Office space requirements are a very important aspect to keep in mind. As they are shifting quite often, it’s important to stay on top of the requirements and try to achieve them. As offices became more flexible, the required square footage per person decreased, but with the pandemic and social distancing in mind, it increased again.
How many square feet of office space per employee should you have?
Determining the amount of office space per employee that is needed is not as straightforward as you might want. It is all dependent on a different set of factors that have to do with the work that your employees are doing as well as the level of flexibility in your office space.
Some employees may use the office space differently depending on their type of work. For example, lawyers need a lot of space to conduct meetings with clients or they need their own space in order to perform their tasks. Other employees such as salespeople might travel to meet with potential clients so they need less space, however, the pandemic has also left a mark on travel which may cause more people to need space to conduct their meetings online.
A good idea is to have all sorts of spaces set up for people to use readily since your company will most likely have employees with different roles that have all kinds of space requirements. Before the pandemic, some studies suggested that the average office space requirements per person were 75 to 150 square feet. Things have now drastically changed with the introduction of physical distancing in the office and numbers are now closer to 196 square feet as of 2020.
That includes dedicated desk space and the space surrounding it, and should also take into account the amount of s
Creating office space
There are many factors that determine how much space you would like to allocate to your employees. One of the biggest factors that are relatively new, is the idea of physical distance which was introduced as the pandemic emerged. Figuring out how to navigate this can be a very challenging task, but it must be done in order to move your organization forward.
Determine how much space you would like to have per employee
In order to determine the amount of space you would like to have per employee, you must first evaluate your office space and try to find out what it is that you would like to achieve with the space.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you trying to give your employees as much space as you can or do you want to optimize your space to hold as many people as possible?
- Are private offices more important to you, or are you trying to have more open areas with workspaces?
- Can your workspaces be shared rather than assigned to specific employees?
- How many people are going to be in the office part-time or permanently?
- How many employees will be remote?
- What type of space does each department need?
After you have analyzed these questions, you have to think about what type of space would be best for your organization in terms of density. You have three options:
- High-Density Space: This type of space has a very large amount of open space, mostly focusing on hot desk areas with smaller desks that can fit more people. There may also be private offices but very few if any. Usually, this type of space is used interchangeably between departments in order to maximize it. This space is usually 80-150 Square Feet per employee.
- Average Density Space: This type of space falls more under the traditional office space with an equal mix of open-concept desks, as well as private offices. This is usually between 150 – 250 square feet per employee.
- Expansive Space: Of all the options this one is the one with the most amount of space, simply because it is comprised mostly of private offices which take a large amount of space. This type of space is usually seen at law firms.
Determine how you will divide your space
An important thing to know is that when we look at the square footage per employee, common areas are also included in that number. In an average density space, for example, the whole 250 square feet will not only be used for the employee’s individual workspace, instead, but some of it will also count towards common areas used by everyone like conference rooms, communal areas for breaks, and so on. If, however, you have an expansive type of space, then most of the square footage will be dedicated to the private desks per person, with less room for common areas.
In this section, we’ll go over how much space you should set aside for common spaces and conference rooms, as well as how many square feet you’ll need for specific office elements.
Common Areas & Conference Rooms
The flow of traffic through an office can be influenced by purposeful common space design. It can also have an impact on your office’s sense of collaboration and harmony, as well as your staff’s productivity.
Consider what ideas you’d like your common areas to convey, as well as where the layout enables interactions. When it comes to planning your office’s common rooms, it’s usual to find that space can be a major constraint to your staff. If your company is generally smaller or has limited space for common areas, it’s a good idea to build more mixed-use areas to get the most utility out of that space.
In general, the denser the office space, the greater the percentage of total office space dedicated to common areas. Companies with primarily open office environments require additional areas for closed-door meetings and to complete their work tasks. These include smaller phone booths and bigger conference rooms and communal workspaces.
One conference room for every ten employees is usual in these denser offices. A 50-person workplace, for example, would require 5 conference rooms, 5 private workstations, or 5 common areas, and might even require a mix of all.
With 250–300 square feet per person, typical workplaces will require fewer communal workspaces. One conference room for every 20 employees is a common number. A 50-person workplace would only require 2 – 3 conference rooms at this occupancy.
Now that you have a vision of your space in your mind, it’s important to explore the different options of space requirements/needs for every different type of work area. Remember that these are simply guidelines and your space is unique to its needs.
Here are some average estimates of the average square footage per employee in accordance with physical distancing:
- Small Private office: 90-150 square feet
- Medium/shared office: 150 – 250 square feet per person
- Large office/shared office: 200 – 400 square feet per person
- Workstations in open areas: 60 to 110 square feet per person
- Workgroup areas: 80–100 square feet per person
- Conference Rooms: 50 square feet per person (add 25 for seating)
- Reception Area: 100 – 200 square feet per person
- Lunch/Break Room: 75 square feet per person (add 25 for seating)
- Halls/Corridors within the space: 20% to 30% of the total usable area
Other office space requirements
You’ll need to consider other growing trends in addition to health and safety when determining how many square feet of office space per employee you need.
This includes factors such as the number of individuals working remotely, the purpose of your office, and sustainability, fiscal, and ethical concerns.
When it’s time for employees to return to work, you’ll want to focus on creating a space that encourages increased devotion, solitude, and distance from others.
According to a JLL survey of over 1,000 employees, 69% of those who worked from home 0 days a week before the pandemic wish to do so again in the future. This may demand a more lasting remodelling of your office in order to enhance employee privacy, cleanliness, and satisfaction.
Although your main office should remain the focal point for collaborative efforts, numerous employees will have to work from home. They may require flexibility to work properly in both sites, but others may require additional room in between. Employees who have a long commute but struggle to concentrate at home may opt to work at a coworking space or nearby. It may be easier to manage expenses as your company’s needs change if you lease numerous smaller spaces.
A good idea is to consider renting a conference room at a nearby hotel instead if you’re having larger company meetings or training sessions and are concerned that your office space won’t be large enough to accommodate a growing staff.
You should also consider what employees desire and need when they arrive to work. While some individuals believe that working from home increases their productivity, not everyone feels that way. According to surveys, the majority of people prefer working in the office at least part of the week.
Another survey found that half of the employees surveyed wanted to come into the office for the purpose of collaborating with their coworkers.
One-third of managers expect to need less office space in the next 3 years as a result of more workers working remotely. However, more than half believe their space requirements will expand. 26% stated they planned to increase office space per employee by 5 to 15 %. Some 15% indicated they would boost it by up to 25%, while 9% said they would increase it by more than 25%.
To optimize your office space, you have to make sure it’s built to accommodate employees’ demands for both collaborative and individual work. It should be a space that encourages innovation, with plenty of natural light and, if feasible, outdoor areas.
Importance of executives
While some equality-minded CEOs and other executives may sit in the “bullpen” with the rest of the workers, executives in most organizations have their own private individual offices. If some employees will have their own offices or larger workplaces, they should be excluded from the main calculation. Calculate their square footage separately and then combine the two totals.
This concept can also be applied to other “special” personnel. For example, you may have a large reception room with only one person seated, but it provides additional square footage to accommodate the receptionist’s resources.
Figuring out office space requirements is not a very fast task, however, if enough effort is put into it then you can create a pleasant environment that your employees can thrive in and keep their productivity high.