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Office design tips: Reimagining multipurpose space 

Multipurpose workspace with three individuals working

The evolution of the modern office has left many businesses with extra multipurpose space. What once may have housed paperwork, file cabinets or equipment is now an open interior space waiting to be reimagined. 

Unfortunately, this multipurpose space is often underutilized, or sometimes not used at all. 

The past decade has brought a seismic shift in the layout and design of modern offices. Paper documents are now digital, clearing space where rows of cabinets and bookshelves once stood. Employees are taking on additional responsibilities, often assuming duties of two or three workers. A McKinsey survey noted 58% of Americans have opportunities to work from home each week, freeing up square footage in the office. 

That has left businesses with a rare conundrum – what to do with the surplus of space? 

OFDC Commercial Interiors offers office planning and design services, as well as reconfiguration services, to businesses in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota and Manatee counties. Multipurpose space design is becoming a popular request. 

A stand-along table with two chairs in an empty office space.

What is a multipurpose space? 

Multipurpose space is generally an open area within an office where employees are not permanently assigned as day-to-day workstations. These spaces vary in size and can be enclosed or part of an open floorplan. 

For an interior designer or planner, multipurpose space provides a blank slate to create an inspiring, useful space to work and learn. Several factors determine how to reimagine that extra space: 

  • Square footage: Anything larger than a standard office, generally 100-150 square feet or larger, can be considered multipurpose space. A larger multipurpose space provides more options. A room’s dimensions – square, rectangular or irregular polygon – are also important. 
  • Technology: An interactive whiteboard, overhead projection system or TV screen can dictate how a room is positioned and potential uses. The presence of Wi-Fi and/or an Internet connection also is important. 
  • Furniture: Tables and seating are essential elements. A true multipurpose space is flexible, so furniture should be mobile. 
  • Windows: A multipurpose space does not need windows. While natural light can lead to higher energy and productivity, it also can cause a glare on screens. That can possibly limit the use of monitors, screens and projectors. 

READ MORE: Moveable offices: How tables, chairs on wheels can transform workspaces 

A bright multipurpose workspace with two large windows and light floors.

How can businesses use that space? 

The size of a room plays an important role in how businesses can utilize a multipurpose space. Below are outlines of three scenarios for a typical medium-sized business: 

Small Spaces 

  • Size: 200-400 square feet 
  • Description: Best used as a breakout space, groups of 2-5 people can collaborate and brainstorm in an intimate setting. Spaces can be transformed into a mini coffee shop setting or living room to foster creativity and casual conversation. 
  • Style: Informal 

Medium Spaces 

  • Size: 400-600 square feet 
  • Description: A more typical staff meeting room, groups of 5-20 people can gather around a large conference table for business meetings. Rectangular tables can be repositioned into an open square to facilitate discussions or positioned theater style to accommodate a guest speaker.  
  • Style: Semiformal 

Large Spaces 

  • Size: 600-1,000 square feet 
  • Description: Groups of 20+ can easily filter into a larger space for all-staff meetings, board meetings and lectures. Tables and chairs also can be removed entirely to create a more festive, social gathering with food and drinks. 
  • Style: Formal or informal 

The difference between a multipurpose room and a traditional boardroom is simple. The format of a typical boardroom is fixed, usually with a big table as the centerpiece surrounded by chairs. A multipurpose room can change from day to day, or even hour to hour. 

VIEW IMAGES: Corporate/Professional Environments 

Why create a multipurpose space 

As noted above, many businesses have fewer employees occupying the office on a daily basis. Yet, lease agreements typically are based on square footage. Companies should maximize their interior space – after all, they’re paying for it. 

Is your company looking to create a multipurpose space in the office? OFDC Commercial Interiors offers complimentary consultations for businesses between Marco Island and Bradenton on Florida’s west coast. 

There are three ways to connect with OFDC: 

  • Telephone: 239-337-1212 (Collier, Lee, Charlotte) or 941-893-5508 (Sarasota, Manatee)  
  • Email: Online portal 
  • Visit a Showroom: 11866 Metro Parkway in Fort Myers or 7819 25th Court E. #104 in Sarasota 

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