How Much Office Space Do I Need?

Jun 12, 2024 | Blog Posts

Opening a new office or relocating an existing one can be challenging when every decision you make impacts your staff and operations. Among the first and most prominent is determining the ideal office size. This calculation can be more nuanced than straightforward since there is no definitive answer — the right choice differs based on your work, staff size, options and preferences.

Exploring some essential considerations can increase your confidence in securing the perfect solution for your business.

6 Tips for Choosing the Right Office Size

The following tips can help you select the best space for your team.

1. Consider the Number of People Working in the Space

The size of your workforce is a primary determinant of how large of a space you need. You want enough room for everyone to be comfortable, safe and productive.

You use density — the number of people you can fit into a defined area — to help guide your decision. There are three common density classifications:

  • High-density: This layout generally allows for 80 to 150 square feet per person. The configuration is common in spaces housing tech or customer service teams and typically features rows of smaller desks.
  • Average-density: These conventional floor plans usually have open desk space mixed with private offices and cubicles. Employees enjoy an average of 150 to 250 square feet each.
  • Low-density: These layouts provide the most room per employee, with workspaces of 250 to 500 square feet per person. This configuration features more private office space and is typical for executive suites.

To calculate the estimated space needed, multiply the number of team members you have by the chosen density range. For example, a staff of 10 with an average-density space offering 150 square feet per person needs 1,500 square feet (10×150=1,500).

2. Follow Relevant Industry Guidelines

Companies seeking office space to buy or rent often ask if laws require a certain number of square feet per person.

While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) dictates safety factors like doorway widths and the number of exits needed, the agency has not established a specific minimum amount of office space per person. That means most private entities can choose the density that works best for them and their teams without the worry of noncompliance.

Most federal government agencies are an exception. Unless they receive a waiver, these organizations typically must follow the United States General Services Administration (GSA) recommendations. Current space utilization requirements vary based on workforce size, with a minimum of 135 square feet per employee in departments with 50 or more team members.

3. Consider Other Office Space Requirements

Accounting for other space requirements and design preferences is the next step.

Ask yourself if you need dedicated space for certain elements or job functions besides core work, such as conference rooms or reception desks. If so, you need to include those requirements in your calculations. As a general rule of thumb, plan for:

  • Private offices: The average office size for a private workspace ranges between 250 and 500 square feet, with the higher levels typical in executive spaces and medical exam rooms.
  • Conference rooms: Allot 50 square feet for furnishings and clearance, plus about 25 square feet for each person seated.
  • Break rooms: Common spaces like lunch and break areas should provide about 75 square feet for tables and chairs, plus 25 square feet for each seated individual.
  • File storage or mail rooms: You should plan for about 150 to 250 square feet but may need more space, depending on the extent of your operations or the number of records to have immediately accessible.
  • Reception or waiting areas: Allot 100 to 200 square feet per occupant, plus room for a small desk or welcome station.
  • Hallways: Generally, these areas should account for about 20%–30% of the total usable square footage.
  • Technology spaces: Many businesses require substantial technology investments to support their operations, meaning they need temperature-, humidity- and access-controlled rooms to protect their infrastructure. Ensure your room size is compatible with the rack sizes, device types and clearance requirements to meet your needs.

4. Account for Workforce Needs

Considering your staff’s everyday tasks can help guide your decision about your office design layout. An open-desk configuration may work best if your team needs to collaborate freely.

An open-desk configuration may work best if your team needs to collaborate freely.

However, closed cubicles or more private offices may better suit teams requiring a distraction-free environment to focus and be productive. The more privacy your staff requires, the more space you may need to effectively separate team members.

You can also designate multiuse space to trim your floor plan needs. For example, a small conference room can double as a client meeting space or quiet room when necessary, allowing for more open workspaces requiring less room throughout the remaining office.

5. Factor in Future Growth

Ensure your chosen commercial property is flexible enough to meet your future demands as well. That means having a well-developed strategy to support any growth or expansion.

Careful planning can help you avoid costly early lease termination penalties and last-minute office relocations. It is wise to build in a cushion of 10% to 20% more space than you currently have staff to fill. Consider opting for the higher square footage allotments in your given density preference at a minimum. Scaling back to the square feet minimum for your chosen density can provide enough of a buffer to add more team members as your business needs change.

6. Partner With a Local Expert

An experienced commercial real estate team in your area can serve as your buyer or tenant representative. They can help you identify the best options among current properties available for lease or purchase in your preferred neighborhoods.

An expert agent will consult with you for an in-depth understanding of your existing requirements and plans for future growth. They will leverage this knowledge to find the right place or help you envision the possibilities with a build-to-suit property and 3D visualization services. Highly skilled agents who know the local market can also negotiate on your behalf to meet your budget demands without compromising on your other needs.

Contact ROCK Commercial Real Estate Today

ROCK Commercial Real Estate leverages decades of industry experience to help businesses buy or lease the best office space for them. We collaborate as a team to benefit from collective expertise and industry partnerships.

Several of our agents boast advanced industry credentials, like Certified Commercial Investment Members (CCIM) and Society for Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR), with access to a large network of other professionals.

Experience the difference our approach and dedication to relationships and solutions make. Contact our team online to let us know how we can help.

Experience the difference our approach and dedication to relationships and solutions make

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