5 Ways to Determine How Much Office Space You Need

Whether you’re a new business preparing to move into your first office or an established company looking to relocate, understanding how much space you’ll need should be a top priority. And, while there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution, there are a number of factors that are well worth considering. In this guide, we’ll take a look at some common tips that can help you make the best decision.

how to determine office space

1. Number of Employees

Your first major consideration is how many employees you have working for you. Knowing this will allow you to get a rough idea of how much space you’ll need to dedicate per employee. On average, most modern offices allow 100 to 120 square feet per employee, but this doesn’t mean that each employee has all that space to themselves. Rather, this figure also takes communal areas into account.

In general, each employee will have around 50 square feet of private working space, while the remaining 50 to 70 square feet is allocated to meeting rooms, rest areas and restrooms. However, these numbers aren’t set in stone, and a lot depends on how much workspace your employees actually need. Fortunately, this can usually be determined by thinking about what their job entails, which brings us to our next point.

2. Type of Workspace Required

Different jobs require different workspaces. For example, an architect will typically need a substantial working space where they can spread out large blueprints for examination. Meanwhile, call center staff typically require far less working space with just room for a computer and a telephone, which can often be on a shared desk or work bench.

Your office is also likely to have several employees working in different positions, so be sure to make adequate space for everyone. As you’re determining how much space you need, consider the different roles your staff will perform, as well as their needs.

3. Your Business Culture & its Influence on Layout

Most modern offices follow one of three major layouts — open plan, private workspaces or a hybrid of the two — and the layout you choose is largely dependent upon the culture of your business. Specifically, do you want the entire team sharing the same space or does your staff require more privacy? Nowadays, a hybrid solution tends to be the most popular solution.

It’s worth noting that if you choose an open plan, the space per employee will generally be lower than if everyone has a private office. As a general rule of thumb, the following figures are a useful guide:

  • Open plan, high density: Around 80 to 150 square feet per employee, allowing for shared desks and work benches, possibly with a few private offices for upper management
  • Typical hybrid, average density: Around 150 to 250 square feet per employee, with a mix of open cubicles and private offices
  • Private and spacious: Around 250 to 500 square feet per employee, with mostly large, private offices (typical of architect and law firms)

Each plan also considers communal areas, although the needs of your business may differ.

4. Communal & Additional Areas

Every office space will need a few essentials, such as restrooms, as well as a rest area for lunch and socializing. Communal areas also include walkways between desks and corridors. However, there are also several other areas to think about when planning your office space. While it’s hard to suggest an exact size, here are some rough figures to follow:

  • Meeting/conference/boardrooms: 100 square feet (small: two to four people) to 220 square feet (large: 15 to 20 people)
  • Reception area: 75 square feet per person (only required if you will have regular visitors)
  • Restrooms: 55 square feet for a single cubicle, plus 30 square feet per additional cubicle
  • Kitchen: 100 square feet
  • Storage space: 200 square feet
  • Server rooms: 40 to 120 square feet 
  • Rest and socializing areas: 15 square feet per person

Remember, the space allocated per employee should also be counted toward these areas. For example, if you allocate 100 square feet per employee, around 50 square feet of that should be considered communal space.

5. Future Growth

If you’re planning to grow and hire more staff in the next few years, it’s important to plan for this when determining your space. Failure to do so can lead to expensive costs if you need to break your lease to relocate. Furthermore, reduced morale can affect your business if you try to squeeze too many employees into a space that’s not large enough.

Likewise, think about the type of staff you plan to hire, as this will help determine the space you need to reserve for them. For instance, for management roles, you may only need private offices, while administrative staff may only need a little extra bench space. Similarly, consider the number of new hires that you anticipate onboarding throughout the duration of your lease and add space appropriately. In the meantime, that extra space doesn’t have to go to waste. In some cases, you can even rent it out to freelancers or smaller businesses to earn a little additional income.

Planning your office space properly is key to your success. While there are several factors to consider, if you follow these guidelines, you’ll have a good idea of the space you need to make your business work.

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