How Much Office Space Do I Need?
Searching for new office space is an important commitment that requires research, time, and some serious consideration. Finding the ideal location that has enough space for employees to provide a comfortable and productive working environment, whilst remaining financially prudent is a delicate balancing act. Whether you’re a start-up looking for your first office, or an established company looking to expand into pastures new, we are going to look at some important information to help you make a well-educated decision about how much office space your company will consume.
To find the right space, it is crucial to become acquainted with the different types of space available on the current market. Whilst the satirical humour of The Office may have immortalised the stereotypical boring office environment, times have changed and the reality of workspaces now is a far more diverse, vibrant, and stylish one.
Traditional lease space is for companies wanting to secure a premises for anywhere from 3 years to 10 years, which would suit a large, established, enterprise fine. But when you’re a smaller company wondering what the next decade will hold, signing up for an office long term may not be the wisest decision. So, what happens when you’re not ready to commit long term, but you’re sick of the sound of the milk steamer in Starbucks, and your kitchen table just isn’t the right professional setting for your growing business?
Flex spaces are offices agreed on much shorter commitments, anywhere between 3-5 years. This allows your office space to increase in size as your company grows, and offers the flexibility needed for companies to survive the 21st century business landscape. Basically, the whole point of working in a flex space is that it is flexible, meaning you can upscale at any time.
There are then even more flexible options, such as co-working or day offices, which require no commitment and can even be used on an ad-hoc basis with no membership whatsoever and be as small as a singular hot-desk.
Once you have decided the level of commitment you want to make to your new company premises, now you can start to think of how much space you’re going to need. The flex market deals with areas in square footage, and the main rule of thumb in the industry is about 50 square foot per person per desk. Once you have calculated roughly how much space you need for your employees, you need to consider what other space requirements you’ll have. What amenities and facilities will you need within your office?
This could be as much as internal meeting rooms, break out areas, kitchenettes, and server rooms or, none of the above. Our incspaces sites all come equipped with a range of meeting rooms, our own IT infrastructure, printing facilities, and communal kitchen areas as standard, meaning you don’t have to worry about fitting those into your office.
The other major draw of flex space is that you can leave the provider to install all the quirky style elements that give your employees a reason to want to come into the space. Our One Embankment site in Leeds is a design led space that puts an emphasis on bringing the outside in with biophilic design, and also boasts a generous internal courtyard and riverside terraces. Your office reflects your brand, and by choosing a flex space provider you can leave the expensive fit out to the experts and focus on what city to base your business in, and how much space to rent out.
Whilst working out square foot per person seems a relatively simple task, there are several other factors to consider that will affect how much space you need:
Style of office
Are your employees in the office every day, and require a cubicle style office layout with individual desk space? Or would an open plan layout that caters to a more collaborative, flexible working style benefit your team more? If your team has adopted a hybrid approach to working, you won’t need to provide a desk for every employee, just the max amount in any one day that people would use. Many companies now have desks set up as docking stations, where employees can simply plug in their laptop and have access to an ergonomic workstation all day, but can leave it when they’re done and another team member can use it the following day.
Shape of office
Is the room you’re looking at a perfect square? Square footage is very rarely actually “square”, which means that even if the amount of footage can fit exactly the number of desks you need, some areas may be unusable. This could be due to irregular shaped floorplans, areas away from lighting, or obstructed by doorways. Therefore, it is essential you view space beforehand. Or, at least obtain floorplans so you can work out how you would configure the office with your furniture.
If you plan to expand and hire more staff within the time of your proposed tenancy, you’ll need to factor this into your decision when choosing your office space. As previously mentioned, this is where flex space benefits a lot of companies as you can upscale at any time.
Social distancing considerations
Despite lockdown restrictions easing, many have become accustomed to a more socially distanced way of working. If you’re looking at including communal areas in your office space, does it provide enough room to ensure your staff can work, and socialise, comfortably and safely?
Ensuring your workspace complies with the law is essential, so it is important to get acquainted with The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. Article 10 stipulates that
“Every room where persons work shall have sufficient floor area, height and unoccupied space for purposes of health, safety and welfare.”
Now, the official HSE guide goes on to give more specific guidance that you can read here, but if you follow the rule of thumb that 100spft per person is a generous allocation of space, you’ll be well within the confines of the law.