Office Types: Types and Classes of Office Layout Plans

An office is a room, set of rooms, or building that’s used as a place for professional, commercial or bureaucratic work. This definition is general since offices can take many different layouts with the focus being on having the most conducive conditions to perform specific work. 

The most common office types include the traditional office space, creative office space, coworking office space, contiguous office space, and executive suites. These types of offices differ in many ways notably the size and layout plans. In choosing an office type, focus on the size, work to be done, budget, culture and growth plans. 

Common Office Types

The types of offices you should consider include the following:

1. Traditional Office Space

Among the most common types of office layout is the traditional office space. It has a classic look and is often used by some of the oldest businesses such as law firms, banks and hedge funds. Its focus is on providing a calm, quiet and private area given the nature of the businesses.

Often, this office type of office is leased for a significant amount of time starting from 3 years upwards. If you’re considering running a traditional business for long, there isn’t a better office type to this one. 

Features of Traditional Office Space

  • Reception
  • Bullpen
  • Boardroom
  • Private office

A traditional office space is favored for its ability to provide privacy and elicit confidence in the customers by the look of the office. 

2. Contiguous Office Space

A contiguous office layout plan has several suites combined by the same firm, on the same floor and the suites are adjacent to each other. This office type works well for large firms with several departments each one located close to the other one. If the business is even larger, it could create a contiguous office space on more than one floor of the building. 

Features of Contiguous Office Space

  • Reception
  • Bullpen
  • Cubicles
  • Private offices

Pros of Contiguous Office Space

  • Cost-effective
  • Enhances communication
  • Makes supervision easy

Cons of Contiguous Office Space

  • Lacks privacy
  • Can allow distractions and noises

This type of office can be as large as the firm pleases and is great for hosting the headquarters of a firm or simply centralizing operations. 

3. Executive Suites

Executive suites are the most luxurious of offices as they’re serviced and furnished with the best features anyone could ask for. These include high-end furniture, phone and internet services and dedicated workers. 

When leasing an executive suite, you can get the office for as short a period as a month. Being already serviced, you can have it rearranged to your taste with the help of an office layout planner app. This makes it easier to carry out certain specific tasks core to your business. 

Features of Executive Suites

  • Reception
  • Serviced 
  • Furnished 
  • Private offices

These are great for when one needs a private area with some of the best facilities. 

4. Creative Office Space

One of the best small office layout ideas is the creative office space. This office type is focused on enhancing collaboration and teamwork through allowing as much access to other employees and resources as possible. It’s the favored office plan for the arts, creative agencies, advertising firms and start-ups. 

To encourage collaboration, the approach is to break down as many literal and psychological walls as possible. For this reason, creative office spaces have as few walls as possible. When walls are present, they’ll often be transparent or a third of the way to the ceiling. You will find more tables, large windows and other features that encourage thinking and teamwork in general. 

Features of Creative Office Space

  • Reception
  • Few barriers and walls
  • Transparent walls
  • Open-plan layout
  • Many tables, few chairs
  • Wooden floors
  • High ceilings
  • Large windows 
  • Wet pantries
  • Uses systems furniture

With creative offices, the focus is one providing fluidity in the workplace so that employees share and promote their ideas together. 

5. Coworking Space

Among the types of office layouts most favored for startups is the coworking space as it combines small office layout ideas with the advantages of the creative office space. Generally, it’s an office meant to be shared as most of the amenities (desks, meeting rooms, break rooms) are designed to be shared. Even the amenities themselves are usually rented rather than bought to save on costs. 

Firms with some of the best coworking spaces include UrbanHive, WeWork, Jelly, Wix, and Idea Space. 

Features of Coworking Space

  • Shared amenities
  • Small spaces
  • Few private areas
  • Uses systems furniture

Pros of Coworking Space 

  • Easy interactions with clients and customers
  • Cost-effective
  • Provides professional networking

Cons of Coworking Space

  • Little privacy
  • Low levels of security

With coworking office spaces, the aim is to save costs while still providing comfort and focus by the employees. 

6. Shared Office Space

Shared office spaces are office layout plans in which a firm with extra space rents or leases it out to another firm to save on costs. It offers some of the most flexible terms to the second firm and provides some benefits of inter-company relations. 


  • Reception 
  • At least two firms involved
  • Some shared amenities
  • Flexible leases/rents

Shared office spaces are a win-win situation for the firms involved. As one recoups some of the rent it pays for the building, the other one gets to use the available amenities and pays lower rent than it would have paid had it rented out the building on its own. 

7. Virtual Office

Virtual offices are the cheapest and most flexible of offices you’ll find anywhere. Their main cost-saving aspect comes in the form of a lack of physical space. Rather than renting out floor space, you just hire a firm to have your business address, mailing services, reception and call-handling services. They can also have some meeting rooms used only when the need arises. 

Virtual offices are suited to firms that have lots of field activities, employees on the move and those working from home or other locations like freelancers. 

Among the firms providing the best virtual office services are Servcorp and Regus. 


  • Very little physical space 
  • Employees in different locations

Virtual offices are gaining popularity given the need to work from home as occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

8. Cellular Office Space

A cellular office space is an office layout with cubicles arranged in rows of partitions and with aisles between them for foot traffic. The partitions are created with doors, windows or ceiling stud partitions. 


  • Reception
  • Cubicles
  • Few shared amenities 

Pros of Cellular Office Space

  • Encourages autonomous work
  • Provides privacy 
  • Improves concentration and focus

Cons of Cellular Office Space

  • Takes up lots of space
  • Lack of communication between employees

Cellular office spaces are meant to provide privacy without the need to build individual offices for the employees. 

9. Combination Office Plan

Also called a hybrid office plan, a combination office plan is an office plan whereby the user takes the best features from other types of office plans to come up with a hybrid setup for their office. One can take the openness of a creative office space and combine it with the shared amenities in a coworking space. They can easily have some departments work as virtual offices and so on. 

Pros of a Combination Office Plan

  • Saves on costs
  • Smooth communication
  • Improves productivity 

Cons of a Combination Office Plan

  • Distractions between employees
  • Can be difficult to manage given the many structures adopted

While one of the best in terms of meeting the needs of the workforce, a combination office plan requires lots of planning to avoid losing focus and wasting resources. 

What to Consider When Choosing an Office Type 

The factors to consider to get the right type of office include the ones below:

1. Company Size

Generally speaking, the larger the firm, the larger the floor space needed to accommodate everyone. For this reason, large firms will often go with the contiguous office types while the small firms will go with coworking, creative office spaces and executive suites. Medium-sized firms will often go with the traditional office space and executive suits.

2. Budget

Firms with a limited budget should consider the creative and coworking office spaces as they’re meant to save on costs, space and encourage lots of teamwork to ensure growth. On the other hand, established firms that can afford costlier resources can utilize executive suites, contiguous spaces and the traditional office space. 

3. Company Culture

Companies that thrive on collaboration and teamwork will do great with the creative and coworking office spaces while those focused on privacy and bureaucracy will thrive with the traditional and contiguous offices spaces and executive suites. 

Most firms will, however, have a mix of the two at differing degrees. For example, a firm can have a section for brainstorming which leans towards the creative office space while also having a private section very similar to the traditional office space. 

4. Growth Plans

Organizations that are growing fast or have growth plans can always go with a contiguous office layout as it allows for easy expansion. The fact that the firm would be having the whole of a certain floor means that they can always expand to new sections of the floor when the need arises. Smaller firms or those without growth plans in the foreseeable future can always go for more rigid plans such as the traditional ones or executive suites. 

A good grasp of these factors enables you decide on the best way to set up an office. 

Office Building Classifications

While office types focus on aspects such as the floor space and how the amenities are arranged, office building classifications focus on the number of amenities an office has. Office building classification is the categorization of an office building based on its amenities, location, architecture, cost and rent. The amount of office space doesn’t matter when it comes to classifications. 

Office building classification isn’t a fixed set of rules since it’s relative and there are gray areas between classes although there are distinct features between them. A building, for example, can easily move between classes with the addition or removal of some amenities. 

The classes are as follows:

1. Trophy Office Space

A trophy office space is a status symbol and landmark building with unique features and the best services, finishes and construction. It’s usually located on a prime street and would command the highest cost and rent as there aren’t other buildings like it. 

2. Class A Office Space

A class A office space is luxurious and among the largest and best quality office spaces available. Often, they can be found in buildings that are new, with historical significance or vintage value. They offer the best location, infrastructure, best ownership and are mostly serviced. They command high rents and other costs. 

3. Class B Office Space

Compared to Class A offices, Class B buildings are often older but with good reliable amenities and ownership. They thus command less rent and other costs with this aspect appealing to smaller firms looking for good amenities at a bargain. They’re often located in prime areas but with fewer and cheaper amenities. 

4. Class C Office Space

Class C office buildings are simply Class B ones with less amenities. For example, they lack lobby attendants and other amenities considered ‘excessive’. Owing to their basic nature, Class C office buildings are few as they’re easily outcompeted by the higher classes. The owners also only need to improve a few areas to give them a higher class. 

Factors Determining Office Building Classifications

To assign a class to a building, focus on the following aspects:

  • Location
  • Age of the building 
  • Historical significance (if any)
  • Ownership
  • HVAC
  • Constuction awards (LEED certification for example)
  • Curb appeal 
  • Maintenance
  • Building infrastructure
  • Plumbing

The better these aspects, the higher the office class of the building. 

Corporate and Non-Corporate Offices

Another categorization of office types is grouping them into corporate and non-corporate offices. Corporate offices are fully structured office spaces with executive/manager cabins, hot desks, work areas and other designated rooms for conferences, meetings and other activities. They’re favored by established firms. 

On the other hand, non-corporate offices are flexible working areas with only the most core areas to keep everyone working. These are favored by startups and medium-sized firms owing to their flexibility and lower costs. 

Corporate OfficesNon-Corporate Offices
Traditional workspaces having executive cabins and hot desks. Special/designated rooms and areas for meetings and other activitiesDecreasing utilizationAbout 40% of the office area is utilizedOrganized real estate sectorHigh fixed costsAlternate offices for activities done away from the typical officeHome officesTransit offices such as those in airport lounges and hotelsCommunity offices such as coffee shops and shared workspaces (coworking)Driven by technology and innovationEconomical due to variable costing (pay what you use model)Unstructured support systemFavored by startups freelancers, home workers, entrepreneurs


  • What are training rooms?

Training rooms are uninterrupted spaces meant to accommodate groups of different sizes and with a projector, comfortable seating, flipcharts, a screen, projector, and an echo-free acoustic. 

  • What is a team office?

A team office is a cozy space meant to encourage teamwork and has shared amenities both to cut costs and encourage sharing. 

  • What is a conference room?

A conference room is a meeting room equipped with a shared table, individual chairs, plug-points, a screen, projector, telephones and flipcharts. 

  • What is a BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) space?

A BPO space an office space with individual or shared desks equipped with computers and telephones for BPO roles such as business development and customer service. 

  • What is a day office?

A day office is a low-cost and instantly available office on hourly or daily basis one can hire for temporary use. 

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