As pointed out in our post on the incredible shrinking office the increasing cost of floor space in growing market areas is causing companies to reduce the amount of square footage allotted to each employee. But in order to attract qualified personnel in an increasing competitive labor market, companies must offer what are called amenities – open spaces used as lounges, cafeterias, and health and wellness centers that make the workplace an attractive place to work.

Reconciling staff expectations with floor space cost is eased by reducing what can be called wasted space in today’s offices. This is achieved by making every square foot “carry its load.” One way to increase usable floor space is specifying sliding glass doors vs. swinging or pivot doors wherever feasible.

Substantial Space Savings with Glass Sliding Doors

Sliding doors — sometimes referred to as barn doors — are not new. Another variation is a pocket door that were frequently found in Victorian homes. Doors slip into wall “pockets” and are closed or opened without taking up floor space. Although out of favor for many years in the residential market, sliding doors are making a comeback as a space saving feature for bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, laundries and utility rooms.

How much space can be saved? In a word, substantial.

Think about it. A pivot door requires space for the door itself and the path of its swing. For example, a 32 x 80 inch pivot door consumes more than 14 square feet of space to make a full 180° swing. This is space that cannot be used for office equipment or anything else for that matter, except perhaps pictures on the wall protected by a doorstop. Multiply the number of doors in a facility by 14 or the appropriate calculation based on door size. You’ll quickly determine that the amount of saved space is, indeed, substantial.

Sliding doors, in contrast, require only the space of the door itself. A 2" thick 32 x 80 inch wood or metal sliding door needs only 2 inches of space to slide over (64 square inches total). Cabinetry, chairs or other office furnishings and equipment can be positioned in such a way that the door slides behind them when it is opened.

Increase usable floor space with sliding glass doors.
Concealed sliding door mechanism and sound seals.

Advances in Glass Sliding Door Design

Glass sliding office doors are not new. But most designs are both costly and bulky due to heavy metal framing and sliding mechanisms. Compare these older sliding doors to the sleek dramatic design of ALUR frameless sliding glass doors with ½" thick tempered glass. Glass door panels are available in sizes to 4 feet wide by 10 feet high. They blend beautifully with glass walls and unlike pivot doors they do not intrude into hallways or work areas when opened.

All in all they add style and class to individual offices, collaboration and conference rooms, reception areas and other spaces. As an added feature their thin design requires a much smaller footprint than conventional sliding office doors. An optional “soft close” mechanism is also available that gently closes the door for improved function and convenience.

Features to Look for in Sliding Glass Doors

Ease of operation ranks high, especially for large doors. The heavy-duty multi-roller mechanism for ALUR sliding glass doors supports the weight of glass panels up to 4 x 10 feet in size (300 lbs.). It is completely concealed on the back side of the top frame and therefore not visible from the front. So smooth is the operation that only 5 pounds of lateral pressure is required for opening and closing, thereby conforming to ADA requirements.

The multi-roller mechanism and discreet floor guide obviate the need for dirt trapping floor channels required for some sliding door designs to keep doors on track during opening and closing. As with ALUR demountable glass walls with a 36 STC rating, the companion sliding glass doors are designed for maximum sound attenuation. When closed they are sealed on all 4 edges to keep conversations private either inside or outside the workspace.

Sliding door handles and locking mechanisms should meet building code requirements and be ADA compliant. Digital images, decorative films, patterned or frosted glass are options to provide visual privacy and to keep visitors or staff from walking into closed glass office doors.