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An office is generally a room or other area in which people work, but may
also denote a position within an organization with specific duties
attached to it (see officer, office-holder, official); the latter is in
fact an earlier usage, office as place originally referring to the
location of one's duty. When used as an adjective, the term office may
refer to business-related tasks. In legal writing, a company or
organization has offices in any place that it has an official presence,
even if that presence consists of, for example, a storage silo rather
than an office.
An office is an architectural and design phenomenon and a social phenomenon, whether it is a tiny office such as a bench in the corner of a "Mom and Pop shop" of extremely small size (see small office/home office) through entire floors of buildings up to and including massive buildings dedicated entirely to one company. In modern terms an office usually refers to the location where white-collar workers are employed.
History of offices
The word stems from the Latin officium, as its equivalents in various mainly romance languages. Interestingly, this was not necessarily a place, but rather an often mobile 'bureau' in the sense of a human staff or even the abstract notion of a formal position, such as a magistrature. The relatively elaborate Roman bureaucracy would not be equaled for centuries in the West after the fall of Rome, even partially reverting to illiteracy, while the East preserved a more sophisticated administrative culture, both under Byzantium and under Islam.
Office buildings found in the crowded streets of Bangkok, Thailand.Offices in classical antiquity were often part of a palace complex or a large temple. There was usually a room where scrolls were kept and scribes did their work. Ancient texts mentioning the work of scribes allude to the existence of such "offices". These rooms are sometimes called "libraries" by some archaeologists and the general press because one often associates scrolls with literature. In fact they were true offices since the scrolls were meant for record keeping and other management functions such as treaties and edicts, and not for writing or keeping poetry or other works of fiction.
The medieval chancery was usually the place where most government letters were written and where laws were copied in the administration of a kingdom. The rooms of the chancery often had walls full of pigeonholes, constructed to hold rolled up pieces of parchment for safekeeping or ready reference, a precursor to the book shelf. The introduction of printing during the Renaissance did not change these early government offices much.
Pre-industrial illustrations such as paintings or tapestries often show us personalities or eponyms in their private offices, handling record keeping books or writing on scrolls of parchment. All kinds of writings seemed to be mixed in these early forms of offices. Before the invention of the printing press and its distribution there was often a very thin line between a private office and a private library since books were read or written in the same space at the same desk or table, and general accounting and personal or private letters were also done there.
There are many different ways of arranging the space in an office and whilst these vary according to function, managerial fashions and the culture of specific companies can be even more important. Choices include, how many people will work within the same room. At one extreme, each individual worker will have their own room; at the other extreme a large open plan office can be made up of one main room with tens or hundreds of people working in the same space. Open plan offices put multiple workers together in the same space, and some studies have shown that they can improve short term productivity, i.e. within a single software project. At the same time, the loss of privacy and security can increase the incidence of theft and loss of company secrets. A type of compromise between open plan and individual rooms is provided by the cubicle, possibly made most famous by the Dilbert cartoon series, which solves visual privacy to some extent, but often fails on acoustic separation and security. Most cubicles also require the occupant to sit with their back towards anyone who might be approaching; workers in walled offices almost always try to position their normal work seats and desks so that they can see someone entering, and in some instances, install tiny mirrors on things such as computer monitors.
A small office building in Salinas, California, United States.While offices can be built in almost any location in almost any building, some modern requirements for offices make this more difficult. These requirements can be both legal (i.e. light levels must be sufficient) or technical (i.e. requirements for computer networking). Alongside such other requirements such as security and flexibility of layout, this has led to the creation of special buildings which are dedicated only or primarily for use as offices. An office building, also known as an office block, is a form of commercial building which contains spaces mainly designed to be used for offices.
The primary purpose of an office building is to provide a workplace and working environment primarily for administrative and managerial workers. These workers usually occupy set areas within the office building, and usually are provided with desks, PCs and other equipment they may need within these areas.
An office building will be divided into sections for different companies or may be dedicated to one company. In either case, each company will typically have a reception area, one or several meeting rooms, singular or open-plan offices, as well as toilets.
Many office buildings also have kitchen facilities and a staff room, where workers can have lunch or take a short break.
Office and retail rental rates
Rental rates for office and retail space are typically quoted in terms of money per floor-area–time, usually money per floor-area–year. For example, the rate for a particular property may be 290 dollars per square-meter–year ($290/m2·a) (or $29/ft2·a), and rates in the area could range $200/m2·a–$500/m2·a.
In many countries, rent is typically paid monthly even if usually discussed in terms of years.
Example: A particular 200 m2 space is priced at $150/m2·a: (200 m2) × ($150/m2·a) / (12 mo/a) = $2500/month
In a gross lease, the rate quoted is an all-inclusive rate. One pays a set amount of rent per time and the landlord is responsible for all other expenses such as costs of utilities, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and repairs.
The triple net lease is one in which the tenant is liable for a share of various expenses such as property taxes, insurance, maintenance, utilities, climate control, repairs, janitorial services and landscaping.
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. Please improve this article and discuss the issue on the talk page.
The Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) classifies office space into three categories: Class A, Class B, and Class C. According to BOMA, Class A office buildings (NL, ZH) have the "most prestigious buildings competing for premier office users with rents above average for the area." BOMA states that Class A facilities have "high quality standard finishes, state of the art systems, exceptional accessibility and a definite market presence." BOMA describes Class B office buildings as those that compete "for a wide range of users with rents in the average range for the area." BOMA states that Class B buildings have "adequate systems" and finishes that "are fair to good for the area," but that the buildings do not compete with Class A buildings for the same prices. According to BOMA Class C buildings are aimed towards "tenants requiring functional space at rents below the average for the area."