How do you work out how much office space you need?

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How do you work out how much office space you need?

Figuring out how much space you need can seem daunting, especially if you don’t know what questions to ask. There are many details that you need to consider and missing one could have a detrimental impact on your company culture. We’re here to help with advice from our experts.

COVID-19 changed many things, particularly people’s attitudes towards office attendance. Pre-pandemic, you might only have needed to think about your company’s headcount and find a space that would accommodate your team’s growth. Nowadays, you will also have to look at how frequently people are using the current spaces. With more people opting for flexible working patterns, you don’t want to spend money on work settings that never get used. Reducing the number of desks in the office, for example, could be a feasible option if only half of them is being used throughout the week. You could swap them for a different type of workspace that better caters to the needs and wants of your team.

One of the toughest challenges is working out how people in your organisation are going to be using the office. Lorna Killick, Head of People and Workplace, reveals that it’s really important to build a space that caters to the activities of the business.

“The best way to take a holistic view of the space is by going through some information gathering exercises – for example, an occupancy study or workplace feedback survey. Before taking a new space, you need to have some idea of what you want to create and that can be dictated by a combination of brand, business activities and budget.” – Lorna Killick

Getting Started

As a general rule of thumb, our designers at ODCreate recommend allowing between 8 and 12 sqm per person in your office.

Every office is going to have different requirements that affect their ideal volume of space. You will have to bear in mind that Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations (1992) require employers to provide a minimum of 11 cubic metres per person; however, it’s not as simple as just giving your employees a set amount of floor space. You will need help to consider the different spaces your organisation needs and the type of work that they’ll accommodate.

Too much space vs too little space

There is a lot to think about when fitting out your new office. Ideally, everyone will want to eat the third bowl of porridge straight away; the one that is just right. Unfortunately, unlike Goldilocks, you don’t have the opportunity to try the first two options considering the time and the money that goes into an office fit-out.

“Although some clients will find their space and then ask: ‘what should we do with it?’ Other clients choose to do it in tandem. For me, that’s the better way to do it because you don’t want to do a deal on a space and then realise that it’s either not big enough or it’s way too big for what you want to do with it.” – Lorna Killick, ODGroup Head of People and Workplace

Having surplus space can have a negative impact on the atmosphere and office culture that you are trying to establish. If your employees are spread out around the office, you’re going to prevent those social interactions that allow team members to build relationships with one another. On the other hand, if your office is too small, the wellbeing of your employees is at risk of being affected. A loud and crowded environment will foster more frustration than productivity.

Man draws at a table in an office while his colleague works on his laptop

Next steps in calculating how much space you need

An occupancy study

If you are unsure about the amount of space you need for your new office, ODCreate can help you with this. Over the course of a set number of weeks, we can work with you to conduct an occupancy study, which involves recording the number of people utilising each area of your current office at various times of the day. This helps you build a picture of which areas and facilities are well-used and which are seen as not useful or productive. At the end of the agreed period, you will have a detailed report on the usage of each space and work setting in your office. This is a really worthwhile exercise when considering how much space you will need and the occupancy level in some of your office areas may surprise you.

A workplace consultancy survey

A workplace consultancy survey is another exercise that can help you solve your space conundrum. An obvious but often overlooked way to find out what kind of space your team is going to truly benefit from, is to ask them. A workplace consultancy survey does just that, by collecting granular information and feedback in order to build up a picture of areas that are currently working well for your team, areas that do not work for or support them so well, and areas or work setting that are missing currently, that they feel they would use in a new space. With this information, we can work with you to create a space that is perfectly tailored to your employees and their business activities.

While choosing just the right amount of space for you and your people initially may appear to be a minefield, our team of dedicated specialists are here to help you navigate this important decision. We can help you calculate the optimal amount of office space that will allow your people to flourish while making the most out of your budget. For more information and advise on calculating how much office space you need, get in touch with us today.


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