Traditional office layout

Updated April 17, 2017

Unlike the modern cube farms and open concept offices, traditional offices have a distinct layout organised by department. Whereas modern office layouts are typically designed to maximise efficiency and productivity, traditional office layouts feature spaces that are proportionate to the seniority of the employee who works within them. The size, location and amenities of an employee’s workspace within a traditional office reflect whether that person is at the executive, managerial or entry level.

Reception Area

The first space people see when entering a traditional office is the reception area. The reception area usually features a reception desk which is a non-portable fixture that’s larger than most of the other desks in the office. The traditional reception area also acts as a waiting room for clients, vendors and other businesspeople. The waiting area features chairs or couches as well as coffee or end tables splayed with magazines and other reading material.

The Boss' Office

The largest office within a traditional workspace is reserved for the most senior employee, such as the CEO or president of the organisation. The traditional boss’ office is also likely to be a “corner office,” which is located at the corner of the building and has the bonus of a more expansive view. The traditional boss’ office may also feature a couch or comfortable wingback chairs, as well as a bar area to serve drinks to guests.

Administration Area

The administration area is traditionally located on the main floor near the boss’ office to facilitate communication between executives and their assistants. The administration area may consist of an office with more than one executive assistant as well as a cubicle area for various administrative assistants and filing clerks.


Departments like accounting, marketing, IT and HR are separated from one another in a traditional office layout. Each department consists of one or more offices for department heads as well as cubicles for department assistants and entry-level staff.


Although some modern offices feature a unisex washroom, separate washrooms for men and women are the professional standard in a traditional office layout. The washrooms in a traditional office are never located close to the entrance of the building or the boss’ office.


The traditional office layout includes a kitchen area where staff can store and eat their lunches. The kitchen usually includes a fridge, microwave, coffee maker, a table and chairs. It might also include items like a water cooler and vending machine.

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About the Author

A freelance writer since 2006, Giselle Tattrie has written for publications such as "Reader's Digest" and Popjournalism magazine, as well as for live theater and television. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia.