How much office space do I need?

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How much office space do I need?

With the rise in hybrid working across industries, the requirement for an office space that accommodates an entire workforce has changed. This has forced a number of businesses to ask ‘how much office space do we actually need?’.

If hybrid working has taught us anything, it’s that there isn’t a ‘one-size fits all’ solution. The amount of office space you need depends on a number of things, from the needs of your employees to your workplace strategy. One of the toughest challenges is working out how people in your organisation use the office. Lorna Killick, Head of People and Workspace reveals the importance of building a work space that caters to the activities of a 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.”

Our Office Space Calculator and the following guide can help you work out how much office space you need for you and your workforce.

Getting Started

Approximately how much office space is needed per employee?

As a general rule of thumb, our designers at ODCreate recommend allowing between 8 and 12 sqm per person in your office. High rental prices in Central London have resulted in many organisations to opt for the more cost-efficient ratio of 6 to 8 sqm per person. This allows for more efficient use of space, involving space-saving solutions such as minimising storage facilities and replacing individual desks with benches.

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

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

Our guide to calculating office space

Conduct an occupancy study: How much office space actually gets used?

It is essential to conduct an occupancy study as part of your wider office move or refurbishment. Asking employees how they utilise the space can be a good indicator of what needs to be changed, however, this information should not be used in isolation. For an accurate record of occupancy, you should also ask your office manager to keep track of how the employees utilise the space over time.

Look at density: Does your office have enough meeting space?

Striving for 100% meeting room occupancy is the dream, right? Because then you know that not only are your employees making full use of the meeting rooms, but you have also invested correctly in the space.

However, our specialist team at ODCreate find that the ideal rate of office utilisation usually occurs when meeting rooms are 40-60% occupied. This leaves room for employees to have the flexibility of hopping in to a room for an ad-hoc conversation or quick phone call – without worrying about the only meeting room slot being available at 4pm on a Friday!

Office space usage is typically calculated by dividing the total number of reserved meeting room hours by the total potential hours within the work day or work week.

Consider popularity: What spaces in the office are most popular?

It’s helpful to understand which spaces your employees tend to use but informative insights come once you look into what kind of rooms tend to be most popular. Breaking down which spaces in the office are booked most frequently makes it clear which spaces are employees’ favourites, whilst also shedding light on spaces that are underutilised.

Track when your office is busiest

Monitoring the traffic or meeting room density in the office helps coax out scheduling bottlenecks throughout the day/week when colleagues find it difficult to book meeting rooms – especially when there are enough resources to accommodate! In order to collate this data, you should take the utilisation data and break it down by hour during the work week.

Closely monitoring meeting space traffic helps inform when change management tactics could save you from expanding to a new space too early. Through our Workplace Consultancy study, our dedicated design and data specialists will work with you to challenge inefficiencies, wasted space, single use zones, lack of work setting variety and compromised adjacencies to refine what works well and eliminate what doesn’t in your workspace.

You can learn more about our Workplace Consultancy journey here.

Finding the right office space for your team can be daunting. Use our Office Space Calculator for a quick and easy estimate of your ideal work space. Once you have completed the 8 step survey, a member of our specialist team will be in touch to further discuss the needs of your business. If you’d like to speak to someone directly, you can contact us.

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