for getting started with Lucidchart’s floor plan shape library.
Pay attention to scale
When you plan an office space with Lucidchart, you aren’t spitballing something that might work. You can set the exact scale that you are working with and make sure that your space, furniture, walls, windows and doors are all accurate.
I’m the kind of person that likes to iterate until something is right. However, if you iterate in the physical world you end up wasting a lot of time trying to figure out how many powerstrips you will need to buy for a given arrangement of desks based on where the outlets are. Space planning is a team sport in which the more people who are involved, the more likely everyone is going to lose . . . their minds.
You are going to be tempted to just make things “good enough.” However, it’s worth taking the time to pick an inches to feet scale that makes sense for your space and then making sure that all objects in the floor plan layout are true to that scale. I can promise you that whatever quick layout problem you are trying to solve will come up again in the future—and you’ll be thanking yourself if you have a master document of the existing layout to use as a starting point.
Take advantage of advanced shapes
In true Lucidchart fashion, they have really nailed the execution of how you can interact with shapes on the canvas for space layouts. Many shapes in the floorplan library have advanced features, which are there for a reason. Take time to check them out. For example, I like that I can open and close a door slightly so I can see how much clearance I have between a door and the closest piece of furniture.
In order to get a high-fidelity representation of an office space both at rest and in motion, I recommend using layers. Objects overlap in real life, so make sure you build that into your floor plan. I can visualize what it looks like when people are sitting with their chairs slightly under their desk, but I can also see what it looks like when people leave things a little askew. This feature is key for me, as there’s not a lot of room for error in our cozy space.
While I currently use Lucidchart to quickly rearrange a small office layout, I’ve worked for both startups and large companies and see this approach proving effective no matter your company or circumstance.
For example, let’s say you’re signing a lease for a new building. You can use Lucidchart to complete a detailed space evaluation and make sure the area fits your needs before you seal it with your signature. If you’re going to stay put for a long time, this tool makes it easy to plan a remodel. For larger companies with complex team structures, Lucidchart is perfect for ensuring that everyone is seated where they need to be.
Apple may have the ability to spend millions on a circular campus to solve their space planning woes, but for the rest of us, Lucidchart is a great option. I know it’s been just the right choice for me in terms of affordability, flexibility, and convenience.